Block 'em out is a board game that has gone out of control. The idea was inspired by Tron Light Cycles and put into a turn based format. The game takes place on a "block"(I am sure you see what we did there), which you traverse around trying to stop your opponents from making their next move. This game right off the bat posed implementation issues. How were we gonna get our players to control pieces on a Block! Well at first we thought magnets and cardboard. That quickly grew into magnets and 3D printed cube(with detachable lid for storage). The game has grown and grown into its final 3D implemented version which uses pegs and Velcro instead of magnets. Magnets were a solid idea but cheap magnets like sheet refrigerator ones wear out quickly. Also pieces needed to be places in specific orientations or they wouldn't stick at all.
No matter how much the team tried we couldn't find a way to solve our biggest problem though. Set-up. The set-up for the game would always take between 7-15 minutes. This was disastrous considering the game only takes 5-10 minutes to play. This meant the only solution to this was to get rid of set-up entirely.
Obviously the only way to remove set up was to make the game have a reset button of some form. I figured the best way to achieve this was to make the game electronic and actually have a reset button. For this I designed two different methods for creating the digital version of our hands on Block game.
The first(and my favorite) idea was to use only discrete hardware to control the entire Block. This block would have 125 LEDs, 125 buttons, and 125 D-Flip-Flops. The idea was that nothing needs to be controlled in the game by some overarching computer so why bother with one at all. And luckily D-Flip-Flips have a load function so that right as the reset button is hit they can start off being as bright as can be.
The idea was to wire every LED to a D-Flip-Flop which in turn was wired to the button. The D-Flip-Flop was to use the button as both the Clock signal and the Pass in value. Meaning that an LED would only switch state when the button it belonged to was pressed. This avoids issues with the LED constantly changing state as the button is held down. All of these are then wired up to the reset. The original plan was to have this version of the game finished by Imagine RIT, but due to issues with getting the board together and ordering, the other option was taken.
Although not nearly as cool as the discrete logic version, a micro-controller version exists as well. The benefit of the micro-controller is that the entire cube can be assembled without having custom boards printed. Some soldering will is needed(a lot) but at least there is no wait on manufacturers. The micro-controller handles the state of all the LEDS while the buttons feed input back into it.