TextQuake Past Present and Future

Previously I wrote about using the recently open-sourced Quake code to create navigable text art, a concept I dubbed TextQuake. But it turns out that there have already been many TextQuakes, and there may be many more….

Textmode Quake is an ASCII art rendition of the Quake 3D engine graphics, playable in real time. As the characters are being used only for their pixel density, the text has no meaning beyond texture. Textmode Quake is achieved through serializing open source libraries meant to transform any graphics input into text, and was conceived of less as an art piece than as a portability hack in the spirit of It Plays Doom.

IF Quake is descriptive prose of Quake gameplay, implemented as Interactive Fiction. Written in 2002, it follows in the tradition of FOOM, an IF implementation of Doom written in 1996. The work is part simulation, part parody - sure, you can in theory simulate the FPS experience in IF, but why? Although all but gone today, statistical combat simulation in IF does have a long history, however, with one of the best known examples being the troll in Zork I.

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DEVMAP is a modified Quake3 game engine in which texts function texturally - transparent sheets of words fill a wall panel, data drifts across a hill, and most impressively textures (including floating text) may be transfered to the avatar’s body. The work is over-the-top rich media, with layers upon layers of moving data, one type of which is text. To even begin to understand everything going on in this piece, you need to watch one of the movies (movie 1, movie 2, movie 3, movie 4).

EXTENSION: Non-linear story / scape is another modified Quake engine by the same studio, Workspace Unlimited. This time the theme is “the exploration of a non-linear story using space and user movement as input for the construction and order of the story.”

Being exclusively focused on text and concerned with multilinear navigation, EXTENSION: Non-linear story / scape is the closest in conception to TextQuake. Looking at screenshots, however (I haven’t experienced it), it appears go very quickly from a sparse threaded structure to a built up and layered state of total unreadability - that is, the navigation process is an info-aesthetic statement, but the design is not a reading machine except in a particular destructive sense.

DEVMAP, on the other hand, contains some beautiful examples of House-of-Leaves-esque hanging text panels in 3D space that seem to actually be intended for reading. It would be interesting to combine these two designs… and interesting to write texts meant to be read from within them.

[IF Quake and Textmode Quake suggested by Nick Montfort]
[DEVMAP via Selectparks]

2 Responses to “TextQuake Past Present and Future”

  1. 1 noah

    … and I should probably mention that I’ve been working for a few months now with Mark Skwarek, Nick Musurca, and Shawn Greenlee (with some early conceptual contributions from Sascha Becker) on a new project called “Guess Why I’m Crying” that involves moving through a textual 3D space. We’re building on top of G3D, which should allow us to relatively easily have versions both for the Cave and for non-VR displays. But we’re working on the Cave version first, and if all goes well we should be able to show a preview of it at this year’s FirstWorksProv festival.

  1. 1 WRT: Writer Response Theory » Blog Archive » It Plays Adventure

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