Game developer and designer Rich Whitehouse gave the world an unusual present this Christmas Eve. It’s called Doomba, and it uses the popular Roomba vacuuming robots to create levels for Doom, the classic first-person shooter.
Whitehouse is a 20-year veteran of the game industry, with credits on titles such as the original Prey and Star Wars Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast. Along the way, he also built a tool called Neosis, which helps game developers and designers move digital assets between different platforms. The Doomba module works on similar principles; it just takes the digital maps created by the Roomba’s own internal software and converts them into Doom levels.
So what’s your Roomba doing creating maps of the inside of your house? Many of iRobot’s modern robotic vacuums rely on VSLAM, also known as visual simultaneous localization and mapping. Rather than wandering around like slow-moving ping-pong balls, modern Roomba devices methodically sweep back and forth in long passes like they’re mowing your lawn. That makes them much more efficient than previous models.
To do the work, some Roombas use a creepy little electronic eyeball to create detailed maps of your home. Doomba takes that map and makes it into a level of Hell.
As Whitehouse explains, it was fairly short work to turn his creation toward evil.
“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,” Whitehouse writes on his personal blog. “Simultaneously, I would be able to unleash a truly terrible pun to plague humankind. Now, the fruit of my labor 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.”