The borrowed scenery game has been named ‘Aniziz’ – from the 12th century Lingua Ignota used by Hildegard of Bingen. The term means “the soil” and represents the game’s role in the wider project, for nurturing plants found in the city, as well as the mapping element.
It’s working much more like a proper multiplayer game now as it has player accounts, using four types of avatar from Theun which represent patabotanical tarot versions of the hermit, hierophant, magician and high priestess. Your avatar will be picked when you register, in the form of a ‘reading’ ritual – still to be designed.
The text rendering has been greatly improved – the support provided by HTML5 canvas is quite basic, so you need to do things like word wrapping yourself. Particle systems now provide more interactivity for the fungi and the game includes a chat mode for players using the same font as on the tagged city plants and the the android app. The thinking behind this is to create a situation where interpretation is encouraged over direct text communication, inspired (as in previous multiplayer online games I’ve worked on) by Tale of Tale’s Endless Forest.
The game will be made public closer to the event, but the code and assets for all these projects are now available on FoAM’s git repository.
FoAM is building a story for Electrified III: The Responsive City in Ghent in September. It’s called Borrowed Scenery 1.0 and follows on from our previous Borrowed Scenery 0.1 in the same city in 2009. The story will be built out of parts arising and inspired from the groworld project – human plant interfaces, but with a focus on physical narratives and alternate realities based in the city.
One of my tasks is to take two of our existing projects, Germination X and Boskoi and bring them together – absorbing the physical space of a city into an online game, as well as using a mobile foraging application as a way to propagate pieces of the overall story. This is a good chance to prototype some ideas for combining imaginary online spaces with physical spaces, online players from all over the world and people foraging in the streets of Ghent.
I’m starting with the game, and a working sketch using Maja’s visual references for inspiration – some of the ideas here include:
- Representing plants found by Boskoi foragers as characters – the bubble plants with feet are the plants from our world in the game’s reality.
- Using the map of the city as terrain – which becomes deformed by the activity of players.
- Mixing different styles, organic and digital elements – but focusing on sculptural and 3D objects (rather than Germination X’s mainly 2D look).
- Use of many more minor and major characters (e.g. the chicken in the lower left).
- Use of Lingua Ignota – the “unknown language” of Saint Hildegard of Bingen, who’s viriditas or ‘greenness’ is an important element of this story (the pope is also making her the 35th “Doctor of the Church” on the 7th October, while the festival is happening).
Further ingredients will include the music of Stevie Wishart, plenty of patabotany and a good dose of tarot.