Sunday, November 18, 2018

PyWeek 26: Storm Drain Odyssey

"Storm Drain Odyssey" was a team entry by Team Universe Factory (for which I was part of) for PyWeek 26 (October 2018), a twice yearly video game development competition that gets competitors to build a complete game from scratch in seven days using the python programming language. This year's theme was "Flow" and we created a 3D dungeon exploration/puzzle game where you control a pet goldfish navigating your way out of a sewer labyrinth.

I'd been itching to be part of a team entry (I've done the last three comps solo), so I was stoked when I was able to join Universe Factory (definitely one of the most competitive teams in PyWeek, with several existing titles :) ) ... the team was very welcoming to new-comers. I focussed on graphics, 3D modelling and graphical programming (with a bit of sound-design) and it was a good experience working in a team but not leading or being responsible for major game mechanics: Cosmologicon, our team lead, ran a very tight ship and was very organised, so everyone seemed to be on the same page. I learnt a ton of practical experience in version control and managing working on software in a team (which I don't do much), so that was cool too. I also learnt how to use scripting with OpenSCAD to quickly turn around 3D environment models (which I documented in a game page blog here), a technique that I think I would definitely try to use again.

The game ended up coming second in the team division, which we were fairly happy with. There's a source and Windows standalone version that can be downloaded from the game page here:

"Storm Drain Odyssey" on

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Record Clock

It was my wife's birthday coming up soon, and I knew she wanted to get a new clock for our living room, so in the do-it-yourself spirit, I decided to make her one. I'd seen a couple of previous projects where clocks had been build around an old LP vinyl record, and wanted to try the same idea myself, and see if I could do it on Carvey (3D carving machine).

I picked up a $7 clock from Kmart and pulled off the case to retrieve the clock mechanism inside. I bought a second hand 7'' single vinyl record ("Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler, quite randomly :) ) which I would use to carve on my clock face using Carvey. I ended up going with a 7'' as I couldn't fit a 12'' inside Carvey. I knocked up a quick design in Easel by just using a standard font and a few icons for fun arranged around a 7'' circle. To do the setup in Carvey, I used a bit of MDF waste board and an additional 1-by-1'' piece of 2mm scrap wood to raise the height of Carvey's smart sensor to a little bit above the 1mm thickness of the record: because the record is a circle, you can't get it under the clamp while also being able to carve on all sides. I carved with a 1/16'' up-cut bit (the only 1/16'' bit available), and set the material type to "acrylic" (seemed the closest match). This worked pretty well, however the vinyl is pretty soft and so there was a pretty sizeable bur of vinyl that was stuck around the bit for most of the process: this ended up "buffing" around the edge of each number cutout, but didn't really have too much of a negative impact on the final result.

Once the clock face was carved, I glued on the clock mechanism to the back, placed the clock hands back on and pasted on a family pic to the record label area: if I'd found a second hand single of a song my wife really liked, I might have just kept the label as-is.

Final result looks pretty cool, and not bad for a $9 present :) (I might be a bit of a cheap skate sometimes, but in this case I did get her a few other things too!)