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Engineering grad looks to revolutionize single-player video games

"Typically, you’d think to work together while using this device — but we also found it fun having different combinations of people trying to achieve the goal while others tried to sabotage the efforts."

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Tim Lindquist, right, who created a device called OneMind that allows multiple players to play a single player video game character, plays Super Monkey Ball 2 with, from left, Ryan Bieber, Jarrett Betke and Alex Donadio on a Nintendo Wii using the device Tuesday, May 11, 2021, at his home in Rochester. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
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For those in the know, the term “one mind” may not be new — speed runners and aficionados have used the term to describe putting two players alternately in charge of one character.

Previously, players have linked multiple controllers to a single frequency, or passed a controller from player to player, allowing multiple people to run a single-player game. (And as any gamer knows, merely watching a friend play their new favorite single-player game gets old fast.)

But engineering grad Tim Lindquist wanted to make the technology — and fun of co-playing — even more accessible.

Lindquist’s OneMind hardware adapter , now on Kickstarter, links multiple controllers into a single adapter for a given time period — blurring the line between players’ turns and forcing them to pay attention and collaborate to beat games together.

(Or, uh, not. More on that later.)

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The OneMind adapter works for any game console that has GameCube ports (GameCube, Wii, and if players add a USB adapter ). It should also let people play together on a Wii U, Nintendo Switch, Dolphin Emulator, and more.

Here’s a little more about the project from its creator.

Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

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Tim Lindquist holds a OneMind device he created that allows multiple players to control a single player video game character Tuesday, May 11, 2021, at his home in Rochester. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)


How would you explain this device to people with limited video game experience?

Something funny about me and this project is I actually don’t play video games that often. Back when I was coming up with this idea, it was more about getting a collection of inputs from multiple people and using that to produce a single output.

The example I always give is imagine a car where both the driver/passenger get a steering wheel. The car drives in the direction of the average of the inputs. You’re approaching a corner, one person cranked the wheel fully left, and the other slightly left, the car would take a moderate left turn. Sounds silly on the surface, but when you are thinking in a similar frame, you’re producing a combination of what each person thinks the best decision is.

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The OneMind hardware adapter switches between connected controllers to enable a single controller for a given time period. This creates an illusion of incrementally passing the controller between players, where each player is given a designated time chunk to play. Adjustment knobs and buttons on the device allow the user to experiment with different play settings.

A slow frequency gives each player more time behind the wheel, but also keeps players engaged preparing for their turn. On the other hand, a fast frequency naturally averages everyone’s input, so it feels like everyone’s playing at the same time. In this situation, if everyone’s thinking alike, it blurs the lines on who's really doing the controlling.

How long have you been developing the OneMind adapter, and how did you get it ready for a Kickstarter campaign?

Work started on the project back in September 2020. It’s a side project, so I've just been building it every now and then for fun. Early on, I did a rough proof of concept by just cutting open a controller cable and attaching it to a physical switch (think light switch) just to see how things behave when being swapped. After verifying that the concept would work, I started my real prototype.

I ended up making four prototypes, each iteration improving upon the last. One of my favorite parts of building this project was challenging myself to make it as inexpensive as possible. For instance, some of the functionality would have been fun to implement with dedicated hardware. However, it wasn’t necessary, and I could get by with implementing it in software, which eliminated buying extra electrical components.

I live with a bunch of my buddies, so there was an abundance of help testing out the prototypes and finding out what worked vs. what needed improvement. In January 2021, the prototype was to the point where it worked the way I intended, so I decided to make a video for it to convey how it works and see if people were interested in it.

How do you hope the OneMind is used?

The more we play around with OneMind, the more ideas we get for it. Rather than having a single person play and everyone else watch, this device allows you to get everyone involved to work together to accomplish a goal. So it’s very much a collaborative engaging device. It also puts a new twist on replaying old games by adding some challenge with the shared control.

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A few applications where I envision the device being used for might be: a party game where it gets everyone playing a game together; a time when you want to play a single-player game with friends; or even becoming a speedrun category for people to optimize a game with someone else.

Typically, you’d think to work together while using this device — but we also found it fun having different combinations of people trying to achieve the goal while others tried to sabotage the efforts.

051121-ONEMIND-MULTIPLAYER-VIDEO-GAMING-02684.jpg
Tim Lindquist, right, who created a device called OneMind that allows multiple players to play a single player video game character, plays Super Monkey Ball 2 with, from left, Ryan Bieber, Jarrett Betke and Alex Donadio on a Nintendo Wii using the device Tuesday, May 11, 2021, at his home in Rochester. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

How have you enjoyed using it the most?

My favorite thing to do is turn the switching frequency up all the way and play an obstacle game. It really takes everyone thinking alike and correcting for each other to be successful. Sometimes it can end up being chaotic, and other times seamlessly executed, which makes it a ton of fun!

Where do you see the project going if it’s not fully funded?

The main reason I put the idea out on Kickstarter was to have it gain some attention and gauge people’s interest in the idea. If the project ends up getting funded, that would be fantastic; I’ve streamlined the build process to be able to deliver the devices to those that order one. If not, they’ve made for interesting gifts to give to my friends (who) play video games.

Find the OneMind on Kickstarter at by searching “ OneMind: a new way to play ” until Thursday, May 27.

Email: ahalliwell@rochestermagazine.com
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