A retro, rotary dial controlled missile simulator game in a briefcase.

A war has been brewing. The Soviets spent their remaining resources to develop a tactical war machine capable of bringing down fleet after fleet of enemies, but it was too little and too close to the end. You are tasked with using this weapon, “A.F.T.E.R.G.L.O.W.”, to take as many enemies as you can with us as our country burns to cinder.

This alternative controller game uses the rotary dial from a Bell 500 telephone as the primary input to interact with the display of eleven LEDs set in a ring. The rotary is mapped to the ring, where dialing 1 triggers a radar ping that reveals incoming bogeys, colored from green to yellow, orange and red depending on their distance. They will fade away over time requiring continued pings. The player must dial the direction of the bogey to shoot them down. Below the ring is a set of seven-segment bubble displays used in 1980s calculators for lo-fi text and feedback, such as kill count and soviet encouragement. The aesthetic is that of a 1970s Soviet war device. It is built into an old brown faux leather briefcase with an extending viewport to focus on the lights and nothing else.

It evokes a bleak atmosphere and highlights the eerie disassociation between the abstract action of turning a simple dial to shoot down an enemy combatant and the reality of what the action represents. Games such as Tempest and Missile Command were used as inspiration.

This project required learning how to interface with multiple pieces of old technology: the rotary and the bubble segment displays. Careful attention to detail and playtesting helped fine tune the feel of the rotary in play, vital considering the player could not see their hand or the rotary during the game. This made for a challenging yet satisfying sense of control.

Electronics Used