Mar 27, 2016 | By Tess

Listen up gamers, are you tired of having tired thumbs? Have you been longing for a more appetizing way to play your games? Well, you just may be in luck thanks to a new lickable 3D printed game controller that is being showcased at the alt.ctrl.GDC exhibition at this year’s Game Developer’s Conference.

The controller and the game it is used to play, Planet Licker, were developed by an innovative team of individuals including developer Frank DeMarco, art director Otis Denner-Kenny, hardware expert Andy An of Mouth Arcade, and music creator Azuria Sky. Together they have created a gaming system that uses your tongue licks to control an onscreen character instead of buttons or thumb sticks. Don’t worry though, your tongue won’t be licking an unflavored and used touchpad, but will have the pleasure of licking deliciously flavored planet shaped popsicles.

As the team explains, the USB connected controller was modeled using Solidworks software and was manufactured using their own 3D printer. Of course, the popsicles themselves were not 3D printed, but were made using 3D printed food-safe silicone molds. The computer game was designed using GIMP and Adobe CS and operates on a Python interface called Pygame.

Initially, the game consisted of a stand that held up three popsicle planets, that the player would have to lean down to lick, but the team quickly transitioned to the 3D printed hand-held controller to make the motion more comfortable. To play the game, one simply has to lick the popsicle buttons in a timely manner to move their space monster character on the screen onto its designated planet all the while avoiding space obstacles. After each round, the popsicle planets can be replaced for the next player.

In terms of flavors, the team agreed that their most successful combination of popsicles consisted of coffee, cranberry, and blueberry, though they are also working on a cola inspired taste palette. As Andy explains, they will be “taking the four main ingredients of Cola Flavor and reimagining them as three ice pops, so a player experiences the complete flavor profile of Cola when playing the game. They are Cinnamon, Vanilla, and Orange-Lime.”

When asked about the future of game controllers and where their own Planet Licker project fits into it, the team seemed confident that immersion was a growing priority for gaming practices. As Andy An says, “I think standard interfaces and technologies will be getting more immersive, at the expense of intrusiveness, in the next few years. I think devices for seeing a virtual or augmented reality will catch on very soon, but I think there is actually a growing interest in the commodification of all of our senses- not just sight and sound.”

Frank DeMarco, Planet Licker’s developer adds, “I’m looking forward to controlling real-world things like nanobots and solar panels to do things like collectively plant and cultivate a garden.”



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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