Van der Waals

Posted in: Bond Breaker, Lesson Time! | September 10, 2014 | 2 Comments


One of the best parts of making a game based on science is that while playing the game… you learn science.  Even if you don’t mean to!  Take, for instance, the Van der Waals force.

(If you haven’t played Bond Breaker yet, give it a go.  It’ll make this all go down a little easier)

 

Van der Waals

The Electric Force, at its core, is pretty basic.  You can sum it up with: “opposites attract, likes repel.”  If you put two positive charges together, they’ll push away from each other.  And if you put a positive near a negative, they’ll attract together.  A neutral object, with no positive or negative charges, will be unaffected by the Electric Force.

In Bond Breaker, you can make a lot of ‘neutral’ object.  A Hydrogen molecule, for instance, consists of two protons and two electrons.  (+2) + (-2) = 0.  Put two of them near each other, and the Electric Force shouldn’t do anything, right?  Well, in Bond Breaker you can try that out!  Below is a little level I made (just for you, blog-post-reader), to test out what happens when neutral molecules are near one another.  Click it in your browser, and go play with the level (it’ll be called the ‘Bonus Level’).

 

Click the image to go play this BONUS Bond Breaker level!

Click the image to go play this BONUS Bond Breaker level!

 

Okay, so the molecules attract.  But if they’re all neutral, why?

Van der Waals forces.

What, you need more information than that?  Well, then…

These forces are what make molecules attract to one another (and form into liquids, say).  The weakest form of VdW force is called the “London Dispersion Force,” and it’s what you encounter in the game.

 

London Dispersion Forces

‘Neutral’ molecules are not simply neutral.  The positive and negative charges aren’t sitting right on top of one another.  At any given moment, the molecule will have a dipole moment — meaning one side will be more positive, and one side will be more negative.  Kind of like a bar magnet with a North pole and South pole.  Imagine putting a bunch of magnets into a bag and shaking them.  It won’t take long until they’re all stuck together.

With a molecules like Hydrogen that are very symmetrical, the dipole is completely random.  Sometimes you’ll find the electrons more on the north side of the molecule, sometimes you’ll find them on the south side.  And this makes the force pulling the molecules together very weak.  But it’s still there.

Van der Waals forces, though weak, end up being important in everything from forming liquids to helping geckos stick to walls.  So the next time you’re sitting in the pool, watching your pet gecko play Bond Breaker, you know what force to thank.

 

-Andy

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Bond Breaker Poster

Posted in: Bond Breaker | September 9, 2014 | No Comments


Want to help get the word out about Bond Breaker?  Or just like weird science-y posters with funny visual jokes?  Then do I have something for you!

 

Print out, cut to separate the tabs on the bottom, and post in a place where cool people hang out.

Print out, cut to separate the tabs on the bottom, and post in a place where cool people hang out.

 

Or if you’re the type who hates the tear-off-tabs and is in general mean and evil, you find the non-pull-tab version here.  (You monster.)

 

-Andy

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Bond Breaker, then and now

Posted in: Bond Breaker | September 8, 2014 | No Comments


With Bond breaker released (ahem, read about it here… never mind the Shocktopus screenshot… or here, or just go and play it here), I’ve gotten a chance to look back through some of my old files – and I came across this, the first prototype of Bond Breaker:

 

Catchy title, no?

Catchy title, no?

Ah, the unnamed game.  (I will say, I still love that subtitle.) Looks a little different from the current version, I’d say:

NewTitle

Needless to say, when you stumble across a digital time-capsule like this, it’s amazing to see how much has changed during the development of the game.  The easiest thing to notice is the art style.  So let’s take a little walk down screenshot lane.  Can you tell the ‘old’ from the ‘new’??

 

The Repulsion Level

Prototypes are amazing things — they are the first rough draft of your game.  You’re testing out ideas, and you use ‘programmer art,’ quick images that just make the game playable.  So one of the big things you’ll notice is how basic all the art is in the prototype.  Yellow squares instead of stars for goals, very basic walls, etc.  You’ll also notice that the atoms were absolutely tiny on the screen, something I fixed in later versions.

Old Level

New Level

 

Molecules

Molecules were the core of the game right from the beginning.  I really enjoyed the feeling of tugging another atom around, with just a molecular bond tying you two together.  If you go slow, you stick together, but if you go too fast, zooming around corners, you can split apart.  With a little bit of practice, you could control your molecule pretty well — picking up protons, and depositing them elsewhere in the level.

Of course, in the original version, while the *physics* worked, the picture of the molecule was a little strange.  Notice how it’s wider than it is long, making a strange oval around the two atoms.  When you’re trying to make a quick draft, you need to ignore those little things.  But in the final version, the molecule is shaped just as it should be.  (Not to mention, you get a picture of a little electron zooming around you.)

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 1.33.29 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 1.42.05 PM

 

The Menus

Unsung heroes of the game, menus are one of the last things I really care about when making a game. After all — nobody says “I wasn’t sure whether I liked the game or not… until I saw those amazing menus!”  But as I’m sure you can see from the pictures below… the prototype menu needed some improvement.

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 1.32.16 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 1.40.29 PM

-Andy

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Bond Breaker Released!

Posted in: Bond Breaker | August 29, 2014 | No Comments


Not much more to say than that.  Go play it online, or get it on your iPhone or Android.  It’s free, free, free!

 

promo_1024_b

Feedback welcome, via email, hi-fives, or posts in the forums.

 

-Andy

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Break some Bonds Tomorrow!

Posted in: Bond Breaker | August 27, 2014 | No Comments


In anticipation of Bond Breaker coming out tomorrow (August 28th), here are a bunch of ‘Teasers.’  By my understanding, teasers are awkwardly cropped GIFs of random moments of gameplay.  Enjoy!

 

Nope Nope Nope                  Ready for my Closeup                

 

Don't mind me                  Don't give him the stick                 Disco party time

 

Fire                                   SCIENCE

 

Read more about the project here.

-Andy

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Bond Breaker Trailer

Posted in: Bond Breaker | August 13, 2014 | No Comments


I made a little video to show off my upcoming game, Bond Breaker, for those of you who haven’t gotten a chance to play around with it yet.

 

 

Does that just show up as a black box for you?  Well, you’ll find the original here.

 

-Andy

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Bond Breaker Release Date!

Posted in: Bond Breaker | August 7, 2014 | No Comments


News time!  The following is a press release about my upcoming game Bond Breaker.  Spoiler: It is coming out August 28th!

—–

titleScreen

 

TestTubeGames and the CaSTL Center are happy to announce a release date for Bond Breaker, a puzzle game based on real nano-scale science — coming to web and mobile on August 28th.

At the Center for Chemistry at the Space Time Limit (CaSTL) at UC Irvine, scientists are able to break apart individual molecules in incredible ways. In fact, their research is so mind-blowing, they wanted the world to see it. Their first plan: let everyone rush into the lab, with their grubby little fingers, and proceed to break all of their multimillion dollar equipment. After talking with their insurance agent, they reconsidered, and decided to make a game.

Thus Bond Breaker was born! Now the game is nearly complete, and will be coming to iPhone, Android, and the web on August 28th.  In this science puzzle game, you get to enter CaSTL’s laboratories in the smallest way possible – as a single proton. You don’t even have an atom to call your own.  Learn what it takes to be a proton, experience subatomic forces, and with luck and determination, grow into an atom. Collide atoms together into molecules, or break them apart again using lasers, tunneling microscopes, and heat.

The game is being developed by TestTubeGames, a studio that doesn’t take science lightly.  When you make molecular bonds (or break them apart), you’ll encounter real forces and real physics.  You won’t just be learning how to beat challenging puzzles, you’ll truly be gaining a new understanding of the atomic world.  This isn’t just simple stuff, either!  While the game assumes no prior knowledge, by the end, you’ll have an understanding of:

•    Atomic Energy Levels
•    Light Absorption with Lasers
•    Muons, and their crazy effect on atoms
•    Morse Potentials
•    Up-to-date research, straight from the labs and into your hands

You can find the Bond Breaker press kit, with more information and screenshots here: http://www.testtubegames.com/press/sheet.php?p=bond_breaker

Stay tuned for more developments, or get in touch with andy@testtubegames.com with any questions or to request an advanced copy.

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The Bonds that Break Us

Posted in: Bond Breaker | August 4, 2014 | No Comments


Bond Breaker is coming soon to a device near you!  It’ll be the first new release by TestTubeGames since the Ultimate Pulsar Simulator, so hold on to your butts.

This is a game that I’ve been working on with the CaSTL research group at UC Irvine — which stands for Chemistry at the Space Time Limit, so you know it’ll be good.  And to boot, the game is packed with Real Physics*.  They do research with lasers and tunneling microscopes, grabbing single molecules, and breaking apart and breaking single bonds.  So like doing Chemistry… but instead of using a beaker, you grab an individual molecule and bend it to your will.

The game itself is based on the forces you’d experience at the atomic scale.  It’s a puzzle game where you, as a proton, are moving around the nano-world.  Atoms drift into one another, and if they get close enough, they’ll form molecules.  You can excite the electrons, create ions, fuse into helium, fire lasers, and more.

 

Ever been a proton before? Oh, you've been *many* protons, you say?

Ever been a proton before? Oh, you’ve been *many* protons, you say?

 

There’s a whole bunch of physics going on, as you can tell from the list of levels:

 

Muons *and* Van der Waals forces? Nonstop excitement, right there.

Muons *and* Van der Waals forces? Nonstop excitement, right there.

 

The game itself will be coming out on web/iOS/Android for absolutely free, and soon, at that.  We’ve got it slated for release in late August, though stay tuned for the details.  Wanna know more?  Join the conversation (or even help by playtesting the game) here.

-Andy

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Tour de Force – (part 1)

Posted in: Gravity Simulator, Lesson Time! | June 21, 2014 | 1 Comment


Another week — another Gravity Simulator Lesson!  This week: what happens when you change the laws of gravity?  In the past, I’ve touched on this topic a bit, but this time we’re really gonna dive in.

 

The Baseline: 1/r^2

Ah yes, Newtonian gravity.  The perfect place to start.  This is gravity as we know it in our universe (ignoring pesky things like general relativity for the moment).  With the “one-over-r-squared” law, gravity decreases inversely as the square of the distance between the two objects.

That’s a mouthful, but really it’s quite simple: If we get twice as far away from the center of the earth, it’ll pull on us with one quarter of the force it does now.  If we triple the distance, gravity will pull just one-ninth as hard.

And with this wonderful, happy force law, we get orbits that look like this:

 

Classic Inverse Square Law, what you'd find by default the Gravity Simulator

Classic Inverse Square Law, what you’d find by default the Gravity Simulator

(As usual, all the gifs you’ll see today are taken right from the Gravity Simulator.  Feel free to play around, yourself!)

 

Experiment 1: 1/r^2.1

In the Gravity Simulator, we can do something you can’t do in the real world: we can change the force of gravity and see what happens!  So let’s increase that exponent over ‘r’.  So now the force goes as “one-over-r-to-the-2.1.”  Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as easy, eh?

Well, let’s see what happens:

 

The tiniest of changes -- a 1/r^2.1 force law.  Try it out in the Gravity Simulator with this code:  [ForceGr: r^(-2.1),Qual: 1,Zoom: 1,xSet: 0,ySet: 0], [x0: 62.5,y0: 17.5,vx: 0,vy: 2.7,t0: 0,who: 3,m: 0,c: 0], [x0: 0,y0: 17.5,vx: 0,vy: 0,t0: 0,who: 1,m: 1000,c: 1]

The tiniest of changes — a 1/r^2.1 force law. Try it out in the Gravity Simulator with this code: [ForceGr: r^(-2.1),Qual: 1,Zoom: 1,xSet: 0,ySet: 0], [x0: 62.5,y0: 17.5,vx: 0,vy: 2.7,t0: 0,who: 3,m: 0,c: 0], [x0: 0,y0: 17.5,vx: 0,vy: 0,t0: 0,who: 1,m: 1000,c: 1]

Huh, the orbits no longer match up.  That’s called precession — basically the planet is nearly making an ellipse as it goes around the star, but not quite.  The path keeps twisting around and around.  Turns out 1/r^2 is special — very few force laws will make orbits that don’t precess.

Why does making it 2.1 instead of 2 change things? Well, ‘r’ is raised to a slightly higher power, which means as two planets get further away, the force of gravity drops off faster than it would in our world.  And as they get closer, the force of gravity increases faster, too!

So when the planet comes in close, gravity pulls on it stronger (than in our universe at least), deflecting its path even more, which gives it a tighter curve.  That tighter curve when it’s close to the star means that the planet swings around faster than we’d expect.  So by the time it comes back out to its furthest distance again, it’s gone more than 360 degrees.  Matches with what we see above.  (Go, science!)

 

Experiment 2: 1/r^3

Let’s keep going!  Let’s raise ‘r’ to an even higher power!  We should expect even stronger precession, right?  Well, let’s see:

 

1/r^3 force law.  Try it in the Gravity Simulator with: Gravity Fun at TestTubeGames.com: [ForceGr: r^(-3),Qual: 1,Zoom: 1,xSet: 0,ySet: 0], [x0: 62.5,y0: 17.5,vx: 0,vy: 2.7,t0: 0,who: 3,m: 0,c: 0], [x0: 0,y0: 17.5,vx: 0,vy: 0,t0: 0,who: 1,m: 1000,c: 1]

1/r^3 force law. Try it in the Gravity Simulator with: Gravity Fun at TestTubeGames.com: [ForceGr: r^(-3),Qual: 1,Zoom: 1,xSet: 0,ySet: 0], [x0: 62.5,y0: 17.5,vx: 0,vy: 2.7,t0: 0,who: 3,m: 0,c: 0], [x0: 0,y0: 17.5,vx: 0,vy: 0,t0: 0,who: 1,m: 1000,c: 1]

Huh, now we’re getting something different.  When an object gets close, gravity starts pulling so strongly that the planet just spirals inward until it collides.  And if the object is too far away, it spirals outward… and since gravity gets a lot weaker the further out you go, it keeps spiraling out more and more, never to return.

 

Experiment 3: 1/r^10

What if we went really crazy with this?  (I always go really crazy with this.)  Let’s try a force law that decreases extremely fast.  1/r^10!!!! (Excitement, there, not factorials)  Now if two objects get twice as far apart, the force between them is about 1000 times smaller!  That makes for this weird world:

 

1/r^10 force law!  Play around with it in the Gravity Simulator with this code: Gravity Fun at TestTubeGames.com: [ForceGr: r^(-10),Qual: 1,Zoom: 1,xSet: 0,ySet: 0]

1/r^10 force law! Play around with it in the Gravity Simulator with this code: Gravity Fun at TestTubeGames.com: [ForceGr: r^(-10),Qual: 1,Zoom: 1,xSet: 0,ySet: 0]

Objects really don’t notice each other in that weird universe, they mostly travel in straight lines… at least until they get juuuust close enough to the star.  And once they do, they’re pulled quickly and without remorse into a collision.  Boy, I’m glad we don’t live there!  You can imagine how hard it would be to create galaxies in that universe, let along solar systems with stable orbits.

Tune in next week when we take things the other way… what happens for 1/r^1.9?  Or 1/r?  In the meantime, play around with your own force laws in the Simulator!

-Andy

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Black Hole or Bust

Posted in: Gravity Simulator, Lesson Time! | June 14, 2014 | No Comments


Last week I reported on General Relativity in the Gravity Simulator.  And now that relativity is in place — this means the sim can have BLACK HOLES!  YEAAAAA!

 

Created in the Gravity Simulator

Created in the Gravity Simulator

 

Black Holes

How hard could it be to add in black holes, right?

We all know that black holes are extremely massive, extremely dense objects.  (Mostly.)  Get close enough to them, and gravity pulls so strong, that not even light can escape.  Whoa!  So we just need to make a big star in the Gravity Simulator — and we get a black hole!

Well, no.  You’ll never get a black hole if you’re dealing with boring, old Newtonian gravity, though.  In the old simulator, say, you could make a star bigger and bigger and bigger, and all you’d get is a bigger star.  Any astroid or planet or star can escape its pull, so long as it’s moving fast enough.

 

Event Horizon

Around black holes, there’s a line of no return called the Event Horizon.  If you’re outside of this boundary — you could escape the black hole.  But the moment you cross it, you’re sunk.  You’ll get swept ever further into the black hole.

This happens because General Relativity contains our old friend Special Relativity.  And, if you’ll recall, a key part of Special Relativity is that nothing can travel faster than light.  The speed of light is the speed limit for everything.  The Event Horizon represents the line near enough to the black hole where, if you wanted to escape, you’d have to travel at light speed.  Fall in a bit closer, and gravity gets a bit stronger, and you’d need to go even faster than light to escape.  No can do.  You’re stuck.

 

Masses: 1000, 2000, 4000, 8000...

Masses: 1000, 2000, 4000, 8000…

In the pictures above, I draw where the Event Horizon would be on each the star.  The smaller the star is, the weaker the gravity it, and the closer you’d have to get to reach the Horizon.  In fact, most of the time, you’d actually have to go deep inside the star to find this line. Which means, it isn’t really an Event Horizon.  The calculations I used to draw these assumed that all the mass of the star is inside the Horizon.  As you can see above, that’s not the case.  The stars aren’t dense enough, which means: no Event Horizon and no black hole.

 

Masses: 8000, 10000, 14000, 16000...!

Masses: 8000, 10000, 14000, 16000…!

 

But if we get enough mass in place, the Horizon grows big enough that it swallows up the whole star — and we finally get our black holes!  Now let’s have some fun with them!

 

An orbit that precesses, much like Mercury. (Created in the Gravity Simulator)

An orbit that precesses, much like Mercury. (Created in the Gravity Simulator)

 

Black holes merging! (Created in the Gravity Simulator)

Black holes merging! (Created in the Gravity Simulator)

 

Black Holes have tons of neat properties, which you’ll all be able to check out in the next update to the Gravity Simulator.  Stay tuned for more General Relativistic fun!

 

-Andy

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