Spike McCue


Nerf-Lander is an interactive sword fighting game that blends the excitement of video games with the physical activity of fencing.


Introduction to Physical Computing

User interaction: two people put on the hoodies, pick up the swords, and fight until someone wins.

The objective of Nerf-Lander is repeatedly strike patches of copper mesh attached to an opponent's hooded sweatshirt, over time weakening, and subsequently beating them. The weapon of choice is a 42" Nerf sword edged in copper tape, with a cycling power bar of LEDs embedded in the hilt. There are five copper patches sewn to the sweatshirt: four total on the upper and lower arms and a heart shaped patch on the chest. Sewn beneath each patch is a super bright LED that randomly lights. Any hit to an opponent's patch will result in "damage", but a strike while the LED is lit will do more. If an opponent strikes a patch when all five sections of the power bar are lit, the attack will produce even more "damage".

Players are able to monitor their damage through a projected “damage display”. The damage display consists of two characters, the “artist”, and the “geek”. Each patch is represented with a “health bar”, additionally, a master health bar at the bottom tracks overall damage. As damage is accrued, the health bar depletes. When the health bar is completely empty, that arm portion becomes segmented, representing it’s “destruction”. When the master health bar is completely empty, a notification pops up on each player, “you win!” and “you lose”, respectively.

We looked at different video games and how users interacted with the game. Traditionally, users haven't interacted physically in any meaningful way. The Wii and the Kinect are currently changing this, but users are still limited to a small number of specific controllers. We wanted to allow the user to actually experience the fight with proper physical objects, and have the damage be displayed visually.

Everyone capable of hitting someone else with a nerf sword, and being hit in return.

User Scenario
The user puts on one of the hoodies and picks up a sword, a partner does the same. They procede to swing wildly at each other. Eventually, one of them connects, and the damage display reflects this. Hopefully, this doesn't take too long. Eventually, one of them hits the other enough to win. They win.

Two 42" nerf swords. Two hoodies (one black, one white). Some copper mesh. 18 super bright LEDs. Lots of wire. A bit of green nylon for edging the copper mesh. A whole lot of wire.

The gameplan involves sword fighting, a lot of grins, some score settling, and general enjoyment for all.

1. If you're using lots of wire, black is ground.
2. Well, if you're using any wire, black is ground.
3. Feature creep is insidious.
4. One LED is not the same as 18 LEDs.
5. Build a basic piece that works, and then make it more complicated. Don't say "wow, that's really simple, lets sit here for a little while and make it way complicated and then build it!"