November 03, 2009  •  Posted by Nathaniel Pearson

The purpose of our project was to create a system that was both technically interesting and entertaining. Our result was to create a new perspective on the classic arcade game Pac-Man, in which players control a real Pac-Man in the form of a decorated remote-controlled vehicle. In our Pac-Man game the maze is also real, and is made from pegboard and PVC pipe. By using a projector to display the game software from above, and a webcam and image-processing to locate Pac-Man within the maze, we were able to craft a link between our software and the real maze.

The Pac-Man game was implemented on a Windows PC that was connected to the projector. The game includes all of the typical Pac-Man elements, including ghosts, power-ups, and an outline of the game maze. A small remote-controlled tank was modified to resemble Pac-Man, and allows the player to navigate the maze. The tank is tracked via a webcam mounted near the projector and a color-recognition image processing algorithm. By using an internal coordinate system that links the webcam's positioning of the player’s vehicle to the known coordinates of the enemies and power-ups, it was possible to craft a link between the physical and virtual worlds. In doing so, we hope to have created a game that is enjoyable, and also provides some technical insights.