Alert! Asteroid update heading your way!

As you all know, we recently attended the Great North Children’s Research Committee Conference, where we showed off the new updates for the Asteroid game! We are always thinking of ways to develop Asteroid for better accuracy and performance, and we presented our progress on this during the conference. We even won a prize as one of the best posters!

But before we all get too excited, let me explain how the new updates came about. As you probably know (depending on how much you enjoy reading these posts…) we regularly visit museums in and around Newcastle so that members of the public can have a play on Asteroid and our other vision-related games. More recently, we spent two fun-filled days at the Discovery Museum and the Centre for Life to promote and test our new updates. Here are a couple of pictures to show what we got up to:

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During our data collection in schools, we noticed that the younger ones found it a bit trickier to finish the game all the way to the end without any problems. So, as a team, we met together to think of ways to improve the game itself; a lot of tea and cake were involved. All that sugar propelled us to come up with some new ideas, which have since then been installed on to the tablet. Our friends at both FluidPixel and the computer sciences department here at Newcastle University did a great job of formulating and designing our ideas into a reality, and we can’t wait to see the impact it has for the game itself!

Without further ado, here are the new changes:


Shuffling Animation

Our participants are always super keen to finish the game once they have started, which is brilliant! But sometimes, this means that they press on the screen to enter their answer without pausing to look at the other options. To try and fix this, we designed a new ‘shuffling’ animation, so that each trial is separated by an animation of all four boxes being shuffled… just like a deck of cards! This will hopefully encourage our plays to pause before choosing an answer.





Non-3D Trials

During the beginning of the game, trials do not just show a 3D shape, but one with an extra clue: a different colour. However, we found that this can sometimes confuse participants, so that they look for a different colour on all the other trials too. To avoid this, we replaced colour cues with a frame cue which fades out as the trials go on, so that they know that they only need to look for the same shape in 3D, without needing to pay attention to the different colours on the screen.





Tablet Tilting

We noticed that the positioning of the tablet changes how clear the 3D image becomes, which makes it difficult for our participants to play the game. It is important to place the tablet parallel to the face to avoid this. By doing so, we are making sure that the game is working properly, and that it is indeed measuring what it needs to measure: the participant’s stereoacuity.





Now, we may be biased, but we think that these updates proved to be very promising! They reduced the amount of accidental presses, and encouraged the children to take their time. In any case, it didn’t affect how much fun children had while they played on Asteroid. There were definitely a lot of smiley faces all around!

That’s all from us for now. Until next time, m-eye friends!

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