Tentacular Archaeology

If you follow @tinyarchae, my procedurally generated soap-opera set in the most dysfunctional (murderous) excavation ever, you’ll know that occasional Lovecraftian eldritch horrors sometimes surface and consume the souls of the damned. Tinyarchae is powered by cheapbotsdonequick and uses the Tracery generative grammar to put things together. In May, I’ll be teaching a workshop on how to do this sort of thing. If you pay close attention to the goings-on at the Tinyarchae site, you’ll note that sometimes the reports that the excavators are writing surface on the web. These too are generated with Tracery.

Wouldn’t you like to write and deploy on the web your own generative piece of tentacular archaeology? Eldritch Archaeology? (Or maybe an abstract generator – one click, and you’re done. Something new everytime. We all just do variations on the same paper over and over again anyway, don’t we….)

You can, now, via glitch.com. This site allows you to remix and deploy others’ code. So I rewrote the site report generator and moved it to Glitch; you can see it in action at https://lovecraftian-archaeology.glitch.me/ and if you want to remix it go to the edit page. The key file you’ll want to edit is grammar.js . You could start by swapping in some of these examples but note:

In grammar.js, you see:

var grammar = {
        title : ["Draft Report"],

But in that example gist I linked to, you see

"origin": ["I accuse #suspect# of committing the crime in the #room# with the #weapon#!"],

The grammar.js file does not put quotations around the key. So keep an eye out for that if you’re pasting from someone else’s project; paste from the opening { to the closing }. Also, origin is where the actual text will be generated from. So you compose your work by wrapping text around #keys# as in the second example.

Sorry. That’s a pretty awful explanation. Give the Tracery.io editor a spin to get the hang of it.  This is a really nice tutorial too.

Good luck. Be careful what you unleash.


Featured image by Mihail Bila (MCrassus Art) CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), via Wikimedia Commons.