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Best of 2013: #7 - Proteus

by Alice O'Connor, Jan 17, 2014 2:00pm PST

"Alice, go to your happy place," they tell me, thinking they're so jolly clever as they place one patronising hand on my shoulder. Oh, what wags! The joke's on them though, because I do have one. It's an ever-changing island where the birds sing a pretty song and there's always music in the air. I scale peaks, mope around graves, chase frogs, am stalked by owls, and gaze at the stars dancing just for me. Proteus is my happy place.

Proteus is delightfully devoid of explanation. Your eyes open and you see an island. Where else would you be? It's an abstract landscape painted in bold colours and magical sound, a world of childhood imagination. Of course you can find frogs to chase, why wouldn't there be? Of course there are ruins! And of course going too close to the creepy circle of wicker effigies can summon something dark and horrid.

The island is generated procedurally, so each time it's a new place to explore. Special events may happen in certain places and at certain times, if you're lucky. You could see meteor showers, watch glimmery aurorae, meet a playful forest spirit, or be overwhelmed by hallucinations of a noisy city. You might not. Explore, play, see what happens. The soundtrack is dynamic too, changing with the seasons, the weather, where you are, and what's going on. The wildlife add wonderful musical tones to the mix, turning chasing chickens from a transgression of The Country Code into athletic jazz.

Proteus can easily be read as a broad metaphor for life, from spring viewed through bleary eyes through exciting and bright--too bright--summer, past melancholy autumn to gloomy winter, and the end. Things get darker, stranger, more serious as the seasons progress, but it's fine, you've become comfortable here on your island, in your imagination. Afterwards, open your eyes again, and there you are--a new island, bright and new.


The Shacknews Best of 2013 Awards were determined by ballot voting across the entire Shacknews staff. Stay tuned next week as we reveal all our winners.





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