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Plankton Offers Up A Tiny Monochrome Electro-pet


Plankton [Steam page] is a kind of electronic pet I’ve spent the morning caring for while working this morning. It’s actually the work of GuoJun Pan who I posted about earlier because I was looking into a different game (Flower Design). Rather than folding this into the same post I wanted to give it a moment in the spotlight of its own because it’s so charming – a monochrome maths aquarium whose dots and curves and watery bloop-bloops have been truly soothing.

The basic idea is that you have a plankton creature on the screen which can morph into new forms as it eats. I feel like the word I’m reaching for here is instar – that’s the word for those various developmental phases insects pass through on their way to becoming an adult. Some require you to interact with the screen, either to provide food or to help the plankton hunt, but others seem to be able to happen more or less without you. I think I might have missed a stage or two in development as I wrote other news this morning, for example.

I wanted to flag it up, both because of how soothing I found it but also because it’s an art style I don’t see in games much but which I really like in experimental films and video art.

It’s a short thing at present – 12 stages of growth – but the Steam page has the assurance that new content will continue to be added in, plus the menu hints at more with a Chapters option “coming soon”.

This might be a spoiler if you want to just see how the plankton changes over time but this is my favourite of its forms, just before the end of the game where the plankton develops a little lure system for its food:

A plankton simulation game, electronic pet generated by math codes.
Under your care it will slowly grow up and evolve.

For many years naturalists have been portraying the natural world, and now we can create a self-contained biological world.

The organisms (style and movement) are generated by particular mathematical (trigonometric functions) codes, all base on points.

I think these could be a new form of art (Algorithmic Art).

Living in a drop of water.
Flowing on the surface.
I am no one.
My galaxy in one drop.
Life is so simple.
But full of mystery.

Anyhoodle, it’s £1.59 on Steam.

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Philippa Warr


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