Thursday 6 August 2020

Making the Second Show

Before I dive in, the reason I’m writing this is for documentation. Part of the nature of interactive installations and playable shows is that they exist for brief moments in time before disappearing. The long-lasting mark they leave behind does not take the form of a finished object, like a printed cartridge or downloadable app, but in the form of lessons learned and questions raised.

Taking to the stage in the very first Scrambled Eggman Show

The reason I point this out is just to flag up that I don’t expect this to be a gripping narrative! As I re-read this all for editing I see how I get stuck in the weeds over minute details. But I don't want to trim that all out because - as a bit of documentation - it's useful to keep the weeds in. Who knows what I may see in them when I look back in future?

Within these weeds is the story of a project I am very proud of, a show that I've had a lot of fun performing and which was an invigorating challenge to create. I hope you enjoy it!

The winners of the very first Scrambled Eggman Show, at PLAY18 in Hamburg

The show is The Scrambled Eggman Show. It's the second interactive stage show I’ve put together. For context, my first show is The Incredible Playable Show which I've been developing and performing since 2016.

Making The Scrambled Eggman Show was a creative challenge rather than a commercial enterprise. If I were to try and make it a tourable show out of it I'd need to make significant changes, particularly to stop it leaning so hard on an existing IP, which would be another creative challenge in itself!

As such it's only been performed at a handful of play-and-culture events, enough to take it from concept, to proof-of-concept, to a working show that audiences have really enjoyed and I've loved performing. So it feels like now is the time to look back on what I actually did to make it happen.

What is The Scrambled Eggman Show?

In The Scrambled Eggman Show I perform as Doctor Eggman, villain from the Sonic the Hedgehog games, and take players through a series of challenges made using these games and a specially-modified Genesis emulator.

The emulator (my own modification of an open-source emulator called GenesisPlus) can read and write to a fake console's RAM, writing new data into the games while they're running, and sending out network messages when specific values in RAM change.

As host, I invite players to the stage to compete in challenges. The audience is split into two teams and the team that wins is awarded points, with the team who has most points at the end winning a prize.

The view the audience sees on the projector, with two instances of Sonic the Hedgehog running side-by-side