Thursday, January 26, 2012

Babycastles is Turning the Hayden Planetarium into a Giant Videogame


Remember your first visit to the planetarium? Neil DeGrasse Tyson does — it was what inspired him to become an astrophysicist in the first place. That same planetarium, now under Tyson’s direction, is currently undergoing a transformation the likes of which Neil’s young self couldn’t have possibly imagined: It’s becoming a giant videogame.
Space Cruiser is the most ambitious project yet from NYC developer Ivan Safrin and DIYgames collective Babycastles: An interactive installation designed for 100-200 participants that turns the Hayden Planetarium dome into a giant virtual spacecraft. Together, players will collaborate to navigate a virtual ship through asteroid belts and other dangers — kind of like a massively-multiplayer version of Carl Sagan’s imaginary space vessel from Cosmos.
Space Cruiser is using Ivan Safrin’s creative coding platform ‘Polycode’ to render his game on a 6-projector 4500×4500 pixel screen. Each projector is hooked up to a separate PC running an instance of Polycode and rendering part of the screen,” says Babycastles impresario Syed Salahuddin of the enormous installation, which premieres for one night only this Thursday at the Museum of Natural History in New York.
Some other space-related indie games will also be reporting for duty: Osmos, a surreal space simulator from Hemisphere Games, Kerbal Space Program, a build-your-own spaceship game, and Bit Pilot, the previously-exhibited minimalist shooter by Zach Gage. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be on an unscripted episode of Star Trek with 200 other people, you can get tickets (use code ‘BEYOND’ for half off) at the museum’s website.

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