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UNIVERSE: A Song in the Void [DONE]

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UNIVERSE: A Song in the Void [DONE]

Postby NiallM » Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:07 am

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Part creation myth, part emergent system, part musical instrument.

Download for Windows (19.4MB)
Download for OSX (33.5MB)
Download for Linux/source code (36.5MB)


Original Post:
So I've got an idea for this pageant, and I think I'll be able to squeeze it in between the other projects I've got on the go. It's going to be a combination of creation myth and some kind of emergent system. I'm taking my cue from Catherynne Valente's writing:

From In the Night Garden:
Open your ears, and let the sky in.

In the beginning, before you were the spark in the dream of a lice-shagged goat and a lonely farmhand, there was nothing but sky. It was black, and vast, and all the other things you might expect a sky with nothing floating around in it to be. But the sky was only a sky if you looked at it slantwise - if you looked at it straight, which of course, no one could, because there wasn't anyone to look any way, it was the long, slippery flank of a Mare.

The Mare was black , and vast, and all the other things you would expect a horse the size of everything to be.

After a long while, the Mare chewed a hole in herself, for reasons she has kept as her own. The hole filled up with light the way a hole in you or me would fill up with blood, and this was called a Star. They were the first, true children of the Mare, made of the flesh of her own body. And because she liked the light, and the company, she chewed other holes, roughly in the shapes of Badgers and Plows and Deer and Knives and Snails and Foxes and Grass and Water and suchlike, and so on until the Mare was ablaze with holes, and all the holes were Stars, and the sky was not very empty at all anymore.


From The Habitation of the Blessed:
It was the Crystalline Heaven who did it, as best folk very much wiser than your Imtithal can measure it. Why the Crystalline Heaven and not the Benevolent Gold of the Sun's Sphere, or the Base Metal of the Leaden Spheres? Lean in, and I will tell you a secret: because the Heaven was lonely, and it had a weakness in its upper hemisphere, due to some trauma in its mysterious infancy. It is important that you know this. That loneliness and weakness were always a part of us.

The Sphere of Heaven ground slowly through the windy pitch, and crushed against the Benevolent Silver of the Sphere of the Moon. All along its rose-colored meridians, the orb of Heaven cracked, and splintered, and shivered. Lines of gold like fire appeared in its great face; glass formed and bubbled in long rivers, and in the beginning of everything it cried out as the Sphere of the Moon passed into the Sphere of Heaven. Where the Moon had entered, so the Sun followed, and Mercury Lined with Quicksilver, Jupiter Hot and Moist, and all of the Planetary Spheres and Elemental Spheres, one after the other, like one of Ikram's poor dolls. The Crystalline Heaven swelled with all it contained, and lost its rosy color, becoming instead the color of black glass. Thus when we look upward in the evening, we see the very furthest rim of Heaven that can be seen from where we stand, on the last and smallest and best of the Spheres, the Habitation of the Blessed, our own dear Earth.
Last edited by NiallM on Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:32 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: UNIVERSE: How the World was Made

Postby Radiatoryang » Thu Jan 12, 2012 3:54 pm

Haha, oh man, what a great sentence: "In the beginning, before you were the spark in the dream of a lice-shagged goat and a lonely farmhand, there was nothing but sky"

Now I'm imagining a space RTS 4X game where the universe is a horse
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Re: UNIVERSE: How the World was Made

Postby Ian Snyder » Thu Jan 12, 2012 5:02 pm

Awesome, I'm a sucker for a good creation myth!
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Re: UNIVERSE: How the World was Made

Postby NiallM » Sun Jan 15, 2012 8:39 pm

Image
Spent the day making a start on this, and, well... all I've got to show for it is a clumsy recreation of Golan Levin's Yellowtail. I haven't even started on any of the interesting emergent things I have planned. I have at least come up with a slightly better title though.

If you want to play with some glitchy wormy things, here's a current Windows build.
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Re: UNIVERSE: A Song in the Void

Postby NiallM » Thu Jan 19, 2012 1:13 pm

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Some progress. There's now some decent emergent behaviour happening, as well as another kind of agent.

Here's the current Windows build.
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Re: UNIVERSE: A Song in the Void

Postby NiallM » Sun Jan 22, 2012 12:58 pm

Image
Fiddled with the trail drawing a bit, added another agent, though I think I'm going to have to alter how it gives birth; it's a bit chaotic at the moment.

Here's a Windows build. This'll probably be my last update till the final release, as I don't want to spoil the surprise of what I have planned.
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Re: UNIVERSE: A Song in the Void

Postby NiallM » Wed Feb 08, 2012 8:49 pm

...and it's done. It turned out more like a children's story than what I had in mind. I can't tell if it's any good or not. I don't really have a proper storyteller's voice.

All of the audio from the tree's children is synthesised in realtime. The algorithms are fairly efficient in themselves, but when you add them all up, I suspect older processors might start to struggle. If you find the audio's stuttering, try passing in --synthLimit [val] on the command line, where [val] is a number 0-128. That'll limit the number of voices the program allocates.

I'll stick download links in the first post.
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Re: UNIVERSE: A Song in the Void [DONE]

Postby mildmojo » Sun Feb 12, 2012 9:58 pm

This was really nice. I've been wanting to try some narration myself, but I haven't been smacked with a game idea yet. I think you've got a fine storyteller's voice. It helps that your accent's different from mine, but I also think storytelling is more about cadence than a particular vocal tone.

I wasn't sure where to go after I'd made some musical swirls, so I started punching buttons on the keyboard. Turns out that was the right move. I let the last screen linger until the sound ran out because I wasn't quite sure if there was more to discover.

The artwork's very nice. The fade to black from the desktop (OSX) and the narration beginning in darkness felt good, too.

What did you use to build this?
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Re: UNIVERSE: A Song in the Void [DONE]

Postby mcc » Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:14 am

Oh, I liked this a lot. Very pretty and the generative music was great.

I didn't discover the typing the first time I played it. I figured out the mouse movement thing, then got confused after awhile when it suddenly seemed like my mouse movements weren't translating to new movements anymore. (Then there was an interesting thing where the dots eventually stopped following the patterns I'd set and started kind of marching across the screen in little bounces, I couldn't quite work out what triggered that or if it had a meaning.) Eventually it just let me on to the ending. It did feel like there was some sort of meaningful pattern to how my actions were impacting the game, but I wished a bit that I could have been given a clearer sign of "okay, that's as much of that as there is to do, now try a new thing".

I actually thought the voice recording was pretty good.
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Re: UNIVERSE: A Song in the Void [DONE]

Postby NiallM » Mon Feb 13, 2012 5:21 pm

mildmojo wrote:This was really nice. I've been wanting to try some narration myself, but I haven't been smacked with a game idea yet. I think you've got a fine storyteller's voice. It helps that your accent's different from mine, but I also think storytelling is more about cadence than a particular vocal tone.

I wasn't sure where to go after I'd made some musical swirls, so I started punching buttons on the keyboard. Turns out that was the right move. I let the last screen linger until the sound ran out because I wasn't quite sure if there was more to discover.

The artwork's very nice. The fade to black from the desktop (OSX) and the narration beginning in darkness felt good, too.

What did you use to build this?

Thanks :)

It's done with SDL, using some c++ basecode I've built up over the years. I've been working this way for a while now so I'm pretty comfortable with it, but these days there's probably simpler options for throwing a quick game together.

mcc wrote:Oh, I liked this a lot. Very pretty and the generative music was great.

I didn't discover the typing the first time I played it. I figured out the mouse movement thing, then got confused after awhile when it suddenly seemed like my mouse movements weren't translating to new movements anymore. (Then there was an interesting thing where the dots eventually stopped following the patterns I'd set and started kind of marching across the screen in little bounces, I couldn't quite work out what triggered that or if it had a meaning.) Eventually it just let me on to the ending. It did feel like there was some sort of meaningful pattern to how my actions were impacting the game, but I wished a bit that I could have been given a clearer sign of "okay, that's as much of that as there is to do, now try a new thing".

I actually thought the voice recording was pretty good.

It's interesting you both seem to have gone for the mouse first. It looks like I should have made it clearer that there's other things you can do; I guess it's not really hinted at in the voiceover*.

I'm a bit confused myself that it stopped generating new trails after a while. I didn't put any limit on that, and you should, theoretically, be able to bring your computer to its knees by generating more and more trails (I've not actually tried this myself though).

* Oh, actually, I just thought of an easy fix for this. I might do an updated version when I get a minute.
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Re: UNIVERSE: A Song in the Void [DONE]

Postby mcc » Mon Feb 13, 2012 6:00 pm

Actually, what confuses me is I think I did try the letters a couple times and they didn't do anything. Though it's possible what I did was tried the arrow keys, and then tried space, and when those didn't do anything I was like "whelp, guess the keyboard doesn't do anything!" Are there different times at which the keyboard does or doesn't trigger? (I did notice I can get the game to skip quite a bit by starting to hit the keyboard "too early".) I'll test some more.
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Re: UNIVERSE: A Song in the Void [DONE]

Postby NiallM » Tue Feb 14, 2012 9:39 am

mcc wrote:Actually, what confuses me is I think I did try the letters a couple times and they didn't do anything. Though it's possible what I did was tried the arrow keys, and then tried space, and when those didn't do anything I was like "whelp, guess the keyboard doesn't do anything!" Are there different times at which the keyboard does or doesn't trigger? (I did notice I can get the game to skip quite a bit by starting to hit the keyboard "too early".) I'll test some more.

Ah, I see. The inputs aren't active until the intro voiceover's finished (though you can skip it with the escape key)*. I did have plans for other agents besides the three that are in it (e.g. arrow keys, number keys, symbols), but I ran out of time/ideas.

* Oh. Actually, testing this out, it seems you can trigger agents in the intro, which kind of breaks things. I'd better fix that.
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Re: UNIVERSE: A Song in the Void [DONE]

Postby NiallM » Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:36 pm

Okay, I've done a small update to add a bit more polish. If after a while you've only discovered one of the agents the voiceover will hint that there's more to do, and I've added a fade out and quit to desktop at the end, and given the executable an icon. I've updated the links in the first post to point to the revised version.

I'm now debating whether to spend the weekend adding in more agent types, or whether to stop here.
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Re: UNIVERSE: A Song in the Void [DONE]

Postby Kampf_Kiewi » Thu Feb 16, 2012 2:04 pm

This is pretty cool :D!I like it a lot, it's nice, small and cute. Keep rockin'!
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