a wanderer's map

This month’s piece is part Kentucky Route Zero, part A Strange Voyage, and part vector flowfield. Run it and it will generate an idiosyncratic, wandering map. It uses the current date reported by your computer to seed the random number generator, so each (real-life) day you run it will show you a different map.

It started out as a recreation of the classic “place a bunch of particles in a flowfield and have them drop ink on a canvas” effect seen here, but then I realised that if you follow just a single particle it generates these really nice, natural-looking meandering paths. And if you place just a few stylised points of interest on one of those paths, you get something that looks a bit like a map, or at least the record of a journey.

It’s strange: when I started this whole project I assumed that I’d inevitably hit a point where my inspiration would run dry and I’d be unable to come up with a piece for that month. But (so far) that’s not what’s happened.

Instead, the process has been: 1st week: I have no idea what I’m going to do for this month; 2nd week: Huh. This idea’s kind of interesting; 3rd week: The core piece is up and running, just a little polish remaining; 4th week: Done.

I keep being surprised at how smoothly the pieces come together. Though it probably helps that I find it therapeutic to work on small projects like this.

Download a wanderer’s map

Controls: escape: quit

The Rules:

  • The file at this link will be deleted 1 month from now (02/11/19).

  • All downloads are zipfiles containing a Windows executable.

  • All source code and assets are included, licensed under the GPL (code) and CC-BYSA (assets).

  • As long as you abide by those licenses, you can do whatever you want with the download.

Further Reading

This month I fell in love with Molly Mendoza’s Skip, the tale of 2 friends tumbling through different worlds, trying to get home. Check out some sample pages here; it’s a seriously beautiful piece of work.

Everest Pipkin wrote about their experience playing Rune Factory 3, where they missed a key trigger in the game’s progression system and as a result found themselves playing a very different, far more interesting game than the developers intended.

Ava Foxfort wrote a wonderful piece about games that ask you to close your eyes.

This yelp review goes places.

Beats is the best thing I’ve seen all year. It’s such a strange sensation to watch something and recognise it. The locations they filmed, the accents and slang… There are parts of this film that feel intimately familiar in a way that I’m just not accustomed to, as someone who’s lived in Scotland his whole life (as opposed to say, London, or New York). It’s so rare that I recognise my home on screen.

Turns out Combat Juggling is a thing. More than that, it’s an entire sport with its own league and governing body.

This Super Mario playthrough is simultaneously a wonderful performance in its own right, and a powerful demonstration of all the assumptions we make as videogame players when we’re already embedded in games culture.

I watched the second season of Flowers on netflix, and while I liked the first season a lot, the second season is something else entirely. I don’t think I’ve ever seen comedy and dark, bleak drama combined quite like this before. And the cinematography (and the music!) in the second season is absolutely stunning. CW: suicide, depression.

Mary When You Follow Her: A powerful story of fear and escape, told in a single extended sentence. CW: sexual assault, murder.

It feels like its release got overshadowed by Untitled Goose Game for a lot of people, but Mutazione is a genuinely wonderful thing, interested in its characters’ lives in a way that still feels incredibly rare in videogame-land.

Lately I’ve been feeling distinctly antsy; tense and nervy. I’ve been taking every chance I can to get out of the city. To climb hills, traverse forests. To find somewhere quiet with nobody around, and just sit, and breathe. I had so many ways to escape the city when I lived in Glasgow; it feels harder in Dundee. I’m still building up my map of escape routes and sanctuaries.