Why doesn’t the Living Worlds app use the wide images?

Ian Gilman
3 min readApr 18, 2022


I often get asked if the Living Worlds app could use the wide images seen in Joseph Huckaby’s Worlds and Canvas Cycle demos. I wrote up an answer for the FAQ, but I figure it’s worth a whole post here to set the record straight.

The biggest misconception is that the wide images are the originals and that we have cut them down for the phone app. This is not the case. The Living Worlds scenes first appeared in the Seize the Day calendar app in 1993, and they were exactly the dimensions you see them in the new app. They were this size in Seize the Day because the right half of the screen was used for the informational portion of the calendar app. They were designed to fit on a 640x480 screen, leaving room for information on the right and the menu bar at the top, resulting in 345x455 pixel images.

Screenshot courtesy The Obscuritory.

Seize the Day included all of the “living” special effects you see in the phone app today… color palette shifting throughout the day, color cycling animation effects, overlays for weather, etc. All of this art was created by Mark Ferrari in a fit of obsessive genius. The result is a set of scenes that truly feel alive as they change throughout the day and from day to day.

Several years later, in 1997, Mark was hired to widen (and make slightly taller) a number of the Seize the Day images for the game Magic: The Gathering — Battlemage to the full 640x480 screen size of the day. It’s those images that Joseph used for his demos. Battlemage just used them for informational cut scenes, so they didn’t need all of the special effects that make for the full Living Worlds experience. Because of this, even though the base images where expanded, most of the additional overlays were not. For instance, for the February scene, we’ve got the wide base image, but we don’t have a wide snow overlay. Here's the result:

In fact, Mark didn’t even widen all of the Seize the Day images… March and December are still the original size, with parchment added in the extra space:

Mark also made a number of additional images for Battlemage that weren’t from Seize the Day. You can find them in Joseph’s Canvas Cycle demo. Not only do they not have weather overlays, they don’t even have color palettes for the day/night cycle; they just exist at one particular time of day.

My goal for the new Living Worlds app was to bring back the original Seize the Day scenes in all their living glory. If we want to bring in the Battlemage images we have a choice to make: display them as-is or retrofit them to support all of the features of the original scenes. Displaying them as-is doesn’t appeal to me, as it takes away from the full “Living Worlds” experience. Retrofitting them would be nice, but it would also be a ton of work for Mark, and, honestly, if he had that kind of time to devote to this project, I would be in favor of creating new scenes instead!

So, will we ever support those wide versions? I won’t say never, but a lot of stars will have to align before it makes sense for us to pursue it.

I hope this clears up some confusion! ☺️