“There are geometrical shapes that make us feel happy,”
December 2, 2017 3:33 PM   Subscribe

Engare, a videogame about the mathematical beauty of Islamic art [Kill Screen] “Engare started out life as a question posed by Bahrami’s high school geometry teacher. This teacher asked the class what shape would be traced by a point attached to a ball if the ball was rolled across a surface (it’d probably be a series of loops). Years later, this same question essentially serves as the concept for Engare, except it asks you to experiment with more than just a ball, becoming more complex as you progress. Each level gives you an incomplete pattern and you have to figure out how to, well, complete it. To do this, you attach a point to one of the objects in the level and then, when you press play, hope that the point’s movement upon that object draws the shape you’re after. If it doesn’t, you rewind, move the point somewhere else, and so on—.” [Gameplay Trailer][YouTube]

• An Iranian developer's entrancing game about his culture and the mathematics of art [Polygon]
“"Everyone was so fascinated by this question, even those who didn't know geometry wanted to know the answer to the question. I thought this question was so interesting I wanted to make a game about it." While Engare was not designed to have a connection to Islamic art, the pattern making process explored through the geometric puzzles mirrored that of Islamic art making. Seeing this strong connection, Bahrami said it made sense to play it up in the game. "Islamic art is all about mathematics," he said. "There are many different types of Islamic art, but the architecture and tiling, most of those principles are based on mathematics. When you see the architecture, you completely understand that the people who made it knew mathematics."”
• The surprising Islamic beauty of 'Engare' [Engadget]
“Engare's beauty is specific: It showcases Islamic art, featuring sloping arches and densely packed, repeating patterns generated by a geometric approach to design. This is the art of Bahrami's hometown, just outside of Tehran, Iran. Art in Iran and other largely Islamic countries differs from the Western world's paintings, statues and buildings in a few key ways. The most obvious disparity is a dearth of human portrayals in Islamic art, a phenomenon borne of centuries of religious restrictions. "In Islam, for so many years, they had this idea that you are not allowed to draw humans," Bahrami says. "It's a sin against God if you draw humans or if you draw living creatures. So all the artists tried to draw everything based on abstract ideas, based on mathematical rules instead of drawing humans. And I'm not saying -- of course everyone should be allowed to draw anything. I don't think that's a good idea to force everyone to draw just abstract ideas. Still, it had some interesting results."”
• The geometry of Islamic art becomes a treasure of a game [Ars Technica]
“But the game doesn't further stress its cultural ties with a discrete story or specific instructions. You solve puzzles to create beautiful, geometric shapes, and, in the process, you'll very likely connect the results to gorgeous rug patterns and building designs that you've seen elsewhere in the world. After completing enough puzzles, Engare unlocks its pattern-generation toolset, and the results are quite simple. Place dots or drag lines, and amazing patterns emerge. The further you get in the game, the more complex these pattern-generation tools get. On their own, they simply make pretty things appear when you push their sliders forward and back. But in Engare's case, every massive, crisscrossing slew of curves and lines and patterns has already been proven out by the puzzles you've solved. Your reward for doing well in Engare isn't unlocking more pattern-generation options; it's the ability to understand the incredible combination of rotations and line patterns that went into each one and how they're all geometrically solvable thanks to their adherence to X and Y axes.”
• Engare on Steam [Steam]
posted by Fizz (18 comments total) 80 users marked this as a favorite
... It's a Spirograph.
posted by The otter lady at 3:38 PM on December 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Watch the trailer. If it's a Spirograph, it's the most beautiful, impressive Spirograph ever. Also, three-dimensional.
posted by explosion at 3:43 PM on December 2, 2017 [6 favorites]

It's got Spirograph things going on in it but also symmetry groups. It's a lovely little toy, the art and the music really sell it. Honestly as a game it's not terrific; the puzzles take about an hour all told. But it's a fun little toy too.
posted by Nelson at 3:55 PM on December 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks again for another great post, Fizz : 0
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:15 PM on December 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

I want the drawing tool. Is it part of the game? (it says it'll be a separate software but I don't see it anywhere, so maybe it just isn't released yet?)
posted by evening at 4:20 PM on December 2, 2017

evening, I don't think it's been released yet as a stand-alone piece of software.
posted by Fizz at 4:25 PM on December 2, 2017

When you complete the puzzles it gives you a bunch of drawing tools. About six modes, different setups / tools.
posted by Nelson at 4:33 PM on December 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Based on some of the reviews I'm reading and along with what you said Nelson. It looks like it works better as a design/tool/utility and less as a game. Still though, I appreciate the thought and effort that went into it. It's gorgeous looking and I might just pick it up to support the creator.
posted by Fizz at 4:44 PM on December 2, 2017

I bought this on Steam last month after reading a review of it through a link on Twitter. It was fun, but too short, IMO. Also,I am not a gamer by any stretch of the imagination, so if you can get me to shell out money and make happy to have done it, you've definitely accomplished something.
posted by hwestiii at 6:39 PM on December 2, 2017

I signed up for Steam just to get this … then found that it won't (yet) run under Steam for Linux. Geometric patterns is something I do, and I really wanted to spend some time with this.
posted by scruss at 8:32 PM on December 2, 2017

We have a rule that in November and December, nobody is allowed to buy themselves anything, because every week it's either a birthday or a holiday, so as much as I wanted to buy it and start playing with it, I've put it on my Steam wishlist, so if I don't get it as a present from someone else, it will be my Welcome to the New Year, Make Something Pretty, present to myself. Thanks much for the heads up about this, I'm looking forward to playing with it.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 9:57 PM on December 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

For whatever reason, I’ve neglected Steam the last couple of years. This will bring me back. As a game, I will probably be very bad at this. But as

the most beautiful, impressive Spirograph ever

I think I’ll love playing this. And Christmas on Steam is always fun.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:34 PM on December 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

This is gorgeous and I will be buying it for my work as a well needed bit of representation (that will be my excuse). Does it do exports of the images you make? Either ideally in 3D or in SVG? Or do I have to screenshot and comvert?
posted by Iteki at 2:18 AM on December 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

As this week's episode of The Orville reminds us: In 1884's novella Flatland, two shapes could never bypass each other. One had to climb over the other.
posted by fairmettle at 4:25 AM on December 3, 2017

I used to bookmark a site that helps to generate patterns based on a few variables (how many points etc) but I lost it. OTOH, I found this resource on how to make Islamic art patterns with a ruler and pencil, at the School of Islamic Geometric Design.
posted by cendawanita at 6:16 AM on December 3, 2017

... It's a Spirograph.

Inspirograph is a Spirograph (previously).
posted by box at 6:42 AM on December 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I made a quick video of playing with one of the drawing tools. Nothing fancy, but should give you an idea how it works.

Here's a sample of the output files it saves, Iteki. There's a 3D object file, a PNG, and a vector SVG. The SVG looks right in MSIE but not Firefox, haven't tried it in Illustrator. I know the Engare author particularly supports reusing the output so I imagine it works fine.
posted by Nelson at 7:36 AM on December 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

> I found this resource … at the School of Islamic Geometric Design.

SIGD is Eric Broug's site. Eric's written a number of really good books on the subject, including Islamic Geometric Patterns (a primer), Islamic Design Workbook (a big colouring-book thing) and the gigantic coffee-table book Islamic Geometric Design. All of these books concentrate on constructible designs, unlike Engare.

(Pro tip: don't try to construct patterns with circles in Illustrator or Inkscape — use polygons or stars instead. SVG and illustration programs approximate circles with four Bézier segments, and they don't intersect accurately enough to create usable patterns.)

Thanks for the sample, Nelson. The SVG is all unconnected line segments, which means quite a bit of cleanup work.
posted by scruss at 7:06 AM on December 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

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