Remember Snow

September 11th, 2012

Remember Snow was released in 2009 and was one of the first interactive “art for art’s sake” apps that I purchased from the App Store. Perhaps best described as a diversion, it is a simple meditative experience akin to playing with a snow globe or wind chimes. As the user’s finger moves around the screen, pale blurry shapes swirl around, and quiet music box sounds are triggered at random. The faster the user moves, the faster the shapes move, and the more notes are played. When the user shakes the screen, the images are thrown into disarray and eventually settle.

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Windosill

September 11th, 2012

Sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. That’s a concept that many games seem to lose sight of, but one which Windosill embraces wholeheartedly.

Starting in darkness, Windosill takes the user through a succession of interactive scenes, each containing some challenge that must be explored before the user can move on to the next one. Although the graphics often have a childish theme – occasionally reminiscent of Dr. Seuss – this is an app that has as much appeal to adults as children, and possibly more. I was surprised to watch my partner, who has little patience for computer games, lose herself completely in the app for well over an hour, only stopping when she had completed every scene.

Terms like ‘game’ and ‘puzzle’ don’t quite apply here, and the focus has been primarily on feel. Elements can be touched, dragged, pushed and prodded and all respond beautifully and dynamically. Great care has obviously been taken to provide fluid behaviour for every object and it pays off; the user is left with a strong sense of a living, physical world.

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iOrnament

September 11th, 2012

I’m not an artist – I can barely pick up a paintbrush without accidentally stabbing myself in the eye – so I’ve been greatly surprised by the amount of time I’ve spent creating patterns and textures with iOrnament.

The app provides a minimal set of drawing tools – a simple colour palette, with controls for brightness, saturation and blurring – but what distinguishes it from other packages is its use of symmetry. Every mark you make is endlessly reflected across the page, creating vast kaleidoscope patterns.

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FLOW: qin

September 11th, 2012

FLOW: qin is an interactive generative music app which assembles an ever changing soundtrack from a collection of oriental stringed instrument samples. At time of writing, it is free on the App Store.

As I discovered following the release of Bloom, the greatest resistance to artistic music apps often comes from musicians. Non-musicians have little trouble surrendering to an app’s whims, whereas those used to being in complete control of an instrument can struggle with the idea of having to let go and work within an app’s constraints.

FLOW: qin, a release from the very early days of the App Store, meets this problem head on by providing one of the most unashamedly eccentric interfaces I’ve come across. While it enables the user to produce fascinating generative music, it relies heavily on serendipity, and it would be impossible to use the app to create a specific, planned out piece of music.

The user is initially presented with a blank but dirty sheet of parchment with three markers or ‘moments’ slowly progressing across it. Tapping on the screen will reveal one of three lanes of five blank boxes, and each time the moment encounters a blank box, a random sample is triggered and the box is filled with a coloured chinese tile. Tapping on a sample as it plays locks it into place, causing it to be triggered every time a moment subsequently passes over it.

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Almost ready

September 6th, 2012

I’ve written the first few reviews, should have them on site over the weekend. Bear with me!