So recently I kind of crashed into a phenomenon, called generative programming, first thinking that I had discovered some adorable outsider art 2.0
Yet I keep finding evidence, that it’s in fact more bound to become the mainstream way to express artistic ideas. Even if I’m wrong about this, it is still producing incredible art and design work, that enhance our intuition, for potentially even the most complex things humanity is currently researching.
In this context, some of you might know Stephen Wolfram’s Mathematica, a software bundle designed to aid computational tasks in technology and engineering. But ever since Wolfram Alpha came online, an interactive, even surprisingly well working semantic search engine, they followed a path, that is supposed to lead to better education by automating, what can be automated and develop intuition for tasks, that still have to be done by creative work.
Wolfram Alpha, as well as Mathematica and the corresponding cloud they set up, is written in a continuously developed programming language, the Wolfram Language. Last month, they announced a standalone version of this language. This is of course accompanied by advertizement, but in spite of this, I recommend you to take a look at the following video:
So this whole endeavour is essentially a developing environment, which includes a programming language, that in turn consists of a logical structure and actual knowledge. Now, I’m no engineer and certainly no programmer, so I don’t know, at what costs of performance this inclusiveness is obtained. But then, Wolfram announced also a connection of their programming environment with the Unity IDE.
And this is the interesting point here. I’ve talked earlier about independent games being in general more inventive than the mainstream products and they usually don’t have to consider current hardware limitations. Given the enormous potential shown in the above video, it seems evident, that mathematica as an extension for a generally user friendly game engine, will make a lot of new content possible, above all things, that come straight out of the gloomy cave, in which higher science resides. Think about riddles, in game quests, or a responsive environment, that is not just using simplified models of real world problems, but the problems themselves. This could even go so far, as to solve actual problems by playing a game, as the script you set up to display, let’s say objects and their physical behaviour, is the same script, that solves displays, graphs and solves formulas. And what is new about this approach is certainly, that a potential developer doesn’t have to focus on the knowledge behind her game, not even be aware of it at first conception of ideas. While programing, you can actively call the information in the same environment and experience it in many different modes, by typing in a handful of keywords. Moreover, symbols, actual numbers, online content, pictures, sounds, algorithms are all objects, that can be invoked as synonyms. So a cannon-ball destroying a house for example, exists as the actual in-game phenomenon, as well as the differential equations that govern it’s path and, if you want, the sound that it makes. It could even react chemically, or change it’s behaviour when approaching the speed of light (remember Asimov’s “Billiard Ball”?): the concepts are all included.
See here a video from the Wolfram Conference:
Short silent showcase of features:
And an article at Gamasutra talking about this:
In the above video, Luc Barthelet mentions, that the C# scripts, that will connect mathematica and Unity will be provided. I could not find them yet, but will include links here, once they’re published.
http://reference.wolfram.com/language/ – Mathematica Documentation