Time To Admire Art In Secret Habitat

ART.

I like Secret Habitat. I like it an awful lot. I’ve been playing this latest from Strangethink Software for a fortnight and I keep returning to see more but it’s taken me this long to post because I want to do right by it. Oh, this’ll have to do! Secret Habitat is wonderful and special, okay?

It’s a free walking simulator on a procedural island covered in procedural art galleries with procedural layouts and procedural wallpaper and procedural collections of procedural artwork with procedural names by procedural artists, accompanied by procedural sound exhibits.

Secret Habitat goes down on a weird island covered in weird, stark buildings that I’d happily explore even if they weren’t art galleries. Each floor of each gallery houses a collection of procedural art which, well, I say is by a procedural artist. They seem to use a similar algorithm, or similar parts, or similar something, as colours, patterns, and other motifs repeat across them; you can recognise they’re part of a series. Seeing different spins on common themes can be delightful, and it’s awfully exciting when you discover one painting very different to the rest of its set – yeah, I’ve gasped.

I also like how Secret Habitat has thought put into its walking. Inside galleries we’re reverential, stepping gently (I’d swear it differentiates between the shuffles and full steps of gallery-walking), but outside we run wild and free. Art deserves respect, you know. Or… you know, you could have a fun/infuriating chat about where exactly the art lies in Secret Habitat, and if it contains individual pieces of art or it’s all one thing or which part is the most art or… Me, I like staring out windows as if they frame paintings; is there a distinction between the landscape and paintings?

Naturally, a new island and new art are generated each time you load Secret Habitat. Oh, and the game masks all this generation behind a procedural quote. How very splendid.

21 Comments

  1. Snids says:

    Oh wow!

    Amazing stuff. Someone alert Brian Eno!

  2. Jalan says:

    Needs a procedural procedural tag, procedurally.

  3. Alex says:

    I enjoy Strangethink as a being quite a lot, and Secret Habitat may be my favorite thing they’ve cooked up yet. I tend to play for only 10 minutes or so at a time, but I still keep going back to it when I have a certain feeling.

    I agree with you, Alice, my favorite part is staring out the windows! The landscape is so beautiful behind the window tints. I was also a fan of the subtle modulation of the walking mechanic, and I actually just love the kinesthetic feel of the jump when outside, so I’ll be running and hopping over slime puddles as much as I’m looking at the artworks.

    My only criticism is that the procedural music seems much more homogeneous than the art (your term “sound exhibits” is probably more accurate). Maybe it’s just because I’m a musician, but I was really hoping it would be a bit more varied.

    Regardless, I do enjoy this thing, and it’s also just made me even more interested in what Strangethink cooks up next (which looks excellent and intriguing so far, judging by their Twitter).

  4. mattlambertson says:

    Wow, No Man’s Sky looks so good!

    • Ross Angus says:

      I think Strangethink are ahead of the game, when it comes to procedural generation. We’ve not seen any buildings in No Man’s Sky, apart from what appears to be assets made in advance, placed in the landscape procedurally (Fuel did the same trick). I’m much more interested in procedurally generated urban areas. Strangethink, Tom Betts and Delacian seem to be one of the few people exploring this area.

  5. Melody says:

    I like reading your posts.
    I like that you record videos about these games.
    I like that I can watch these videos embedded in the article.
    I like the videos, and your ability to connect with these worlds. (I definitely could learn a thing or two from your ability to be fascinated)
    I like that I can’t remember how RPS was before you came along, and I’m not sure I’d want to.

    • *Junon says:

      >>your ability to be fascinated

      what a perfectly succinct way to put it

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      Well shucks, thank you.

    • unit 3000-21 says:

      “I like that I can’t remember how RPS was before you came along, and I’m not sure I’d want to.”
      Well, I’m sure I wouldn’t – Alice is the best thing that happened to RPS, and I actually wish she’d write WOT’s also (or even better made videoWOT’s).

  6. AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

    “Air Knife” was a beautiful thing.

  7. Curry the Great says:

    Call me when the game can proceduraly generate an Ilya Repin painting, including background story.

    I don’t really see the point in procedurally generated art, at least paintings. I suppose it could work as wallpaper (for a wall, not my screen)?

    • Frank says:

      Does art need a point to be enjoyed?

      • Emeraude says:

        Depends. Are we talking pixels ?

        • Jim Dandy says:

          Those Seurat some tough questions to answer. Still, the very fact they’re being asked shows tesserae of hope for us all.

    • mukuste says:

      I’m left wondering if the whole thing isn’t actually a subtle statement on certain types of modern art…

    • Rizlar says:

      You must have seen these computer generated images based on Mondrian’s work, right?

      link to noll.uscannenberg.org

      Procedural generation is just a tool to be used. It’s what you do with it that should be judged as having value, not the process.

  8. Aninhumer says:

    Oh huh, that’s Alice’s voice? When I heard it before in this: link to rockpapershotgun.com I really thought it was part of the game. It’s such a disconcerting cadence…

  9. pmcp says:

    This looks great. It’s like a southbank centre simulator. Is there a soon-to-be-replaced-with-a-starbucks skate park?

  10. MadTinkerer says:

    This, but you can jump into the paintings like Super Mario 64, is the game I actually want to make eventually.