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The Gray Dunes Record

The Gray Dunes Record is a walking meditation through a shifting landscape. It is an experimental work intended to afford the direct experience of impermanence and attention. Impermanence is the truth that everything is transient. Attention allows us to perceive things as they perfectly are in the present moment.

This work uses procedural techniques to generate and continuously alter the elements of the landscape: the dunes, flowering trees, and constellations. Procedural means defined by instructions (procedure). For example, instead of creating a tree directly, we instead define a set of instructions for creating trees. This kind of definition not only allows for variation in the results--wherever the instructions include elements of chance--but it describes the possibility space and therefore how things can change. This aspect of procedurality is the key to evoking impermanence and attention. Impermanence appears as the landscape shifts; attention appears as the suppression of this change.

Procedural Techniques

The terrain is generated with three-dimensional simplex noise. The height of a given location (x, y) at a time z is determined by sampling octaves of the noise from (x, y, z). The continuous property of the noise means that, as z progresses with time, the height of (x, y) varies smoothly.

The trees are generated recursively: a tree is a trunk and branches; a branch is a (smaller) trunk and branches. Of course the recursion is not infinite, so after a few levels, the process puts flowers on the branches and terminates. The flowers grow, fly away, and decay.

There are also faerie lights somewhere among the dunes. These are governed by a particle system.

The twelve constellations arrayed in the sky are generated with a procedure based on rolling dice. A roll of three four-sided dice (3d4) determines how many stars compose each constellation. The stars are positioned randomly relative to each other and connected with faint lines.

About the player is a field of attention. This field suppresses the shifting of things within; its influence gently falls off away from its center. Near the player, things change very slowly: the dunes are relatively stable, the flowers are almost suspended, and the faerie lights are subdued. In the distance, things are visibly in flux. The constellations are ever out of reach.


  • W, A, S, D to move
  • MOUSE to look
  • RIGHT CLICK to zoom
  • ESC for options


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Click download now to get access to the following files:

Gray Dunes Record - Mac 13 MB
Gray Dunes Record - Windows 10 MB
Gray Dunes Record - Linux 24 MB

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