If you own a high-end gaming keyboard, then you know the special hell that is navigating the software that comes with one. With 16 million RGB colors and multiple seizure-inducing patterns to choose from, it can be difficult just to turn the damn things off let alone produce something that looks even moderately attractive. But one enterprising YouTuber has finally cracked the code, and all it took was using a piece of software originally designed by the National Security Agency.
Super Hexagon is a cult classic puzzle game designed by Terry Cavanagh. Players must trace a path through a rapidly spinning series of hexagons in order to reach the end. Originally built for mobile devices and tablet, it’s also now available on Steam.
What YouTuber CarterSande wanted to do was extend those shifting patterns of light onto their fancy schmancy keyboard. But the way that Cavanagh compiled the game’s code means that you can’t just open up the files and muck about with them. So, CarterSande went and downloaded some software from the NSA and got to work.
The NSA is one of the United States’ top intelligence agencies, one of the three-letter variety like the FBI and the CIA that you’d rather like to stay out of the way of. That’s especially true of the NSA in this day and age, as they specialize in cryptology and cybersecurity.
“It is this expertise — from our people and technology — that allows us to accomplish the goals of discovering adversaries’ secrets, protecting U.S. secrets, and outmaneuvering our adversaries in cyberspace while at the same time protecting the privacy rights of the American people,” states the agency’s official mission statement.
This is amazing - someone hacked Super Hexagon to figure out how to get its palette and board orientation from memory while it's running, and used that to make a cool light up keyboard effect https://t.co/MCXKvHuvLj— Terry (@terrycavanagh) April 10, 2019
As part of that mission, the NSA created a piece of software called Ghidra, which allows users to reverse engineer compiled computer code. Originally designed to tear apart malware for forensic investigation, the software essentially untangles data that was meant to be understood by a computer and turns it back into human-readable language.
CarterSande more or less popped Super Hexagon into Ghidra, tapped a few buttons, and then went poking around in the game’s code the way you or I might go looking for that half-empty bottle of mustard in the back of the fridge. Then they rigged the appropriate lines of code up to their keyboard, and called it a day.
The result is incredible. What was once an immersive experience for mobile phones and tablets is turned into a festival of light and motion that can easily fill an entire room. Even Cavanagh himself was impressed by the results.
Of course, you can try this yourself if you like. You just need to connect your own personal or work computer to the website of the world’s leading cyber intelligence agency and download some free software.
While you’re at it, maybe you’d like to allow the NSA to recharge your cell phone as well.