I am a motherfucking Jedi Master.
I always knew this, but after spending an hour crushing my enemies solely with the power of my brain in the appropriately named, first-person smash-em-up game Throw Trucks with Your Mind … oh yeah. Confirmed, baby. The Force is strong with me. Moving and aiming in its open arena keeps to standard PC keyboard/mouse configurations, but combat plays out entirely on a mental level courtesy of lightweight, wireless, commercially available EEG headsets.
So yes, you actually throw a virtual truck (bearing a superficial resemblance to Halo’s Warthog) with your mind and crush other players with it. Crates, barrels, and cement blocks, too. But that truck is the one-hit-kill motherload.
It’s also tougher to move than anything else. Size matters not, but throw-attacks require your full concentration. Specifically, NeuroSky’s Mindwave headset reads spikes in your brain’s beta waves, and the game translates them into proportional telekinetic force. “It doesn’t matter what you focus on so long as you focus,” says Lat Ware, the game’s creator/designer. “It’s the act of giving attention to one thing and taking it away from everything else.”
Ware’s done exactly that to get his game off the ground, and it’s been a long time coming. A graduate of famed game design school DigiPen and an alumnus of developers Realtime Worlds (APB: All Points Bulletin) and Crypic Studios (Star Trek Online, Champions Online), Ware first came across NeuroSky’s brain-monitoring EEG devices eight years ago.
“NeuroSky did a demo of their headset using the Half-Life 2 engine,” he says. “They had cars and chairs, and you could lift things and push things. I thought this had the potential to be the best thing ever, so I went to the people in the booth and said, ‘When are you making this game?’ And they said, ‘Never.'”
Six years later, NeuroSky launched the MindWave, a commercial-market EEG headset. That’s what Ware had been waiting for. “I said, ‘OK, I’m making the game you refused to make.'”
Candidly, the game he’s making — on the cheap, no less, using Unreal Development Kit freeware — is seriously awesome, though it definitely takes getting used to. I had to figure out what to focus on and how to channel that focus in order to do some damage. Ware told me a friend of his with ADHD does math problems in his head to get objects rolling, but since math is for suckers, I ended up holding out a hand, Star Wars-style, to exert my will on the game. That worked just fine. With a mimed shove, I sent the truck smashing into my first unsuspecting victim.
I’ve test driven a few sluggish, dull games using biometric inputs, and they don’t even compare. Ware’s game moves and responds to my level of expectation.
And it’ a pure, giddy thrill when you launch something across the arena just by thinking about it. If that emptied Throw Trucks’ box of tricks, I’d still be fairly amused by it, but Ware’s building a much deeper experience that casual and core gamers can dig into … assuming Throw Trucks reaches its Kickstarter goal and actually gets made.