Friday, June 6, 2014

I Don't Make Art

Reading posts from various game designers - I read a lot of stuff from all over - and I can see there is a fundamental difference between me and many of them. Many of them are trying to make art. I'm not. Everything in my games is purely functional, including the illustrations. When I make an illo, what I care about is that the information I am presenting visually is properly conveyed. That is probably why I prefer making my own illos - I can control the substance - and why I don't usually do illos for others.

These other guys care deeply about the look and feel. They agonize over the kerning. The typefaces. The way the 'art' is presented. The gutters. The binding. The 'heft' of the book. The texture of the paper. It's all about making art, and there is nothing wrong about that. It's just something fundamentally different than what I am doing.

I couldn't care less about these things. As long as the text is readable, I don't care about the typeface. I let the program I use to write with care about kerning. The printed book is an afterthought for me. That's why I stay away from two column format. It's terrbile for reading on-screen. The book covers are there to protect the pages. So long as the paper is think enough to prevent bleed-through from the opposite side, it's the last thing I would think about. There is no art there!

I don't think of the game book as art. It's just a medium to convey the game. It's why I prefer pdf to print - I can more efficiently get stuff across. I would ideally prefer to present this info in another way. I prefer html or xml to pdf, but people don't pay for works in these media. That's web stuff and it's free. Most people have finally gotten to the point where they accept the idea of paying for a pdf. A printed book is just a less efficient pdf. It has no hyperlinking or flexibility, but people *like* printed books, and I am forced to use them.

By day I am a well-paid tech writer, who writes about esoteric stuff like x-ray fluorescence and laser induced Raman spectroscopy. In that field, we write pdf user guides because of regulatory requirements and liability issues. The last thing people want to see is a "wall-o-text" that they have to read through from front to back. Really, nobody reads user manuals. Nowadays my real work is writing "How Do I Do This?" web documents that link together text, animation, video footage, e-learning, simulators, and whatever else is the best way to get that information to the customer.

I would love to write a game like that, letting the reader explore the things they are interested in, and not bother them with things they already know or don't care about. My games tend to be big because I put lots of group level tools in them. Lots of customization tools. If I could write them the way I write my technical documentation, the game book would only be as long as the reader wanted it to be.

Maybe Patreon is the answer, but somehow I doubt it. I don't think there is enough interest in what I do to support anything like this. I don't own the tools I use at work to make this kind of construct, and those tools are expensive.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Clash, because I like your blog, (and I do think you make art) by the power invested in me by the Internet, I have awarded you a Liebster award. The Liebster will not make you rich or powerful or irresistible to clients or members of the opposite sex, but it is a little bit of fun, and a way to highlight blogs you like. Details here