Monday, June 18, 2018

Keeping Myself Occupied : OWW

I am still playing Occupy White Walls. More accurately, I am still playing around with Occupy White Walls. Cautiously. It has that indefinable "just one more" factor that makes for addiction.

It's something I'm quite wary of. Landmark had it in spades and I imagine it's the reason Minecraft is the global success it is. There's something about construction kits...

Even as I was writing this, just tabbing back in to take another screenshot, I found myself buying more art, placing it, framing it and then buying lighting as well. I lost half an hour in a blink.

What happened to the metallic avatar I used to have?
OWW is a curious pastime. It's all about art but the tidal pull for me is the clicking together of pieces. Other building and decorating software I've used has required either a great deal of technical knowledge, considerable creative ability or, more commonly, both. This is much more forgiving.

For a start it comes with the aesthetic baked in. DAISY (now 35% faster and 50% more accurate, apparently) doesn't merely offer thousands upon thousands of artworks (including a fresh consignment of two thousand just in from Washington’s National Gallery of Art). She works with you to give your picks a coherency that will probably surprise you.

The building materials also come conveniently categorized by style - Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Industrial, Baroque and so on. You're on your own to make the right choice, but if you stick to a category or two it's fairly difficult to come up with the kind of clashing mish-mash that's all too easy in other building MMOs.

Never mind. Bought myself this fine brass job instead.

My own first gallery is surprisingly convincing as a space. Well, it surprises me. Considering I began by plonking things down to see how the controls worked and let everything happen from there, it does look oddly like somewhere you might imagine visiting.

It's also getting bigger. When I logged in today I saw a loading screen tip about the option to extend. I already had a staircase that went nowhere so I took the opportunity to build out from that into a small, upper annexe.

That led to my putting in a ceiling, meaning the whole gallery no longer ressembles some crazed alfresco dream thought up by Escher and Dali after a night on the absinthe.  With the ceiling came a floor and my gallery is now two storeys proud.

Surprisingly dark in here, isn't it? Especially given all these windows. I wonder if there's a day/night cycle?

I kept the view although there's nothing much to see except clouds and sky. I have more windows than walls. I wish there were some skylights. It got a little gloomy when I put the ceilings in, compared to the blue skies and sunlight I'd been used to, so I bought a lot of lights. With all the tiled floors the reflections are awesome. And blinding.

The decor is so powerful it doesn't really leave a lot of attention for the art. And so much of the art is...well, tiny. Miniscule. The pictures come in - presumably - the correct relative scale to their real-life versions and there doesn't seem to be an option to scale them. Most of mine look like postcards stuck to the walls.

There are also bugs. It's only alpha after all. I managed to make two of my small end-rooms upstairs inaccessible. I think it happened when I deleted some doors. Nothing seems to fix it but I can jump over the railing from the top of the stairs to get in if I really want to.

Think the tiles could maybe be a tad bit busy?

The controls are going to need some fine-tuning. It's clunky to have to delete things every time you place them incorrectly. And expensive. It would be a lot better to be able to move them properly before you place them and to be able to pick them up and re-position them without having to destroy and re-buy them.

Even so, for such early days there's a huge amount of playability. And playing is the goal here, it seems. A recentish interview at Rock, Paper, Shotgun implies that the finished product will very much be a game, not just an educational toy or a shop-window.

I do love me a little Mondrian. Goes with the flooring, too.

I hadn't realized until I read that interview that players will be able to upload their own art into the game. That does begin to make things sound disturbingly like some kind of unholy hybrid of Second Life and Deviant Art. When asked, repeatedly, about the software's possibilities as a marketplace and marketing tool for living artists, the StikiPixels representative was reassuringly definite:

We don’t want the game to become a marketplace at this stage. We want to be more of a game than Minecraft... We’re not in the business of selling art and we don’t want to take any commission from art sales. We’ll do what we’re best at, making games!

"More of a game than Minecraft" might be a bit of an ask. More of a game than Landmark, though? I think they're there already.

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