Ponies & Light

NMM Cannon Interactive

NMM Cannon Interactive

Making the National Maritime Museum Cannon Interactive

When the last pirate ship is finally gunned down, it explodes – and sinks with a big bang. Then the pirate captain apologises for being bad, and is sent to jail. It’s a children’s interactive, after all.

The cannon interactive was commissioned as a replacement for the previous, ten year old interactive, which had been one of the most successful children’s attractions at the museum.

West-London based design agency Factory had won the pitch for the audio & visual treatment on the project and they began supplying graphic and audio assets soon after I joined. The museum’s in-house interactive team took care of the physical hardware-interface and the built environment, with Ben Raithby managing the project. My role was to write software that would bring all these elements together and to figure out a way to bring the gameplay to life.

Technology : Deployment

The interactive was developed and tested using openFrameworks on a Mac and deployed on customised Ubuntu Linux machines running the fantastic dwm window manager, as is my preferred mode of operations. This way, I can offer optimal hardware power / cost efficiency, while customising a system precisely to project needs.

imageFig 1: Testing the server and the video player clients

The interactive spans six core applications, managed and synchronised by a seventh, using a customised tcp network protocol: four video-player instances for the small portrait screens, one app for the main gameplay screen, one app for the ‘Trigonometry Screen’. This modular design made cross- platform development & testing considerably easier.

The cannon interfaces through a USB Arduino board, electronics and the physical interface were made in-house by the National Maritime Museum’s interactive department.

I used ofxPlaylist extensively for generative animations, and found a way to import Adobe After Effects timelines into our animation framework, which made it possible to incorporate third-party footage and animations.

To be continued.


Unit 3, 410 Hackney Road,
E2 7AP London, UK