Electron Dance
10Jul/12Off

Cat’s Away Chronicles IV

The fourth of a five-part video series. This time I hunt down Pippin Barr. He who hath made Epic Sax Game, Let's Play: Ancient Greek Punishment and The Artist Is Present.

Joel and Pippin in a park

Warning, this video contains two guys talking in a relaxed manner in a park. And:

  • Why did Pippin Barr start making games?
  • Was the whirlwind of media attention for The Artist Is Present delightful or damaging?
  • "I don't like working with other people" is a quote I will totally use out of context
  • I call out Pippin's games as "absurdist masochism" - he nods
  • I call Pippin's games "jokes" - he nods
  • I say his games have no win condition - Pippin stops nodding
  • Is making games more fun than playing them?
  • Schafer vs Hofmeier deathmatch

Much thanks to Rilla for providing a home-made muffin to stop me from expiring.

Relevant Links

Previous Episodes

The final episode was posted on 24 July.

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Comments (15) Trackbacks (1)
  1. I think I’ll try many of Pippin’s games now. Hearing about them piecemeal while I was in the middle of catching up on other things made me consider trying them later, which honestly would’ve never happened without this. So it goes for all quick games that can I can play in a browser, unfortunately.

    I liked his responses to the Twenty Questions the most, too, if for nothing else than his favorite game character is him as a lady. I know THAT deal…

    …there is no backpedal from that comment after the ellipses.

  2. Hooray! I’ve been waiting eagerly for the next installment of the Cat and her Elsewhereness.

    A fascinating interview. Pippin’s technical curiosity about certain aspects of games make for a very intriguing viewpoint, one that acts as a nice addition to the the academic insights you’ve been collecting in your other ongoing series, HM. It seems to me that making and examining small game experiences like these can reveal otherwise-hidden truths about how to approach the challenges of making great interactive work. Almost like a series of very contained experiments that collectively form a much larger and more comprehensive proof.

    Like BeamSplashX above, I haven’t played many of Pippin’s games – something I now intend to rectify.

  3. Hey fellas.

    The funny thing is after wanting to write about Pippin for almost two years, Electron Dance is going to see three posts about him within one month (two Academic articles on Pippin coming up very soon).

    Pippin’s games normally take just a few minutes to try out. Most of the time you won’t want to play them longer than that because you’ve got the joke. There are exceptions and, I suppose, there is the off-chance you might want to play The Artist Is Present to win. They don’t always work either. War Game, for example, was a disappointment to his regular audience but that’s experimentation for you – I’m not altogether convinced of it either. Don’t think many appreciated Trolley Problem, either, although I did for reasons I will later expand on. I am intending to write in the upcoming articles that Pippin’s games are an acquired taste.

    I’m working feverishly on the final video which is scheduled it in two weeks’ time – I didn’t want to put them out too long after the original interviews, they’d get mouldy. Creating all these videos was a crazy idea. I was hoping these sessions would do better than, say, Broadcast Prime, but being so long they still can’t command the same attention. Or maybe I’ve already burned my video rep on previous experiments so no one trusts me any more =)

    So weighing up if I want to put myself through video work for Electron Dance in future, even though there’s one unannounced feature already in the August pipeline. I know you guys have enjoyed them and I dearly love the Cat’s series but, really, I don’t think they’re turning out to be worth it in terms of time expended vs audience interest. I could whip out several articles and take a break in the time it takes to film and edit one video, even though I’m quite proficient now. Looking forward to getting back to some proper off-the-cuff-from-the-hipster writing next month after the Academics series is done.

  4. I sympathize, my friend. I love working on video, though I’m no expert, and I’ve really enjoyed the handful of short video reviews and impressions I’ve done for Tap. But the time investment to produce them is really immense.

    All your videos are fantastic. They make me laugh and think. Man, though, I have done enough video to know how much effort must have gone into each one. You have an editor’s eye, but that just makes them good, it doesn’t make the process easier or faster!

    “off-the-cuff-from-the-hipster writing…” Hipster? Are you hiring another writer? BURN

    I tease, I tease. I tease because I love. If you ever stop writing I’ll hunt you down, I swear it.

  5. Hah, Steerpike, no other writers being hired here. They’d have to be able to make the same writerly mistakes I do like writing “games studies” instead of “game studies”.

    I should drag in here a few comments I made on Twitter earlier in the week. Pippin and I got on very well except he mentioned that the original BBC series Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was boring and slow and the new film was much better. Well, I controlled myself, which is good. I recently watched the series for a second time and still enjoyed it, so there. We were in some agreement over the HBO Series Carnivàle, though, a flawed masterpiece according to the entire Electron Dance staff (that’s me, by the way).

    I’m not sure what my favourite Pippin 20Q response is. Perhaps his answer to “What’s your favourite creation?” which is apparently “Earth”.

  6. Great video–I like when creators are self-effacing. And those birds sound positively ominous!

  7. Thanks Eric! At least you can hear the birds and the words. I had to strike out a section where a helicopter decided to hover overhead. No birds and words then, I can assure you.

  8. Pippin Barr is a very cool guy, almost in an intimidating way. That was a great interview (and great video)! I love Pippin Barr’s games, as well as his relationship with them – the pregnancy-birth-depression cycle he talks about in his blog for each project. Some of the things he said were pretty insightful in terms of game design (and the gaming community as a whole), and I’m looking forward to the upcoming ED posts about him.

  9. For some reason, I’ve been reading “Castaway Chronicles” this whole time.

  10. Still loving this series. I’ve only played a few of Pippin’s games but I see now that there are, well, loads of them. So a good session of masochism is in order sometime.

    I really enjoy your videos HM, though with Cat’s Away I do tend to bookmark and watch them at a later date – due to the length. I can imagine that they do take a long time to put together, though. Especially when interviewees get you drunk. :)

    Was someone bouncing a basketball right behind the camera towards the end?

    “I’m not sure what my favourite Pippin 20Q response is. Perhaps his answer to “What’s your favourite creation?” which is apparently “Earth”.”

    I was tickled by the fact that almost every answer was “Jesus”.

  11. @Nicolau: Yes I think that cycle you refer to is a pretty common thing for game development and gets much worse with the length of the project. I can only imagine the difficulty going from Beautiful Escape to the unexpectedly epic development time of Polymorphous Perversity. (Well, I can do more than imagine as I had much experience of short vs longform game dev in the early 90s.)

    I feel like I should have named the series something else, though. I don’t think casual visitors have any idea what these Cat’s Away posts are about through the title. I left the name obscure because I thought video conversations would sort of sell themselves. Ah, well…

    @Shaun: I don’t think even I’ve given every one of Pippin’s games a spin. Most but not all. However, I can say I was there right in the beginning when he was released his first title, Guruquest.

    I’m aware that the views trickle in over several weeks but the previous videos have already ground to a halt; Ed Key is the most successful with 150 views and that’s nowhere near the hits for a popular article (~600). So I’m not inclined to repeat this video conversation thing just because they sap so much time (writing, playing and commenting have been smashed for weeks). I’ll still do the odd thing here and there and podcasts are still on the menu, but I think committing these long conversations to video just dissuades people from clicking in. Matt Chat did a couple of really long interviews with David Fox and also Jonas Kyratzes on YouTube and I didn’t watch either, simply because of the time constraint.

    Yeah, someone was bouncing a basketball along the path behind the camera. I was annoyed afterwards that I hadn’t taken any film of the park itself.

  12. I prefer watching interviews than reading them. And watching takes less time, because I can do two things at once (listening and doing something else). But that’s just me.

    Also, 04:40 – 05:11.

  13. Maybe I should put up a Kickstarter to fund the videos. =)

    On Twitter, Michael Brough said he got his highest score on ZiGGURAT while watching this video. So I guess he’s not the only one who enjoys the multitasking luxury afforded by a video interview.

    Interesting extract you highlighted there, Nicolau. Good answer.

  14. I’ve really been enjoying these videos as well but as somebody who’s dabbled with video in the past can also appreciate the time and effort involved making them. And I’m with Nicholau in that I prefer watching/listening to interviews, not because I can do something else while listening (I’m crap at multi-tasking) but because I’m a slow reader and it’s much quicker for me.

    Anyway, another great interview. Quick question: why does 0space get a link? Did I miss that in the interview or something?

  15. Gregg, you’re catching up! The question you are looking for is “What was Doug Wilson’s game of the last two weeks?” Answer is 0space.