Penfield Interstellar Transmitter System

Brought to you by Penfield Interstellar Corp.

In cooperation with XYZ project, Světlonoš and GOJO

The Full Story

A crew of brave astronauts has been sent deep into unexplored space to find a new source of energy for our dying civilization. Unfortunately their self sufficient navigation systems have been irreparably damaged and now they rely on communications back from their home planet which become ever more intermittent and less reliable with the growing number of light years travelled - pushing the limits of current infrastructure until possibly leaving the ship stranded with minimal chances of its mission being a success.

A better way to communicate needs to be found.

Black Rock City has been selected as the ideal location for a new type of long distance interstellar communications array due to its low urbanization, clear sky and peculiar electromagnetic properties which amplify and accelerate the signal caused part naturally and part due to the creative energy amassed annually during the event known as Burning Man.

We are able to piece together the necessary hardware but in the hurry dictated by the situation we are missing one crucial part of the puzzle - the operators. We hope to recruit the bright and talented citizens of Black Rock City and train them in operating the array.

The operators will need to understand their equipment and cooperate over long distances to keep the communications intact and the mission on track - creating a continuous group ritual. Our collective future depends upon it.

Antenna

The Log

Inventum (Cpt.)
2958AD
Systems checked. Ready for launch.
Launch Pod
2958AD
T-3
Launch Pod
2958AD
T-2
Launch Pod
2958AD
T-1
Launch Pod
2958AD
Launch Initiated
** MESSAGES ARCHIVED **
Inventum (Cpt.)
3015AD
Hello. Do you copy?
Launch Pod
3015AD
Yes, we copy, loud and clear.
Inventum (Cpt.)
3015AD
We've had a slight issue with our Planet Composition Analyser.
Inventum (Cpt.)
3015AD
It was dealt with but we have a suspicion it's only temporary.
Launch Pod
3015AD
Have you gone through the standard troubleshooting procedures of the PCA?
Inventum (Cpt.)
3015AD
Yes of course. But an asteroid breached the PCA's energy stabilizator.
Inventum (Cpt.)
3015AD
We've got it running, but it's extremely inefficient.
Inventum (Cpt.)
3015AD
We'll have to turn it off eventually if we want to make any progress.
Launch Pod
3015AD
Understood, do you have an estimate on how long it'll hold?
Inventum (Cpt.)
3015AD
It's tricky to say, but we're approximating 1-3 earth years.
Launch Pod
3015AD
Ok, continue with your mission and exercise caution, make sure your comms are runinng.
Launch Pod
3015AD
We'll attempt to setup a replacement for the system here and process your raw data.
Inventum (Cpt.)
3015AD
Roger that. We'll slow down a bit to save power. Let's consider it a vacation after all those years.
Launch Pod
3015AD
Understood. Take it easy, we'll get busy here.
** MESSAGES ARCHIVED **
^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

The Gameplay

Interactivity is at the core of the PITS and is achieved through working with the Control Boards that allow for multiplayer interaction with the virtual world of the story and direct inter-player conversation via both light signalling and a walkie-talkie like voice communication.

The core gameplay is split into two main stages - array setup and ship navigation. Control elements for each stage and function are split into logical groups on the Control Board. Two groups for the setup - Tuning and Alignment - and a single Navigation one. Each of these two stages also have their dedicated views on the 7” multi touch display, giving the players instant feedback of their actions. On top of these the Board contains extra buttons for activating the microphone and emitting light signals.

Understanding the purpose of each control and stage is possible through trial and error - helped by various prompts employing light (both on the Board and the Antenna), audio-visual and other cues. This learning process is also complemented by texts located next to the Control Board - the Manual. The Manual mimics the grouping of the control elements with one extra - General for explaining the game progression. Only dry facts (build year 3017, 10 exa watts, checked by the Galactic Health Institute, …) and operating procedures are contained within the Manual.

The story is told indirectly through the mission log accessible via the screen. The reason behind the launch, events leading to the navigation systems failure and consequent array construction can be deducted from the log’s history. But it doesn’t end there as new data is received while connection with the ship continues. The ship’s needs and ideas, newly discovered planets and breathtaking space views - images sourced from our photography experiments with light and optics, in a way making this also a digital photo exhibition.

The best way to explain the gameplay is maybe through an on-playa scenario. When the first player walks to a Board he is presented with cues explaining the situation and what needs to be done. The screen says “Connection lost” and intermittent and incomplete messages from the ship are appearing. The general theme: We’ve lost contact, are systems are damaged and we need help, where are you?

To establish connection the player must align the direction of the signal, as seen on the screen. For some time he will be able to do this by himself as only turning the source is sufficient. As a single game session progresses, the signal will need to be bounced off satellites in the orbit which requires manning the remaining stations.

While the connection lasts, the players can access a Starmap view, showing the ship and its surroundings with possible places to go. Each destination has a unique navigation code that has to be tapped in by all active players into the Navigation part of the Board. This signifies that all players have agreed upon a single way forward.

As the game progresses, these sequences become longer, views or some control elements will experience simulated failures, increasing the need for communication, ramping up the difficulty and making the game interesting. When players start to leave or unable to make progress, the difficulty will recede.

Penfield Portable Emergency Energy Cores (PEEC™) are scattered throughout the playa and can fix failing instruments and give extra abilities if found and scanned by a Board (practically using NFC).

Bm pits controller

Past experience

Idea, Design, Manufacturing, Coding, Accompanying installations

Materials: Perspex, Arduino

Idea, Design, Manufacturing, Coding, Accompanying installations

Materials: Wood, Arduino

Live musical performance meets laser beam separation

ILDA Laser, vvvv, Ableton Live, M4L

Music by Golden Cat

vvvv

Participated in Idea, 3D, Sound, Coding, Networking

Built with XNA

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