The Endless Forest: ABIOGENESIS for the Red Girls

Nothing like a little party to end our anniversary celebration of The Path. And there is nothing like an ABIOGENESIS party in The Endless Forest! So please accept this last minute invitation to join us in the forest which has been shrouded in mist. Let’s bring some color back! If you don’t feel like running with the deer just open up the game and follow us in ABIOGENESIS Camera mode by hitting CTRL-W. It’ll be wild! We’ll probably crash the server! But it’s not a TEF party till SOMEONE crashes the server!

Download The Endless Forest for free here!

A new generation in The Endless Forest

When we hit the 50,000 registered players mark, we didn’t realize how close we were to running out of names for our deer. If that’s not a nice testament to how two people who know next to nothing about mathematics can still make complicated computer software, I don’t know what is. 😉

New Deer Names

Behold the new generation of deer names in version 3.31 of The Endless Forest.
Good for another 50,000 players!

When we designed The Endless Forest, we wanted to avoid language as much as possible. First of all because language puts a barrier between people, and we wanted The Endless Forest to be harmonious. Secondly, we wanted to avoid violence and competitive behaviour as much as possible. Language is often used in multiplayer games for insults and other out of character behaviour. So we decided to have no chat in our game. And we came up with the idea of using abstract symbols instead of text-based names to identify players. These symbols are easy enough to memorize to recognize your friends and still disconnected from the humans behind the avatar sufficiently, to encourage spontaneous playing together with total strangers.

The Vision of Saint Hubert The symbols are made up of a limited range of elements that are combined to form pictograms. Players can choose a pictogram for their deer when they register for the game. when they login, this pictogram appears above the head of the deer avatar (in a reference to the legend of Saint Hubert, who was converted to Christianity after encountering a deer with a crucifix between its antlers).

Since the amount of elements from which pictograms are composed, is limited, however, there are only a limited amount of unique pictograms. And we ran into that limit last month. So we closed registration for a while and created a new pictogram “alphabet”.

This solution was part of the original design of the game. To create generations of pictograms, which would contribute to the story of The Endless Forest. First generation deer will be older (wiser, more experienced, etc) than second generation deer. And so on.

You can name your deer here.
Please note that you’ll need the very latest version of The Endless Forest to see the new pictograms (version 3.31). You can download it here.

The Endless Forest is free thanks to the continuous support of the Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean in Luxembourg. Registration is not required to play the game (it just makes it more fun).

The TEF Fan Art Calendar for 2010 is here!

TEF - 2010 Fan Art Calendar

We are pleased as punch to announce that The Endless Forest deviantART fan club lead by Jen Stuber, has once again made a Calendar filled with beautiful artwork from players who love the game. It’s pretty freakin awesome!! Michael and I don’t have enough exclamation points! :)

All cash raised goes directly to help to fund the future of The Endless Forest. I think we can count ourselves fortunate to have such a sweet and talented player community!

buy the Calendar on deviantART

And speaking of the community… The Endless Forest community website has received an overhaul these past weeks. The community site is a very lively place where TEF players of all ages can meet each other outside the game.

Hard for me to believe but TEF will have been going for 5 years in 2010. Thanks to MUDAM for continuing to support us with the game server hosting. They have been great. Anyway, maybe for the TEF 5th anniversary we’ll have to have a big party. In the forest, of course! 😉

The Endless Forest 3.30 released with new feature “De Drinkplaats”

De Drinkplaats

Download The Endless Forest here. It’s free. Like, for real, not as in “free to play”.

We have upgraded The Endless Forest engine and added a new feature to the game for the occasion of the exhibition Fantastic Illusions which opened in Kortrijk last week. It’s an exhibition of work by contemporary Belgian and Chinese media artists that explores the idea of immersion (there’s two games in it: The Endless Forest and Flower). The show ran in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Shanghai in September and can now be seen in the Broelmuseum in Kortrijk until February.

The Broelmuseum collection includes several paintings by 17th century Flemish painter Roelant Savery, many of them featuring animals very prominently. One painting, entitled “De Drinkplaats”, or “the watering hole”, served as the inspiration for the addition we made to The Endless Forest.

In The Endless Forest, De Drinkplaats is a peaceful place where players can bring their deer to have a drink from an eternally flowing source. When they do, however, they change into one of the other animals that inhabit the forest, often of disproportionate size (including the new raven and bunny!). The more players gather in the place, the more magic happens (courtesy of ABIOGENESIS).

More information here.

new Bunny character new Raven character
This could be you!

Weekend of the Dead in The Endless Forest

Halloween (today), All Saints (tomorrow) and All Souls (Monday) are special days in The Endless Forest. Then the world we know as idyllic and sunny turns grey and chilly. Bats circle in the air and mist clouds float over the land. There’s graves everywhere, and burning candles, as we commemorate the dead. The giant Lord of The Dead (also know as BZD -the Big Zombie Deer) visits the forest and tricks those who want to treat him. Through the extended weekend, the Twin Gods will be making their appearance too for additional tricks and treats!

Dead in The Forest

If you happen to find yourself in Scotland today, head down to Inspace in Edinburgh, where Tale of Tales’ creepiest stories are on display in a fitting Halloween décor. There’s six computers to play The Path on. And a computer from which the Dark Lord of Darkness can be controlled. Now is your chance to terrorize the innocent!

Tale of Tales in Shangai

Nick Ervinck
Sculpture by Nick Ervinck

Today an exhibition entitled “Fantastic Illusions” opens in the Shangai Museum of Contemporary Art. It’s a “Media Art Exhibition of Chinese and Belgian Artists.” Which means that it features The Endless Forest (Tale of Tales’ Michael Samyn is Belgian) and Flower (Thatgamecompany’s Jenova Chen is Chinese)! A second leg of this exhibition will take place in the fabulous Broelmuseum in Kortrijk where we will confront our work with ye olde Flemish Masters.

The theme of the show is actually very close to our hearts. Here’s a quote from the concept description by curator Christophe De Jaeger:

The title of the exhibition alludes to the human desire to be admitted to a world that is out of the ordinary, a world of fantasy. Considering the philosophical developments in the 20th century the least of the tasks of the critical artist is to create illusions. However, history shows that both artists and spectators have a constant desire that can be described by the romantic phrase Die Sehnsucht im Bild zu sein: the desire to dwell in the image.

Who of us has never experienced the uncontrollable urge to step into the world of a painting? Take a Dutch landscape by Jacob van Ruysdael; our gaze is irresistibly drawn to the path that runs through the landscape until it can go no further. What a disappointment that we cannot get beyond the horizon or feel the wind raging over the countryside!

Sadly we couldn’t go to Shangai because we’re too busy with Fatale, which happens to address the issue described above directly. But Jenova was there! And we’ll be in Kortrijk!

Other artists include Anouk De Clercq, Bart Stolle, David Claerbout, Hans Op de Beeck, Heidi Voet, Nick Ervinck, Hu Jieming, Teddy Lo, Peng Yun, Xu Wenkai and Wu Juehui. Guess which ones are the Belgians! 😉

The show in Shangai runs until 11 October. The show in Kortrijk starts on 13 November. We’ll probably report on it again then because we plan on doing something special in the Forest for the occasion…

The Endless Forest featured in an Opera

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Last weekend we were invited to Antwerp to see a performance of Muziektheater Transparant’s new opera Solitude which is based on the music of baroque composer Henry Purcell. A description from their website:

Solitude plays on the boundary between reality and fiction. It tells the story of He and She, each in their own room and looking for the other and themselves. Staring into the other world through their webcam, or perhaps not? On the other side of the door is an escape route, a way that would lead them to each other, a virtual world with its own laws and boundaries. Lost in the game, He and She ultimately return to their rooms.

In this annual summer project organised by Muziektheater Transparant, a group of young singers and instrumentalists take up the challenge of creating the first performance of an extremely unusual opera after a short but intensive rehearsal period.

Not only were the young musicians involved highly talented, they made a fascinating exploration of the multiplayer game experience; The emotional attachment we have to these type of games and to the people we play with in them. Yes, an Opera about playing MMOs! Scenes from many different games were projected, often superimposed over the faces of the main actors. The costumes were made of various found objects, like a suit of WoW armor made entirely of pastic drink bottles. Very odd sounding but it really did work. It was an honor that The Endless Forest was chosen for the finalé when actors and musicians donned antlers and sung a song of blissful reconciliation. =) The lyrics went something like: “Let’s play this game, as a pleasant dream. Let’s forget about everything…”

UPDATE: we were sent better photographs of the performance, taken by Koen Broos…

The Endless Forest at Laguna Art Museum

Just giving Blizzard some tips on how to create MMOs…

Opening tonight, The Endless Forest is a part of an exhibition at the Laguna Art Museum, in the Los Angeles area in California. The show is dedicated to World of Warcraft and sponsored by Blizzard. But curator Grace Kook-Anderson decided to contrast the Awesome Art of the dungeon masters with the far more modest creations of regular media artists such as Alexander Galloway, John Klima, Eddo Stern, yours truly and many others. Sounds like an epic battle!

We’ve been told that the Forest is looking wonderful in projection, it will be playable in the museum on two computers. If you can’t make it there then play online and see if you can find the two deer controlled by visitors in the museum.

wowdeer-laguna2 wowdeer-laguna

They’ll probably be asleep. 😉 So cast some Forest Magic on them! :)

Up Down Up

After suffering a technical problem overnight leaving our servers down, We are back up! So The Endless Forest Community is back, Our store is back, The Path – Prologue is available again.

And speaking of the Prologue… There was an issue where it wouldn’t run on Mac OSX 10.5.6. The Path full game runs happily on that version. Transgaming (who handled the port of the game) had made the Prologue 10.5.7 only without telling us. We’ve had them roll this back. So now, if you’re on Mac you can run both the game and the demo on OSX 10.5.6 upwards. If it wasn’t working for you before we invite you to download the Prologue again.

But its probably a good idea to upgrade your OS anyway. Because Apple puts new graphics drivers in every system upgrade making all 3d games run better, smoother, faster on your computer.

Okay… end of announcement. Lets hope we never suffer downtime like that again.