Galapagos


Galapagos Palette

This past fall, I started work on a fantasy console project, titled Galapagos. I am inspired a bit by PICO-8, by Ming Mecca, by old research operating systems like Plan 9 and Oberon, and by various old computer aesthetics outside of the typical NES/C64 look, like the PC-9800 series and Hercules monochrome. It is an extension of things I’ve written about in this blog: an integrated system that expresses my thoughts about creativity, with some pragmatic compromises made where needed.

Principles Defining Galapagos

All of these principles are aspirational, and they have points of conflict and areas where my ability to execute won’t match up. But together they are helping me define the system at a high level.

Some Work-In-Progress Technical Specifications

Project Timeline

I am using a system of rough “doublings” of scope for each major milestone, which I call the “project spiral”:

As the time horizon goes farther out, the focus of the plans changes.

Although some prototyping got underway in August, the first real “milestone” started in November and ended on December 4th, after making a demonstration game for Ludum Dare. The second concludes with this posting. Schedule doubling is a mechanism for limiting how deep I go with specific project features, giving me some ability to correct course to hit each milestone at a larger scope. By two years out, the internals should be close to locked, and most of my efforts will go instead towards tools refinement, communicating about the project and fleshing out more of the added-value features: a forum system, sharing software, etc.

Releases

I will first make Galapagos available through a Patreon page in the February 23 milestone, as a donation incentive, and grow availability from there. Following PICO-8’s approach and starting it as a closed/commercial project will help me to actually get the code into a polished, usable state, but what I plan for February and the months following that will be more like “preview” builds, something I can use to get feedback with, with no guarantee of forward compatibility. As I get more confident about the design it’ll become easier to focus on making releases.