For the creative project, I used Scratch to create a digital poem animation titled Skin. Very much influenced by RedRidinghood, I wanted to experiment with another fairytale, and the influence of control.
That last bit bears explaining. In Skin each scene is accessed by reader input, a star appears, the user clicks it, the next scene runs all its lines elements independent of reader input, then another star appears, and the next scene will not appear until the reader has again clicked through. The use of the star icon is a control method that keeps a grip on the pacing and sequence of the poem, not allowing the reader to get ahead of themselves or the story. They can postpone the next scene for as long as they wish, but in the end they only have the option to move forward (that or quit). Another control method I used was somewhat less obvious, by betting the elements to a consistent rhythm, the reader is able to keep in time with the rhythm as they move from scene to scene, and while they can wait as long as they like, a break in the rhythm feels unnatural compared to rolling with the flow of the poem.
Now, given that I have expended that much effort in attempting to coral the reader’s actions, to have the poem dictate their behavior rather than have their behavior dictate the poem, I could have made it an unstoppable force of animation a la DAK0TA. However, even though this work is far from interactive fiction, I wanted to include the one element of reader interaction, to engage invest them in the story. The click-through resembles nothing so much as the turning of a page, a mechanized act of revelation that asks the reader to oh do keep up dear as the scenes get shorter and shorter, involving them in the pacing and providing a sense of involvement in the inevitable fates of the characters.
The story itself is a warped telling of the selkie myth in space. Mostly because doppelgängers in space are so done, but if I could not have eye stealing I was going to have skin stealing, dammit.
Using Scratch as my program of choice was the most logical decision given the type of story I wished to tell, it is the interface that accesses the most senses, combining sound, image and interaction, and gave me the greatest degree of control over the visual presentation.
The poem’s animation is restrained, seeking more the effect of a picture book or story board rather than a cartoon, leaving the story clean and uncluttered, the illustrations as snapshot moments from the scene.
I am immensely satisfied with the resulting product, and would like to point out that that is a really sweet rocket ship.
3 pots of tea, 2 short seasons of television programs of dubious quality, 1 Scratch meltdown, and 238947293 misplaced sprites were harmed in the making of this production.
Also: the Selkie somehow ended up looking like one of these guys.