If your architect were a game designer…

 Posted by (Visited 8660 times)  Game talk  Tagged with:
Jun 132008
 

Let’s say you were wealthy and lived in New York City, and hired an arhcitect to redo your new apartment. And you dropped a single, small hint that you liked playfulness — that you wanted a poem you had written for your kids to be embedded in the wall somewhere.

A whole year later, you realized that what the architect gave you was an apartment that was an adventure game, rich and deep with fiction and characters and mysteries…

In any case, the finale involved, in part, removing decorative door knockers from two hallway panels, which fit together to make a crank, which in turn opened hidden panels in a credenza in the dining room, which displayed multiple keys and keyholes, which, when the correct ones were used, yielded drawers containing acrylic letters and a table-size cloth imprinted with the beginnings of a crossword puzzle, the answers to which led to one of the rectangular panels lining the tiny den, which concealed a chamfered magnetic cube, which could be used to open the 24 remaining panels, revealing, in large type, the poem written by Mr. Klinsky.

If there is any justice in the world, this apartment should be preserved as a museum and as a testament to human creativity. 🙂

  24 Responses to “If your architect were a game designer…”

  1. Too wonderful for words. (Kim andRaphalready beat me to it.) Jeremy Liew posts an estimate that most successful free to play MMOGs will generate $1 to $2 monthly ARPU. Some commenters dispute that, claiming up to $5. As always, the truth is probably somewhere in between (though I

  2. den, which concealed a chamfered magnetic cube, which could be used to open the 24 remaining panels, revealing, in large type, the poem written by Mr. Klinsky.” Be sure to look at the slideshow as well. The craftsmanship looks awesome. viaRaph.

  3. years turning their house into a walk-in game of Myst, with encrypted poetry written on the radiators and tiny scale models of rooms hidden behind panels in the walls, and storybooks full of clues commissioned specifically to be written for the house.Thanks to Raph Koster for linking to this!

  4. The apartment even comes with its own book. 😀

  5. Life imitating art in all the right ways, I;d say. 🙂

  6. I was expecting to read that the building had no roof (soon!) and most of the rooms were in orange, but there was this AWESOME system for opening windows!

  7. […] at Raph Koster’s Blog, this is an article about an apartment that has it’s very own secrets. In fact, it is a […]

  8. Mr. Clough sent him a little tease, a Rubik’s Cube of a sculpture made of anodized aluminum, encased in an acrylic cube that opens into a puzzle stamped with his firm’s phone number and the word “Please.”

    People think that a pitch needs a presentation, with slide after slide filled with hard numbers and graphs. All you really need is a cool toy.

  9. A cool toy and then a decent explanation of what you’re trying to do anyway 🙂

    Foer turned him down, but says he would’ve done it in a second if he had understood more clearly what was being asked.

  10. Foer turned him down, but says he would’ve done it in a second if he had understood more clearly what was being asked.

    That’s not what I read. I read:

    Mr. Foer was intrigued and gave him a call. In an e-mail recently, Mr. Foer recalled that his daughter had just been born, and he was adrift in a fog of new parenthood. “It was a very good piece of mail that came at a very bad time,” he wrote. “I was losing and ignoring all kinds of things that I shouldn’t have. …”

    Foer was too busy and needed to get his priorities straight. That’s the bottom line.

  11. Where is the third-party data mining site that shows the locations of the 24 panels so I can skip the game part? :9

  12. If your architect were a game designer…

    If only. That game would be a dream come true, and I’d have no doubts that the rest of the game would be what I want too. Such could only come from this mind.

    I’ve been enthralled by this kind of stuff since I was a kid. It started with a chance discovery.

    There was an old brewery in our town, shut down since the prohibition days, as they tried to convert to a pop company but failed and closed. This old structure, 4 stories high and spread out in a way that showed it had been expanded several times in it’s heyday. The doors and windows were boarded up. The paint had all but vanished with time. Rain over years of neglect had done it’s damage. Shrubs and trees grew where they didn’t belong along the outside and outer fringes of collapse. And it sat next to the river like the ghost of a different era that it was.

    My friends and I couldn’t resist.

    We made many wonderful discoveries that kids looking for a new playground might find. A hole in a floor with a heavy pipe running through it, perfect for sliding down to the next level. Windows that dropped down to a lower level roof. Holes in walls that allowed access from room to room. Just fantastic for kinds playing war, or hide and seek, or whatever the imagination came up with.

    But there, in the basement, stood an ancient looking but very solid china cabinet. The only piece of furniture in the entire building. And a china cabinet in an old brewery? It just didn’t seem to fit. It stood there against a wall, just slightly whopperjawed. And someone looked at it, and said “there’s a doorway behind here!”.

    I’m not making this up. The china cabinet was on concealed hinges, and opened to a huge cavern dug out of the earth behind it. It was almost certainly used during the underground railroad days, where this area has a number of known stops. This cavern lead into another huge room in an L shape overall. We found only 2 things, and old pair of shoes with holes in the soles, and an old jug of candied syrup used to make pop. I wish I had both now, but we didn’t know the value of old things at the time. But my imagination crept along as I slowly looked about. Seeing a room full of families escaped from bondage, people coming in with food and water and quietly whispering that maybe tomorrow they can move on and soon be in Canada, children playing with makeshift toys in the dirt of the floor, women washing stained clothes in buckets of soapy water….who knows if I had an accurate picture in my head.

    But really, it was just a couple of large empty rooms. Yeah, that’s all it was.

  13. That sounds like the greatest apartment ever, I must say. 🙂

    Well, I certainly would enjoy living there and finding out the secrets within it, anyhow. I would like to hope that this place will be preserved so that future inhabitants will be able to discover what lies waiting for them.

  14. So one thing that I find puzzling (hah) about this story. What kind of client essentially gives a designer MASSES of money (it can’t have been cheap!) and never comes around to check up on the work? One must either be incredibly rich and trusting to do this. I guess you get this in game design with people like Will Wright, but still…

  15. What kind of client essentially gives a designer MASSES of money (it can’t have been cheap!) and never comes around to check up on the work? One must either be incredibly rich and trusting to do this.

    The architect’s firm was receiving $200 per square foot, which the article pointed out was extremely conservative for that neighborhood. The article also pointed out that the architect was “inspired” and actually had people working as volunteers on the project. The 4,200-square-foot apartment was purchased for $8.5 million, and with the added $850,000 bill from the architect, almost $10 million, excluding tax.

    Remember, this home is a 14th-floor apartment on upper Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, New York. Fifth Avenue is one of the most expensive streets in the world. With these such apartment buildings, the wealth of the occupant increases with each floor. To put this in perspective, this 14th-floor apartment was purchased for over $1 million more than the top-floor apartments in downtown San Diego’s richest buildings.

    Steven Klinsky is the apartment owner. The wife, who was the actual client, is the former head of Bear Stearns. So, yeah, they’re incredibly rich, but not as rich as the folks on the 15th floor.

  16. Huh, Morgan, did you miss this part then:

    In fact, the project was never described to me as simply as you did in your e-mail. Had it been, I would have rushed to do it. I suppose that’s the price one pays for being as mysterious as Clough is. Or as skeptical as I am.”

  17. Still Morgan, what kind of person drops $10M and DOESN’T CHECK ON WHERE HIS MONEY WENT!? I want to talk to those people.

  18. Huh, Morgan, did you miss this part then:

    No. If he really just misunderstood, then he wouldn’t have prefaced his statement with a long excuse about why he’s too busy.

    He’s an author. There’s a PR issue. And saying “being as mysterious as Clough is. Or as skeptical as I am” is a great talking point.

    what kind of person drops $10M and DOESN’T CHECK ON WHERE HIS MONEY WENT!? I want to talk to those people.

    For some people, spending $10M is akin to Average Joe spending $10. Plus, the wife was the designated handler for the architect. I think hubby was satisfied knowing that, given that his wife was also CEO at an investment banking firm.

  19. If I had $10M and only $10M and I dropped it on someone I trust to do a creative project, then I wouldn’t hover over their shoulder either. Creative quality comes from setting restrictions once, and then taking your hands off completely.

    If I ever have $10M, you can come see me. But if you send me a Rubik’s cube stamped with the word “Please”, I’ll reject any proposal you make.

  20. If I ever have $10M, you can come see me. But if you send me a Rubik’s cube stamped with the word “Please”, I’ll reject any proposal you make.

    So if Bill Gates or Warren Buffett or, hey, Raph sent you such a Rubik’s cube, you’d turn down their proposals? When you have portfolio like that, your calling cards can be as creative as you want. In fact, if you spent any time as a creative working with top-shelf people, invitations such as described in the article are fairly common. They’re not out of the ordinary and they do work. I know.

    I really wish people would read more carefully before posting their comments, too. The architect, who’s apparently a hot shot in the architecture community, did not send a “Rubik’s cube stamped with the word ‘Please'”. He sent something like this. That’s a nicety and a clever calling card for the prospect the architect was targeting. What, you think he sends ThinkBoxes to everyone he invites?

  21. Oh, and if you read the article, you’d have found that the point of the ThinkBox was to get the recipient to call the architect. The author did call the architect.

  22. Morgan, I dunno… I suppose it could be PR, but… the important line there is “Had it been, I would have rushed to do it.”

    I mean, the fact that he was distracted and trying to deal with other stuff is a big reason why he wouldn’t have thought too hard about it before turning it down… and had he not been in that situation he would’ve probably done it too…

    But that doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t have done it had it been more clearly described and the situation was the same. The circumstances he was in would’ve lowered his threshold for investigating projects, which is reason enough for the preface about how busy he was. Had he had less going on, he likely would’ve done it because that threshold would’ve been higher. But if it had it been clearer too, assuming what he’s saying isn’t just an attempt at PR, he would’ve done it too, because he wouldn’t have had to *think* about it so much either, which is another way to decrease the amount of effort he’d need to give it.

    Clearly expressing yourself is as important as having a good hook. Not to diminish the importance of a good hook, but if the message is muddled, you bounce many more people off than if you’ve got both. That really seems to be what happened here.

  23. Clearly, the author has problems with clearly expressing his thoughts; otherwise, we wouldn’t be arguing about his intent. I haven’t read his works, but his writings are probably just as puzzling.

  24. Heh, I suppose 🙂

  25. So if Bill Gates or Warren Buffett or, hey, Raph sent you such a Rubik’s cube, you’d turn down their proposals?

    The “you” was Tim.

    I actually had Raph in mind when I wrote the first paragraph. However, if he sent me a “Rubik’s Cube of a sculpture” or Thinkbox in such a blatant display of unoriginality, then I’d start doubting him, which would be grounds for me not to hand the money over to him. I’d have to think about it.

    If Bill Gates or Warren Buffet wanted my money, I expect the world would be in such a state of collapse that a measly 10 million isn’t going to do squat.

  26. in such a blatant display of unoriginality

    Seems to me the architect had a custom ThinkBox created specifically for the author. Considering the author’s disposition to writing complex stories, the calling card was pretty clever, in my opinion.

  27. … yeah, you have no idea what I’m talking about. I give up. I’ll send you a fake Rodin in the mail. It will be stamped with “Sigh.”

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