"The Purpose of Water" is a browser game that Stephen Lavelle made in a month. It is one of the many small games that he publishes for free on his website. It's a kind of puzzle game, but an obtuse one, where the real puzzle is figuring out how to interact with the logic of the game. All the pieces are packed with symbolism which doubles as game logic, so the solution to the puzzle is also the story being told. The way all the parts interact is so elegant and complete that the experience lasts after you finish the relatively short amount of time it takes to play. The ending is especially impactful in how it uses the vocabulary that the rest of the game introduces to deliver something genuinely meaningful and surprising.
To create it, he used a free programming library called Haxegon, but presumably created the game logic himself. The Pixel art aesthetic and grid based format seems inspired by old video games, and the content has references to folklore.
The project points to other ways simple game logic can be harnessed for powerful symbolism.
"The Purpose of Water" by Stephen Lavelle
Project: Lingdong Huang, CMU 15-112 Term Project: Hermit (2015)
Link to Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPYeTJd8klQ
Link to GIF: https://giphy.com/embed/XBuy5KwySYOAruoFrN
<iframe src="https://giphy.com/embed/XBuy5KwySYOAruoFrN?video=0" width="480" height="274" frameBorder="0" class="giphy-embed" allowFullScreen></iframe><p><a href="https://giphy.com/gifs/XBuy5KwySYOAruoFrN">via GIPHY</a></p>
Lingdong Huang, Hermit (2015)
One person, Lingdong Huang , was involved in the making of this project. What is particularly inspiring about this project is that its creator is not (or at least, wasn't at the time) a professional artist, but rather a fellow CMU student. I assume it took Huang only a few weeks to complete this simulation, as I also took 15-112 and am familiar with the term project. Huang used Python code to create this project, and was likely inspired by preexisting procedural generation projects which mimicked nature.
I was shown this video when I was a senior in high school by a student when I came to visit CMU. The combination of aesthetics and algorithmic complexity of this project left a lasting impression which led me to apply to CMU. I was drawn to the minimalistic yet effective use of monochromatic tones to evoke a quiet, fantastical atmosphere; the usage of simple polygons in specific ways to create organic, life-like creatures. The usage of building a "skeleton" in order to animate the creatures can be seen in Lingdong's later work, doodle-place, which was shown in Lecture today.