Monday, March 23, 2009


Last night I discovered an unbelievable game for PS3. It's called Flower. It falls into the category of exploratory, atmospheric non-violent games, which isn't a genre that tends to impress me. This one, though, affected me deeply.

The developers ( call it "a video game version of a poem", but I think it's more accurate to describe it as a meditation. With meditation, you don't get anything out of it unless you're in the right frame of mind, and willingly release yourself to the experience. So it is with Flower. If you play it in a task-oriented state of mind--an achiever's mind--you will quickly barrel through the game and completely miss out on its beauty.

Flower is "easy" in the same sense that watching a sunset is "easy": to talk about its difficulty, to treat it as something to be overcome, is to miss the point entirely.

The premise of Flower sounds ridiculous if you say it out loud: you control a cloud of flower petals, driven by the breeze through a series of lush, immersive outdoor scenes, touching other flowers and bringing life to the environment. Here's a clip:

This clip doesn't do justice to the experience. The environment is incredibly reactive. The lighting, the sound, and the music integrate beautifully. The weather, and particularly the sky, change as you progress through the game, creating very distinct emotional settings. You make your way through the environments by tilting SixAxis controller, which starts out feeling strange but quickly comes to feel as whimsical and buoyant as the petals themselves.

Flower is available for PS3 in the Playstation Store.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Terrible Towel Instructions

(Click for full-sized image.)

To the Legion

  To the Legion

The sacrifice we make today
will live in song for future kings,
but first our story was beheld
by Janus in the dawn of things.

Before the ancient cities rose,
before the primal morning light,
the destiny of worlds was writ
for Janus of eternal sight.

The Owl of Minerva knows
the path a mortal man should take,
but where the path will lead is known
to Janus in the Temple Gates.

To Mars I dedicate my sword.
For Rome I go to fight and die.
I end today as I began:
in Janus's immortal eye.

--Tom Lokovic