Glass City is a new series in which I talk to you, dear reader, about gaming outside of a traditional review format. Why Glass City? Why not! It’s a city—made of glass! Come on, man.
Since I am an artist, the Big Boss gave me a copy of Passpartout: The Starving Artist to review. Normally, I do games of a more strategic fare. Most of the time I do rather intense reviews where it takes a long time even to learn the mechanics of the games in question. I’m generally stressed out with the brain-stabbing, analytical, logistical thinking required to try to win at these fares.
Luckily, Passpartout: The Starving Artist is not one of those mind-numbing, cerebral torturers. It moves rather quickly. It’s both fun as well as humorous. Most of all, it’s just plain silly.
When I started, I made a painting that I took my time with and at least attempted to make all fancy and purdy. I regularly changed the brush size as well as greatly varying the palette. It was a happy little landscape (to borrow from the late, great Bob Ross) full of mountains and trees and bright, sunny, happy little colors. It contained a stripey sunrise which was all gleeful and calm. I put it up for sale, proud of my first ever painting in the game.
Right after this first foray into painting, the prospective patrons were already both crabby and vocal. Unbeknownst to me, they didn’t like pink. I thought, “Oh, no! The horror of pink!” like it was a crime against the art and history of painting. They definitely let me know about it. “Note to self: no more pink.” I left it sitting there for sale while I attempted my second masterpiece.
Not very long after I started Passpartout: The Starving Artist, money disappeared from my paltry account. “What? Oh, there are expenses? I guess I better speed it up a little bit.” My second attempt was both faster and pink-less. It didn’t sit there very long — and it then sold! It only went for eight dollars, but it was still income in-coming. So, with only my pink-containing-painting sitting there, I decided it was time to get on the ball. I painted what was, in essence anyway, a ball — with a background. After receiving a whole six dollars for that one, “Well, I must be doing something right”.
Feeling bad that only the one pink piece was sitting there, I then tried to out-pace the customers. After the initial pink ordeal, I began moving paintings rather quickly. Yes, they were all abstract and non-subjective, but as long as I was turning them over, I was happy. They started flying off of their little painting holders. Granted, most of them were selling for single digits, but at least I was making enough to keep the debt collectors off my back (I don’t think there are actual collectors, I believe you just lose if you can’t pay up).
After a while, I got a new tool: a spray-paint-brush-end-thingy. It was cool, but rather light, meaning it didn’t cover much canvas very quickly at all. However, I did use it just to have it on there. The customers really liked it — my artwork started selling in the double digits!
The problem was that once I used it, it had to be on every piece. I learned this the hard way when I painted one without the spray paint splatter look. Once again, the snobby potential clients of Passpartout: The Starving Artist returned to being gripey-butts. “Okay, spray effect on all paintings now.” There’s a difference between being critical and persnickety. The buyers are the latter, to put it nicely.
While there are different levels and places to show your work later, I won’t drone on about those. They’re something you’ll have to experience for yourself. What I will say is what my experience ended up being. When I last left Passpartout: The Starving Artist, I was the opposite of Bob Ross’ calm, cool demeanor. When I painted, I was this frantic, frenetic, arms-askew, hair-flying-everywhere maniac trying to keep at least something on the table to sell. If it was real-life, there’d be paint everywhere, even on the customers. The floors would be this slippery and gooey extravaganza of every color available, with my little feety-prints scattered from easel to sales table. (Of course, some of the footprints would be brownish slide marks from me running back and forth from painting spot to finished-work-brackets). Oh, it’d be a sloppy scene.
The people were buying them as fast as I could possibly color them. I was trying to use larger brushes to cover as much area as possible, while still leaving their precious spray paint patterns intact. There’s a button available for when they offer to buy a piece that can be used to haggle over the price. “Nope, no time for that — too busy! $27? Fine, it’s yours”. I barely had the time to simply accept the offers as they came in. I also had to title each one, “Grr, too much time for labels”, so I simply used numbers. In the top left of the screen, it shows their ‘comments’. Sometimes, I could breathe long enough to read them; others I simply missed. As more and more people came through, my speed increased as well. I’m not positive, but I swear there was smoke coming from my mouse.
Passpartout: The Starving Artist was extremely different for a guy who generally plays turn-based strategy games — a guy used to taking an unlimited amount of time to ponder each tiny move for every person, squad, tank, plane, etc. The pace was so fast — for the way I was playing it, anyway — that there were times when I would forget to breathe. I wish there was a counter to tell you how many paintings you’re producing in ten minutes, fifteen minutes or an hour. I could not even fathom a guess as to my numbers. Yes, it is silly, but more importantly, it is fun. Since this is almost written and I have just finished my fourteenth cup of coffee (in artistic preparation, no less), it’s time for me to don a smock (this time) and get back to slinging paint around. Maybe this time, I can sell a triple-digit piece — if I can both keep up the pace and keep down the customers’ whining.