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Game thinking from Adam Clare

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Come Play Stardoz at Maker Festival Toronto

Stardoz with Oculus Rift

Maker Festival Toronto is happening this weekend (August 1&2) and it’s FREE!

I’ll be showing Stardoz complete with Oculus Rift support. I’ve modified the game quite a bit since the last time I showed it and it’s even more fun! Come on down and play Stardoz and all the other really cool projects that all the crazy makers have created.

Stardoz with Oculus Rift warp

If you’re curious here’s a partial list of what I changed:
-Enemy spawn rate
-Timer display
-Weapon performance
-AI vastly improved
-More SFX
-Easier to navigate menu (no head rotation needed)

Pictures of the Maker party last week:


Play Stardoz on the Oculus Rift at Make it Glow

Stardoz now has Oculus Rift support and you can play it next week in Toronto at Make it Glow, part of the Maker Festival.

Stardoz was made at TOJam and uses an Arduino heartbeat monitor to spawn enemies. You must stay calm and fight off the enemies. Now with Oculus Rift support you can fly around through meta-space with the ability to look around in 360 degrees. Is the game more fun with the Oculus Rift? You’ll have to play it to find out (hint: yes).

I’m still tweaking some of the gameplay and interfaces to make the Oculus Rift experience so much more than the non-VR version.

Playing Stardoz with the Oculus Rift

Playing Stardoz with the Oculus Rift

Make it Glow will have tons of fun exhibits and other oddities to check out!

There’ll be glittery things to gawk at, projects to play with, and science-ness on display. PLUS the evening will be brought to life thanks to Electric Runway – a fashion-meets-technology spectacle featuring smart garments, 3D printed jewelry, brain-sensing headbands, and light-up-everything sourced from makers near and far.

Join us as we sip on sparkles, paint with light, hypnotize our inner-cynic, reignite our maker spirit, and tinker toward a (techni-coloured!) future made by many.

Get your tickets to Make it Glow now!

Stardoz! My Game Which Uses Heartbeats To Spawn Enemies


First version of Stardoz

Stardoz is a crazy experimental biometric-driven game I built at TOJam a few weeks back. In the game you fly around in a spaceship shooting at giant floating heads and hands. It’s similar to many flying in space combat games.

The catch is that your heartbeat controls the spawn rate of enemies. The pulsing red border on the screen shows the player’s heart at work.

If floating heads seems familiar to you, it’s because you may remember the movie Zardoz starring Sean Connery. Just watch the trailer to see how zany the movie is.

Really, the gameplay is similar in play insofar that “the gun is good” and that one survives by ‘killing’. It’s very simple gameplay with a neat twist. I made Stardoz to test out some space-based game mechanics and to incorporate some biometric data into a game.

Playtesters have liked the heartbeat spawn mechanic and only one player took issue that the game is hard for people with high resting heart rates. I’m still tweaking the spawn rate but it’s alright for the most part.

Stardom being played

The art confuses players and that’s a design goal of mine. I wanted it to cross between the ridiculous and the overly-symbolic. Thus, instead of a score it lists how many egos you’ve destroyed and how many emotions you have. .

You are flying through space (or is mindspace?) destroying representations of human forms. In some cases it’s heavy handed and in some ways quite subtle (only one person has figured out the symbolic placement of the TOJam goat).

Getting the Heartbeat

Pulse Sensor

With the excellent help of J Lee, I was able to get an Arduino Uno board to work with a pulse sensor which meant that heartbeats could be tracked using Unity. The heartbeat is tracked using this pulse sensor which was really easy to connect to the Arduino and to configure it into Unity.

“Fun fact”: for Windows use COM4 and /dev/cu.usbmodem1421 for Macs as the port for Unity to talk to the Arduino. At least this is what worked for my setup. Results may vary.

The pulse sensor goes around the player’s finger and surprisingly doesn’t interfere with gameplay controls. It can be attached to the player’s ear but it just feels weird.

Here it is in action around the left index finger of a player:

Heartbeat sensor with game controller

Next Steps

For this game will be to see if I can get it working with the Apple Watch (or Android Wear), if it works maybe I’ll release it for anyone to play. In the meantime I’m hoping to show it at upcoming events.

Stardoz restart


These are the games that I’ve made, sometimes on my own, sometimes with other people. This page covers most of my ludology. If I documented making the game then I provide a link in the description to blog posts about it. For example, all of my One Game a Month games have at least one accompanying blog post.


If you’ve played a game on a mobile phone than you’ve likely played a casual game. I too like playing casual games, so I also make them. Most of these games are already available on their respective App Stores, or will be on the store soon.


“Insanely addictive” and “frustratingly brilliant”! Save lost “doges” in space by navigating through danger in AstroDoge. Use a bizarre tank-like driving mechanic that makes full use of the screen and your fingers. Game design summary to be written. It’s free and you can get now! Google Play Store

Gnome Oppressor

Gnome Oppressor An endless flyer that was my first Game a Month game for 2014. It’s a simple game and you can read about the design of Gnome Oppressor. Store


CatLifter CatLifter was inspired by the classic game Choplifter as well as kittens (which are universally agreed to be adorable). The gameplay is casual and the challenge is sickeningly cute – guide your RC helicopter to the kitten carriers where the gnomes have imprisoned your feline friends. Buy it now! Store


These games are ones that either push boundaries (either in games or culture) or are experiments that I set out to test myself (like bizarre coding stuff).


Stardoz is a crazy experimental biometric-driven game with Oculus Rift support. In the game you fly around in a spaceship shooting at giant floating heads and hands. It’s similar to many flying in space combat games.

This game isn’t available for purchase. It’s great for showing at game events though; feel free to contact me if you want it on display.

The latest news on Stardoz.

Das Game

Das Game1
A tongue-in-cheek look at the philosophy stemming from German existentialists. The gameplay is abstracted and purposefully confusing. The player needs to figure out what to do – just as in life. Read about the game’s development.

Game Design Improv

Game Design Improv

This game started as an exercise created for Board Game Jam then used for my game design classes. It’s a fun and quick way to create as many game ideas as possible using randomly generated cues in game-sepecific categories. Those categories are: story, genre, mechanic, and thing.

Read about the making of the game.

Coming soon!


TorGame was an alternate reality game (ARG) that used the streets of Toronto as the game board. Players had to solve a mystery of corporate espionage and supernatural threats while interacting with the normal streets of Toronto. more games coming soon!


Scapa Flow

Take on the role of a U-Boat Captain hunting for Royal Navy warships. Beware, if you sink a civilian ship you risk changing the tide of the war.
Scapa Flow is inspired by the sudden technological advances during WWI. You can read about the game’s development here.

Rock Mars

Rock mars Players follow a hypothetical mission to Mars which has run into some problems that only the players can solve. Working in teams, students act as scientists and investigators as they navigate the challenges and obstacles posed by a graphic novel.

Village of Cards

Run and election! This game explores the difficulty of running a political campaign to get elected within the Canadian electoral system. The game runs four ‘weeks’ and each week has five ‘days’ with the winner being the candidate with the most votes at the end of the fourth week. Village of Cards Village of Cards is a card game that challenges players to pick a strategy of going on the offensive or defensive to win the election. As the game progresses it gets harder and harder to sway voters to your side – but you can always remove your opponents’ lead.


A game focused on geography, civics, and generally getting to know the world around you. Made in partnership between Teach and Wero Creative.

As a consultant

I’ve worked on a lot of games as a design consultant for organizations and companies that either need help on their actual game or are curious about getting into the world of games. Not all projects I’ve consulted on are listed here due to disclosure arrangements.

If you need help (or looking for more information), please feel free to get in touch!

Huge Monster Worked on one of the first RTS-esque games for Facebook (yup, before Clash of Clans). It’s the game pictured to the right. You can read about it here.

codeofwar_base codeofwar_missiles


Green Heroes What started as a TV series that looks at great people doing great things on behalf of the environment needed to grow into a more game-like experience. They were looking for ways to connect with viewers over mobile, plus wanted insights into how to use game-like mechanics in their call to action. More here.


Toronto Beer Quest – Along with Board Game Jam co-conspirator, David Fono, we plan an annual game as one of the challenges along the ever enjoyable event. Good beer and good fun!


SGU Consulted on an unannounced educational project in collaboration with a third party.


Do You Believe Me? The Nightingale Company was looking into ways to engage young viewers and we came up with Do You Believe Me. It’s an ARG with a story about love and loss.

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