Interview with Greg Broadmore at GDC

Greg Broadmore, Concept Designer for Weta Workshop


After scoping out the Super Magnetic Game-o-Matic action, I ran intro Greg Broadmore. Greg is one of the concept designers from the illustrious Weta Workshop who is going to be sketching up concept art from the pitches mashed up on the magnet boards. I grabbed a few words with him while I had the chance.

MAKE: You’re known for doing concept design for Weta Workshop, District 9, and the Dr. Grordbort line of rayguns. What brings you to GDC?

Greg Broadmore: Good question. Basically, I’ve been interested in games my whole life. And I’ve spent the last 10 years helping to make films. But I’m particularly interested in games and I’ve always wanted to come here as long as I’ve known about GDC. So I’m here just to see it for the first time, to learn and adsorb as much as I can. I just started working with Valve adding Dr. Grordbort weapons for Team Fortress, so I’m interested to explore more of it. I’m hear on a learning mission.
MAKE: Had you ever done concept art for games before?
GB: I’ve done a little bit. I don’t really see it as being much different than designing for anything else. It’s just creative.

MAKE: We love your line of Dr. Grordbort’s rayguns at MAKE. What’s the process there of going from concept drawings to final product?
GB: It’s quite tricky. I believe the hardest designing in the world is making something that’s actually going to be built as a physical product. It’s certainly hard to build something, design something that’s going to be in a digital world, say a creature in a film — that’s hard, but there’s nothing harder than doing physical stuff.
MAKE: What makes it especially difficult?
GB: Well, with the rayguns, doing side-on schematics and drawings from various different angles. Half of the process is actually working with the guy who’s going to be physically building it. In the case of the rayguns, it’s usually David Tremont, a model maker who’s been working at Weta Workshop for god knows how long now. I work with him problem-solving all the way through. I suppose it wouldn’t be much different from any other creative process where you have to build something from something you’ve imagined, but you have to be very careful because everything has to function, everything has to feel right. For instance, with the rayguns, as ostentatious and over the top as they are, they still have to be ergonomic; your finger still has to reach the trigger. In a digital design, you don’t have to worry about such things as much — you can fudge them, but when it’s a real object, especially when a person is going to hold in their hands, it has to look right and feel right. I’m really nerdy about that kind of design, having it make as much sense as possible.
MAKE: So, have you been doing game concepts sketches yet? [for the Super Magnetic Game-o-Matic project]
GB: I’ve only just been wandering around at the moment. But I’m doing one hopefully later on in the week. I’m actually trying to find the guy who’s organizing it.
MAKE: Oh, yeah. I think it’s that guy…
GB: Ah, yes…Thanks.
MAKE: Thank you.
[And with that, he was off.]

See all of our alt.GDC coverage


MakerBot TV Season 2 Begins

MakerBot TV returns after taking a break for a few months:

In this first episode of season two of MakerBot TV, Bre will walk you through the history of MakerBot Industries. Find out what it was like in the early days when Bre, Adam and Zach were powering MakerBots with massive amounts of ramen and caffeine!


What’s So Awesome About Makerspaces?

Mt. Elliott Makerspace

Witnessing the collaboration and hands-on learning that happens at makerspaces is nothing short of inspirational. Seeing a community come together to create such a positive space for all members is thrilling. Mt. Elliott Makerspace in Detroit has been featured before on the blog, but they recently created this video titled “What Is the Mt. Elliott Makerspace” that really captures the essence and magic of what makes makerspaces so awesome.

Check it out:

From their site:

The Mt Elliott Makerspace is a community workshop that serves as an environment for knowledge exchange and entrepreneurial experimentation through “making.” The intention of the Mt Elliott Makerspace is to pool the talents and tools of creative makers by serving as a gathering space for learning, sharing and doing. By concentrating this maker spirit, the Makerspace may begin to effectively address community challenges related to education, economic development, and well-being.


NEWS FROM THE FUTURE – Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) kits

News From The Future-7

Tdcs Schematic

NEWS FROM THE FUTURETranscranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) kits… via Joel.

tDCS is one of the coolest pieces of health/ self improvement technology available today. The US Army and DARPA both currently use tDCS devices to train snipers and drone pilots, and have recorded 2.5x increases in learning rates. This incredible phenomenon is achieved through a very simple device called a tDCS machine.

Today if you want to buy a tDCS machine it’s nearly impossible to find one for less than $600, and you are typically required to have a prescription to order one. We wanted a simpler cheaper option. So we made one. Then, because we’re all egalitarian like, we thought others might want one too.

The GoFlow β1 is a full kit of all the parts and plans you need to build your own tDCS device. $99 will get you one of the first β1′s and will help us develop β2!

Looks like it’s not that hard to make your own


Fridge Magnet Game Dev at GDC

Walking through the Moscone West Exhibition Hall, GDC attendees are coming across what appears to be a magnetic board of over-sized fridge poetry. Except, instead of surreal, incomprehensible verse, the words are assembled into game proposals. Participants select nouns, verbs, adjectives, and genres from a table of magnetic word salad and arrange them on the board. Once a semi-coherent title and genre are assembled, concept art for the titles are sketched out on adjacent Wacom stations by industry professional artists, including Levi Ryken of Double Fine Productions and Greg Broadmore from New Zealand’s Weta Workshop (he of the District 9 concept design and the Dr. Grordbort line of steampunk rayguns).

This crowdsourced idea generator, dubbed the Super Magnetic Game-o-Matic, is the latest work of Nick Ahrens of iam8bit. After his successful piece at last year’s GDC, entitled “Painting with Pixels,” Ahrens wanted to create something even wilder. With generated titles so far including “Tyler Perry’s 3D Dino Ninja Revolution,” and “Misadventures of Deadly Hamster Bieber Killers,” this week-long project will certainly be generating a lot of laughs, if nothing else.

Super Magnetic Game-o-Matic


Building the MakerGear Mosaic 3D Printer Part VIII: The First Print

Due to popular demand, I’ve decided to take my MakerGear Mosaic assembly guide one step further, past the physical construction of the robot, and cover the process of getting through the first print.

I’ve now completely built two hobby-class CNC tools, from kits, and assisted in the construction of two more. And in my experience, it seems like getting the robot built is at best half the work of getting to the first complete job. Once you have the hardware ready to go, the number of options for your setup expands quite rapidly depending on the type of computer you’re using, its operating system, and the CAD, CAM, and host software packages you choose. I dedicated an old laptop to my printer, running Windows XP SP3, and am using a software toolchain consisting of SketchUp, Slic3r, and Pronterface. This is the most basic, user-friendly setup I can think of. But your mileage, as they say, may vary.

Traditionally, the first print off of a RepRap is supposed to be a shot glass, and the traditional file is minimug.stl. The original minimug file is available on the RepRap wiki, but for whatever reasons it is rotated at an unprintable angle, which is inconvenient for beginners. I have rotated it upright, centered it on the X and Y axes, and set its lower extremity at Z=0 and reposted it on Thingiverse.

What you test your shot glass with, of course, is entirely up to you. Personally, I’ve found Glenfiddich Solera Reserve to be an excellent choice. Its viscosity is lower than that of water, and thus makes for a better test of the integrity of your printed shot glass. And it’s easily disposed of when the test is complete.

The MakerGear Mosaic 3D Printer – Part VIII: The First Print



Alt.GDC: Gaming from a Maker’s POV

As you may already know, for the last few years, we’ve done an “alt.CES” series here on MAKE to coincide with the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES). It’s an opportunity to cover the biggest industry show (and party) in that tech space and to look at it through the brass-covered goggles and minty-boosted phones of makers. This year, we’re going to take this same maker lens and train it on other significant conventions in other tech-related spaces, such as SXSW, ComiCon, and starting today, the 12th annual Game Developer’s Conference (GDC).

All this week, alt.GDC will look at the event, taking place through Friday at San Francisco’s Moscone Center, from a maker’s POV. We’ll look at the hackable and open source gaming hardware and software being announced, relevant games in the mobile space, educational gaming, interviewing indie game luminaries, and more. Blake Maloof, a game designer at Toys for Bob, who’s also one of our Maker Faire blog team members, will be covering the event for us, and we’ll have some other folks chiming in as well. Should be a fun week.

If you’re at the con, we’d love to get your thoughts and images, too. Send any relevant alt.CES content here. And feel free to share your thoughts, rumors, and things you’d like see us cover in the comments below.


Math Monday: Floppy Disks

By George Hart for the Museum of Mathematics


Remember floppy disks? They still appear as the Save icon on some software, but not everyone is old enough to know why. Here’s a sculpture I made from thirty floppy disks, called Disk Combobulation. They are slotted at just the right angles to slide together and hold without glue. The overall shape, with thirty faces and twelve pentagonal openings, is a truncated rhombic triacontahedron.

Slotting floppy disks is tricky, but you can make a paper version of this design pretty easily. The instructions and a template are online here.

See all of George Hart’s Math Monday columns


An Ethical Vacuum Mousetrap?

User Alan Perekh posted this on the Hacked Gadgets forum. He baited the business end of his Shop Vac with some peanut butter, and plugged into an IR motion sensor. Whenever a mouse comes by to check it out, the sensor is triggered and the little rodent gets sucked into the vacuum, presumably for remote release.

The idea is certainly novel, but is it ethical? The mouse appears unharmed in the holding container of the vacuum, but I wonder if these results can be reliably duplicated. Have an opinion? Share it in the comments section.



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