November 29, 2012

Conway's Game of Good and Evil

Conway's Game of Good and Evil

Taking John Conway's Game of Life and infusing the words "GOOD" and "EVIL" within the void, a page (world) of ever-evolving text appears.

If you're unfamiliar with cellular automata or Conway's Game of Life, it essentially places a certain set of rules on displayed objects that determine whether or not they'll live or die in the next "step" of the program depending on how many "neighbors" each object has.

The Game of Life program has me hypnotized and amazed every time I open it. It's available for a variety of platforms and languages, but if you haven't seen it before, check out this page: Emergent Universe - Game of Life.

Textual Automata
I've altered the code found here to grab letters from an array, in this case the letters from GOOD and EVIL, and display those letters instead of simple pixels. What results is a fascinating, living, breathing, dying, evolving text that explores many ideas inherent in life.

As the text evolves, you get typical Game of Life patterns (blinkers, boats, gliders, spaceships, &c). In addition, you get a story that begins with a VOID, and fills this VOID with GOD, LOVE, and even EVE. Allow the story to self-evolve, and you may come across the VILE, the DEVIL, maybe an IDOL or two.

Moving beyond a story of creation, the text becomes populated with DOVEs, DOGs, even an occassional EEL. As the story progresses further, these concepts may be replaced by an attraction to GOLD or OIL.

These words LIVE, EVOLVE, and DIE like any other life as we know it. By adding equal parts GOOD and EVIL to the system, I find it fascinating to see the products of the blend of the two.

Stable Configuration

This program is available for Windows and can be downloaded here: Game_of_Good_and_Evil.exe

If you'd like to build the program yourself, the C++ code is here: Game_of_Good_and_Evil.rtf
Run the program and watch it evolve into a stable pattern. Run it again, and the void will be filled with a different pattern (they're created at random). Run it to read it or run it to stare. If nothing else, run it to create worlds.


November 11, 2012

UNWELCOME - a Screenshot Poem

Original Screenshot - Metroid, NES

Experimenting with sprite poems, I decided to see what an entire screenshot would look like. For this piece, I chose a screenshot from the initial scene of Metroid for the NES.

Replacing each pixel in the screenshot with a color-corresponding letter infuses the word "unwelcome" throughout the scene where Samus first arrives in the game-world.

Unwelcome is the hostile world to her. Unwelcome is she to a world into which she was not invited. Unwelcome is she in a 1986 8-bit sci-fi video game where she hides her identity until after the game is over, so not to offend or excite the target market.

The resultant poem seems less like ASCII art and more like a cross stitch pattern. Each pixel is carefully mapped and its color referenced as one letter in the word "unwelcome."

This project was done entirely in a text editor, with a monospaced Courier to maintain an even character width. As such, it is copy-able and paste-able into any other text editor. It is not an image. It is a string of letters, one pervasive word.

Here is the poem as plain text: UNWELCOME_bw.pdf

Here is the poem in color: UNWELCOME_color.pdf

(Downloading and opening looks much better than previewing on Google docs.)

Zoom in. Zoom out. Forests and trees and such.