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Parallel Wires and Relativity

Posted in: Electric Shocktopus, Lesson Time!, TestTubeGames Explains, Velocity Raptor | January 14, 2016 | No Comments


The latest venture here at TestTubeGames?  Videos!

Teaching through games is great – and I love it (obviously) – but in addition to that, I thought I’d make some *videos* about the *science* behind the *games*.

…*…

And since everything I do needs a title (Feel Bad Friday, Gravity Simulator Image of the Day, etc), these videos have a name, too:

 

TestTubeGames Explains

In my first video, learn how Magnetism can be explained just by using Electricity and Relativity.

 

screenCap

 

What do you think?  Was it understandable?  Crazy confusing?  What other topics would you like to see in the future?

-Andy

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Andy vs. Super-Duper Trick-Filled Level

Posted in: Velocity Raptor | May 1, 2015 | No Comments


This week’s Feel Bad Friday takes us back to simpler (space)times.

That’s right, I’m playing a level from Velocity Raptor.  And not just *any* level, mind you.  I’m playing: Super-Duper Trick-Filled Level by exfret.  He made this level about a year-and-a-half ago – and I’d barely made any progress in it.  Until today.

You can watch the video of me playing the level, or go grab the level code to go play it yourself… if you dare.

 

 

It took me… a while… to beat the level.  I edited the ~40 minute video down into a sprightly 15 minutes for your viewing pleasure.  I died dozens of times.  But I finally learned what exfret liked so much about the bottom of the level.  Wow.  That blew my mind.  Well done exfret – and thanks for sharing the level with us!

 

-Andy

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See-All Seal — Part 2!

Posted in: Velocity Raptor | October 21, 2013 | No Comments


I missed the past week’s blog post — I’m glad that’s finally the exception, not the rule! — since I’ve been traveling around Germany.  Visiting friends, family, going to a wedding, and eating a bunch of great food.  I’ve got my laptop along, and I’ve been doing some work here and there, but it’s been much slower than normal.

But I *did* take another crack at exfret’s See-All Seal levels — and I’ve posted it on YouTube for your further viewing pleasure.  So go take a peek!

 

 

How did I do?  Well, I’ll let history be the judge of that.

-Andy

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The See-all Seal

Posted in: Velocity Raptor, Wednesday Update | September 4, 2013 | No Comments


Something a little fun and different this week — if you’ve been watching in the forums, you may have come across a set of levels that exfret made for Velocity Raptor.  It’s a prequel to the game — with a few dozen challenging levels, and a plot to go along with it, to boot!

Well, I figured I’d try my hand at the levels, recording them as I did.  Man vs. Machine.  Creator vs. Creations.  Raptor vs. Shocktopus.  Wait, not that last one.

I posted my attempt for the first handful of levels on YouTube — so you can watch what happens.  So far, I have to say, the levels are fun to play.  They’re also challenging in the extreme, so I encourage you to give them a try yourself.

 

 

A big thanks to exfret for making the levels.  If this is something people enjoy — I’ll bring it back soon with Part 2… where I head into the Volcano!

-Andy

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Velocity Raptor Level Editor

Posted in: Velocity Raptor, Wednesday Update | July 21, 2013 | 2 Comments


It’s been a few weeks of radio-silence over here, primarily due to me being out-of-town, and away from the Internet.  But I’m back home, and have a new update that was hopefully worth the wait…

Velocity Raptor has a fresh update, with a brand-spanking new level editor.

 

Build it and they will play

Build it and they will play

 

Start with a blank slate. Then add walls, water, trap doors, fire/snow/doppler blocks, etc.  Whatever your heart desires.  Then go ahead and play your level.  And when you’re all done, you can share it using the level’s code.  Send it to a friend, post it as a challenge on Facebook, email it to me to show me what a good level designer you are, or post it in the forum for the world to see.

 

Where c = 1

Where c = 1… due to a shortage of pixels

 

If enough new levels get created, I can add in a system (just like with Agent Higgs) where we can all share levels with each other.  Have fun creatin’!

-Andy

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TestTube Lesson: ‘Seen’ Distances

Posted in: Physics Lessons, Velocity Raptor | May 19, 2013 | 2 Comments


I just got a great question about Special Relativity. (And I imagine this might kick off a series, so do ask any physics questions prompted by the games/point out cool physics you come across)

The Problem

A player (‘BARP’) commented on a previous post, wondering:

 

“In the seen view of VR, the room shrinks/gets closer behind the raptor. But light should take longer to reach the raptor from behind him, so the view behind the raptor should be stretched out.”

 

So what’s up?  A great question, and since it cuts to the core of the ‘Seen’ view (and requires some images) I thought I’d answer it in post form.  If you haven’t played Velocity Raptor yet, do that first.  This post will make a lot more sense once you reach level 25.

The basis for the ‘Seen’ view is that when you see something, the light from it didn’t reach your eyes instantly.  Light travels fast, sure, but it takes time to reach you.  So when you look at a star that’s many light-years away, you’re seeing it as it was many years ago.  In Velocity Raptor, with slower light, you notice this even with nearby objects.

The commenter makes a perfectly intuitive point.  If the light from an object takes longer to reach you, it would make sense that the object appears further away.  The light from the moon takes longer to reach you than the light from your computer monitor, and it certainly appears further away.  When you (as Velocity Raptor) are running away from, say, the left hand wall, there’s some extra lag for the light to reach you (check out Level 26, and keep the Doppler shift firmly in mind).  So shouldn’t the wall appear further away?  And yet on the screen, it appears much closer to you.

 

On the left, the raptor standing still. On the right, the raptor running to the right.

On the left, the raptor standing still. On the right, the raptor running to the right.

 

Why that doesn’t happen

It turns out that how far away an object appears to be doesn’t depend at all on how long the photons have been traveling towards you.  Truly, your eyes can’t detect the ‘age’ of a photon.  All your eyes detect are things like the color, and the angle the light is coming from.  It’s that second one that tells our brain how big an object appears…

 

What’s really going on

You can think of your eye like a pinhole camera.  Light rays from an object come in and get projected on the back wall (aka your retina).  The closer — or bigger — an object is, the bigger the image on your retina.

 

The further the blue bar, the smaller the image cast on the retina.

The further the blue bar, the smaller the image cast on the retina.

 

When the raptor is running away from the wall, the eyeball is now moving away from the incoming light.  That means the light that enters the eye has to travel further before it reaches the retina.

 

A stationary eye at the top, and a moving one on the bottom.

A stationary eye at the top, and a moving one on the bottom.

 

In the bottom image, the dotted-line box shows where the camera was when the light passed through the pinhole.  The solid box shows where the camera is when the light finally hits the retina.  It keeps the same angle of attack the whole time, but has longer to spread out, and makes a bigger image on the retina.  Thus, the wall appears bigger.  (Keep in mind that we should take length contraction into account… but that ends up being a second order issue.  The effect I’ve described exists with or without length contraction.)  This explanation, by the way, relies heavily on the great site spacetimetravel.org, which you should definitely check out if you want to learn more.

 

Now in 3D!

The question remains… does that mean the wall is closer, or does it mean the wall is bigger?  If Velocity Raptor were from a first-person perspective (like A Slower Speed of Light), it wouldn’t make a big difference.  In such a game you don’t see the distance of objects.  An object could be small, or it could be far away.  But with the bird’s-eye-perspective in Velocity Raptor, the distance needs to be drawn right on the screen.

It turns out the wall appears closer, instead of bigger.  You can think about the true path of an object… if it is traveling in a straight line, you should always see it at some point along that path.  Imagine standing on train tracks and watching the train race away from you.  Should it appear bigger (wider and taller) than it is, or closer than it is?  If it appeared wider, then the train would no longer seem to fit on the tracks.  The wheels would be spaced to far apart.  But the contact point of the wheel and the newly-run-over track must appear to be at the same place.  The photons, after all, are emerging from the same location.  Thus, the train cannot seem wider, and must seem closer.

So, excellent question, BARP, I hope this helps explain the ‘Seen’ view just a bit.  Lingering questions/qualms with this explanation?  Ask away in the comments below.

-Andy

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SciVis Winner!

Posted in: General News, Velocity Raptor | January 31, 2013 | No Comments


Big news over here! The results of the National Science Foundation’s International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge are in. (Say that five times fast!) And…

 

Shiny Trophy

Rawr.

 

Velocity Raptor is a winner! It got an Honorable Mention, which places it tied at the top of the Games category. You haven’t played it yet? Click below to solve that!

 

Play Velocity Raptor

…or play later. Your choice.

 

This is particularly big news for me as a solo, unaffiliated-with-an-institution developer. To put it in perspective, the first place winner last year was Fold.it, which you may have heard of. Most importantly, though, my trophy shelf looks a lot less depressing / more awesome.

You can read more in the journal Science, or online here. I think there’ll even be a video, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

But you’ll also find a slew of other interesting items there. The contest ranged from images to videos to games. And frankly, since this has just been released, I’m excited to take a closer look at the other winners, myself.

-Andy

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Sneak Peek #2

Posted in: Quantum Game, Velocity Raptor | November 10, 2012 | No Comments


Game Hint #2

With more than 20 votes cast for Velocity Raptor, here is another look at my upcoming quantum game.

Want more? Go vote!

-Andy

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Voting Extended!

Posted in: General News, Velocity Raptor | November 9, 2012 | No Comments


Voting is now open until the 12th. So if you haven’t had a chance yet, follow this link to vote for Velocity Raptor: VR 2012!

And if you vote, we may just get another sneak peek at TestTubeGames’ next science game!

-Andy

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Sneak Peek #1

Posted in: Quantum Game, Velocity Raptor | November 5, 2012 | No Comments


As promised, with more than 10 votes cast for Velocity Raptor, here is the first look at an image from my upcoming game.

Get off my book!

There you have it, folks. If you want to see more, go vote! And do it quick! We only have until Wednesday…

-Andy

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