Nick and I ended up having an impromptu brainstorming session during the break today, and we ended up coming up with a game that we believe would be fun, but also within the realm of our technical capabilities (or at least within Nick's).
I will take it upon myself to describe the game idea, and leave the more technical explanation of how the equipment will work to Nick.
The game involves a large, rectangular shaped 'goal' that is fitted with IR emitters along the inner side of its perimeter, and light emitting diodes (LEDs) along both facing sides. The IR emitters shoot beams left to right, and up and down, thus forming an invisible grid within the rectangular 'goal'.
The object of the game is to throw the ball through a specific point on the grid, which is indicated by four LED's that light up along the perimeter of the goal (N.B. One lit LED for each side of the rectangle). The intersection of these four points indicates the area where the player needs to throw the ball, and the accuracy of that throw is detected by the IR emitters.
The scoring system in Gridball is not about scoring points, but rather about avoiding penalties. Instead of starting with a score of zero and attempting to score as many points as possible before the time runs out, the players start with an identical amount of time, and their objective is to prevent their own timer from reaching zero before their opponent's does.
When the ball is on the player's side of the grid, their timer will begin counting down to zero, while their opponent's timer remains frozen until the ball is accurately passed back through the point specified on the grid goal.
Each time the ball passes through the correct point on the grid goal, the placement of the point changes. This means that the receiving player needs to stop and assess where they will need to throw the ball next.
Throwing the ball inaccurately results in a penalty that immediately deducts time from that player's timer.
When a player's timer reaches zero, that player loses and the game is over.
ADDITIONAL STRATEGIC ELEMENTS:
Each player has access to a button that is placed behind, and a significant distance away from, the grid goal. This button allows the player to actively change the point on the grid goal - albeit at random, and for a price.
Pressing the button affords the player the opportunity to ruin their opponents carefully aimed shots. By changing the point on the grid as the opponent's ball is in mid-air, the player ensures that his opponent incurs a penalty.
However, the price for pressing the button is an automatic deduction of time to the player. The amount of time deducted is effectively a transference of the total amount of time that the ball has been in the possession of the opponent for that round. That is, the player incurs the opponent's time deduction penalty upon themselves, in the hope that the penalty incurred upon their opponent by an inaccurate shot is greater.
This strategy is an effective way for a player to interrupt the flow of an opponent who consistently returns the ball quickly and accurately. However, players cannot continually linger by the button, as once the strategy is detected, there are a number of countermeasures:
A) The player does nothing, and simply waits until the penalty incurred by an inaccurate shot to be lesser than the penalty transferred to the opponent for pressing the button.
B) The player feints throwing the ball, attempting to trick the opponent into pressing the button needlessly, and thus ensuring a penalty to the opponent at no cost to the player.
C) The player gets as close as possible to the point and tries to throw the ball through quickly and suddenly, before the opponent presses the button.
D) Any combination of the above.
So, that's it! I hope this explanation has been clear and not too confusing. There is still room for improvement, but as it stands, I think this game would be pretty fun, if we could make it happen.
I was going to add some diagrams, but I'm pretty tired at the moment, so I'll try to add them later. Hopefully it all makes sense regardless.
Let me know your thoughts!