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Wayfinder – a relaxing 'art game' in the browser (nfb.ca)
677 points by vnglst 42 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 126 comments

Some people say they find my old Dot Dot Dot game relaxing http://lalo.li/ddd/

Code: https://github.com/franzenzenhofer/ddd

I quite enjoy it but would not call it relaxing... so clearly a valuable insight into individual psyche :->

Yeah it was actually quite stressful, especially with a trackpad.

A great thing to add would be a dotted/transparent circle around the cursor showing the location that the object will be placed after clicking.

seems fine with a trackpad, but I always disable tap-to-click

It's probably the most relaxing form of suffering I've ever experienced.

I just built a nice little prison for the dot to live in.

I'd guess a necessary enhancement to make it more of a game would be to have it pop the dot when it hits so you can never rest easy.

I just finished the 3rd day at my new job, and I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed. I want to thank you for making this game and posting it, I don't know what exactly but it has what I need at this moment.

I don't want to be disrespectful to OP but my PC is too old to run their game.

My oldish laptop is a bit thermally allergic to just about anything graphical, so I hastily closed the tab after verifying the system was at 86°C again. I too look forward to upgrading one day. So you're not alone there.

Congrats on landing a new job. What're you doing now?

This is infuriating. Nice job

Great concept, love it.

But yeah, it works only with a mouse/tablet interface. Wondering whether 1to1 mapping of the (input device)TOscreen makes a difference. Where dragging, multiple repositioning of the cursor, targeting the position brakes the fun.

hypothesis: it is fun when you can match the movement of the ball with your input device. (speed, resolution, smoothnes)

I had no problem moving around the game on my phone, with Firefox Android. The character goes where my finger is.

It's awesome (and relaxing), congrats

Delightful! Really challenging.

Nice! Fun mechanics & no bullshit

I just immediately trapped it in a tight circle and then kept replacing the circle.

If you use a looser circle you can get movement to stop entirely, making replacement unnecessary.

But does it Save The Nature?

This is a reference to the wayfinder game. I can only imagine the downvoters didn't even check the OP site.

It's all right. With great sarcasm comes great downvoteability and my comment was kind of sarcastic. Couldn't resist, again.

This reminds me of the Flash games I used to make back in the day

Fantastic. I love it!

So simple yet so fun.

played it on my phone, it is really nice game. thanks.

New to me. I like it.


Wow. That was unexpectedly, profoundly beautiful. Not so much a game as a work of art, definitely worth some time to experience. Makes me want to donate to the authors.

From the colophon [0]:

> Each experience of Wayfinder is as unique and ephemeral as the natural world itself. The visual assets are assembled procedurally and delivered in real-time. The lines of poetry are created with a mix of artificial intelligence, machine learning and generative processes, providing thousands of possible combinations. As such, Wayfinder is an ever-changing, emergent artwork with infinite possibilities.

The generated haikus seem natural. I guess this might be one of the easiest genre of poetry for a computer to generate, with a well-trained model that can juxtapose matching lines.

[0]: https://www.nfb.ca/interactive/wayfinder

I got the same line twice in only 4 poems, so I'm not entirely convinced. I'm also naturally suspicious of anything that claims to use artificial intelligence and machine learning, as if these are two unrelated things.

Machine Learning – A Subset of Artificial Intelligence[1] is a great teasing out of this concept.

I feel that using them both in a game is with-in the realm of possibility. So, I am less likely to be offended until I know more.


Hi all - creator of Wayfinder here! Though it was very much a team effort.

Happy to see this resonating with so many people. :) Feel free to ask any questions!

Hey, great job with this one! Runs very smooth on my iPhone X. Visuals and audio are amazing!

My question is, what factors made you decide to hand-craft it instead of using Unity/Unreal?

I am more comfortable with JS + Three + Web than Unity/Unreal, and we had planned this as a web first experience. I also wanted a lot more control over the application than what those engines support (eg - in terms of loading, mobile, asset management, DOM-based UI, etc).

In hindsight some things would have been a lot easier with a game engine!

Reminded me a lot of Journey, which is something you should be proud of. Lovely work.

That was a really cool experience!

What were the 'item slot' looking things in the bottom left of the screen? I couldn't figure that out. At one point, I had one filled, but I don't know how or what it meant.

What a relaxing game. Thank you

Absolutely stunning. I work with loads of museums who are always looking for ways to tell interactive stories. I'll be sharing this with them and may be in touch with you :-)

It is so beautifully made, how many artists worked on this, how big is the team? What kind of tools have you used?

Thanks! We used ThreeJS and JavaScript for the engine, and Svelte for the UI.

We started the project with a small team, just myself (concept/code/design), Tiffany Beucher (illustration, character design and concept art), Guillaume Le Roux (modelling, animation and art direction), and production by the NFB.

As the project grew we brought others to help with different parts. You can find the full credits below:


Are you planing any commercialization? maybe Steam?

The team were they on paid or volunteering bases?

The project was funded by the NFB. The game will stay free.

My browsers are stuck loading :( - tried two (Chrome/Edge). Any specific requirements?

How is it coded? Do you recommend any resources for learning about procedural generation of game worlds?

It was coded with JavaScript + ThreeJS and built on top of a custom entity component system. Lots of different parts to the game, each receiving different treatments; eg the terrain is built from a mix of voronoi cells, layered simplex noise, and poisson disc sampling.

I found Amit Patel’s blog to be a great resource for this:


Thank you for such a relaxing peaceful game. What was the inspiration for this piece of art?

Thanks! Lots of things inspire me - Journey and Flower are obvious references, but also many other projects! I find a lot of inspiration through online illustration and generative art communities.

Hey Matt, did you apply for a grant? If so, which one?

Reminded me much of a visit to TeamLab - great work!

Wayfinder was just released by Matt DesLauriers, more about his project can be found on his Twitter: https://twitter.com/mattdesl/status/1405231431970963457

I played the whole game before opening the credits, and while playing, I couldn't help but think of some of the other things of his I've seen over the years -- for example, I remember a different one where you just wandered in various directions as patterns formed, I think, but I don't remember what it was called -- and then lo, this was something he worked on as well!

Matt's work is an inspiration. His 'Audiograph' from a few years back took me down so many good paths, learning about palette choices, 3D cameras, audio analysis, and more. His stuff is a treasure.

(edit: the wandering game I couldn't recall the name of was https://bellwoods.xyz/)

1 - https://www.audiograph.xyz/

It's so inspiring what can be done with just the HTML5 canvas and (a lot of) time. That is one creative dude.

Beautiful game that runs really well (even on mobile), the authors should be proud!

Just blows my mind how much content you can provide through the browser. Beautiful game, and a wonderful experience. Some bugs (one of the paths lead outside navigational area) but not that bothered me particular. The browser is not a browser any more. It definitively is a multipurpose, cross platform delivery infrastructure.

It is just catching up with Java applets and Flash, or any other plugin one bothered to write.

Beautiful stuff. Gave me huge Flash nostalgia.

The JS code is unminified. It uses Three.js and Svelte.


Feels like yesterday I was playing orisinal games after school.

That name brings back so much memories! ;_;

403... not anymore! There is a source map however so you can still explore. Looks like it's structured as an entity-component-system project? I'm not at all familiar with game dev, but that's my guess based on the structure.

Really cool to see some svelte in the wild :)

looks like they took that offline - did anyone save it?

You can simply open the dev tools and see the source maps.

Nice find!

Wow, this game is beautiful! Has a monument valley feel to it in the music and the art. I wonder what technologies where used to make this, the seamless transition between the cut scene at the beginning and the game.

But it's definitively beautiful and relaxing :)

Wow, instantly immersed to this beautiful world of calm sounds and poetry, I experienced with a smile and was very relaxed till the end.

Reminds me the emotional vibes of the game Monument Valley.

Love the randomness part of poetry creation, here are "my" poems :_) https://imgur.com/a/N8d7ayW

Edit: Well, I suppose that each user form a different combination of phrases in the poems, but now I'm not sure.

Monument Valley was exactly the comparison I felt as well, perhaps inevitable given the avatar. Hard to imagine what higher praise I could offer.

Yes. Based on what you encounter + gpt2

A very impressive little game, amazing what you can achieve in a browser.

Another relaxing game I discovered a few years ago (I think also through HN) https://alexanderperrin.com.au/paper/shorttrip/

You're controlling a small railcar of some kind driving through villages and landscapes.

Is weird, I'm a forever quake fan, however some years ago I played (at a friend' house) a beautiful game where the player was the wind, there were no words, nor obvious hints, but instead a slow idea of the game goal, which was to somehow save the nature. Anybody can tell what game was that one?


If you liked it, Journey takes it to the next level.

In fact, this Wayfinder game appears to take lots of inspiration from both of these games.


On a similar vein, and the prettiest mobile game I’ve played, Sky: Children of the light.

Sky is a treasure.

Avoid spoilers until you've played it all the way through!

I think this game is Flower. Played it years ago, but also the first result for "game where you play as the wind" on Google. :)

Thanks everybody, indeed, that's it!

maybe Flower?

Holy cow, this murdered my (fairly beefy) Macbook Pro in Desktop Safari.

Seems to work fine in Edge (Chromium)

Worked great on mobile Safari on my 2018 iPad Pro.

The next generation of M-series chips can’t arrive quickly enough. I anxiously await my next laptop.

Runs perfectly in Safari on my M1 MacBook Air.

Added to my home screen on iOS so I could get rid of the address bar and bottom toolbar. Looks great and works very well!

I like to play this one as well, not as artsy but super fun - https://play.gl/ - unfortunately it was not crafted as a PWA like this one.

dear mobile game developers: PLEASE make my initial touch the origin for movement vectors, not the character model. it's annoying having to constantly drag my finger up into the top half of the screen, breaks immersion as well as being just plain difficult when I have to obscure the character model with my finger in order to do fine movement.

Looks like the game 'Journey' 2012

I like these kind of games a lot

Speaking of relaxing games, have you played Little Orpheus? I made aware of it when won an Apple Design award and I assumed that Apple simply gave itself an award for publicity as it is part of the Apple Arcade.

I decided to give it a try and wow! That game is something else. There's nothing special about the gameplay itself, it's even not that good but the concept of narrating your actions or having a dialog about the story and telling the story is extremely pleasing experience. Normally I would listen to podcast or open a YouTube video in the background as I play casual games. This is much better because your senses don't fight for attention priority.

Then I remember, in Half Life there were parts when an outside voice would talk about something relative(g-man or someone asking you do something etc.). Every game should have a narrator or some kind of background voice taking you deeper into the story.

Maybe that's part of the lure of game streamers?

I haven't played Little Orpheus, but the concept of "narrating your actions sounds" like what Supergiant Games did with Bastion. I thought it was a break through in narrative gaming, and was surprised no one had copied it.

I'll have to check out Little Orpheus now.

Supergiant’s most recent game Hades doesn’t have as much of a narrator as Bastion, but it does have one, and they do clever things like having the narrator accidentally tell the main character secrets (because the main character can hear the narration).

Yeah, I own Hades - great game.

And agreed they do interesting things with the narrator. It didn't hit home for me quite the same way that Bastion did, but I appreciate that they're constantly trying out new things.

In Little Orpheus, maybe the "narrator" is not the right word.

Think of it as two people having a conversation about where you are and what's happening.

Now I remember, I think Max Payne also had an occasional background voice. It added so much to the atmosphere.

> That game is something else.

That game is an Apple Arcade exclusive. The end.

This is very a very pretty game, reminds me of quest games I was playing as a kid. Those games seem limited in capabilities but they were pushing boundaries back in the day in terms of graphics and artistry. Looking forward to see more of this. Im gonna try this on my 3 year old and see what response Im getting.

Player character looks very similar to character from the Monument Valley. I guess it is intentional.

Beautiful experience, and cool that so much of it is procedural.

This reminds me so much of Orisinal, a collection of Flash games by Ferry Halim.



And it runs at a solid 5fps on my 6-core Ryzen machine, despite having the graphical fidelity of a PS2 game.

Maybe your browser has hardware acceleration disabled or nerfed? How are other WebGL pages doing by comparison?

It has beautiful art, but is very empty and even as far as exploring goes, does not have enough stuff in it.

I get an error:

    Uncaught TypeError: Cannot read property 'canvas' of null

Fails in Brave (Chromium 91) with shields up, here's the stack:

three.module.js:21344 Uncaught (in promise) TypeError: Cannot read property 'indexOf' of null

    at new ch (three.module.js:21344)

    at ht (three.module.js:24988)

    at new gh (three.module.js:25021)

    at m (CanvasSystem.js:30)

    at S.addSystem (World.js:379)

    at be (initialize.js:112)

    at async onCreate (index.js:47)

Uncaught TypeError

Cannot read

property 'canvas' of


A nice wee gameplay trick I really liked was the text path projected in the direction the player is moving. I know it doesn't seem like much but it could easily be overlooked and really adds to the flow of the game. Love it.

What is an "art game", and how is it different from a mere "game"?

To borrow a definition from Andrei Konchalovsky, art is that which imparts feelings. If a game does that, it's art. Many "gamey" games don't, and this is perfectly fine.

Consider two games, Inside (a great art game) and Overwatch (a great "gamey" game). Inside is much less rich in terms of gameplay, but (in my subjective opinion) does much more with feelings. Overwatch, on the other hand, is enormously, ridiculously rich in terms of gameplay, but when you're actually playing it (as opposed to viewing the art), it's more of a dopamine binge.

All games impart feelings even Overwatch! A really common game design lens is essentially “how do we want this to make the player feel?”

There’s definitely a very common set of feelings you might miss or not see as intrinsic because most games are imparting them but that doesn’t remove them from existence.

There’s not a strong definition and most attempts end up defining regular games as well. So it’s more a self label of intent by the creators.

Instead of having the users finger guide the character, it should just rely on the direction the finger drags like a TouchPad. I don't like how my finger blocks the view so much.

The figure with the pointy hat and the soundtrack, reminds me of the game Monument Valley for iPhone and iPad by Us Two games. If you love architecture, Cornelis Escher’s art and puzzles, I highly recommend it.

This beautiful but 5 minutes in and my 2015 macbook pro cannot handle it.

For some reason both my iPhone XS (iOS 14) and iPad (iOS 13) show a black screen with the pause, OOO, and compass at the top, some popups about moving the cursor, and nothing else.

Feel like I’m missing out :(

Strangely this gave me pretty bad motion sickness. The controls don't feel nearly tight enough (on desktop). I kept dragging my mouse cursor off the edges of the screen.

Special shoutout to the National Film Board who’s shorts set the tone for my inquisitive life and who’s funding allowed all kinds of artists to add to our culture.

I wonder if the Boards of Canada vibe is a conscious choice.

Interesting how this supports both mobile and desktop non-chrome browsers, but a lot of websites with menus and tables don't play well on firefox

This is gorgeous. Thanks for the post.

Brings back memories of watching NFBC films on reel to reel that my Dad checked out from the library. The cat came back ....

Confused. Some wizard dude wanders around among the leaves, and nothing happens. Using the wrong browser or something?

holding mouse down makes the whole game jerky

I genuinely have to wonder what sort of setup you're running. I'm getting a perfectly fluid experience using a i3 7100 with no additional graphics card, 8GB of DDR4 2100 and Firefox on Win10.

Also works perfectly on 2011 Mac mini, macOS 10.13 with Firefox.

yeah I found it pretty unpleasant for this reason

try switching from firefox to chrome

So awesome, it reminds me GRIS.

this game just made me realize how behind firefox is to chrome

This is really well done. Once I started I had to finish!

Wow it's fun, what game engine this game use?

Seems to be Three.js :)

blank brown screen with a little music on desktop safari

Oh it worked in desktop Safari just fine for me, but it is somewhat intensive work for my 2015 MBP

I find Chess pretty relaxing.

Neat game, but it's annoying how I have to hold my mouse down all the time (and bad for RSI). Also the lighting is beautiful but it would be neat if it gave you cues where to go - e.g. brighten near uncollected tokens. (Edit: Just noticed the compass)

The credits list some 20 people put this together. It's lovely, though kind of feels like something 1 talented and artistic developer could do as a side project...

Plus for the cues idea too. No need to be something too obvious, maybe the direction of the wind, facing of the flowers or leaning of the trees etc.

I found myself doing a lots of systematic circular scan of the entire area -- Not hard, but a bit frustrating, and it's a brute force strategy (not really fun).

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