"Here upon I begin the new life which I have chose to live."
September 23, 2019 10:47 AM   Subscribe

Richard Hofmeier made one of the finest videogames of the 21st Century, the outsider art masterpiece Cart Life. Then he disappeared. Now he's back with a new game.

In 2010 or 2011 or 2012 (sources disagree) Richard Hofmeier, a human person, released Cart Life, “A retail simulation for Windows.”

The game languished in obscurity until it was championed by Joel Goodwin, proprietor of the games writing site Electron Dance.

And I was thinking: hang on, that doesn’t look like a game, it looks like the sort of stupid “ideal game” I fantasised about when I was 7 years old, where the game is so brilliantly immersive it has fractal detail.

The game interface is horrible in many ways but it's clear that, on the whole, this was completely deliberate. There is purpose to all this madness: if you can let go of your GUI scruples, there is magical, subversive genius here.

Later in 2012, Goodwin wrote about Cart Life once again in his 2012 wrap-up and sounded a bit more frustrated about it being ignored:

Cart Life meshes mechanics and narrative together in ways I was starting to think were impossible. Cart Life ignores magic, aliens, Hollywood logic and talks about ordinary people in ordinary situations. Cart Life is my go-to example when people bring up Citizen FUCKING KANE.

And no one is talking about it. Mission accomplished.

Shortly after that article was published, Cart Life was nominated for several Independent Games Festival awards. The game started to get attention from other gaming sites around the same time, including this fantastic write-up/interview.

Cart Life went on to win 3 awards at the 2013 Independent Games Festival, including the Seumas McNally Grand Prize. Winners in other years have included Her Story, Papers Please, Fez, and Minecraft.

Hofmeier worked on a follow-up to Cart Life entitled Blood of the Ortolan, but he disappeared from public view and the game never surfaced.

Cart Life, and Hofmeier's other works, are once again available to download.

Previously on Metafilter.
posted by Automocar (6 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
Note: This is a post I have wanted to create for a long time, but couldn’t because I know Goodwin and have met Hofmeier. It came back to my brain today because of that annoying Guardian list of the best 50 videogames of the 21st Century that was posted on the Blue yesterday. After the IGF hoopla, Cart Life once again disappeared. Maybe that's its fate.
posted by Automocar at 10:48 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

Are there/will there be Mac versions of these games, or do Mac users have to run these through an emulator?
posted by Miss T.Horn at 10:49 AM on September 23, 2019

I've heard about this game for years, thanks for the links. I'll be installing this later tonight. :-) Great post.
posted by Fizz at 10:53 AM on September 23, 2019

I highly doubt there will ever be a Mac version. However, Hofmeier released the source code in 2014. It's up on Github somewhere, so I suppose it's not impossible.
posted by Automocar at 11:17 AM on September 23, 2019

Even with source code it would still be very impossible. The game was created on/in Microsofts Adventure Game Studio software and that does not support Mac's, or anything other than Window's machines.

I had the same question Miss T.Horn.
posted by zenon at 11:21 AM on September 23, 2019

AGS is open-source and has rough ports to a number of other platforms, including Mac OS. The Mac port is apparently good enough to support a number of commercial Mac releases from adventure-game developers Wadjet Eye. If some Mac developer feels like building a Mac version of Cart Life, it should hypothetically be possible to do so with the available code.
posted by skymt at 11:40 AM on September 23, 2019

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