| 5 - 15 min playthrough
Web-based generative art game
About the experience
Wayfinder is a web-based generative art game that takes the user on a contemplative cause-and-effect journey through nature. Combining artificial intelligence, machine learning and generative processes, each experience is as unique and ephemeral as nature itself. Users move a mystical character through the landscape in search of poetic tokens which, when activated, reveal words hidden in the wind. The poems and visuals users see today will never appear in the exact same way ever again.
Wayfinder is a web-based generative art game that brings high quality game-like rendering and interactivity to mobile and desktop browsers. On the surface, it’s a relaxing interactive animated experience that lets users reconnect with nature, but behind the screen is the latest in generative storytelling.
Artistically, the experience combines illustration, 2D animation, and 3D modelling into a seamless interactive WebGL2 landscape, magically assembled through procedural generation. Until the user loads the webpage, their particular journey does not yet exist. It’s all created and rendered in real time. Wayfinder is an ever-changing, emergent artwork with infinite possibilities.
The visuals and poetry were crafted and assembled algorithmically, making use of generative algorithms, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data mining. The game’s artwork is hand-illustrated by Tiffany Beucher and animated by Guillaume Le Roux,and placed into the experience with code and randomness. The verse fragments are mined from a mix of GPT-2 AI and data mining software, and then recombined during gameplay according to the user’s unique journey.
Two and One-Liner
The wind picks up
The moon casts azure shadows
Dissolving into mist
Nature is full of poetry. As the breeze dances over fallen leaves, its earthy sighs intertwine with birdsong off in the distance. What ageless tale is the landscape whispering today? It may never be whispered again…
Wayfinder is a web-based generative art game that takes the user on a contemplative cause-and-effect journey through nature. Symbolizing the give-and-take relationship humans have with the natural world, users move a mystical character through forest, grasslands and tundra in search of poetic tokens dotting the landscape. When activated, they reveal words hidden in the wind, breathing new life into the nearby flora and fauna. Flowers grow at the character’s feet, leaves bloom on the bare trees, birds and butterflies emerge. As the user continues on their journey, these uncovered words combine into verse, expressing our eternal need to capture nature’s fleeting moments in poetry.
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.
Blurring the line between video game, animated short and interactive poem, Wayfinder is produced by the NFB and the latest project by artist and creative coder Matt DesLauriers. It can be played directly in-browser at WAYFINDER.nfb.ca.
Using artificial intelligence, machine learning and generative processes, Wayfinder lets users capture nature’s fading memories before they’re gone forever.
Capture nature’s fading memories before they’re gone forever.
Concept, Design and Code
Matt DesLauriers is a Canadian-born artist and creative coder now living in London, UK. His interactive installations have been displayed in special events at the Louvre Museum in Paris and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. His work was part of Reykjavik’s 2019 Winter Lights Festival in Iceland and Ontario Place Park’s 2018 Winter Light Exhibition in Toronto. Matt is active in the open source community and has given numerous talks, classes, and workshops on creative coding such as UCL Bartlett School of Architecture in London, FITC in Toronto and Amsterdam, Frontend Masters in Minneapolis, and GROW in Paris.
Photo : Emily Cooper
Nicholas Klassen is a Producer with the National Film Board of Canada’s Digital Studio. He works with artists and media makers of all stripes to produce interactive storytelling projects that push the boundaries of story, form and platform. His projects have been recognized by the Webbys, FWA, Communication Arts, and World Press Photo — recent examples include Legacies 150, Tidal Traces and Un/Tied Shoes. Prior to his work at the NFB, he co-founded the online strategy and design agency Biro Creative, and served as Senior Editor at Adbusters magazine.
Rob McLaughlin is a Canadian producer and journalist most known for his work in digital media. He is currently the Executive Producer and Head of the National Film Board of Canada’s Digital Studio in Vancouver. From 2008 to 2011, he was the Director of Digital Content and Strategy at the NFB, where he led the development of the institution’s digital programming strategy and pioneering interactive documentary work, including Welcome to Pine Point and Bear 71. His most recent credits include the VR projects Homestay and Biidaaban: First Light.
From 2011 to 2015, he was an editor, publisher and senior executive at Canada’s largest newspaper chain, responsible for leading newsroom staff through a time of radical transformation in the newspaper industry.
Prior to working at the NFB, Rob was a producer at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. There he focused on developing new forms of audiovisual content designed to attract new audiences for public broadcasting, including the interactive radio service CBC Radio 3. He also served as the CBC’s director of digital programming, responsible for the creative development of digital platforms in the areas of documentaries, arts and entertainment shows for television and network radio programming.
A former tree planter and fishing guide from small-town Saskatchewan, Rob now lives in North Vancouver with his wife and the world’s two most brilliant girls, aged 10 and 14.
Concept, Design and Code
Animation and 3D Modelling
Guillaume Le Roux
Music & Sound
Drew Thomas & S. Quinn Hoodless – Boombox Sound
Senior Production Coordinator
Sergiu Raul Suciu
French Translation by
Gabrielle Lisa Collard
Poem verses adapted from Haiku Dataset by Harshit Jhalani,
licensed under CC BY 4.0
About the NFB
The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is one of the world’s leading digital content hubs, creating groundbreaking interactive documentaries and animation, mobile content, installations and participatory experiences. NFB interactive productions and digital platforms have won over 100 awards, including 21 Webbys. To access this unique content, visit NFB.ca.