Call to Arms entry 08: Potter

In Potter, virtual pottery-throwing allows the player to express their creativity while gradually mastering a craft.

Potter expresses the satisfaction of a job well-done by casting the player as an apprentice to a Master potter, and allowing them to express their creativity and skill to create a wide variety of ceramics. Using the Wii interface to simulate the acts of throwing and glazing clay, the player gradually improves his craft, learning from the Master and sharing his work with others.

Play: At the outset of the game, the player may choose a Master potter whose apprentice he will become. The player browses a sampling of each Master's wares, along with a personal statement about his style and methods. The player's own work will be steered by his Master's guidance, so the player should choose a Master whose work he'd most like to emulate.

Once the player has chosen a shop to apprentice in, he begins introductory lessons in the craft of creating fine ceramics. As he throws his first pieces, the Master judges the work against his own standards, and gives the player guidance as to how he may improve.

The player uses the Wii remote and nunchuk to track the position of his hands as he performs the motions of molding a piece of clay as it spins on the wheel. Depending on which Master's shop he enters, the player may simultaneously have to press rhythmically on the Wii Balance Board to simulate running a potter's wheel via foot pedal.

The player proceeds to craft different sorts of pots and dishware, including pitchers, vases, bowls and so forth. Once a piece has been thrown, the player may proceed to the glaze stage, an entirely different art altogether. With the Nunchuk in his left hand the player slowly turns the piece around, while with the remote in his right hand he strokes on glaze with a brush or other available tools.

Once a piece is complete, the player places it into the kiln. The player may return to the kiln in a number of realtime hours (using the system clock, like Animal Crossing) to retrieve the fired piece and see the final result.

The player receives guidance from the Master while the piece is in process, as well as a more thorough judgment once it is fired and finished. Using the expressivity of the Wii's controls, the player may craft all manner of ceramics; over weeks or months of play, the player's craft progresses from producing clumsy, novice pieces, to creating beautiful works which will impress and instill pride in his stalwart Master, eventually becoming the Master's equal. This results in an extensive gallery of ceramic pieces the player has hand-crafted, which he may look back on proudly, and share with friends via the Wii's online connectivity.

Notes: What I tried to do here is to maintain the process: I didn't start from "I'd like to make a pottery simulator," but rather from the feeling I hoped to instill in the player through the game's interactivity (satisfaction of a job well-done, or more specifically, the pride of mastering a craft.) The follow-through was in choosing pottery as the core activity, and then abstracting that real-world activity in the specific ways which support the chosen core feeling, as opposed to rotely or aimlessly trying to simulate pottery as a purely mechanical act.

-Steve gaynor

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