PIT Ping Pong Project

James Chen and Tim Preston



We want to create an application which will allow two users to play Ping Pong in the Pit. Initially, we want to use a simple dynamic simulation, which will be little more than Pong with gravity, but we want to add torque, friction, and various other more complicated aspects to the physics model in order to more realistically simulate the Ping Pong experience.


This project has two primary motivations: first, to come up with a realistic Ping Pong experience, and second, to enhance the PIT environment to be robust enough to handle such a simulation. Currently, the PIT has only been used for molecular modelling applications, and it will have to have more flexibility built into it to be able to interact with users in a game of Ping Pong.


Heck, it's a game. Ping Pong is fun, but not everyone can get a table into their basement, and it's expensive, and you always lose the Ping Pong balls and paddles. While the first two reasons also apply to the PIT, a PIT version of the game will ensure that you never lose the paddles or the ball. You may lose the Pythons or the 3D glasses, but UNC will pay to replace those. But beyond the obvious reasons, it would also be interesting to expand the range of applications currently available for the PIT, and it would be helpful to build more flexibility into the PIT code so it can be more useful in general.


Ping Pong has had a rich and illustrious history, dating from the early Pre-Cambrian period, when dinosaurs would fling early mammals back and forth in an attempt to knock down the taller trees and eat their leaves. Upon discovering that is was quite fun, they developed rules and set up rudimentary tournaments, which were hindered by the fact that the walnut-sized brains of the dinosaurs prevented them from keeping scores above 2. Much later, computer simulations of physics became fairly common, and have been applied successfully to problems in many different areas, such as physics, meteorology, biology, and others. The PIT, on the other hand, has been used primarily for displaying and interacting with molecular environments, and development of non-molecular simulations has been minimal.


The project will be demonstrated by having people play Ping Pong in the PIT at the end of the semester. Other, rejected possibilities included hosting the Ping Pong World Championships in the PIT, and setting up a double-blind study where people would play Ping Pong and then decide whether they though they were playing real Ping Pong or just our simulation.


The project has two main components: the game simulation from a dynamics point of view, and the game presentation/interaction part. Progress as of 4/13/99 is as follows:

At the moment, the path of future work is clear: complete the dynamics simulation, alter the PIT to allow the behavior necessary for the game (such as 180-degree views instead of 90-degree views and game behavior superceding standard PIT functionality), and integrate the pieces into the game of Ping-Pong.



Last updated 5/8/99