Sunday, December 12


Do you like to design things in general? housing floorplans, gardens, castles, dungeons?? Did you draw maps or maybe schematics as a kid? Do you still draw flow charts rather than to do lists? Maps rather than written instructions? Do you you think spatially or verbally? (Don't have to answer that, I was just getting swept up in the questions.) Do you enjoy designing logos, advertisements, magazine or web layouts (without having to know any code, say)? Are you the one who decides which pictures go on which wall and how the furniture is arranged in the room? Which types of shrubs, flowers, and trees will adorn the garden and how they will be laid out? Which veg to plant and how the rows should be ordered? The color scheme of the house and all the fabrics and everything else needed to put together something that fits a grand scheme you have in mind? Or is that just not you? It's important to note that just because I'm talking about design, it's not a bad thing not to care about it — many people don't, and would rather concentrate on the details, or maximize efficiency, or have other more pressing issues or interests and aren't much interested in design. Or who are interested but would prefer to delegate that task to someone more capable or at least more enthusiastic.

What about computer games... do you like "god" or "sim" games such as SimCity, Civilization, Zoo Tycoon, Pharaoh, The Sims, Farmville, City of Wonder, or the literally hundreds of other games that allow you a space in which to build, and do you enjoy them more when they give you more of a free hand - a blank canvass on which to decorate and arrange and build - rather than restricting what you can do into some sort of template where things must be placed in certain places? Is the design portion of these games (if you play them) the biggest attraction to you, or is it on par with other features such as managing an economy, waging war, growing an empire, and so on? Or is the element of design, in fact, a bothersome part of the game, something that needs to be done but which you'd rather the AI did for you? Do you just put your buildings (or crops, or zoo enclosures, or stadiums) down anywhere there's room, or line up all the same type together for most efficient management? Or do you like to be artistic even if it takes a bit more time, and put little paths that don't garner you any points running in between and to each little exhibit or shop or dormitory, plant lots of decorative foliage, change the topography from flat to something more interesting (if the game lets you), and generally separate similar types of buildings, or perhaps keep them together but within a "themed" area, like an "African safari" area at a zoo? If you can profit most from a single type of building, will you build that one over and over, and pack it in as tightly as possible, or will you build for variety and aesthetic value and leave lots of "white space" to filled in decoratively, even if it means you fall behind the "optimal" build as a computer might see it (unless the software if smart enough to place value on aesthetics and variety)? Do you usually find the best way to do things in a game and then wash, rinse, and repeat, or do you strive to be creative because that is more fun than getting further up some point ladder or accumulating more wealth, points, or awards?

When you read a book or write your own prose, poetry, or just letters or emails, do you value aesthetics both within the content (beautiful prose like Tolkiens versus plain, informational prose like Asimov's) and in the actual appearance of the layout, the typefaces used, the size and spacing of the lettering, whether it's broken up with illustrations, the weight and quality (and edge cut) of the paper, and these sorts of considerations? Or is it all pretty much the same to you as long as it's not a distracting design — that is, it's neutral enough that you can kept the information from it you need (or put in the information you wish to convey), and no more consideration of design in order to "fancy things up" is necessary. Or is perhaps the best design that which is transparent, but bolsters the content in subtle ways? (This last question is rhetorical). After all, no one would want to see a flowery surgical manual or a book of children's poetry written on a typewriter without any illustrations or color.

I'd just like to hear everyone's opinion on design and how important it is in what they do for fun, or that, in fact, it's not important. No answers are wrong of course. And there really ended up being two separate questions here: One about spacial design (layout, in real life and in games), and one about design in a printed environment. There are endless other forms of design: the design of industrial or functional objects that we use every day, like light bulbs, stereo systems, and computer operating systems. Or the placement of gauges and shifters and gadgets about you in the diver's seat of your car. Or the design of an academic course, or something else which unfolds temporally as well as spatially. What is good design? Is it to enhance or to keep out of its own way? Some design are the simplest. Some are elaborate and you wouldn't want to simplify them. Some are subtle but ingenious, some are extremely ambitious but fail under their own weight.

Well, I don't expect anyone to answer (or even pontificate upon) these more philosophical questions of design as concept, but the early questions about layouts in games and your home, etc — any elucidation you could provide on the importance of those to you would be appreciated!


billybytedoc said...

I am not artistic. I can visualize things well in my mind, but I am lame at putting them on paper. I college, I had to take an art class so I took Oil Painting. I did a picture of a lake and it looked like the water should be running out of the lake, but it didn't. Horrible. Enough of that.

billybytedoc said...

PS I do stick people pretty well, and I can draw a Steam Engine. LOL

Archived Posts

Search The Meta-Plane