The Malaise of Every Day Things

Today I finally finished up with the most recent interactive thing for stimulusresponse, which is called “You’ve Got Malaise”. It’s taken me a lot longer than I intended it to because, as I said, I kind of ended up with a vision of an outcome, rather than the “go with it” attitude I’m trying to cultivate with coding and Flash. Nonetheless, I conquered various woes (mostly related to collision detection and large image files) enough to finish the thing.

But now, of course, a problem strikes – I’m quite unable to “play” it and find the effect I made it for in the first place. The intention is a kind of aimless wandering through a space that begins to feel a bit melancholy and a bit poignant for that. But having worked on it for so long, and had so many irritating problems, the thing as a whole falls flat for me – and, for all I know, for you and everyone else, too.

Which makes me wonder just how in the hell artists manage to work on their projects for such long periods of time and yet keep it fresh enough to want to go on (rather than, say, die of boredom and, yes, malaise). If I get sick of my own idea in a couple of days of work, then what would happen if it took even longer?

I suspect the answer is that people who are working for these long periods have much more complex and deep ideas going on than I do here. A novelist, say, is working with a lot more in their mind than just “trying to bring to life an architectural sketch”. So perhaps that’s what keeps it alive. Another part of the answer may be that, at least in this project, I was literally pursuing an effect/environment which is purposefully a bit bleak… so perhaps that makes it tougher to keep peppy, too.

My major interest with this one, in a similar way to “What Are We Doing With My Life?“, is to give people the freedom to essentially reposition an avatar inside the world as they see fit. I’m partial to putting them on balconies. But I added in a whole bunch of “architecture” in the sense of things you can bump into… so the freedom is restricted. But not in a realistic way, since the “physical” architecture isn’t a perfect mapping to the visual space, it’s more just laid out as I went along.

Finally, I added in an avatar swapping mechanic so that, if you touch another avatar (who isn’t stuck somehow), you turn into them, and the old avatar is frozen in place. It seemed appropriate to the malaise thing, and was just something I felt like doing. I could take a stab at some big metaphorical reading of the whole thing, but it’s really a bit random, since the title came first, and then got tacked on to this particular visual setting more or less at random.

But these things still interact, of course. Can’t fight them off.

24 July 2010
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