So, you folks know about Gorogoa, yeah? Artful, detailed puzzle game about, well, the forms of devotion?


Well, the game's got no dialogue, but it does depict text— it's just text in a constructed alphabet, that doesn't convey any textual information. It's there for show.

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That said, for the physical edition for Nintendo Switch, Jason Roberts— the game's creator— made a companion booklet called "Traditions of the Scattered Path", in a new invented language that *does* carry textual information!

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This is like a new, baby version of Codex Seraphinianus— there are meaningful illustrations, and hundreds of lines of expertly typeset text that no one's managed to decipher yet.

For the longest time, the chief obstacle was that there was no transcript. People were trying to transcribe it by hand, substituting the glyphs with letters of known alphabets, but this was tedious and error-prone.

You can maybe guess where this is going.

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By aligning the scanned pages and slicing them all into line images, I was able to build a directory of PNG lines of text whose names were indexable. A little NodeJS script broke those into ~17.5k glyph images, which I sorted by hand. I used some tricks to sort most of them quickly, but wound up manually sorting about 5,000 of them.

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Another NodeJS script took the sorted glyph directory structure and reassembled the text. There were plenty of flaws, so as a verification step I made a close-enough font and re-typeset the whole booklet.

Adobe was like, "Save your work to the cloud?"

And I was like, "HISSSSSSSSS!"

Though ironically I did end up saving my work to Google Drive, and anyway my dependency on Creative Suite is still unfortunate, I really want to distance myself from these tools in the long run.

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My point is, despite leaning on the executables distributed by techno-feudalists, I've got what I believe to be a complete and accurate transcript of Traditions of the Scattered Path, which *is* shareable with other people, since it's a work derived from the copyrighted art. I'm hesitant to publicly share it for the short term, but a group of enthusiasts reached out and we're turning this text file over and over again in a Discord.

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The only reason the transcript was possible is because I could envision a workflow where I could take some concrete (and, when possible, automated) steps towards deriving and collating information without data loss.

Now I think we need a workflow for *decipherment*, which I've never done before. A way to annotate the text with hypotheses, like "I think these two letters are a suffix" or "maybe these four letters have this meaning".

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I dunno who deciphers things in 2020 for a living anymore, but they probably have a workflow I'd like to borrow.

Hopefully it doesn't lead me back to the Creative Suite, though! 😅 Forgive my transgression, Merveilles! At least I got data out of a "proprietary" format. 😉

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@rezmason Whoa. I wouldn't even know where to begin with something like that. How long did it take you until you had it fully deciphered?

@rostiger To clarify, it's still a ciphertext, it's just that it's text now and not scan images. 🙂 The hard work of deciphering it still lies ahead of us.

Rough time estimates:

scanning and slicing: 1hr
glyph isolation code: 2hr
manual glyph sort: all fuckin' night
text recombination: <1hr
crappy font generation: 0.5hr
typesetting: half a day

total: let's say a full 24hrs

In hindsight I could've peppered the glyph filenames with more useful data, to accelerate the sort. Oh well! 😆

@rezmason That’s impressively quick though. Are you planning to write tools to decipher it or is this now mostly manual labor?

@rostiger haha, from there on out I have no clue what I'm doing 😆 but I'm watching videos and pretending to begin to start to maybe read papers on decipherment. Ideally I'd rope in an academic who does this sorry if stuff and ask for insight, but they're free and far between these days

Other Gorogoa fans created a Discord for us to brainstorm in, but our ideas need a scaffold I think. I do have a vision for a simple HTML tool, but I should learn more before I build anything

@rostiger ironically my dad's cousin was a published decipherer of cuneiform, and his equally accomplished surviving family can tell me some things about what he did, but specifics about methodologies night need a primary source

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Merveilles is a community project aimed at the establishment of new ways of speaking, seeing and organizing information — A culture that seeks augmentation through the arts of engineering and design. A warm welcome to any like-minded people who feel these ideals resonate with them.