As Roomba robot vacuums carry out their job of keeping your floors nice and clean, they generate a detailed map of your home which lets them perform their single chore with more efficiency. Enterprising game developer Rich Whitehouse recently decided to repurpose this mapping data for something else entirely: Creating custom levels of the classic first-person shooter Doom. He calls the results “Doomba.” Because why the heck not?
“From a really high-level perspective, I’m taking the data that the Roomba spits out and using it to generate a Doom map,” Whitehouse told Digital Trends. “There’s a lot going on under the hood, though. The Roomba is broadcasting a position and angle across the network in roughly one second intervals, as well as a bunch of other data. I write the relevant data out to a .noeroomba file as it comes in. When you go to load that .noeroomba file [into my own tool] Noesis, that’s when the magic happens.”
Of course, the results won’t look exactly like your home, since you’ll still be walking around seeing the iconic hellscape textures of the original game. But the idea of gradually orienting yourself to a level that resembles a floor plan of your real-life living quarters is certainly cool. So how does Whitehouse thinks the new levels match up to the original stages, or randomly generated ones?
“It’s a little bit apples to oranges, comparing randomly generated content to something that’s had a lot of hand-crafted love put into it,” he said. “You can try to model properties of user-generated content with your pile of sticks, stones, and linear algebra that you decide to call A.I., but you’re never going to get those special touches. Those are the things that establish a context which reaches outside of the data.”
However, the results are definitely fun, particularly when you play with Whitehouse’s favored settings boasting a maxed-out explosive barrels count.
“You load the map up, and your home is packed to the brim with explosive barrels,” he said. “You shoot one and set off a chain reaction that explodes across the map. I spent a good bit of the development time just doing silly stuff like that and having fun with it. That, and looking over at my wife to say things like ‘Honey, there’s a Cyberdemon in our bedroom!’”
As for the future, Whitehouse said that he has been considering adding Build Engine support, which would cover other classic titles such as Duke Nukem 3D, Blood, Shadow Warrior, and others. For more on the project — including details of the Noesis software — check out his blog post here.