Projects: Personal/Player/IOFPS

A general view of the installation

The screens were hung from the ceiling

People passed freely between screens

Characters and weapons were randomised and changed all day

Visitors were both screaming and laughing out loud

A random character

Waving to visitors...

Characters ran into the distance and returned as different characters

Beckoning the visitor...

Boom!

Both sexes were equally represented, naturally

This character sports the BFG - the Big 'Friendly' Gun, from Quake

Not that friendly, as it happens...

Various crazy character from the original Quake make an appearance

Boom!

Through randomisation, the space became alive with variations of characters, weapons and sounds

A custom editor was created to help visualise the installation

The plan view showed the overhead view of the entire space with units positioned

The 3D view shoed the POV of a visitor passing through the space

The editor allowed realtime walkthroughs of the space triggering senors

The cones represent the sensor spread - triggering them causes the animation to change

The whole system allowed the successful preprogramming of the space to help with installation

IOFPS is a very large-scale computer-based sensor-responsive environment. It is made from tall projections of individual characters from Quake. As users pass before a character, the character immediately responds by violently aiming their weapon at the user and shooting repeatedly, or until they stop moving. The space used was gigantic and there were 12 individual projections throughout making a single experience. The space was in fact the entire area used for temporary exhibitions, with a clear entrance and exit. It was darkened as much as health and safety (sigh) would allow.

The characters and weapons are randomised from a pool of originals from the game. Audio was used extensively - loud booms filled the air as people passed through. Visitor responses were often to run through quickly, zig-zagging (sometimes coming back for another go), or sometimes nothing at all - simply walking as though there are not 12 violent gunmen shooting you as you walk through...

The system is modular consisting of a computer, an Arduino-based motion sensor, an amplifier and speakers, a projector, and a screen. It can be realised in different articulations by moving each module around the space. It can be realised in a tight technical way with matching equipment, but in the case of the Player install, it was built from many different computers, projectors and speakers - the result being that it lent the installation a 'homebrew' aesthetic. The screens were made from off-the-roll blackout fabric and were over 3m in height.

The software used to display the 3D characters and read the sensor input was built using Adobe Director 11.5, and the Serial Xtra. The framework used to drive the realtime 3D animations was adapted from an original engine designed by a fellow developer Noisecrime. It parses extenral MD2 files (original unpacked Quake models and animations) and animates them between states using an arcane mesh deform method - crazy but it worked for Quake. The animations randomly ease between motion sets (saluting, waving, waiting, etc.) until the software receives a sensor trigger - then it displays the shooting motion set and plays the appropriate sound.

The sensors were originally designed using Arduino and a XL- MaxSonar EZ1 ultrasound sensor and these were used for development. The final sensor design was put together far more cheaply and efficiently by John Mumford at the Science Museum.

The result was actually quite terrifying. But also funny. I think that was what I was aiming for.

Thanks to ID Software for their permission to use the original Quake models, and again to Noisecrime without whose excellent coding insights this would not have been possible as it was.