If We Were Allowed To Visit is an anthology of poems by Gemma Mahadeo rendered by Ian MacLarty.

As you move through the game's environment, the poems are rearranged into the shapes of the objects they're about, each frame becoming a new generative poem.

AuthorIan MacLarty


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Pure genius & an amazing collaboration. I am in awe.



This is wack



This is wonderful. Modern art at its very finest.

Very clever, nice work. Is this a custom shader, I take it?

People who think in words and not shapes be like:


wow , this is really impressive 

Ian, I'm your fan

This is wonderful

wow, that's super great! love love love this 

trippy and awesome

cool, cool, cool.

So cool.

This is nice! How was it made?


Thanks! Gemma wrote the poems and I created the models and programmed the renderer. Not sure how much technical info you're after, but I'm happy to go into some of the rendering details if you're familiar with graphics programming.


This is lovely! And I'd also love to hear some rendering details :) So good!


So briefly: all the poems are pre-rendered and packed into a texture. We render the scene into an off-screen buffer, storing the texture coordinates of the poems in the buffer (each model in the scene has a different poem). Finally we render to the screen, looking up the poems in the texture using the intermediate buffer. We make sure we sample the buffer at a resolution that corresponds to the number of character rows and columns, so that we only render whole characters. Hope that makes sense!

Hi, the work is very impressive. The first thing I thought was, wow, I could provide a italian translation to have it in my native language. But I just read the explanation you wrote: I fear the "pre-packed" texture makes a translation in another language very hard. Is this true?

hey, Gem here (the aforementioned poet). Technically that could be done if the text I gave Ian were translated into Italian, and then does whatever genius stuff he did? I might actually translate the poems into French.