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Slowly Building Something Worthwhile cont.

At the end of my article titled Slowly Building Something Worthwhile, I pondered what the video game equivalent would be of a song (or any other work) that slowly and steadily builds up to its grand climax. I noted how there's an inherent problem with finding a video game equivalent because of the interactive nature of video games. When players input, the output is quick to follow and from there we move on with the rest of the game making many more inputs and witnessing many more outputs.

I proposed that the gaming equivalent would have to have core mechanics that are inputted over an extended period of time before repeating the action or processing and reacting to the results/output. Some of the Wii Fit exercises and games instantly came to mind. But it wasn't until recently that I came up with the perfect example.

Back when I was in high school, I had created 3 short films to be shown during one of my orchestra concerts. One of the songs for that concert was Adagio for Strings by Barber. While rehearsing this song I, along with many others in my class, grew very impatient. After all, it took us about 14 minutes to get from the start to the finish at practice speeds. Just before the concert, I developed a great appreciation for this song that seemed to take all the time it needed with good reason. But I was worried that the audience might become impatient, or worse; bored.

So, to match Adagio's long, culminating impact, I crafted a short film around one continuous camera shot of a person who stands up in his room and starts walking out his house and across the city with an art pad in hand. As this character walked, he drew a picture on the art pad, which I sped up in editing. In tiny little sketch marks, the character slowly etched out the image. At first it was impossible to tell what it was. Then a few distinct features became recognizable. A shoulder. An ear. A nose. Soon, everyone realized that the picture was of a praying girl with angel wings. And before anyone realized it, 14 minutes had passed, and the character in the film placed the picture at a grave having walked from his house all the way to a cemetery.

If you've ever watched anyone draw, paint, or create anything slowly right before your eyes, you know what a time lapsing and mesmerizing effect they can have. Thinking back on how the elapsed time drawing in the film matched so well with Adagio, it hit me all of a sudden. Slowly etching out an image in Picross is the video game equivalent of a slowly building work like Adagio for Strings. In the free modes of Picross in particular, there is no instant positive or negative feedback for making a move. Instead, players are free to mark up the squares however they want. Only when every space is marked or unmarked correctly does the puzzle end and the image is revealed. In this way, solving a puzzle in Picross is like one drawn out, continuous action that has a response at the end that's the culmination of all the steps you took to correctly uncover the picture.

So if you're curious, try listening to Adagio here while watching any or all of the videos below. Be sure to turn off the sound on the videos below.



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