Sunday, May 5, 2019

Modern Art Makes Me... : Occupy White Walls

The past few weeks on this blog have seen an unexpected lurch away from fantasy towards Science Fiction: Star Wars: The Old Republic, Star Citizen, City of Heroes. Superheroes are almost always SciFi even if they're almost never S.F. You may need to be a certain age...

Occupy White Walls isn't S.F. but it is. It's the "avatars". The wireframe models, with their masks for faces, evoke androids or robots. Especially, disturbingly, cybernauts or cybermen.

Then there's D.A.I.S.Y. . DAISY (and no, I am not going to punctuate her name every time, even though it is supposedly an acronym for Discover Art Intended Specifically for You, which sounds like a retrofit if ever I heard one) is an A.I. Not an NPC pretending; an actual, working Artificial Intelligence. You could argue that A.I.s are science fact these days, not science fiction, but I wouldn't.

Developers StikiPixels attempted to explain Daisy in an interview with Rock Paper Shotgun last summer. Supposedly she "sees the art you “bought”, then tries to understand the piece by “looking at it” and comparing it to every other art piece you have liked to build a profile".

When OWW was in beta (possibly alpha) DAISY seemed to do just that but since contemporary artists have been allowed to submit works to the database I have to say she seems confused. When I went looking for new acquisitions this morning she seemed determined to push me towards images I found actively dislikeable.

According to the interview, this is supposed to represent neutrality or agnosticism: 
"This is actually one of the places the AI can shine, as opposed to a human curator – D.A.I.S.Y. is completely agnostic and only driven by what it thinks (and doubts) an individual player would like...Let’s say that the 9th work is a painting by an emerging artist, but the 10th artwork is a Van Gogh, a human curator will choose Van Gogh instead of the unknown artist because that’s human nature (we are obsessed with fame), but not D.A.I.S.Y."
Which is fine, except that Van Gogh is famous because of his talent. (Okay, and his tendency towards self-mutilation, I'll give you that). Emerging artists are, by definition, not yet fully formed. I'll wait 'til they're baked. Until then, feed me the good stuff, DAISY.

The reason I fired up OWW this morning (it's been a while since I last "played")  was the email I received telling me about a new, major update, Cambrian Explosion. The highlights include two new vendors in The Plaza (I didn't even know there was a Plaza), Portals, a way to get paid for inspiring other players, some really excellent camera options and a totally new tutorial.

This takes the game to version 3.0, which sounds quite high for still not being launched.  OWW remains in Early Access on Steam, where it has an enviable Very Positive rating. It comes from only around 330 reviews, though, and StikiPixels are concerned that word still isn't getting out.

That's why they've created the new "Love" page, which I found linked in the email. They're asking players to review the game on Steam and talk it up on social media (which they helpfully list as "Youtube, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Imgur, 9gag, Instagram, Tumblr, hell you can even post it to MySpace!", which makes me wonder what Blogger, Wordpress and LiveJournal could have done to upset them). They'd also like everyone to
"Email, tweet, send a carrier pigeon to every single writer and streamer you know. It might be the difference between being written about or not. For OWW, as a small online indie game, word of mouth can make a huge difference."
This is me doing my bit. I don't know any streamers but I'm tipping MassivelyOP, although I'm sure they've already seen the press release. Still, nudge nudge, eh?

I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't think OWW was an exciting project and a fun "game". There are things about it I'm not crazy about - the quality of the contemporary submissions for one, the awkwardness of the UI for another, the really terrible name they've lumbered themselves with - but there's nothing else like it and I'm certain a lot of people would get plenty out of OWW if only they knew it existed or took the time to give it a try. 

I logged in this morning just to take some screenshots and ended up extending my gallery, buying some more art and fiddling about for an hour and a half. The new free-floating camera option is fantastic for screenshots, or it would be if FRAPS didn't crash the game all the time. There is a warning about that and they do suggest an alternative but I just gritted my teeth and re-booted when it happened.

As I've said before, as a building game for people who can't build, it's ahead of most others I've tried. Coming back to my small gallery after several months I was surprised how coherent and convincing it looked (architecturaly that is - the curation not so much...). That's the opposite of what generally happens when I return to things I've built after a long layoff.

I am at the point where fiddling with what I've got is going to make it worse. I should work on the content not the infrastructure because right now it's just a bunch of random pictures slapped on some walls. I probably should start a new build somewhere else, with an actual plan, I guess.

I also ought to travel around and look at some other people's galleries. I have yet to try that and it's kind of the point of having the thing be an MMO rather than an offline toy. There is the perennial problem of building games, as exemplified in Landmark, where seeing how astoundingly talented other people are can be demotivating. Never really affects me that way, if I'm honest. I'm too solipsistic to feel threatened by my own shortcomings.

Anyway, I've checked in, seen something of the new build and done my bit to drum up interest. That's enough creativity for now. Back to the killing fields!


  1. Hello!I´m rodric valls. Do you want to see an artistic mosaic of 10x 50 meters in real scale 1: 1? It is a reproduction of Joan Miro's mosaic located in the airport of Barcelona (I'm under construction), there are also my own works of art, so visit my oww / gallery: rodric (I think it's interesting for you) the collection consists of artworks pictorial landscapers of authors of all times, and pictorial or digital artworks of geometric abstraction of current authors, thank you!

    1. I'll take a look next time I'm in OWW. I like Miro and I've been to Barcelona many times so I've seen that mural/mosaic. The Miro I really like is the statue/sculpture "Woman and Bird" near Sants station, which I first came across entirely by chance back in the late 80s. Barcelona is full of surprises like that.


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