Inspiration and Philosophical Things

Posted by Aaron Barrett on June 13, 2017

This post is part of the official announcement of a new iPhone game, How I Roll! Click here to go back to the main announcement page thing.

As I wrote in the announcement on my personal site, I’m mainly trying to accomplish everything with this game.

Aaron wants this game to be so many things. Foremost, he wants it to be a celebration of nature’s chaos. A way of peeling back the mundane casing of the universe to reveal the furious and hypnotic beauty inherent within: symmetry, irrationality, infinity itself. But Aaron also wants it to be a cute time waster for soccer moms while they’re stuck at the dentist’s office.

I think it’s pretty obvious how this game can be a fun little waste of your time, but it may not be so clear how I’m going to rend the very fabric of the universe and peer into its soul. Let me try to explain.

I’ve always been a pretty nerdy kid. I grew up playing lots of sci-fi games and dreaming about exploring space and meeting aliens and stuff. I still think space is cool and all, but like so many other nerds out there, I’ve been frustrated by the slow pace of technology. I probably won’t live to visit another star system. At this rate, I might not even make it to Mars. Bummer.

I won’t pretend I’m not disappointed, but I’ve found some solace in math. You probably think that’s a super lame, hopelessly dorky thing to say… because it is. But please hear me out.

I haven’t always liked math. I mean, I had a million privileges and great teachers, so I was never bad at math. But I found most of it pretty boring. I liked video games. I liked computers. And over time I discovered that if you want to make computers do cool things (like play video games), it helps to understand some math. Well… after a decade or two of tinkering with computers, I’ve learned a decent amount of math. I’ve finally started to see beyond the numbers themselves. It’s basically like The Matrix.

It usually happens while I’m working on something totally unrelated. I’ll be trying to recreate some visual effect from an artist’s mockup, and I’ll accidentally tweak some variable way too high. As I nudge the variable back down to where it should be, I’ll notice a curious pattern. A mesmerizing dance of colors and shapes. Sometimes it’s part of a fractal; sometimes just two progressions overlapping in unexpected ways. I always want to stop what I’m doing and tell the nearest person about it. “Hey, did you know about this crazy thing that’s built into the universe?” But without the proper presentation, it’s hard to show anyone else what’s actually going on.

In this game, I want to create the proper presentation.

More about How I Roll! and Planetoid Games: