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While searching for inspiration to move forward, sometimes it helps to look back…way back. Over dinner tonight, James and I talked about old civilizations. I remembered that I had an old tribute to a certain place of the past, a sacred place: my own huaca.

Before game engines were available to mere mortals, there were things like CAVElib and Performer. I made my first CAVElib application to look like a mythical place in Peru. I would just sit in the CAVE and stare at it. It sounds dorky, but I really liked escaping in it. It was scaled to size and I felt like maybe I was lost in the fog in the Andes. Somewhere in my archives, I may have some old screen captures from IRIX. A few months ago, I even found a printout of the entire code for that application written in C and OpenGL. I was a primitive programmer, but somehow I made it happen. But it was not enough.

I was sad that I couldn’t go to that place, neither physically nor virtually. VRML offered a glimpse of what the future may be. It was a way to bring real-time graphics to the web. It was a dream. It sucked. Because programming for VRML sucked. In 2001, I made a virtual Chavin De Huantar. Today, you would call it level design for a game. There is even a dangerous easter egg hidden somewhere in the levels. I wrote my first published student paper about it. I was terrified to present it. I met some nice people. But it went nowhere. Too far ahead of its time, for better or worse. Cosmoplayer, the VRML player died, but thankfully it can be downloaded and installed even on Firefox. I downloaded and installed it today. And much to my surprise, most of the world works. Maybe one day, I can get to Chavin, shoot high rez pictures and make a real video game out of it in Unity.

For now, all that remains can be viewed below–a virtual ruin of my past 🙂

http://www.evl.uic.edu/gotsis/huacas/
(requires VRML Player download from here)

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