Debuting next Friday at Connecticut College.
I started working on a game idea a few months ago, haven’t had much time to get into it but managed to get one character animated and a nav mesh for it to walk around. Most of the game is generated at run time, there will be different characters, dialog and building regenerated after the player dies. Basic idea is a sort of exploration of meaning using my weird alphabet that has been developed through different projects since the Levi Strauss Autobiography project in 2012. So there will be different characters that interpret the alphabet to mean different things and the player is trying to find a sort of guru character that offers some sort of salvation. I’ve been reading blogs by christians and other faiths questioning their beliefs and using the game as a way of understanding or exploring that search. That’s as far as I’ve gotten.
In general I am trying to start documenting the process of making stuff more, like a dev blog, rather than just dumping everything into a blog post when I’m done.
Back in August I took my app Getting To Know You in a new virtual reality implementation (using Google Cardboard) to the ISEA 2015 conference in Vancouver. It was a really nice trip although it came in the middle of a bunch of other stuff I was doing, like preparing to come to Shanghai, seeing my family and finishing up other work. It was the first conference of that kind that I have been to and I was concerned that I would be too anti-social and weirded out to get much out of it, but I ended up having some great conversations with people and getting really good feedback on my app.
I was so busy talking with people and showing them the work that I didn’t actually document the experience however…
The experience is tricky to document anyway. When someone is using the Google Cardboard you can’t see what they’re looking at, just that they’re moving around and reacting to the content. So it’s cool to watch but probably makes little sense out of context. Here’s my page in the art catalog with Heesun as the model:
At the conference I also went to a bunch of amazing talk and presentations (and some really obscure ones that I got less out of), mostly about video games and interactive art. I kind of got a sense of what is possible at these things.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the past year working on this project, which I was calling “lostly” that originated in my last summer basically as a silly joke. I began the project in earnest at the contemporary artists center in troy, ny. You can read about that experience here. It took me a while to finally finish the app, the drawings were time consuming, and I rewrote the story a few times, and after I was finally ready to submit it at the end of September, I spent most of October and November trying to get Apple to accept it. It was rejected originally for resembling an iPhone and having objectionable content, so I had to change the story from being about a “lost iphone” to a lost “cellular phone” and I had to get rid of a lot of the bad words (there are still some in there that Apple either didn’t catch or doesn’t care about, so see if you can find them). I even had to cut the dumb joke that originated the project:
This is one of the first drawings I did for Something Ave. and some of those speech bubbles are in the final version. Of course, I’m aware that beginning an entire interactive story with something that seems like a very coarse joke might not be the best approach, but as with much of my other work, it’s what the dumb joke reveals about the character that makes it worth while. Something Ave presents a subjective, metaphorical world mapped onto the interface of a smart phone. It represents the way that a character’s emotions can take over their life, how normal mundane events and actions are reframed or internalized differently than how they are represented in the shared world. Last night my roommate made a joke about how awful it was being a teenager, and how teenagers must be thinking something like “I suck” over and over again. It’s this kind of psychological state that Something Ave. explores, or the way our emotions are mapped onto our experiences. The story in the app is not linear, nor is it based in realism. It’s not really about the irony of feeling lost in the age of connectivity, though I’m aware that is something you could take away from it. It’s really just a story that I followed from one silly joke through a long process of drawing, writing and programming, to a complex world represented through this fake device.
This game Frail Shells that I found recently is really cool. It’s one of the few games I’ve played that uses a sort of unconventional structure (without ruining it, it starts as a first person shooter that is hilariously difficult, and turns into something much more thoughtful). The basic idea behind it is very simple and might even seem corny if it wasn’t done so straight forward. I find the problem with games that aren’t action packed or fun the way we expect them to be is that at a certain point you get that nothing else is going to “happen” so once you’ve understood the gimmick of the non-game or unconventional game there isn’t much reason to keep going. Not much “happens” in Frail Shells but I was really interested to find out how it would end or if it would end, partly because it never oversells itself as a “meaningful” game or something like that.