Down in the Depths.

Continuing on from yesterday, I’ve been working away on this little procedural world quietly. I did indeed find a library for Processing that can run the ELIZA chatbot program, and I’m integrated that into the simulation. So now you can run into a green guy who you can then have  a conversation with by typing. And the conversation is an ELIZA conversation.

As with so many programming tasks, this stupidly easy little thing has taken quite a bit of work over the day. Not least of all because it turns out that the ELIZA library didn’t quite output its text in a format that I liked (weird spaces between certain characters). Amazingly (to me), I ended up grabbing the source code for the library and then spent a long while deciphering it in order to get rid of the spaces, recompile it, and use my new version of the library.

It’s one of those fascinating things about programming specifically that you end up with the insane gulf between what pops out at the end (a little scene with hills and trees and a person you can type to talk to) and what had to happen to make it appear (a lot of my own code, a tweaked and recompiled library, a heavily edited chatbot script, and so on). This is probably true of most arts/crafts – the level at which the creator engages with the tools is more or less invisible to us when we see the output, and yet it’s that engagement that yields the thing in the first place.

Anyway, this sketch is now tentatively going to be called GuruQuest and is going to feature the player walking through a barren landscape seeking a guru to explain the meaning of existence and solve all their problems. I like the idea that this will be something I can add to over time (I’d quite like some clouds, maybe some wildlife, maybe some urban settings eventually), but right now I’m trying to establish the major function – walk through a landscape, find and talk to a guru (randomly positioned right now, but hopefully on a mountaintop!).

As with most of the things I find interesting, there’s no real win state or solution – you go find the guru, talk to him, get what you get, and then (perhaps, in a later iteration), go home.

13 March 2011
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