Now here’s something you might not have expected ever to read: a game developer is using a Roomba vacuum cleaner to create levels in the original Doom video game from 1993.
Rich Whitehouse, who has worked on games like Star Wars Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast and 2006’s Prey, has created a tool that collects floor map data from the smart cleaning robots that can then be converted into Doom levels.
The result is ‘Doomba,’ which, according to Whitehouse, came about thanks to research he and his wife had done on robot vacuums. On his website, Whitehouse had some rather interesting things to say about Doomba’s inception:
“I soon realized that there was a clear opportunity to serve the Dark Lord by conceiving a plethora of unholy algorithms in service to one of the finest works ever created in his name. Simultaneously, I would be able to unleash a truly terrible pun to plague humankind. Now, the fruit of my labour is born. I bring forth Doomba, a half-goat, half-script creature, with native binary backing for the expensive parts, to be offered in place of my firstborn on this fine Christmas Eve.”
— Rich Whitehouse (@DickWhitehouse) December 24, 2018
To do this, Whitehouse uses Neosis, a tool he created to help developers move assets between digital platforms. In the case of Doomba, Neosis can take the mapping data that Roombas use to navigate autonomously and create Doom levels out of it accordingly.
I hope you get some fun out of this feature,” Whitehouse wrote on his website. “Some will say that it’s pointless, but I have faith in my heart that the Dark Lord will wipe these people from the face of the earth and trap them in a dimension of eternal hellfire. Their suffering will be legendary.”
Neosis is available for free (although Whitehouse is accepting any donations) and includes instructions on how to tailor the algorithms to create more personalized Doom levels. Therefore, you don’t even need to own a Roomba yourself. That said, Whitehouse noted that he only used the software with the Room 980, so it’s unclear how successful it may be with other robot vacuum models.
This kind of thing is exactly what makes technology so fascinating. I love seeing developers solving problems through clever and entertaining ways. Moreover, this is just one application of his Neosis tool, and I’m sure other smart technologies could yield similarly interesting results.
Note: This post is part of an ongoing series titled Sticky or Not in which staff reporter Bradly Shankar analyzes new and often bizarre gadgets, rating them sticky (good) or not (bad).