Game mods. Something special to a lot of us game developers. Many of us dipped our toes into game development through modding. I certainly did.
My first encounters with game modding was Need For Speed High Stakes, a 1999 racing game by EA. I discovered that using ZModeler I could export cars, change around meshes and repackage them back into the game. This lead to a lot of car damage model shenanigans, but paved way to my interest in 3D graphics and modeling, which I took up professionally later in life, which eventually turned into a lifestyle altogether.
These days, modding community is large enough for Steam to attempted to offer revenue to mod makers. Mods are still a thing in a big way. Some mods are made just for the lulz, some genuinely extend and enhance the game’s experience, some even go on to become standalone titles.
I came across an indie experimental game title called Southbank Portrait by Ian MacLarty on WarpDoor, my go-to site for weird game experiences.
Ian’s game explores landscapes of Southbank Australia, where the landscapes are generated from photos he took of the various places, backed by sound recordings of said spaces.
This is the first time I tinkered with someone esle’s game files since GTA3 back in 2001.
My first introduction to Liz Ryerson’s work was through her game Problem Attic, which lead me to her writing, the works she creates using BAGAIJ10S tool. Later I discovered her Doom Mixtape critiques.
This is the place where I don’t quite know how to talk about her work properly, if “properly” is even a thing. I can’t verbalize the particular essence of it that appeals to me, nor can I say “I like it because X”. It is a multitude of things and attitudes, spread across this many disciplines that the whole can only be sensed through a form of intuition.
What I wanted to do is to use Ian’s engine and framework to expose a different way of traversing Liz’s artworks. It can be taken literal, but it doesn’t have to be, in the same way this image is a picture of a dragon and it isn’t.
The mod is based on 50 of Liz’s BAGAIJ10S works, and her album SCRAPS. I aimed to reconstruct the works in a form of experience using Ian’s game as the platform for the experiment. It re-contextualizes both artists’ works and creates a form of “gallery space”, though I prefer to call it “mindscape”, given the nature of what I tried to do in this act of re-appropriation. The mindscapes are generated at random based on the 50 works and you are unlikely to see the same ones again.
I did not create anything here however. Apart from some image resizing, audio re-encoding and no more than 10 lines of code in a language I touched for the first time, intention is the only “real” thing that’s coming from me. Everything else is Liz and Ian.
Hence I find my relationship to this work a weird one, not even that of a “modder” but more like that friend you have that tries to set you up with a date with someone you never met, except the two are artworks. So here’s a game noone asked for: