April 24, 2012 3:00 AM | John Polson
Last week, artist Tyler DeAngelo and friends took Konami's iconic Frogger to the literal streets.
Inspired by an episode of Seinfield, in which George Costanza is trying to keep his high score in a game of Frogger and running through traffic with the cabinet, 5th Ave Frogger takes the real-time traffic on New York City's 5th Avenue and maps it into a game of Frogger.
"I really wanted to keep as much of the original machine intact as possible," explains DeAngelo to Gamasutra, "which made things much harder than it would have been to just install a new screen and computer."
"I wanted to change as little as possible," he continues. "The concept is pretty simple: My office overlooks 5th Ave, so I installed a web cam that sends a live video feed to a processor that we installed in the arcade machine. My friend Ranjit wrote the real-time motion tracking software that translates the positions of the cars from the video feed into data that we apply to old school-looking graphics."
The pair spent the next eight months putting the build together, with plenty of trial and error involved, and finished up with a cabinet that allows the player to hop across 5th Avenue with the actual real-time traffic mapped onto the screen.
The most important element, says DeAngelo, was making sure it was as simple as possible. "I think why people like this idea is because I didn't really change [the game] that much," he says.
"So many people have such good memories about the original Frogger. I think what I did is similar to when a band does a good cover of a classic song. I just altered a small but fundamental part of Frogger so the experience is similar but makes you rethink the game in a new way."
DeAngelo is currently looking to have his version of the game featured in the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Art of the Video Game exhibit, although he also has his eye on taking the real-time concept to other classic games.
"I love space and physics, so I was tossing around the idea of hacking an Asteroids game so that the objects you must destroy represent real near-Earth objects," he reveals.
"It was either that or re-create a real life version of Leisure Suit Larry starring me. I'm thinking my wife would prefer for me to go with the first idea."
[This article originally appeared on Gamasutra, written by Mike Rose.]