Play in Process

I have been working on real actual paying client work for the last little bit here, and the blog where I talk about my personal projects is of course getting neglected. Life changes (upcoming human!) mean that financial pressures are a bit more real for the moment, so I have been forced to think about if my side things are going to make me money. And since they tend not to fufill that goal, I think “hey is there a more relaxing way that I could be spending my time”. So I have been falling asleep on the couch while listening to baseball on the radio.

The last project all got a little overwhelming when I started working on animation for it, and realizing that I probably needed an artist to make it look the way I wanted. I haven’t touched those files in a while, but I might get back to it.

I was struggling with the iphone tracker a bit after realizing that the interface was just a total unfun mess. I descoped it down to a drum machine, and have been happily plugging away at that on and off for a few weeks.

One of the funny things that happens to me with making interactive art is that I forget to stand back and just experience it. Code change, Recompile, Check to see if code changed did the thing, Repeat. Or Does this thing now fit the ideal I had in my head for it. And so the changes just revolve around the vision, rather than the vision changing to fit what you actually have in front of you.

I spent probably 20 minutes actually playing with the drum machine, and it was so enjoyable, I tore through like 5 major features that I had been putting off in favor of writing boilerplate, or teeth gnashing about percieved performance problems. In design school, they taught us to make changes, then test, then make more changes. With all the expectations that I am holding for this project, I have weeks of work that I could do. But pulling back is super valuable for my energy on the project, possibly even more so than adding new features.

I suspect that I am not the only person with this problem. I don’t know where it comes from, but I have some ideas. When working with other people, I notice that I defer to them about what needs to change in the feel of the thing. The thing that I percieve as valuable in my contributions is the ability to make changes, or to just grind on the code. And if I am enjoying the object itself, that is somehow a waste of my time. But any time that I actually play with the thing, it becomes worth more than the vision of the thing.

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