The surprising Islamic beauty of 'Engare'

The surprising Islamic beauty of 'Engare'
From Engadget - November 7, 2017

"Of course the human body is so interesting, there are so many systems in our body, all of these are working and it's fascinating," Bahrami says. "But I do not see all these systems when I see a statue. No, I just see the surface. You do not see what is happening in the head or what is happening in the body, it's all on the surface. On the other hand, when you see something based on mathematical or geometrical ideas, it's more generous. They show you the system of how this was made. That was something interesting for me."

Bahrami is 24, and he's been fascinated with mathematics and drawing since high school, at least. That's where the idea for Engare took root. He was 17, sitting in geometry class, when his teacher proposed a thought experiment: Imagine there's a ball on the ground. Pick one spot on that ball and keep your mind on it as the sphere starts rolling across the floor. "What is the shape that one of the points on this ball would draw while it's moving?" Bahrami asks, remembering his teacher's proposal.

"That question was amazing, and I thought I wanted to make more complicated situations based on this idea," he says.

Engare was born. The game brings Bahrami's mathematical question into the digital world, asking players to envision the designs that would be created by following a single point on a series of rolling, twisting and sliding objects. There's a target image and players attempt to match it by picking a point on a moving object, and seeing what patterns spill forth.

Bahrami built a prototype of his idea that same year and submitted it to the Experimental Gameplay Workshop at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Organizers loved it. Bahrami was in.

The Experimental Gameplay Workshop is an annual space that aims to showcase novel ideas in the gaming industry -- past participants include Katamari Damacy, Portal, Braid, flOw, Mushroom 11 and Thumper. This was 2010, the workshop's ninth appearance at GDC. It was also the only year the Experimental Gameplay Workshop has ever been canceled. There simply were not enough high-quality submissions, so organizers shut it down and took the year off.

"Later, they told me my project was the only thing that they could show and that was the reason they canceled, they did not want to show just one game," Bahrami says.

Bahrami kept programming and sending his prototype to the wider gaming world. A few months after GDC fell through, he submitted Engare to Sense of Wonder Night, Tokyo Game Show's version of the Experimental Gameplay Workshop. Curators liked it and invited him out, and Bahrami found himself demonstrating a game in Tokyo before his 18th birthday.


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