Project: SigilShooter

What It Does

SigilShooter simulates a futuristic gun that is triggered by speaking a magic word. It is sort of a cross between a shooting gallery, The Terminator, and the Weirding Module from Dune. A sigil moves back and forth across the screen, slowly coming closer, and when you have it in your sights you shout aloud a Magic Word that fires an explosive projectile at the sigil.

Although you can interact with SigilShooter while sitting in front of your computer screen and keyboard, if you are able to, try playing it in full-screen mode on a big-screen television or projected onto a vertical surface, and standing before the image, speak into a headset microphone. Many headset mics have mute buttons; use it like safety. Whereas the previous three projects are suited to long intonations, SigilShooter is better activated by something short and that packs a punch—like a martial arts kiai!

How It Works

SigilShooter has six sprites:

  • Sigil — The Sigil sprite’s sigil costume may be edited as needed, either in the paint editor or you can create it in another program such as Inkscape and then upload it to Scratch. When the green flag is clicked, Sigil is sent to the back of the screen and made small to make it appear far away, then it goes into a loop where it moves side to side and gets a little larger every time it touches a side, thus appearing to get closer. You can increase or decrease its horizontal speed by changing the argument in the move () steps block, or make it appear to move forward more quickly or slowly by editing the change size by () block. When this sprite receives the message hit from the Bullet sprite, it plays the sound explosion, changes its costume to sigilExplosion, and stops the loop causing the sprite to move. It then fades away (using the ghost effect) before broadcasting the message terminated to the other sprites.
  • Bullet — The Bullet sprite is hidden when the project starts playing. When either the loudness sensor is greater than (>) 90 (indicating you have spoken the Magic Word) or the space bar is pressed on the keyboard (for testing purposes), the message fire is sent to start a script that shows the Bullet and moves it up the screen toward the center of the Reticle while decreasing its size, thus making it appear to shoot off into the distance. At the same time it plays a laser sound (so is it a bullet or a laser? we are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams). If the Bullet sprite touches the Sigil sprite, then it broadcasts the message hit to the other sprites. To prevent another bullet from firing until the first bullet is done with this action, the Bullet sprite has an active variable that the when I receive (fire) script checks when it is run. If active = 0 (false, i.e., not active), then the script sets it to 1 (true), executes the rest of the script, and then restores it to 0 so the script can run again. While active = 1, the when I receive (fire) script will not run anything within the if () then block, thus preventing those blocks from being re-run before they have finished running.
  • Gun — This sprite does not really do anything except contain a costume in the foreground to represent the barrel of a gun for the Bullet to shoot from.
  • Reticle — A forever () loop checks to see if Reticle is touching Sigil and if it is, sets the touchingSigil variable to 1 otherwise sets it to 0 (false). That variable is used by the next sprite.
  • Text — Has four costumes: one that is blank and three that display various texts in response to certain conditions. If Reticle‘s touchingSigil variable = 1 (true) then Text changes to a costume that says, “TARGET ACQUIRED.” When Text receives the message hit or terminated from the Bullet or Sigil sprite, it changes to a costume that says, “TARGET HIT” or “TARGET TERMINATED,” respectively.
  • MarsData — Has seven costumes that simply loop while the project is running. These are embellishments to serve the Terminator-vision-like æsthetic of the project, and they have dual purpose: they are derived from the names of the planetary Spirit and Intelligence of Mars, thus they secondarily establish subtle occult correspondences within the project.

SigilShooter is best played on a large screen or projected onto a large surface; a big-screen television should do nicely. A wireless headset with microphone, especially one you can mute until you are ready to say the Magic Word, may also be an advantage. You may need to calibrate your microphone to make sure that speaking the Magic Word will activate the SigilShooter gun but ambient noise will not. If the microphone is far away from you while you are playing the project, you may need to lower the threshold of the loudness sensor in order to trigger the gun. If you are using a headset mic that is close to your mouth, you will probably need to set the loudness threshold high in order to keep the sound of your breathing or talking from prematurely activating the gun.

The Magic Word used to activate SigilShooter‘s ordnance must be divined by the technomancer herself while invoked of Martial spirit, which may also be invoked before or while interacting with the project. It should be barked loudly and forcefully. Interaction with SigilShooter may also benefit from astrological elections, preparing the ritual space with Martial incense, &c.

Make It Better

  • Add variables for the speed and size of the sigil, and allow them to be adjusted with slider bars. Program a key or button that toggles the sliders’ visibility (show/hide).
  • Add a safety that may be toggled by pressing a key on the keyboard or clicking a button on the screen. When the safety is on, the gun should not fire even if the loudness exceeds the threshold for activating it. You can use this safety to prevent the gun from firing if you have things to say aloud (or do other things that make considerable noise) prior to speaking the Magic Word.
  • Use one of the techniques described here to require a power object such as a talisman to be connected to the computer in order for the gun to be able to fire. Put something on the screen to indicate when the object has been connected.
  • If the interaction is too easy for you, increase the difficulty:
    • Make it so you can “lose the game” if you do not hit the sigil within a certain amount of time or before it grows large enough that it touches the gun barrel. Or make it so the sigil shoots back or there are other obstacles to make the interaction more challenging. You could program hit points for yourself and/or the sigil. What would it mean magically to lose the game? Perhaps you could try again after taking some time to meditate and focus.
    • Limit the number of shots you can fire. If more than one, put something on the screen to indicate how many shots remain.
    • Make a team effort of it, with multiple people shooting the sigil at the same time, either by having a group share one microphone to activate the loudness sensor, or having each participant run her own instance of the project and use cloud data to track the sigil’s hit points.
  • Instead of a flat background, use a webcam with a red gel over the lens to capture a live feed of the physical space you are in, and animate the sigil, gun, bullet, &c., over that as a sort of augmented reality.


The sound files are licensed under Creative Commons: