Lots of cool stuff here this morning at the Game Perverts session, all focused on hacking videogame hardware and software—everything from using a Gameboy Advance's processor to control robots to altering the frequency of an ancient dot-matrix printer's shriek to make music. Most impressive and surprising, though, was artist and software designer Bob Sabiston's still-under-development paint and animations application for the Nintendo DS.
Sabiston is most famous for designing Rotoshop, the software used to digitally create the distinctive rotoscoping animation used most prominently in director Richard Linklater's Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly. Also an accomplished illustrator, Sabiston saw unused potential in the Nintendo DS, with the device's dual screens and touch-sensitive, stylus-based interface naturally positioning it as a great platform for drawing.
If you remember Mario Paint for the Super Nintendo, Sabiston's project will be right up your alley. Not only can you use it to create pixel- and vector-based illustrations; it also supports flip-book style animations and a sort of vector-graphics sequencer used to make more fluid animated works. No part of the DS's unique hardware is overlooked, as users will also be able to add recorded sound effects via the built-in microphone and upload their creations to the Web via Wi-Fi, providing near-infinite storage. Sabiston used the software to create the pixel illustration seen above (printed on a large canvas after additional image processing), with the DS's top screen showing the overall workspace and the bottom providing a zoomed workspace (more images are available on his Web site).
As of now, there are no finite plans for release. The project is on Nintendo's radar, but failing a commercial release, Sabiston mentioned the possibility of making it available to homebrew hackers on the Web. Here's hoping this powerful DS app makes it to the stores, though; after today's demo, I can't wait to get my hands on it. See below for a video of the app in action. —John Mahoney