This is project start for Didaktik Gama, a videogame installation.

I had been struggling with my own bad experimental code trying to learn how to make an rot.js roguelike game prototype that used ‘stacked’ tiles to simulate one level of height, which was the style I’d developed using my custom tileset “Libuše” when working on my web game, Grotto. This meant that it was getting complicated to do things like save and load levels for a multi-level dungeon, and to do more complex things on the grid like animated cutscenes, etc. To sidestep this and free myself up to experiment, I went back to working with p5.js using the tiles on a grid, and got a few interesting experiments done- like cellular automata animations, multi-directional typing with the tiles on the grid, tmj-layer animations (a json format for the level editor Tiled), some pattern generators and experiments with sound, and a Geomancy divination app. It’s an unruly mess, but I found that I could put all of these together with the rot.js game prototype as separate web-pages, use node.js to track some global variables across them for small connections, and then squish the whole thing into an electron app as a sort of showcase.

Right around this time I got a query from Recspec, a MoHA associated arts org that had shown the first cellular automata experiment I did with the tiles to ask if I wanted to put something together for a small installation space in June. Considering that I never think anything I do is done, I decided to say yes even though I feel like this stuff is incredibly raw.

My thought is, tinker with all of the individual pieces so that they’ll enter into a zero player mode if there’s no player input, use them as projections on the outside of the installation space (a shipping container that’s been modified with doors, windows and a window unit), and then try to make the interior a comfortable space to show off games, artifacts and literature that contextualize this otherwise hostile and abstract collection of works.

the didaktik gama (The real “Didaktik Gama” computer was a lovely Czech ZX Spectrum clone with a fantastic name)

I had originally wanted to make a fantasy soviet-style 8-bit slab computer with a raspberry pi in it to run this stuff on, but I have less access to fabrication resources now that I’m out of school, and the thing I started to build was looking very homemade and a little like a cash-register. Also the raspberry pi was not performing well with some of the p5 sketches (this was when it was just a node app, not a packaged electron thing).

This installation is about too many things at once- history, time tied to space, prophecy, technology, nationalism, mining and extraction (where Grotto explored the dungeon as an ossuary or a collection of cenotaphs, Didaktik Gama explores the dungeon as a mine and as the site of extraction for building a future utopia/dystopia).

We’ll see how it goes, I have just a couple of weeks to figure out what will go in the space itself. I have a collection of old games on interesting hardware, and I think that of all things, Obelisk- my undergrad game, could fit here. I also have some sections from my thesis text about mining that I think could fit, as well as a collection of vintage uranium glassworks that fit into the mining theme, but maybe very loosely! There’s a piece of evolving audio I made with sonic-pi that will fit well with the other stuff, so it’s a sonic space as well. The electron app can potentially do some dmx lighting control but that may be too much to troubleshoot between now and then, maybe some easy pre-programmed lights would be better.