Final Major Project: Contact

Final Major Project: Contact

by tomminor 0 Comments

‘CONTACT’ is a near 3 minute long VFX sci-fi short, showing an astronaut’s state of mental decay after experiencing an encounter with a 5th dimensional being while in orbit. The team worked hard to create over 80 CG assets, 3 digital environments, and a bespoke fractal render engine for the evolving tunnel sequence at the height of the piece. Over 26 shots were composited into these built environments and costumes, fleshing out the narrative and blending together the live-action and the digital elements of the film.


Windigo Game – Group Project

Windigo Game – Group Project

by tomminor 0 Comments

A group assignment I directed during my 2nd year, we developed an atmospheric survival horror game about the mythical Windigo.

In addition to directing responsibilities, I was in charge of pipeline (we used a Perforce setup with a remote server to version assets) and engine level C++ programming (primarily core gameplay features and supporting the AI developer with whatever engine features they required).

Arduino Poker – Serial comms data structures and protocols

Arduino Poker – Serial comms data structures and protocols

by tomminor 0 Comments


Although serial communication is fast, it makes sense to try and fit as much data into a single byte as possible.

Communication between the Dealer and the Players is state based.

  1. Dealer requests bet from Player.
  2. Player waits for real life player to input bet.
  3. Dealer keeps querying Player state until bet has been entered (so we don’t lock up the entire system waiting purely for the bet).
  4. Bet is sent to Dealer.








<header><packet info><payload><footer>

Data Structure

<header> = Unique identifier
<packet info> = [PacketID][PayloadLength]
<payload> = [Byte0][Byte1]…[ByteN]
<footer> = Unique identifier

Verification (Checksum)

fletcher16 checksum

Arduino side

if( Serial.available() >= 4 ) {  //Protocol >= 4 bytes (header + info + footer + Npayload)
   Header =;
   PacketInfo =;
   unsigned int payloadLength = (PakInfo & 0x0F);
   Byte payload[payloadLength];

   Byte result = -1;
   for(int i = 0; i < payloadLength; i++)
       Byte result =;

       /* Premature packet footer */
       if(result == FOOTER_ID)
       payload[i] = result; 

   /* Less data than expected */
   if(result == FOOTER_ID)
      return PACKET_ERR_INVALID;

   Footer =;

   Byte chksum = CalculateChecksum(...); // Generate checksum somehow
   Serial.write(chksum); // Send back to dealer for verification

Dealer side

Playing card

Data structure

Credit to my lecturer Ian Stephenson for the main idea behind this, his example implementation used macros to define the constants. I decided to use enums placed inside namespaces so they don’t pollute the global namespace while giving a readability benefit. I find Suit::Spade clearer than just SPADE.

A possible alternative would be to use bitfields, but in the higher level parts of the library these simple constants/macros are abstracted away with C++ classes and functions anyway.

namespace Suit
  /* Suit is stored in the left nibble of a byte */
  enum Value
    Diamond = (1<<4), // 0001 0000
    Heart   = (1<<5), // 0010 0000
    Club    = (1<<6), // 0100 0000
    Spade   = (1<<7)  // 1000 0000
namespace Rank
  /* Rank is stored in the right nibble of a byte */
  enum Value
    Joker = (0x00), // This isn't used in poker, but is added for completeness
    Two   = (0x01),
    Three = (0x02),
    Four  = (0x03),
    Five  = (0x04),
    Six   = (0x05),
    Seven = (0x06),
    Eight = (0x07),
    Nine  = (0x08),
    Ten   = (0x09),
    Jack  = (0x0A),
    Queen = (0x0B),
    King  = (0x0C),
    Ace   = (0x0D),
 /* Unused= (0x0E), */
 /* Unused= (0x0F)  */