X’s and O’s and Black Holes – 2015

X’s and O’s and Black Holes is a side project I started during my Master’s, and it is still ongoing. It started as a technical exercise to see if I could code recursive Tic-Tac-Toe, that is Tic-Tac-Toe boards inside cells of other Tic-Tac-Toe boards. The first implementation was in Processing/Java (view source).


I received positive feedback from Brenda Romero and it started to look like there might actually be a really fun game in there, so I started over, building version 2 using C++ and the SFML library for graphics.  I wrote my own engine for the game. Brenda suggested that since Tic-Tac-Toe is a solved game, that my method of resetting any board that had a tie game wasn’t helping it at all. She suggested that I have a shooter or some other chaotic, unsolved game be the tie breaker.  I wrote my own version of the classic Spacewar to fill that void. It was at this point that I named it X’s and O’s and Black Holes. (view source).



Here you can see the first working implementation of the Spacewar part of the game.  The Black Hole is in white (to make it easier to see), and the projectiles from each ship are in blue and red.  There are blue arrows showing where each ship is.  These were all temporary art assets to get it working.

This version was coming along well, but having to build engine features and do the art was taking away too much time from building the game.  As a result, I started over again, this time using Unity 3D and C#.  During this conversion, I switched from the game being 2D to 3D.  As of March 2016, this version is still in development. (view source)


Here you can see the current Tic Tac Toe board. It plays just like the original version, with the added mechanic of jumping to Spacewar whenever one of the games results in a tie.  This version uses a controller for input instead of mouse, so you can see the cursor allowing a player to place their piece glowing in the bottom right corner.


This is the 3D Spacewar part of the game.  In both screens, you can see the black hole, and both ships taking aim at each other.  The ship on the left has fired a projectile, but it is about to be sucked into the black hole, as you can see on the right.  Whoever wins this battle will win the tie on whatever section of the Tic Tac Toe board is contested.