Join Ze Frank for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating digital toys, part of Creative Inspirations: Ze Frank, Comedic Digital Savant.
(Music playing.) Over the years I have slowed down on the amount of stuff that I put out. The more recent things that I have done tend to be a little bit more aggressive. They are a little larger. They have tended towards the conceptual. But I do kind of return to these little tiny simple toys over and over again. In the beginning-- Not in the beginning, but when Flash 4 came out and Flash 5, there was a period of time where I was sort of trying to figure out new ways of testing out the potential for these new features that came out, and the live microphone really has always interested me.
So I tried a whole series of these. I really like this one. This one is called Meditation Flowers. Aaaaaaaa. (Hums into microphone.) I think it's a fun but kind of throwaway implementation. But I actually received a note from a school for kids that have a variety of disabilities in Australia, where kids that can't move any limb to participate in a lot of the tools, the art tools that are out there, are using this tool as a way to create art and things like that.
And that's incredibly inspiring for me and makes me want to go back in and try to think about all these implementations. Obviously there are people that are working on these kinds of problems, but for me and the work that I do, it's wonderful to have that kind of feedback. I will show you the Voice Drawing application. Ooooooooo. (Hums into microphone.) I actually kind of got okay at drawing with this thing.
So this is like a face that I drew with it. Quickly I found that a lot of the toys that were out there or the tools that were out there facilitated people who were good at drawing. But I wanted to make something that actually facilitated people who were bad at drawing, who didn't feel like they were creative people. So the Scribbler came out of that. The original version is still online. There is an iPhone app that's actually coming out that's a little bit more updated and there's actually a version of this where you can create animations as well.
So you can take a kind of a crappy drawing and turn it into a little postwar etching in front of your eyes. And kind of pause it and change the settings. Make it more scribbly, transparent. There has actually been tens of thousands of images that have been submitted over time, and some of them are less successful than others. This was another one of the first things that I created. And this was just like getting-- I just became really super fascinated with like just the tactile experience of, can you make something super simple and fun? And this is actually, this bug toy, is really, really viscerally fun to kind of get all these limbs in there, and kids really love this toy.
And the thing is for me at the time, the math to figure out the appropriate angles for these joints was actually kind of a killer for me and took me a while to like figure it out, and that was sort of the fun challenge. And actually with a lot of the things on the site, there is a kind of hidden layer behind it, which is the reason that I got into these particular predicaments almost I would say.
For example, the Atheist game, I kind of had decided I think in like Flash 5 that I should really start programming games, because games were really coming online and it looked like maybe there was a revenue model for them. And I was like well, I should be able to program games. So I went in and I started building out this whole system, which was collision detection and it was kind of this fake 3D environment. I programmed then being able to go upstairs, and multiple levels.
And in the middle of it I was like, this sucks, I hate doing this! I hate making games that are this big and complicated, and I don't know. So I took the entire platform and I was like, what's the simplest game I can make out of this? So you can see here. You can actually customize this entire game, like with the controls and everything, and then you have go to play it, and you are just standing on a little platform in the middle of nowhere, and you can even say things and then you fall off and it's game over.
(Laughs.) I remember after I launched this game I got an email that came back and somebody said, "yeah, I played your Atheist game." "It's fun, but how do you win?"