Welcome to Susan Arendt's latest column on Pocket Gamer. In 2018 we've recruited the best writers and most experienced gamers in the industry and asked them to inspire us. Today Susan takes a look at Passpartout, and tries her best to make just enough money for a baguette...
It's amazing how talent can skip around a family. My aunt was a professional artist. So was my brother for a while. Me? I'm challenged by stick figures.
A game all about creating crowd and critic-pleasing art seemed inevitably out of my league, but Passpartout doesn't mind that my frogs have spatulas for feet. It's all in the eye of the beholder, after all.
You're a starving artist on the streets of Paris, just trying to make enough to afford wine and a nice crusty baguette. The art you create is entirely up to you, though at first you only have a few basic brushes at your disposal.
If you really are one of those amazing people with an artistic gift, cranking out canvases in Passpartout is a wonderful way to engage your talents...but I think it may actually be more fun if you're terrible like me.
I know I can't draw, so I don't, as a rule. I don't even doodle; I'm a word person, not a picture person. But I have to keep creating something to sell in Passpartout, and so I exercise parts of my brain that normally lie dormant.
I cast around for something to recreate and settle on a mouse toy, which for some reason I choose to pair with a carrot and banana. "Mouse With Vegetables" sold quickly, but "Terror" - a toothy grin with steam radiating from it (or at least some squiggly lines) - sat on the easel, earning the disdain of passersby until I finally trashed it.
Not everything you make will sell, you see. Critics and art lovers will comment on your use of color, your skill, even your choice of subject matter, and from those comments you can get a general sense of what the zeitgeist wants. Observing what sold and what didn't led me to rack my brain for new subjects, which is what led to my unfortunate frog, but it also led me to try new methods.
Unlocking the spray can paved the way for my "Sky" series, where I applied different layers of white and blues in an attempt to create the perfect depiction of the heavens overhead. Honestly, none of them were all that impressive to me, but my patrons enjoyed them, and I was finally able to move into a proper studio.
And that's what's so marvelous about Passpartout. I can't draw worth a lick, but I'm still selling paintings. I don't have to be good, I just have to make an earnest attempt; "Terror" was a half-hearted, cynical try for a cash-grab, and my patrons knew it, so they turned up their noses at it. When I spend some time applying myself to the work, it sells, whether it's recognizable as anything or not.
I've painted a questionable Pikachu, a portrait of my dog under the covers, and a bunch of swirls that happened while I was testing the new pen tool I'd just unlocked. I love all of them. I'm proud of all of them. Not enough to share them with Passpartout’s social media features, maybe, but I'm impressed with my efforts just the same.
I'm excited about maybe unlocking more tools or colors and seeing what new techniques I might try. I want to take my little artist and make him the toast of Paris, never wanting for wine or baguettes ever again. Maybe along the way, I'll even manage a recognizable frog.
Read more of Susan Arendt's columns on Pocket Gamer, and find out more about Spillz at the game's official site. If you're looking for more columns, then check out Harry Slater and Jon Jordan, who are always on-hand with sharp, tasty opinions too.