By coincidence I came across Jeff Minter’s company Llamasoft and surprisingly discovered that it was still going strong.
Jeff Minter, probably most famous for his somewhat… surreal C64 games (“Attack of the Mutant Camels”, “Revenge of the Mutant Camels” and even “Metagalactic Llamas Battle at the Edge of Time”), apparently has been hacking away on light synthesizers for the past twenty years.
His light synthesizers are complex visualization modules either music-controlled or driven by human interaction. And his latest incarnation, Neon, is actually used in the Xbox 360’s dashboard.
The Neon Light Synthesizer in Action.
Who would have guessed that Llamasoft code would end up in the Xbox 360 firmware?
Given three basic rules (“Each game must be made in less than seven days / by only one person / be based around a central theme (e.g. gravity or swarms)”) some very interesting projects were created. Since then the website has opened up, and everyone is allowed to post their experimental games.
A lot of progress in the past week. First of all Structure Synth is no longer hosted at Google Code Hosting, but instead at SourceForge.
A few of the new features:
New primitives: I’ve added box, line and dot as new drawing primitives. I’ve also added a new coloring model (based on the HSV color space). Notice the spherical structure above – it was kind of surprising (given the rules) that a spherical structure was produced.
Rule retirement: It is now possible to specify a maximum recursive depth for individual rules. Optionally, it is possible to specify an alternate rule to use as an substitution when the ‘maxdepth’ is reached. The is demonstrated for the Menger sponge above, where the recursion is terminated at the given level.
Ambiguous rules: This one is taken straight from Context Free: it is possible to specify multiple definitions of a rule, each with individual weights. When an ambiguous rule is executed, one of it definitions is chosen at random, taken the weights into account.
Well, I started worked on a spare time project, called Structure Synth: a small application for generative structure synthesis (in 3D). The app itself will be built around an embedded editor with a OpenGL visualization window next to it. Here is a mock-up shot:
Structure Synth GUI
The structures are designed in a simple language, EisenScript (named after the Great Russian director, Sergei Eistenstein, of course). It will be similar, but not identical, to the Context Free Design Grammer that Context Free uses.
An EisenScript defines a Rule Set, where each rule is defined as a number of Actions.
An Action would typically be to perform a Transformation and either call another rule, or one of the built-in drawing primitives. As in Context Free rules can be defined recursively in terms of themselves.
Rules are allowed to be ambiguous: more than one definition for a rule can exist, and when ambiguous rules are encountered the Builder will choose one at random. Again, as in Context Free, it will also be possible to specify a weighting for each of the rule definitions.
Here is an example of how an EisenScript rule set might look:
Structure Synth will be built in C++/Qt4.3/OpenGL and will be Open Source (GPL). It should be cross-platform (Windows, Linux, and Mac).