L006 2022.04.10

Success ~ Failure

As previously predicted, my spare time has disappeared almost completely, and the rythm in which I can work in k3Q× has declined considerably. Iʼm no longer at the verge of starvation, and Iʼm doing just fine on a daily basis, but is that the best possible outcome? I donʼt think so, but still, itʼs not like I have a better path in front of me.

Maybe…

At least not yet…

Lost within the maze as always, there is no other choice than keep walking, even after days and weeks and months and years of not knowing where are you going, even after an eternity of not knowing where are you headed to, or what are you looking for at your final destination.

“Someday, someday, may we reach it, the sky”

But today is not the day.

Today we have to struggle, today we have to ponder, today we have to set aside our dreams and hopes, today we have to work… Until we earn a day off, until we find a moment of peace, until we get some vacations, until we just die at some point.

Whatever comes first.

Furthermore, the very small amount of time I can spend in k3Q× means that at the current pace, the project will probably not be finished in this lifetime. Itʼs just not feasible, especially considering that I want to do other things, so the maze isnʼt even always my top priority whenever I have some time at hands.

Time.

Ainʼt that shit incredibly valuable?

Yet, I happen to live in a place where human life isnʼt as valuable as it probably is somewhere else.

Bad luck, I guess.

Bad luck shared with millions and millions around the world.

Maybe itʼs just the “regular luck”, maybe Iʼm actually more fortunate that most people, but my limited vision spectrum impedes me to appreciate my real position in the scale of worldwide luckyness, asuming there is such a thing.

Good luck, I guess.

Do you feel lucky, anonymous traveler?

Are you happy with the current state of your life?

Do you consider your daily life a success on itʼs own, or is it a failure to be fixed at some point?

Whatever it is… it is and that’s it.

So, I guess you just have to keep walking, whether you like it or not, change is inevitable, so be careful with your steps, or you might get lost like many others around here.

(But who really knows where are they standing at the moment or where are they going? Is it possible to know for sure such things? Everything is speculation in some degree…)

Anyway, I managed to finish layer 122 of k3Q×, but Iʼm not jumping straight into 123, since my current situation urges me to reconsider what to do with my limited spare time, so Iʼm going into a hiatus in order to work in other proyects that doesnʼt require decades until completion.

Keep an eye open for whatever comes next.

See you later, maybe…

— ef


L005 2022.02.10

How to become a millionaire while following your dreams, or…

Why is it that I want so badly to keep going with this project? There are many things Iʼve given up on, not sparing a second thought on. Many things I wanted to do or to become that simply didnʼt happened, many dreams I just set aside out of fear, ignorance, lack of resources or unsufficient will to keep going. Even if many of those goals are still not unreachable at this point, I just donʼt care enough about them right now, and yet, one of the most eclectic, unambitious or broadly appealing projects is the one Iʼm betting on every last penny remaining in my pockets. Why?

Why am I spending entire days drawing a maze when Iʼm at the verge of total bankruptcy, instead of doing something that can actually keep me away from starvation?

Well, itʼs simple.

Because this is what I want to do, or so I think.

(Or so I want to believe…)

Iʼve spent my entire life going with the flow, not thinking much about the future, expecting that things play out just fine. Nothing excellent has happened, nothing particularly exciting or truly inspiring, but neither something really bad or catastrophically life-changing. A quite existence, that is.

But then, reality strikes, you are no longer a child, you shall take a step into the unknown and look for your own purpose, which is not just about finding a way of living, but about choosing what will you be living for.

What is that you are gonna aim to.

Thatʼs an easy question for some, not so much for many others.

“I want creative freedom” has grown as some sort of goal for me, and, in a way, this little maze is the embodiement of that, but such kind of freedom is pretty much unsustainable if you canʼt make it your way of living.

Business isn’t my forte. Iʼd say is even my weakest point, since I do not like advertising, marketing, promotion and all that stuff.

“If you need or want something, you look for it, if you donʼt, there is no need for someone else come at you to tell you to buy something you are not looking for in the first place”

But who the hell wants this maze to exist (besides me, of course)? Who is willing to put resources into allowing the continuation of this project (besides me, of course)? Who believes there is value in the time and effort spent here (…)?

I donʼt know. Very few, maybe none, which is something that doesnʼt come as a surprise to be honest. I already knew very well this could be the lost niche of a niche within another niche. This isnʼt something that will become viral and suddenly transform into a reliable source of income to keep the project going.

In order to recover just a minimum of the work invested, I probably need many years of regularly documented and published work, but I donʼt have years to spare, not even months.

In less than two weeks, my savings will drain completly. I have to collect some debts so I can persist some extra time, while selling my remaining non-crucial possesions in order to allow me just another breath of “creative freedom”.

But, is that enough? No, not at all. Or at least, I donʼt think so.

So, why keep going?

I have lost many things in these years, and I keep losing them as time goes by, which isnʼt something necessarily negative, since Iʼm learning to let things go and to not get overly attached to a wide variety of stuff, but still, there’s that old pipe dream of artistic integrity that urges me into holding on with teeth and nails into this project, even if my chances of coming out victorious are inferior to the 0.1%, and the consequences of failing are no less than a severe breakdown I might not be able to overcome any time soon, since the tools to do so are mostly unavailable at best.

But thatʼs precisely why I feel the need to keep going. Maybe Iʼm just a bad gambler who doesnʼt know when to admit defeat and keeps losing everything for the smallest chance of a miraculous comeback, or maybe thatʼs exactly the only way of winning the prize Iʼm after at, and therefore, as little as the opportunity is, there is not a better way of achieving the only goal that justifies my eccentric behaviour.

I donʼt know.

Do you know? I donʼt think so.

The only thing I’m sure of, is that I know nothing, and even that is still an assumption. I might be doing the best I can, I might be doing the worst I can, so I wonʼt tell you that your thoughts and opinions about my procedures are right or wrong, since they are just assumptions to my eyes, since you really know nothing, just as me.

Do you have proper documentation and statistics that support your point of view? Does everything in your carefully crafted calculations says that my path is 99.999% destined to failure? Thatʼs fine, Iʼll take that 0.001% remaining.

Itʼs not like I have such a strong attachment to anything I can lose at this point, besides the one thing I’m clenching on (my creative freedom) which might be the biggest lose I can think of, so I really really want to triumph, and because of that, Iʼll keep moving forward, with the ever present thought that this might be the very last chance I get to do what I want to do, in the hopes of being able to reach the point where instead of losing things and letting my dreams fade away, I can actually pursue new goals, while acquiring new tools to make those become a new reality in the new world Iʼll dwell at some point in the future.

Yet, as of today, layer 121 of k3Q× and every other update I drop here and there are the most I can provide as a proof of my resolve. Those +70 hours poured in a maze +many more deposited in related tasks shall be the testament of what I was capable of doing at this point of my life. Is that enough? I donʼt think so, but maybe it is, I donʼt know. Therefore, I guess I have to keep working.

Thatʼs all I have for today. Nothing really that important. Just the current events. Like going out to buy some candy. As mundane as that. And so, we keep living as we always do. Nothing changes. Things just happen, until they donʼt. No more, no less, I guess.

— ef


L004 2022.01.20

The altruistic egoism theory (or, is this project useful?)

Everything changes, to remain the same is impossible, since the very act of perpetuate the state of something requires to put concious effort in avoiding itʼs deterioration, by taking energy from somewhere else, by “consuming” X in order to “preserve” something estimated as more valuable than the thing consumed in the process.

That said, we can state that we live for two basic purposes. First, to preserve our own life, by consuming the resources necesary for the meat vessel we require as entities, and second, to consume that very life of ours to preserve the gigantic abstract being known as humanity.

(Why does humanity requires itʼs own existence? Is there a more complex system consuming humanity to preserve itself? We wonʼt dig into that here, not today at least)

So, basically, everything we make and stop making with our lifes is what we percieve (conciously or not) as the most appropiate way of preserving our species, just like every organ or cell withing us works all the time in keeping us alive.

Itʼs easy to say that those we know as altruistic people, “good people”, are inmproving our lifes, while those known as unnadapted people, like criminals, or “bad people” are a direct threat to our existence. Then, there is everything in between, those grey areas of people with both “good” and “bad” qualities, which basically entails the entirety of human kind, since there is no pure “good” or “evil”.

So, what does any of this have to do with this maze?

You see, itʼs very easy to look at the amount of time this project has required already (not to mention the energy necessary to reach the end of it), and say: Is it really worth it? Is this really useful for the greater good? Isnʼt just the work a malfunctioning creature wasting resources that could be better used in a different way? Why not put that effort into something clearly more benefitial for the species?

Well, so here is the thing. I donʼt really know if anything I do or make is any “good” or “bad”, but just as all of us keep choosing to stay alive again and again every second (maybe because our bodies are programmed to do so), we do the same for humanity because thatʼs what we believe itʼs the best course of action. We are, at the same time, egoistic for using any means necessary to keep going our individual existence an our projects for as much time as we can, but we do so because we believe thatʼs the best for the species.

We are egoistic at taking our own lifes regardless of any inconvenience we may cause to others derived from that, but anyone in that position firmly believes that such a choice will be ultimately more benefitial than harmful for themselves and everyone still alive.

However, we are not capable of knowing if anything we make is actually having the impact we desire, because there are so many variables at place to actually be capable of knowing for sure if at any second of our life are we making the right choice.

We could very well be humanityʼs cancer, overconsuming valuable resources in futile enveavours, leading to hardships that we just donʼt percieve as such because our limited understanding of reality. We could be the allergy overreacting to certain stimulus, spreading panic and breaking the delicate control of society, even if we think itʼs the most rational behaviour.

Do you see what Iʼm getting at?

I donʼt know it itʼs something “good” or “bad”, but I think of myself as someone capable of questioning and having doubts about everything, while totally incapable of being certain about anything. A “bless” or a “curse”? I donʼt know, but Iʼm not looking for answers here.

I donʼt know if making this project is “good” or “bad”, but I have to believe that there is no better choice than to keep moving forward. I want to believe that I really want to make it to the end of the road, and see what awaits for me in there. Itʼs my wish, my dream to see this project finished (or so I want to believe), whether it ends up being just a monumental waste of time, or a meaningful piece of art, itʼs not up to me to decide, because Iʼm not doing this just to please the inner mechanism propelling the living thing writting this lines, but because I have no other choice but to try to believe that Iʼm doing something “good” for humanity, even if that could be a mistake of mine.

So, what do you think? Is k3Q× worth existing? Is my life being properly spend here? Shoud I go back to a “real job” to aquire the income necesary to survive in this world? Or should I keep working in this uncomprehensible mammoth of a maze? Is my entire fisicality just a waste of resources better used in fertilize the ground? I donʼt know, since all I have are theories, and not enough data to think I have a big enough sample of reality to prove anything to myself nor to anyone else.

To conclude, act according your believes, but if you think you have certainty about anything, just remember that you donʼt (or maybe not, if you believe that you shouldnʼt remember that). At least, thatʼs what I think is the best for all of us, but of course, that might not be the case, and maybe I change my mind as time goes by, maybe Iʼll doubt this theory tomorrow, and propose the opposite in the following day, because everything changes, to remain the same is impossible, since the very act of perpetuate the state of something requires to put concious effort in avoiding itʼs deterioration, by taking energy from somewhere else, by “consuming” X in order to “preserve” something estimated as more valuable than the thing consumed in the process…

So, if you think this project is worth existing, consider support it via ko-fi or Patreon.

In the meantine, today’s update consists of the sketch of layers 121–128, which might require the entire year to be properly digitized, or maybe just 3 to 4 months, depending on the time I can spend tracing those.

— ef


L003 2021.12.17

Origin, method, aesthetics and future

About 10 years ago I decided to draw the hardest maze ever (maybe out of wonder after looking at the work of Kazuo Nomura (野村一雄), Andrew Bernhardt and Motoi Yamamoto (山本 基) to name a few). Later, I realized that I could spent years drawing a huge maze, but no one will solve it, because it's like fighting the final boss before the tutorial, plus, I had no idea on how to make it properly, so I also needed to start from the “tutorial”, and that's where all began, with no other plan but to “move slowly, while finding out where to go”.

Eventually I started to figure out how to draw the mazes, how many I wanted to make, how the size and difficulty will evolve, which rules/game mechanics I wanted to implement, how to properly test them before publishing, and so on…

Today I want to talk about one of the core aspects of this maze, which is that of aesthetics. You see, most mazes you will find out there fall in two categories: human made, and computer generated. The first ones usually have the charm of the pen on paper tracing, and the unpredictability of the human mind crafting each path, but tend to lack in fine detail and precision (they look good, but raw and amateur). On the other hand, many computer generated mazes can be programmed to be traveled interactively and have all the fine polish you just can not get in paper, but due to limitations in the algorithms involved, they often lack in complexity and variety (they look clean, but cold and uninspired).

Well, k3Q× wants to take the best of each world in order to draw a maze no computer will be able to ever create, but with such attention to detail that you have to wonder on how is it possible for a single human to craft such a work.

Yet, as I said earlier, I had to start with the tutorial, and thatʼs why the first bunch of layers of k3Q× still look very simple and are really easy to solve. There is not much of a challenge there, and you wonʼt get amazed by those mazes, but you are not suposed to.

The length of the main path, the amount of dead ends, how to trick the player into losing their way inside an infinite loop, how to sketch, digitize, test and publish each maze… Many technical and practical issues had to be under control before going full into aesthetics, because, you see, I planned to make organic mazes from the very beggining, but I knew those were too big of a challenge for me at the time, but after some testing that paid off in the newest layers, I feel confident in both the logical and visual aspect of maze making, and so, now is time to take on new challenges awaiting in the near future, because, remember, k3Q× is still at just 30% completion.

Anyways, this entry is being written in commemoration of the publishing of layer 120, so just for the record, here are some numbers in regards to that:

Layer 120 is 0.32% from the entirety of the maze

From layer 001 to 120 the total progress is exactly 29.43%

Layer 120 alone took about 66 hours of work, distributed in 11 days (about 6 hours each day).

Of those 66 hours, the sketch was made in less than 4 hours, while the tracing took 58. The last 4 hours went into looking for any possible mistake and further adjustments, and preparing the maze for publishing and archive of the original files.

Originally I expected this would take an entire month of work, but it seems that I was able to work better and faster due to the experience with previous layers, so yeah, the future of the project looks very promising, but again, I only make progress on my spare time, which can only last for a short period of time, given my current income of zero…

As for the time being, this might be the last update of 2021, so merry christmas, and have an excellent new year. Yee!

— ef


L002 2021.12.08

FAQ: What do you make this project for?

Or rather, “why would you spend so much time drawing a fucking maze?”

To give some context, let me tell you that this is a slow process, which gets tiring after one or two months of repeating the steps involved. Also, none of this drawings are meant to improve peopleʼs lives, not even mine, but still, I keep using entire weeks in planning, sketching, digitizing, printing, testing, polishing, preparing and publishing each and every maze you can already find here.

But why though?

The goal is not precisely to spend some time alone, sitting in front of a computer or a sheet of paper, drawing more than a hundred mazes in the span of more than decade of ocassional bursts of productivity and spare time combined. Those are the means necessary to achieve the true objective, which, believe it or not, is not “drawing the hardest of largest maze ever”. Thatʼs actually another of the means to achieve the real goal.

[ I mean, I donʼt even have a clue about how does k3Q× compares to the current holder of the Guinness records for the largest maze in existence (which, as far as I know, is measured by the dimentions of the paper used, but not by the relative size between the total size of the entire filled space of the material containing the maze, and the density of the individual paths within it), but I couldnʼt care less about breaking that record, or any other you can think of… ]

But then why? And here is the best clue Iʼve find to answer that question (spoiler: itʼs another question).

“Whatʼs the driving force behind any project with no guaranteed reward, both in short or long term?”

Take the original question and remove the context to analize it from a proper distance, and we find deeper, broader questions: What do you want to tell yourself with your actions? Whatʼs the reality you are enhancing by doing the specific activities you choose every day? What are you trying to prove by acting the way you do? Do you want to test your discipline, your will, your patience? Are you looking to show your talent, your creativity, your ideals? Do you want to display power, intelect, freedom? Do you want to achieve selfworth, trascendence, fame? Do you need money, love, safeness?

To put it simple, the more you feel adressed by one of this particular questions (or any other you can think of), the more likely is that your motivations are hidding there, but I was supposed to tell you exactly why is it that I chose to make this project, but instead it seems that Iʼm just walking you into a spiral where you donʼt seem to be approaching the center even if it looks like you are walking towards it, and it certainly feels like you are getting deeper into something, but at the same time, not at all…

Anyways, my current answer is rather simple: Iʼm doing this to find out why Iʼm doing this. You didnʼt see that one coming, right? Kind of lame, donʼt you think so?

But thatʼs what it is. The only thing Iʼve found while traveling this immense maze of questions is that your questions, your actions, and the way you interact with The Reality that carves your personal reality is what you are, even if you never find the words to descrive it, because that set of beliefs called “your reality” are already getting materialized by everything you think, say and make, be it by creating some absurdly complext piece of art, questioning even the motivations behind your actions, or living the most quiet and peaceful life you can imagine…

Whatever you do or stop doing is essentialy your own answer to the question of “why”, because your whole identity depends on having that answer, you can not live without a reason, which not necesarily means that people needs to be able to put that into words, or to materialize it through some sort of creative endeavor. You might also translate it into actions, ideals and behaviours, all of which are susceptible to change as time goes by.

Anyways, thatʼs all I have to say about the topic for the time being, but given you have reached this far into my thoughts, let me ask you something in return: why are you here? Think about it.

By the way, I’ve finished the sketch of level 120, and digitized the crude version of it. Now, let’s see how long it takes until I finish the fine tuning, testing and final adjustments. My bet is an entire month, but we’ll see…

— ef


L001 2021.11.27

An introduction to k3Q×

Somewhere around 2013 I decided to make the largest multilayer maze ever, and started wondering on how could I approach the task in a realistic way. One or two years later, I had nothing but ideas scatered around, but not even a single maze done (Some sketches were made, just that).

Then I just started drawing the first levels of k3Q× on my journal with no clear goal as to how many of them I wanted to make, or which size each one. Actually, it was the size of the paper what gave shape to the entirety of the first stage, which I finished digitizing around 2017.

And just then is where I actually made a proper plan for the 210 levels and their respective size and rules, based on what I made prior, just going with the flow, to the point of not having a name for the project at the time.

But, why? Whatʼs the pourpose of this thing?

You see, my goal is not to break any specific record, nor to become rich selling prints, or an interactive maze game (both of which I want to make, though), neither I was particulary obsesed with mazes prior to this… No, it was just an impulse which eventually became a serious endeavor (even if I work rather sporadically), and at some point, I found a message to tell with this maze, a concept that could only be embodied by this maze, but thatʼs still a secret to be revealed after the last one is published, which may occur in the following decade, or later on. Who knows…

In the meantime, I draw some of this mazes when I have spare time, because this is not a job for which I have been paid a single dollar, but I have spent years, and Iʼm only at 29% completion, however, I feel like the project has enough progress to be shared, in the hopes that the message I want to comunicate may reach more people when the time comes, while encouraging me to keep going when I feel that life itself is a waste of time (which happens quite often).

Of course, another reason is that if I can recover at least a small amount of the resources I have invested here, I might be able to spend more time working on this, instead of just using my spare time, which only becomes more sparse as the years go by. So, idealy, this could become a source of income I can live of for a couple of years, but at the time of this writing, such a goal looks like mere fantasy.

At the moment, there are 119 mazes finished, with 91 left. Levels 117-119 were made in about a month of work, at a rate 7 hours each day with some breaks, but my "vacations" (aka. savings) are almost over, so I donʼt have the time to continue at such rate, so this first log may be the only one for a good period of time, unless some good luck knocks the door as a result of the extra work put into creating this new website. (Because there was another before this one, but I wasnʼt satisfied with the looks of it, so I never gave it much promotion, and even now, that part of the process is still the one I struggle the most with, due to my innate lack of social and marketing skills)

So, if you happen to be interested in this project, stick around to get updates every now and then, also, share it with anyone you may think could be also interested, or even share a ko-fi with me!

Regarding donations, currently there are no rewards in the kofi page, because all the content I make (for this and other projects of mine) is free, but if you feel that anything Iʼm making here is worth a dollar or two, I will be endlesly grateful for your support!

Finally, if you want to contact me for whatever reason you have (be it bussines stuff, ideas or questions about the project, or just pure curiosity) feel free to reach me at ef.k3qx@gmail.com

— ef

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