“A/B Testing” – Allegories & Builds
One of our main goals was to get the Funsters engaged in the allegorical build of the Fun Palace. This meant that YouTube 60s movies and music sharing, or merely playing Minecraft beside the Fun Palace was no longer enough. After all, building Fun is different to building a Palace.
And so, we resorted to the archives, courtesy of the Canadian Center for Architecture.
Above all the sketches, doodles (particularly Littlewood’s), and floorplans, the LIST OF 70 PROJECTS FOR A FUN PALACE stood out for its orderliness and quantity.
During development phase, Richy Srirachanikorn streamed his attempts at allegorically building some of these suggested activities within the Minecraft Fun Palace. Here were the creations.
50. The Glories of Musical Steam
Inspired by the Instrumental Mobs mod added to our modpack, I wanted to combine this unique twist on how the attacks from mobs (whilst still unprovoked and aggressive) no longer cause damage to the player’s health. Instead, how can I get the players to become the mobs? How do I tap into that anger of naked, creative, Minecraft players for unprovoked first-hit killings?
I suppose one part of it is the look of the entire thing. It’s up for debate in our team whether the musical mobs or the blocks that surround them are uglier. I guess they’re both up for decomposition. Personally, it was cathartic to be able to build with such regal blocks on Minecraft, especially given my reputation as a “noob”. Akin to the tiredness of the working class Londoners, having something out of the blase-gray of industrial survival was a treat. It unlocked something in me. An “oomph”. A drive for purpose. And in turn, a finishing build for an allegory under construction.
Hence, I turned to the idea of “Glory” and “steam” — the former, allegorically, is achieved by the gaudy gold goo seen above. The yellow pride blocks are plastered inside-out, but I still wanted the pride to come from the players themselves. They must want to attack and feel good about it.
So, the “steam” came in – what happens when entities die on Minecraft? They glow red, flop over like a jenga block, and produce pixelated clouds. That’s the steam I’m looking for. Et viola, combine all of these allegories together, and you have the Glories (or Gories, if you and Quarantino are friends) of musical steam!
43. The Waiting World
The Waiting World, unlike its name, was a quick one to build.
At the time in Minecraft survival, I kept returning to the Twilight Forest (another fun mod we include in our modpack — it also fits perfectly well with “19. The Forest of Violet Twilight”… did the mod creators know about this list before us?). Within the TF, there are mounds – shallow but wide cave enclosures that are abundant of new mobs (I’m talking angry purple mice and matcha-toned elves violently coming at you with iron pickaxes) and resources. There’s no need for Vanilla gear enchanting anymore. Who needs ‘fortune’ on their pickaxe when the mound guarantees you at least 8 stacks of raw iron?
Anyway, this expedition became as costly with its rewards as it were the risks. My tombstones were littered everywhere. I’m talking instead of drip stones were left hanging for jobs — coffins marked “bionasard” with my player head were glued at every corner.
Of course, I persisted. I kept returning to get my stuff but to also see what was next. Given this, every time I respawned, my Vanilla world’s “gear chest” would be emptied with each attempt. At one point, I barraged with a stick and a shield. I got my stuff back, but died from “hitting the ground too hard”. Damn, brightness settings.
In between all those sessions, I always left more logs and planks at the entrance of the mound – this way, I could just focus on sprinting to the TF portal and towards the mound, and then break the planks and craft a stick or sword out of it. The regularity became a waiting room – I had even crafted two wooden staircases to “sit” as I planned out item retrieval take #467. The drip stones, the wood, the darkness of it all eventually became a “save room” for me — the waiting room before death where I was able to breathe – to live.
Put this together, I created a waiting room akin to the ones at the dentist’s office, and attached a green sign to digitize the analogue post as one of those matrix coloured “Now Serving” screens found at driving schools lobbies and the area of hospitals wings where a reception table, old televisions, and a water cooler collided.
The A-List: A for All!
If you haven’t already noticed, most of my allegorical builds are internal – meaning that the scaffolding, or the foundational steel blocks weren’t just exposed, but were covering the build. There were 3 (allegorical and practical) reasons for this.
1. Allegorically, the Fun Palace was a marvel of cybernetics. One of its contributors, Gordon Pask, ensured that the rigs, rods, and rooms were moveable. Akin to Littlewood and Price’s idea of planned obsolescence — the Palace was not to be located in one place for more than 10 years — neither was the case for a Funsters’ day-to-day. According to what Funsters wanted, and this was an aggregate reading of what they filled out in their punch cards, the palace would rearrange its rooms to best suit those needs. Hungry? The radial escalators shall turn to welcome visitors from this end towards the gastronomic attractions of the Palace. Bored? The rooms with strobe lights and suspended inflatables would be lowered done by a crane and accentuated with its nodes and senses.
2. Practically then, covering these (arguably) beauties aligned with our inclusion of the Create Mod, which allowed for such rigs, cranes, and systems to animate Pasks’ ideas into the experience of our players.
3. This industrial ‘gift-wrapping’ assured that any interactions with the mods outside of the intended allegorical build would not disturb or delete what was inside of it. If, let’s say, a crane malfunctioned, or a piston pushed a block one too far, the structure of the build inside would be maintained. The first wall of defense to displacement or damage are the steel trusses. And in our world, those building blocks enforce our allegorical inventions. Their job is to protect, not to erect.
Whilst we don’t know whether the list would’ve been made public by the organizers, or by psychologist John Clark who compiled on the first of August 1964, we launched it to the public anyway. Aligning with The Fun Palaces UK, which was a continuation of Littlewood’s dream to see theatre in every day life by every day people, our decision to share the builds for fun to our players were to the Fun Palaces project, to “Take what you do for fun. Share it with your friends, neighbours or community. That’s your Fun Palace.”
Well, this is ours, and here’s what we’ve done with it.