October 31, 2011
The Peripherals Initiative was a Toronto experiment to see what happens when you put together indie game creators and hardware hackers and give them a parts budget, organisational support and a brief to create something new that mixes video gaming and hardware hacking in an interesting way.
I teamed up with Alexander Martin (AKA Droqen), a great local indie game creator. Right from the start (just a couple of months ago) we fixated on doing something fun using an analog control panel with buttons and knobs and jacks that click and clack in a satisfyingly non-touchscreen kind of way.
What we built was new take on a Space Invaders style game where you control a little ship on its mission to blast through waves of hideous alien baddies. All of the player’s control is through a custom console with screens, switches, patch cables and knobs. There are lots more photos over here.
As with any genuinely new project we had to blast through waves of baddies of our own (“how the hell can we make this work?”, “why did I ever agree give up sanity and sleep for this?”, “which one of the 700 models of rotary switch in this catalogue do we need?). The results more than paid for those stresses though. We are really pleased with what we created and, most importantly, people who played Analog Defender seemed to enjoy and appreciate it.
So, from our point of view, the experiment’s results were positive. We ended up with a cool thing that we created and people enjoy (and that’s pretty much my reason for doing this stuff). On top of the immediate tangible result of the things that were built I expect the new connections between the Toronto game and hardware hacker communities will spin in interesting directions in the future.
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