Dots all over
Hypothesis - Can a person who has no artistic experience make a pointillism style painting by doing a completely unrelated activity.
Process and Reflection
The above hypothesis was not my original hypothesis. My original idea was to explore the idea that a player taking actions in his local space does not realize the impact he has on the bigger picture. This is based on the style of pointillism paintings which involve putting dots on a canvas that when looked at as a whole, present a beautiful picture.
I abandoned that idea because I could not come up with an experiment to test this idea in a week. I tried abstracting it into something that was doable. This is what I ended up making. I developed a system that let’s me randomly paint a series of points on a 5x5 grid of pixels on a canvas. This was the basis of my random drawings for a player to draw. I experimented with a free roam system on a canvas where you could draw anything you wanted. But for people who didn’t have any artistic skill, this seemed a poor way to allow them to draw. I then made is so that it was platformer. Based on the path taken to traverse the level, it would leave behind a trail of colored points that would generate a drawing. I also allowed for different color changes and pickups to change the trail of color left behind. This seemed like a good way to test my original hypothesis, in a manner that was far simpler.
I ran into some issues with making a level that would provide enough structure for the player to make a coherent painting and yet provide enough freedom such that the player can make it their own. To solve this issue I then decided to make it a maze that the player can navigate through. The maze level solved the above problems. My game now was close to what I ended up with in this build. You navigate the maze, leaving behind a trail of color. At the end, you are presented with a painting that is based on what route you end up taking through the maze. Thus formed my new hypothesis, a result of starting out with my old one. Is it possible to allow for the creation of art through something completely unrelated, like solving a maze.
This version of my game seemed like a good experiment to test my hypothesis. Here’s where it succeeded. The idea of playing a game and having your experience captured through the decisions made, in an artistic manner, definitely had some appeal. Looking at your route captured in an abstract pointillist style painting was quite fun. On a side yet related note, most times as is the case with abstract art, people ended up making a story of their own based on identified patterns in the abstract point on the canvas.
However, on the flip side, my execution didn’t quite let me explore the scope and limits of such a system. In my opinion, due to the short development cycle, I didn’t manage to create a level that was both challenging in itself as a maze and provided a guided art creation experience at the same time. However, I do believe it is possible to do so and if done right can be extremely satisfying.
Alternatively, we can take existing maze games or games like PacMan to see what paths their levels leave behind as we play through those games. These levels can tell their own story.
Exploring new territory in games with small, simple prototypes made in a few hours.