Classic: Piano rewired to play Doom

If London’s Virgin Media Game Space wasn’t already impressive enough, a new exhibit has taken alternative control schemes to all-new levels. The Doom Piano is exactly what it sounds like: An upright piano that’s been wired up to play classic FPS Doom.

Take one dilapidated stand up piano, purchased for £30, and rewire the keys to control the action in a game of classic shooter Doom, embedded into a screen in the middle of the instrument. Never before has a rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star wreaked so much havoc!

The piano is a group effort from a handful of creative indie veterans, including Polish developer Sos Sosowski, George Buckenham from Die Gute Fabrik, Ricky Haggett from Honeyslug and Virgin Media Game Space organiser David Hayward.

Hayward explains that rather than linking a single key to a single action – like on a QWERTY setup – the team instead chose to allocate regions of keys. This means white keys in the marked regions are used to strafe, turn, move forward or back, and choose from your weaponry. There are multiple regions for each command, which allows for “little musical flourishes”.

Each of the black keys is linked to the “shoot” command, as the developers felt that was “the one command that should be accessible from anywhere”. The team has even worked with an limitation of this specific piano – one key has a string missing and makes a rather unmusical “thunk” sound: It’s now used just to operate doors and switches.

Behind the scenes, the piano is rigged up with I-PAC keyboard encoders and copper tape to allow the instrument to interact with the computer.

The best part? This is just one of four strange arcade machines the team developed over a weekend. Other examples include a four-player racing game controlled by touching flowers, a motion-controlled racer where the aim is an on-screen high-five, and a briefcase featuring a code-cracking puzzle.

To learn more – or to get your hands on Doom Piano, head to the Virgin Media Game Space in London, but be warned: It won’t be sticking around long.

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