If you visited PAX Australia late last year (or RTX in Sydney earlier this year, among many events across Australia), you would have come across an impressive man-made console consisting of a bank of lights, switches and a control keyboard all connected together like a cockpit. That impressive contraption was put together by Flat Earth Games and co-creator Jennifer Scheurle for the upcoming space trading simulator Objects In Space, and it is indeed as awesome as it looks.
But as impressive as it is with its fully functional panels, telling you exactly what’s happening with your ship as it travels through the stars, it isn’t a requirement in order to enjoy the game. That can be done with a simple keyboard and mouse setup … but come on, where’s the fun in that when you can have your own cockpit right in your lounge room!
Well, if you happen to be just as talented as the Flat Earth crew and have the funds to create your own control deck, then do we have some good news for you! With PAX East around the corner, the team has put together a blueprint on their latest setup, complete with an overview of every part used and photos of the project as it was put together. The detail is mighty impressive, for example, did you know it needed over 80 LED’s?
Just about every part is easy enough to get if you know where to look. Your local electronic retailer (Altronics comes to mind) should help with most of it, though a more specific store might be worth checking out if you don’t want to spend too much on it all. Meanwhile, there’s the promise of a complete step-by-step guide to each panel along with the source code to the Arduinos, the important piece that links the console to the game itself.
Personally, unless I manage to find the ability to be good with my hands (you know, outside of typing), I’ll probably stick with a traditional keyboard/mouse setup, but who knows! Maybe when the time comes to get hands on with the unit myself, I might change my mind and sign up a handful of technicians to create the ultimate multi-display system with 1000 LED’s! You heard me, Flat Earth Games, it’s on!
*cough* Objects in Space is due for a release later this year on PC, Mac and Linux. There’s a sudden growth in space exploration games, not just traditional shooters, but I love the idea that there’s a studio out there willing to put in the effort to make this as unique an experience as possible, and sharing that with their audience. If you happen to be going to PAX East, definitely go say hi to the team and check it out.
Mark Isaacson is a freelance journalist who would love to have his own spaceship, complete with furry co-pilot. Just as long as my son doesn’t kill me.