3d starfish

Hi all, been super busy lately, working towards a deadline in early Jan! Been simulating like crazy, my latest result is below. Have a good break everyone, I won't be posting until late Jan. Seeya!

Starfish on a rock from Benjamin Porter on Vimeo.

Growing 3d geometry.

A biological & physical simulation causes the form to grow within the specified environment (on top of the rock). Rendered with Blender.


Orange Tentacle

orange tentacle (2) from Benjamin Porter on Vimeo.

Simulated growth of a tentacle with gravity.

A (glitch?) causes the tentacle to attach to the ceiling after some amount of time.

Rendered with Blender.



indie games

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of anything game or game-like. I'm especially fanatical about independent (indie) games. They are games that are usually developed by a very small team (often just one person) and that are self published. These games are generally more experimental and innovative than commercial ones -- this is because they cater to a smaller niche and can afford to try something new. So without further ado, here's some of my favourite indie games of the past couple of years. I'm sure I've missed some, but it's a start.

Samorost 2. A classic point&click adventure set in a strange, organic, beautiful world. Also check out the developer's latest game: Machinarium.

Captain Forever. A combinatorial design abstract space shooter.

Iji: A classic platformer+rpg developed by one guy over a number of years. Amazing stuff!

Windosill: A short puzzle game with beautiful and imaginative objects.

Facade: You arrive at your friends' place while they are arguing. Interesting concept and execution.

Passage: A short, poignant statement about life, with a retro aesthetic.

Knytt Stories: An adventure game with an excellent minimalist aesthetic.

Gravity Bone: Very amusing spy game. Definitely worth a play, will only take a few minutes of your time.

Eufloria: This game is in my list because of its minimal aesthetic. Used to be called Dyson, a reference to Freeman Dyson's idea of what life might be out in the asteroid belt.

Today I Die: I read that someone described this game as visual poetry, and I guess I agree. Melancholic.

Dwarf Fortress, Linley's Dungeon Crawl: Some more excellent games, but definitely for the more hardcore RPG/hack fans.

Hotel: A story of several people visiting a hotel. Very surreal.

Psychosomnium: This stands out for me amongst all of Cactus's games. A crazy mess of code and programmer art. Poses some questions about our expectation of games.

I've provided links for some of the games, the others should be easy to find by googling. For more games, try TIGdb, or check out last years winners of the IGF.



I've been busy since I got back from Europe: diving back into my research, attending semi-permanent, and doing some life drawing every week.

My research is going well, heavily refactoring my code so I can implement some much needed algorithms. Hopefully I'll have some results up here soon -- it's been a while since I've had to make any pretty pictures. I'll be presenting some of my work at ACAL '09 in Melbourne in December and I'd really like to have something new to show ... but we'll see.

Semi-Permanent is a graphics/illustration/3d conference, which was held (for the first time?) in Melbourne. It was awesome seeing illustrators/artists like Tara McPherson and Jeff Soto talking about the genesis of their careers and showing the evolution of their work. It's quite inspiring to see that just be doing what you love you can "end up" happy and successful. But, I guess this applies only to a only a few talented individuals. Alex Yaeger, from Industrial Light and Magic, was also very interesting, showing us his work on various movies such as Transformers and Star Trek.

Steph and I have been attending a life-drawing session in St Kilda every week. It's quite interesting and I love setting aside the time just to do some drawing. I just use those black ArtLine pens, there's something quite satisfying about a black line on paper. :) Below is one of my favourite drawings so far.


Cube37 Exhibit

An animation I created was recently shown as part of a CEMA exhibition called bi0t0pe (previously blogged about here). It had been playing down at Cube37 in the Frankston cultural arts district for the last month or so. The different works were cycled daily, and my animationwas shown for the last time today. I'm sorry for not notifying anyone of the specific dates it was on -- I didn't have access to that info, and I'm also across the other side of the world.

Anyway, here's a photo (courtesy of Jon McCormack) of the exhibition site with my animation playing on the wall.


Me and von Neumann

I'm in Budapest, the birthplace of John von Neumann. I found a statue at Budapest Technical University!

From eurotrip 1b


Off to europe!

I'm off to Europe in 3 days! You can follow my adventures here.

I will be summarising the Dagstuhl workshop here hopefully shortly after it finishes. Besides that this blog will be quiet for the next 2 months.


A Developmental System for Organic Form Synthesis (Tech Report)

If you're interested in the methods I used to make the starfish animation, I have recently published a technical report describing the system: A Developmental System for Organic Form Synthesis. Enjoy! Or not!


It looks like an echinoderm...

...but do all echinoderms have only five arms? Here is a video that is work in progress for an upcoming CEMA exhibition. The exhibition will be running from mid July through August at Cube37 in the Frankston Arts centre. The exhibition presents several computer-generated animations or interactive works over the exhibition period, including work from Jon McCormack, Alan Dorin, Gordon Monro, Ollie Bown, Troy Innocent, Mark Guglielmetti, Alice Eldridge, Taras Kowaliw and myself. It is my understanding that the works will be shown in the evening and through the night, with the exception of Ollie Bown's sound installation which will be running during the day. The works are loosely based around the concept of "ecosystems", though mine is obviously based on "organism" rather than systems of organisms.


i get distracted

To my friends and family, this might explain my behaviour at social events.

In other news, I fly to Frankfurt next Friday!


Get off my lawn!

I recently participated in Pyweek, a bi-annual game programming competition where entrants build a game within one week in the Python programming language. I never usually finish the games I build, so I thought this would be a good incentive.

The theme, released only at the start of the competition, was "Get Off My Lawn". Entrants had to include this theme in their game -- though as it turned out you can interpret it quite liberally. I was fortunate enough to start and finish a game for the competition and, out of 29 entries, mine was ranked 6th, which I'm quite pleased with.

Due to the time constraints of the competition, I found myself taking all sorts of coding shortcuts, which, if you applied them in a programming course, you would be failed for. I also quickly learnt
to accept the various bugs in the system and move on to the next component. It was an excellent, but exhausting, experience that I recommend to anyone with an interest in game programming.

I have redesigned my website, and you can grab a copy of the game there.


SDS2 starfish video

I just uploaded an old video of my 2d generative system growing a starfish. A full size image is also available here.

SDS3 Limb growth

Here's a new video of my generative geometry system, SDS. A primitive limb is growing from the original egg geometry. It's a bit rough, but a step towards my goal nonetheless.


The cactus

The cactus, originally uploaded by eigenbom.

A sketch I did a while ago. I want to build a system that produces images like this.

Self portraits

Me from inside...

Me from outside...


New blog, pyweek, etc.

I've started a blog for the cema crew, that will hopefully get updated on a daily basis. It contains short experimental artefacts built in a short (<30mins) http://thecemadaily.blogspot.com. It might take a while to get posts/week > 1.

Also, as I write this pyweek is running. It's a big biannual game programming competition, where the constraints are: it has to be written in the Python programming language, and it has to be started and finished within a week. I am entering a game, which I will hopefully finish for once, and will post here when I'm done. Wish me luck!


As part of my Beads work, I explored the possibility of bypassing Javasound and working directly with a low-level sound library. In doing so I built an (almost) complete Java wrapper around RtAudio, a low-level, cross-platform audio programming library. My project, JRtAudio is now accessible online, so check it out if you're interested.

As for whether Javasound is slower than, say JRtAudio, the results are not looking good, but are kind of obvious. The benefit of using JRtAudio only appears when you want a really simple API combined with low latency.


Having grown up with video games in the 8 and 16-bit eras (e.g., NES, SNES, Megadrive, C64), I am attracted to retro graphics and sounds from this era. Music with a limited palette of blips, beeps, noise, and such, can be surprisingly versatile - just look at scores from Mario to Zelda, and 8-bit/blip/chiptunes are definitely emerging as an popular alternative style (check out lsdj). My recent work with Beads has led me to build an 8-bit inspired sound synthesizer that runs in a web browser - Jsfxr. It is a clone of sfxr, a nifty retro sound effect generator. While Jsfxr doesn't compare to the original, it is fun to play with and demonstrates that Beads and Processing can play nice together. Building it also taught me how the coin blip from Mario can be generated. :)



Over the last month and a bit I've been working part-time on Beads, a UGen based sound synthesis and analysis library for Java. The library is under heavily development, but if you're interested in making crazy sounds and music you should definitely check it out. It is a native Java library, but can be used from within Processing without any hassles. There are a set of Beads tutorials available both for pure java and Processing (available on the website.)

Beads: "This is the website for Beads, an open-source project for computer music and sonic art in realtime performance, installation artworks, web content, and anywhere else you can think of putting it."


various blobby forms