Thought Repository

Booth 2001: Outer Realm

This years overall theme was originally called "Little Things Made Big" but was changed to "Larger Than Life". At first we were going to do a large scale pinball machine, my idea. I still think it would be really neat. You'd get to walk around in the machine, ball-sized, with lights flashing and sound and everything, then the game could be playing it, or something. But it was eventually decided that this would be impossible to build. We switched themes to doing a sort of space-themed booth that we called "The Outer Realm". The outside was pretty much just a grey box, which was sort of disappointing. We only let people in 5 at a time and gave them a little tour. First you are taken into a white security room and given lab coats. Then you are lead into a NASA-like command center, complete with map with flashing dots and paths (if they had worked), main screen, and 3 control consoles with working switches and buttons. The "new recruits" are given a briefing by Alan Zimmerman, the director of our organization via satellite from the moon base. He explains that we are the Advanced Earth Protection Initiative, a secret division of NASA, designed to research ways to protect earth from outside threats such as commets or aliens. The technology we are developing is used to take small ships and enlarge them to make it easier to put hardware into space. Suddenly there is an accident and an asteriod is detected heading straight for Earth. Now the only chance to save the planet is to use the enlarging machine (which wasn't designed or tested for humans) on the new recruits so that they will be big enough to travel quickly to the moon and shoot down the asteroids with normal guns made large. Some special effect in our cylindrical enlargement pod room, then a quick trip up a steel grating stair case to the moon. On the second floor, the floor was rounded and looked like the moon.

The game is what I did. On one of the walls of the 2nd floor you could see projected, the Earth and a large spinning asteroid heading slowly toward it. Guests were given guns, and after a large missle broked the asteroid up into little pieces, they had to shoot the little pieces before they hit Earth. I used laser pointers in the guns and used a vision technique to determine where they shot. I had a lot of fun working with Matt on debugging the code. The thing we learned after hours of testing was that blue!=red. The near death scariness this year was lowering and then raising and then lowering the second floor. Although the roof wasn't attached like last year, the floor was made of steel and it weighed a ton. I stayed up the last 62 hours straight working on the game, which was the longest I'd ever stayed up, but I never got tired, it was so much fun. There was some real bonding that went on between the 4 of us that basically ran the booth (2 upstairs, 2 downstairs), which basically centered around this 1 door that we all had to close and it didn't have a handle so you scraped your fingers trying to shut it.

It was all worth it though, even losing, when we had lines that were 40 minutes long. People would wait an unprecedented amount of time to play our game. And the adults who went it pissed that they didn't know why they waited so long, left like children. When you walked around midway you knew you won when you heard kids bragging about how they saved the planet.
My Booth 2001 portfolio page (has pictures and videos)