A human that makes things, sometimes they don’t fall apart

Church of Robotron

The Church of Robotron is a future looking group that is attempting to save the last human family. We did a large pop-up church installation at Toorcamp 2012. It had the following features:

  • During gameplay Jacob’s Ladder and Sparker were running
  • Fog machine randomly triggered
  • Lasers fired in real life when enforcer shots were fired in game
  • Rotating flapper near player hands spun when humans were killed by Robotrons
  • Animated gif of your face at time of death in game which was displayed on a leaderboard in the other room.
  • Bright LED flash on death, this allowed us to get a decent picture from the webcam on death and added to the players disorientation on death
  • Kneeler base which detected players and controlled lights.
  • Readerboard which displayed top player and witty statements
  • Randomly shuffling sermon videos
  • Lit totem pole
  • Reading room which contained stickers, chick tract, and a zine.

I hacked MAME to expose debugging events (breakpoints, memory watchpoints) to clients via sockets. I also did some reverse engineering of the ROM to find out game events (deaths, high score, etc). To do this, I built upon the work of the great Sean Riddle. I also used OpenCV to the players faces when they died which were posted to the high scores page. We had about 15 people working on various pieces of the project. It was great to see it all come together and it was great to see people’s reaction to it!

Source code is available here. More tech details will be written at some point. I’m planning to write a quick post about mame hacking at some point soon.