Jan 16 Idea Dump

Y'know what, this will probably be the last time I do one of these all-in-one Idea Dumps. (Previously: Dec 1, Nov 9) It's like I'm letting all this gunk collect in my mental pipes, and only bothering to clean it out long after the place has started flooding.

After this, I'll try my hand at more frequent (but much shorter) blog posts. I want to get into the habit of publishing things online more frequently, from idea to public polished sketch as quickly as possible. That's one of my aleph-null-sized infinite 2015 New Year's Resolutions, anyway.


Playable Posts: 8

This is what I'd love to explore more of in the next few months of my life. It's a totally new space, but as Parable of the Polygons proved, it's got a whole lot of potential to change education, interactive art, and hearts and minds. And it's not limited to the games audience, while still using many of my skills from making games -- in fact, I'm given even more flexibility, and procedural rhetoric is easier.

(Only concern - maybe it's just me right now, but this format can only do linear storytelling, not true interactive storytelling. That's the nature of the blog post, I guess. I think the Active Arts section will have some ideas for this.)

  • Collaboration with Creative Commons. We're doing a hackathon for playable posts. YUP! TRUE FACT. NO DETAILS YET. YUP.
  • Black & Blue. An interactive comic about Batman, the police, and blue uniforms vs black uniforms. A story on police psychology/militarization, and how it's reflected through fashion and pop culture. It would have two comics in parallel, (past/present - blue/black) that you'd switch between by clicking the screen. As you proceed, the clicks become bullet holes that bleed. The past bleeds into the present, and vice versa. (Tweet)
  • Active Essay on Active Essays. Doing this to promote the CC Hackathon, and also because I think it's just important to get more people to embrace active learning, to understand we construct knowledge, and learning by doing is powerfully but woefully underused. UNTIL NOW. The main model would be "connecting the dots" - a playful and useful metaphor for constructing models out of the data we have. Real learning is in connecting the dots, but in a memorization-heavy education system, we're merely collecting the dots.
  • Mindful Violence. Just repeating this again, because even after two months, it's still a damn fascinating topic I want to explore. I might broaden its scope, though, to be about the power vs responsibility of ALL us media-makers, not just violence specifically. (but it is a big example) Also, the National Television Violence Study gives specific tips on prosocial depictions of violence!
  • The Forest For The Trees. On how the whole can be very different from the sum of the parts. Systems thinking. How to change institutions, from the bottom-up.
  • The Medium Is The Message. Models showing how the external world will affect your art. Most important to us - how the audience influences the art. You can't make good art for some audiences, I think. Also, economics, and how ads mess up everything.
  • Your Marvelous Meat Machine. A playable post on eating and exercise. Body-positive reminder at the top, a letter to self. Then, some cool biological/anatomical models you can play with. Finally, a sandbox that comes up with a diet/exercise plan for YOU, from YOUR body type, to WHATEVER body you choose.
  • Misc Models. Business models affecting the art. First past the post voting. Big data's inhumane algorithms. All the cool things neurons do. Mechanical batteries/computers. Addiction. Mood swings. Relativity. Quantum stuff. Audio. Context collapse. Future shock. Advertisements. USE PLAYABLE POSTS AS A WAY TO LEARN ABOUT WHATEVER.

Active Arts: 8

There's videogames, and then there's every other damn way to mix interactivity into art. A vastly underexplored space, with lots of untapped potential. I wanna it check out.

  • Playable Posts. See above.
  • 2.5D VR Animations. For the longest time, I avoided working on VR, since I had no skills in 3D modelling. But then I realized - I can do 2.5D! It's an easier and cooler style, I think, and it would be a nice way for me to get back into animation. I described ESCAPE last month, a specific idea for a VR animation about VR. (Prototype)
  • Active Comics. In most interactive story-games, there's a separate UI for selecting a dialogue option, or action, or item. But the language of comics makes it ALL pictoral. (Also, peeps are more inclined to read webcomics than play webgames) So, in an interactive comic, you could choose panels on the fly, seeing the comic "drawn" right in front of you. Then at the end, you could download it all. Or it could be an episodic webcomic.
  • Active Music Videos. Thinking of how Dominique Pampelmousse timed dialogue to a recurring beat, how Telltale's The Walking Dead has a countdown timer for selecting a response, and how musicals have multiple characters singing back and forth. Now combine all these ideas into an interactive music video, where you select lyrics on the fly. And at the end, you can pay-what-you-want to download your very own mp3!
  • Playable Academic Text. Basically the same as a playable post, but instead of riffing off the webpage idiom, riff off the textbook/academic paper idiom.
  • The Bomb Goes Off In One Minute. A riff off the Youtube interface. You make choices in realtime. The buffer is how much extra story is created from your choice. You can scrub back and forth. The "video" will be exactly always one minute.
  • The Dead Get No Privacy. A fictional web app, that scrapes and centralizes email, social media, search engine hits, blogs, videos, etc. A whole person's life at your disposal. You can unlock more and more of their accounts by figuring out their passwords! (through password hints, which you find the answers to by looking through their whole damn life.) Not really saying anything about privacy or life-documentation, really... we should have something to say, and not have something like this be just meaningless.
  • Practical Proceduralism. Automated creativity won't be 0 or 1. It starts off with spellcheck. Then grammar check. Then synonym finder. Then sentence structure, sentence length variator, other structure tips, metaphor/character/world generators, story/theme generators, then finally fleshing out full damn stories. Make creative tools that are not binary. They work with the human, or are a collaborator.

Videogame-y Ideas: 9

Although I explicitly want to explore outside of my comfort zone of "videogames", (not that videogames culture is particularly... comforting) hey, heck, it's fun to come up with a dumb idea once in a while. Here they are.

  • Dystopian Skype. Someone made an open-source web-based face-reader. One, holy crap that's amazing. Two, almost all of our user interfaces - software and games - are done with our hands. How about one that's all with the head? Voice, and facial expression. Have fake Skype calls with people in a Black Mirror-esque tech dystopia, all around the central theme of tech being something that can both enhance and suppress our ability to express ourselves.
  • Action-Comedy Game. Inspired by this Every Frame a Painting video, which sets down a solid framework for action-comedy, I thought it could be a ruleset for generating comedy through play. (a lá Octodad) You'd start tied to a chair, scooting about, then gradually the chair breaks piece-by-piece, but still attached to you. Starting with a clear disadvantage, but using the environment to your advantage.
  • Constructed Narrative. Comic panels are drawn slowly before you, and it's your job to put them all in the correct order. At first, it gives you a few panels seeming to hint at a happy falling-in-love story. The next several panels seem to confirm this. And then... one that contradicts that model. Then another. And another. Then you realize, holy shit, I HAD IT IN REVERSE THE WHOLE TIME. ... Yeah I just thought that was a cool "mechanical plot twist" colliding with the way we construct narratives, or something.
  • Call-And-Response Music Game. You are a prison inmate. You and your neighbour both have harmonicas. You play music to each other, totally free-form, totally improvized. (The AI can riff off you, too.) Aw, you found a silent friendship in a tough place. Also, it's death row. Your friend dies first. You play alone for a few days. Then you get taken away. The End. Fuck You.
  • The Sandwich Project. 2.5D VR horror-comedy game that's a riff off the Blair Witch project, or any of those found-footage films. Where you point your camera (where you look at) affects how characters respond to you. Kinda like my now-ditched project, Riot Cop Selfies.
  • Mechanics Mixtape. Inspired by Dys4ia & cassette-tape culture. You can mix & match minigames, using their mechanics as metaphors for whatever you want to convey - and locking in that meaning with customizeable text & graphics. Craftyy-like remixing?
  • Psychopath QWOP. QWOP for facial muscles and expressions. You look at videos of grieving, traumatized people, and practice their emotions on your face. Then, do it with real people in conversation.
  • Killing Emotion. The dilemma of wanting to help others, but being too caring means you let yourself get hurt too much. Change your radius of empathy, and it affects how much HP damage you get.
  • Killing Emotion 2. You wanna be a super-rational Spock, eh? Always making pros and cons for everything? Well, as your emotions fade away, it'll be harder to actually decide on anything, or do the things you'd previously liked -- no passion, no vision... no morality, even. You can't even feel sad about what you've lost.

Other Shtuff: 3

Things so outside the box, I couldn't come up with a new box for them.

  • I Do And I Understand. I'm writing an article on games, learning by doing, and gratuitous Confucius quotes. It'll have a few case studies, including my Parable of the Polygons, on how to make logical arguments with the cause-and-effect systems of interactive arts. Also, an exercise for the reader, coz it's about learning by doing. Duh. (Tweet)
  • Stop Drawing Dead Fish. Digital puppets! Maybe use that face-reader thing. Ooh, I'd love to have a cartoon version of me playing in Skype - it's possible, I'd just need to share screen on that single window. Hmmm....
  • Augmented/Virtual Reality Camwhore. I really want to be this. Like, it wouldn't technically be me on screen - it'd just be a real-time animated/motion-captured version of me. As a fantasy creature. A fuckable fantasy creature.

...I may or may not be serious about that last one.