Fluff, Ideas, and Waffle

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Chris
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Fluff, Ideas, and Waffle

Postby Chris » Wed Feb 07, 2007 12:56 pm

I recently bought a Fluffwinian from one of our community veterens, The Goldfish. This is the sort of fan effort that really touches us at Introversion – somebody out there cared enough about our game and was inspired to do something creative of their own. Suffice to say, the Fluffwinian is an awesome piece of work, brimming with character and warmth. It makes me smile. Receiving the Fluffwinian triggered a whole series of creative connections, and had me seriously considering writing another Darwinia game – that’s how excited I was by the idea.

Image

It’s very interesting to me the way creative ideas form. Sometimes (rarely) they arrive fully formed in one flash, and it can take several minutes to fully explore the extent of the idea. Defcon was like this, the entire game arriving in one flash of inspiration, fully finished and polished. But it’s one of the only times it’s ever happened to me, and Defcon is a simple game at its core.

A far more common method is the sudden understanding of a connection between some existing (less interesting) ideas. Sometimes ideas percolate in my head for months without ever leaping forward and saying “please build me now”. The crucial moment – the creative moment comes when you suddenly realise a connection between several existing ideas that somehow makes them all far more compelling, and they all step forward in unison and say “you must build us now!” It’s completely unpredictable when these moments happen, but when they do it’s extremely exciting.

Returning to the point of this article, The Goldfish’s awesome Fluffwinian was the catalyst for one of those moments.

Since receiving the Fluffwinian a couple of days ago it has been obvious to me that this is no ordinary Darwinian – it is in fact some sort of primeval Darwinian. Dr Sepulveda alludes to thousands of generations of Darwinian evolution, so the Fluffwinians would be one of the first. (A friend of mine named Elizabeth brilliantly suggested we refer to them as Protowinians when I explained the concept to her.) The caveman-like savagery of the Protowinian is the perfect fit for a more primitive generation of Darwinian. We shall ignore the irony that body hair and fur is one of the hardest things to simulate in computer graphics – I personally love the idea that Darwinians began life as hairy cave monsters and later “evolved” into their well known smooth polygonal finish. It fits the analogy of their code becoming streamlined and optimised over the years.

The other component in this is an idea for a Darwinian story that I’ve had for a while. The idea centres around a cave – the birthplace of the Darwinian tribe. Dr Sepulveda would never have let the first generations loose on the open landscapes of the game – they’d just end up drowning themselves or falling from a cliff, so the first few hundred generations lived out their existence in caveman like savagery in a massive cave, where the Doctor could keep them all together and under tight control. A single beam of bright light would point down from an opening – the only opening – in the roof of the cave, guiding the Darwinians out of their birthplace and giving them something to strive for. Like all Darwinian stories it’s a tale of the spiritual awakening of the species, with their first steps towards the light marked by their emergence into the wider world that Dr Sepulveda built for them. We now know that these first generation Darwinians were called Protowinians, and we know what they looked like.

As soon as those two ideas fitted together, more followed immediately after. The cave would take on new meaning as time went by – the Darwinians would always know it was the birthplace of their tribe, and would return once a year to celebrate the moment. These celebrations would be an incredible site to behold, and would give the viewer an insight deep into the inner mind of the Darwinian.

The centre piece of the celebration would be the biggest bonfire you’ve ever seen, built right at the centre of the cave and surrounded by thousands of dancing and twirling Darwinians, throwing their shadows over the massive cave walls around them. Burning embers would rise up from the bonfire and escape out through the cave entrance directly above the bonfire, depicting the journey of the fallen Darwinian soul into the afterlife at the centre of their world. The inner walls of the cave would be covered in an incredibly detailed and elaborate 360 degree cave painting, which the Darwinians would add too every year as part of the celebrations as a way of recording the history of their tribe. Around the base of the cave walls the first paintings show the Protowinians climbing ropes and ladders towards the guiding light above. Above those, menacing Red Virii and Spiders and Centipedes adorn much of the middle sections of the cave walls, with a gigantic depiction of a Soul Destroyer flying menacingly overhead. Armies of Darwinians marching into battle in formation would meet the Virii head on, with one entire cave wall dedicated to the biblical battle that ensued. Hundreds of small souls would rise up from these battles towards the opening of the cave, each soul illuminated by its own carefully placed candle attached to the cave wall. Images of the Squaddies would be rendered as luminous angels, all lightening bolts and fireballs, sent down by the creator Dr Sepulveda to help them destroy the evil invading force.

The roof of the cave would be given over to a depiction of the Darwinian afterlife, with the Soul Repository painted as a circle all the way around the cave entrance. This would be too bright to ever look at directly from the base of the cave, and a massive beam of light would project down from the roof entrance of the cave and illuminate a spot at the centre of the cave floor – right where the Darwinians would build their massive bonfire every year. They would wear fake fur skins in reverence to their former caveman like selves, and over the course of many hours of celebration and ritual would re-enact the moment their tribe progressed out of their cave and into the wider world of Darwinia. Thousands of small glowing lanterns would be released from the crowd, slowly rising up on the hot air of the bonfire, carried out through the cave entrance and into the wider world.

It’s another intensely visual idea, similar in its biblical scope to the ideas I used to have regularly when working on that game. The Temple cutscene on the very last level where the Darwinians accidentally read their own source code, the Receiver with the warm reborn souls drifting slowly to the ground, the pixel mines with its harsh industrial machinery, all were conceived in exactly the same form – an instant in time, captured in snapshot form in incredible detail, almost like a painting. The entire process of “creating” the idea I’ve just described began when Elizabeth said the word “Protowinian” while I was holding the Fluffwinian in my hand, and ended a few moments later with us all sitting down to eat waffles. People sometimes ask me where I get my ideas, and it’s almost impossible to give any kind of accurate answer - what can we say that anybody would ever believe? Ideas happen somewhere between the Fluff and the Waffle, and that’s the best I can do. As best I can tell it’s a completely random and unpredictable process that can strike at any moment. But when it does strike, truly incredible things can happen.
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Postby estel » Wed Feb 07, 2007 1:35 pm

That's a really touching piece Chris. *sniff*. You should probably turn to novel writing...
On second thoughts, perhaps not. I know that I've been truly inspired by some of the ideas that have emerged from the fluff and waffle, and don't doubt that many others have too.
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Postby martin » Wed Feb 07, 2007 1:44 pm

well done to the goldfish, and you know if you gave us modders the ability to make that level you'd have fans falling over photoshop to make those cave walls??

...

so... any chance? ;)
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Postby BrianBlessed » Wed Feb 07, 2007 2:25 pm

I find I also have full ideas just supplant themselves in my mind, unfortunately I lack your ability to realise them. I mean just games alone I can think of ideas i've had ranging from a cross between an RPG and Mavis Beacon, to an idea i've literally just had about a game including the idea of causality which would have 10 dimensional travel.

Cursed ideas, like a luscious seed that will never take root.
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Postby Xocrates » Wed Feb 07, 2007 3:13 pm

Well, now I want to see that cave and I can't :(

So, the fluffwinian inspired you to make a Darwinia 2, you say? (Goldfish, quick send a bunch of fluffwinians to Chris!)
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Postby mibias » Wed Feb 07, 2007 4:24 pm

Chris Delay... Writer and independent videogame maker. Cool :wink:
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Postby xander » Wed Feb 07, 2007 4:44 pm

Proof that I have spent more than a healthy amount of time in school: the first thing I thought of was Plato's Allegory of the Cave.

The images produced in the above post are truly amazing. I look forward to seeing if anything comes from it.

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Postby Darksun » Wed Feb 07, 2007 5:19 pm

xander wrote:Proof that I have spent more than a healthy amount of time in school: the first thing I thought of was Plato's Allegory of the Cave.


Yep, that was my first thought as well :D

If my artistic skills were better, I'd try to draw some Darwinian Cave Paintings.
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Postby BrianBlessed » Wed Feb 07, 2007 5:23 pm

Actually now I think of it, it would be a good idea for a community project. As it is essentially Darwinia's history, there might not be enough to make a game persay. Maybe mixed medium animation, get some other people to do sound, tribal music, maybe narration. Although that said, I believe I have seen an animation of cave paintings and fire dancing can't remember what it was called though.
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Postby xander » Wed Feb 07, 2007 6:40 pm

Image

xander
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Postby desktopsimmer » Wed Feb 07, 2007 6:59 pm

After the war, the Darwinians Created the D5 (think C5) :)

Image

Still tinkering to do, but you get an idea. Xander like the cave drawing, can I pin it on my fridge :)
Last edited by desktopsimmer on Wed Feb 28, 2007 10:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby The GoldFish » Thu Feb 08, 2007 10:25 am

JUST SO YOU KNOW, if anyone wanted to place an order for a fluffwinian, you could totally do that with the information in my (deliberately out of the way) Fluffwinia thread - now that I'm a bit more on my feet about it I'd like to actively encourage people to send me money!

I have QUITE A GOOD CUSTOMER LIST so far;

Mark, xander, Aoife, Chris, and Icepick, all of whom I'm sure would just love to comment on my awesome customer service. I also have many offers of future customers, so get in there before you have to wait a week!

There, that's my plug done!

Also, if you really wanted to buy into Chris' Protowinian concept, I could make a Club to go with it as well - possibly with a binary 1 hammered through it for extra damage...
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Convergence

Postby iestyn » Thu Feb 08, 2007 10:45 am

That was a very vivid and familiar description of the same kind of creative process that I myself go through. Just the other day, I also read a description of how it feels to be out in the snow on a friend of mine's blog, which was as surprisingly familiar.

It's remarkable to me that there can be convergence to this degree between such complex and independently evolved systems as human minds. But there it is... deep, common forms of human experience emerge all over the planet. Attractors and convergence. A fruitful branch of future science, I would think.


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Postby KingAl » Thu Feb 08, 2007 10:47 am

Heh. Always the entrepreneur, eh? I might get one eventually for the novelty value...
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Postby RabidZombie » Sat Feb 10, 2007 2:37 pm

xander wrote:Proof that I have spent more than a healthy amount of time in school: the first thing I thought of was Plato's Allegory of the Cave.

The images produced in the above post are truly amazing. I look forward to seeing if anything comes from it.

xander


Same. Talking of school, I have had a healthy amount of GCSE coursework recently. :evil:

I must get one of those cute, fluffy Darwinians. They squeak as well! (Apparently)

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