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Game vs. Art: new ways to ask old questions


(a big thank you to Stephanie Bullock for editing)


I had no idea that writing a dev log would lead to all sorts of good friendships, and this weekend I was tweeted by several friends, some encouraging us, some wanting to help us. Everyone liked the visuals and concept of the current release, and were also curious about the gameplay and asked questions about the gameplay. I've mentioned before that we'll be sending out gifs of the game's gameplay, but we're currently doing a complete renovation - we're reworking the level design materials (whether it's the environment or props) used in the prototype to create our own polished "original paintings". My partner, Alan Kwan, said he is in the "Unity cave" every day, sometimes focusing on wall textures, and sometimes adding neurons, floating trigs, and other elements that we feel give the vibe of "brainy" to the realistic style of the painting.


The reason for the realism choice is that one of the characters grew up in China in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the aesthetics of everyday life was a bit different from what it is now. I lived through that era, so I looked for clues from my own memories and old photos on the Internet, such as my grandmother's old sewing machine, which was not used much at that time and was occasionally used as a writing desk to do my homework. with a popsicle in hand to sneak - several people in my family worked at a now-defunct state-owned food factory in Urumqi, and every day we had an endless supply of ice-cream, mooncakes and biscuits.





3D models of these things need to be built largely by ourselves, and we have looked for similar models in 3D material databases, but maybe I haven't gotten the hang of it yet, but naturally the English website has more European and American textures (like double-door refrigerators and drum washing machines), and what's close to what we want is probably a variety of Soviet aesthetic products labeled "USSR", though there are also fewer household items, mostly we found industrial and Military elements more. Alan was guessing that could due to popularity of games like "STALKER", "Call of Duty" cold war. In the Chinese 3D material online library, the furniture is either Ming and Qing Dynasty furniture that goes old-fashioned RPG, or a variety of high "European idyll" and "Scandinavian asexual" (note: this is direct translation from a Chinese slang, meaning the kind of home decor aesthetic with very primary color like grey, white, etc.) material - probably needed by real estate companies.





Most of the buildings and furniture used in our prototype are of American country style, and the reason is that these models are more complete and the building structures are diverse, but now we are doing level design, we have to discard it. From an art creation perspective, it's actually quite an interesting phenomenon, reminding me of the intellectual question that Black Myth: Wukong raised earlier: why does Black Wukong look more like a European and American aesthetic, even though there's a lot of ancient Chinese element in it. One of the answers might be that the game production chain is still heavily reliant on European and American (mainly North American) and Japanese tools for many raw materials, from game engines, animation engines, to the 3D assets I just mentioned. For small studios (I feel that the two of us is already the smallest scale, of course "Stardew Valley" dude is even smaller), Considering our limited time and budget , to completely build our own (materials, not to mention the engine) is very difficult, so the transformation of existing materials more common.


The other part of our game is a virtual art gallery. The idea of virtual museum is not new. In the 80s hyperlinks were used by museums to serve this idea. With the support of the dsl collection, we are trying a new way, to scan and insert some of the artworks (paintings, installations and photography) into the game, as objects that can be viewed and played with, so that artworks can take on a playful and narrative function.


I remember when I was prototyping, once I got a high resolution digital drawing of a painting from the collector to make it look like a in-game magazine. At the same time I also found a toy model on unity assets. I placed the painting-magazine next to the toy asset in the cellar level of the game, I couldn't help but think and ask my partner, "What do you think of these 3D models, handmade or scanned, do they count as an artist, does this evil bunny toy model count as art."


He said, "I was wondering about that too, I think it counts."





The relationship between game and art has been discussed for a long time, it's an old question, I think it's also a false question. Its premise is that games are games and art is art, but the fact is that both game and art are concepts shaped by people, if you dig deeper, you can't find a conceptual cornerstone that separate the two. It is really depend on where you place the "work" - as shown in the classic joke that someone seeing a fire extinguisher in an art gallery will wonder if it's a fire extinguisher or a work of art (is it a urinal or Duchamp).


The space and institution of the gallery gives legitimacy to the artwork. By the same token when you look at game space, all the objects are essentially the same, they are game objects, they are 3D models, they are polygons, they are instructions, they are triggers, and if you look at the game as software, then the objects end up being 1's and 0's. And making 3D models is really creative work too, it involves technology, art, etc. If you have the time, you can browse through the 3D assets stores like you're on Amazon. It feels like you are in an antique store or futuristic shop, and some of the makers spend a lot of time shooting and making models of entire buildings, many of which, according to Alan, require drones and expensive camera equipment, which is not so different from creating art.





Some people may argue about "originality": artwork seems to be more original. this is also a myth. Regardless of the concept of duplication and appropriation, there have been a lot of collage in modern and contemporary art, or the use of ready-made products for exhibitions.


Ever since works like "Ready Player One" became a bestseller, more and more imaginations of the future have tapped into virtual entertainment and virtual creations, most of which are subject to negative ethical criticism, but virtuality itself is a concept that has existed since ancient times, just like reality. It is not brought about by electronic technology: you can find virtuality in classic novels like such as the "Dream of the Red Chamber" . It is the person who looks in the mirror who ultimately completes the virtual construction. From this perspective, virtual entertainment and virtual transmissions, specifically computer games and interactive technology itself, are neither new nor scary, as are all human meta-propositions. They are just a new way of asking the old question to reel you in.


This may be why, many people who are interested in our game are also involved in the contemporary art world, or interested in art (and science fiction). I've always felt that Aristotle's taxonomy can help us understand the world, but it's just what the Taoists call the hand that refers to the moon. We see the moon because of that hand, but the moon is not that hand. There is no separation between art, technology, and entertainment per se, it's just the taxonomy of our society, and it's better to cross false boundaries and come and go.


Long story again, that's all for today. We're about to find the voice actor for our first level, so if you're interested you're welcome to contact me, either by leaving a message in the background or by adding my WeChat (yangguonvde) or facebook . If you're interested in something other than voice acting, you're welcome to poke me and help us out, or if we can help you out, we'd love to do that too!


I have been asked about building a community, and to be honest, I don't know much about running a community. But it seems like it is the time to do it, because there are too many fun people, maybe we can start some games outside the game. But allow me a little more time to get the group set up, just look me up until then.

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