U r a froshmin at 🅐 🅡 🅣 🅢 🅠 🅞 🅞 🅛.
February 9, 2019 11:25 AM   Subscribe

ART SQOOL [YouTube][Game Trailer] “Art Sqool is a game from Julian Glander, a 3D artist who has done illustration work for Wired, The New Yorker and Adult Swim. In it, you play a first-year student at an art school called Art Sqool, named Froshmin. You get assignments from your professor, a self-described neural network that judges you based on your technique. Between assignments, you explore your school’s campus to find new swatches and brushes.” [via: Kotaku]

• Art Sqool is a Game Where an AI Bot Critiques Your Work [Gamespew]
“You have a blank canvas to complete each assignment in your own time, in between exploring the weird and wonderful campus of Art Sqool. Once you’re finished, it’s back to the professor, who’ll grade your assignment. And, providing you didn’t fail (it can happen), you’ll pick up your next task. The AI professor will grade you based on colour, composition, linework and approach. Exactly how it evaluates each of those is unclear. The horse I drew was absolutely abysmal, but the AI deemed it worthy of a “B”. Perhaps it took pity on me. Other assignments, where I tried a little harder, ended up with a “D” – and a D is a Big Fat Fail. How seriously you take the assignments given to you in Art Sqool is entirely up to you. It’s clearly not a game that’s meant to be taken seriously – it’s called Art Sqool after all! – but it still provides a fun outlet where you can let your creative juices shine. Sure, you could perhaps open up Microsoft Paint and end up with a similar result, but no AI is going to tell you how you’re doing there.”
• A game that’s somehow less than the sum of its parts. [Rock Papers Shotgun]
“But the assessments are, in fact, just random. It’s at the point that one realises this that the whole game feels like an empty, pointless experience. For the avoidance of doubt, you can test the randomness. Draw something that gets an F, get sent back in, then click the “undo” arrow and the previous drawing reappears with the last addition removed. Return with it unchanged and this time it might be a C. Further, tasks might ask you to draw “very, very slowly and deliberately”, then not care a jot if you frantically scribble for three seconds. It might ask for a portrait of someone “not wearing their glasses” then of course not care when you draw a face wearing glasses. I was awarded an A for writing the word “penis” with the text tool when assigned, “Combine two shapes to make a new shape.” The point is, it doesn’t work, on any level – it’s random. Which maybe isn’t OK in a game that sells itself with the line, “An A.I. art professor grades your work and hands out assignments”?”
• ‘Art Sqool’ Is a Game About Following Your Passion in an Exploitative World [Waypoint]
“Another way of reading Art Sqool is that it truly is about adventure and betterment. You can half-ass the assignments, game the AI that evaluates them, and slide through the game to complete them all. You can find a couple skills, maybe one or two colors, and then make do with what you can. You rumble around every corner of the map, turning up new brushes all the time, and you fully exploit that free range to do whatever you want. In this reading, having to make your own way isn’t a glitch; it’s a feature. Froshmin’s enthusiasm is not fuel for the eternal combustion of capital extraction from student bodies, it’s the coal that keeps the train of life running. Beep beep. Whatever your chosen interpretation, Art Sqool manages deftly to present us with one of the problems of contemporary civil society: you’re going to be eaten alive, and you need to recognize it. The whole world is Art Sqool, and we’re all Froshmin.”
posted by Fizz (9 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Man, some time at a prestigious art sqool like this would have helped a lot in my starving artist years.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 11:53 AM on February 9

So in other words this is a documentary?
posted by PhineasGage at 12:19 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]

That has me wondering when was the first time that "Art" or "Art School" was ever gamified in this way.
posted by Fizz at 12:31 PM on February 9

Is the grading really completely random? I'm not willing to write this game off completely, but that seems annoying. I honestly don't think it would even be that hard to run some deep vision package to do very basic, rudimentary recognition of what "reasonably seems in line" vs "seems pretty out there" vs "not even trying" look like, which would be a cool mechanic. Take an online class on TensorFlow and patch an update in a month or two!
posted by naju at 12:59 PM on February 9

It's kind of a pain to actually distribute a deep learned network to a computer that isn't already set up as a deep learning development machine.
posted by Pyry at 2:10 PM on February 9

I mean, I imagine it would have to connect to a remote cloud server where all the processing is done, which some people wouldn't appreciate. But it's kinda the major gameplay premise, so.
posted by naju at 2:28 PM on February 9

Is the grading really completely random?

And in the game! But yeah, I feel you on that problem; it's hard to get invested in the idea of making creative choices that will be immediately thrown away in practice. (Cf. having to write letters in Animal Crossing using a dpad for moron neighbors who will not be able to read them.)

But I'm doubtful that you could really make anything meaningfully satisfying for this context out of even current top-shelf semantic parsing AI, let alone something commercially reasonable for an indie game. Doing some very rough "yes that does look like a stick drawing of a house" verification wouldn't really scratch the validating-the-artistic-intent itch very much AND would create a really strong formalist incentive that'd shut down all kinds of good gooey abstraction.

I think the reality is that free form expression as a genuine game mechanic really only works with multiplayer/peer modes. The Jackbox games get great mileage out of being creative together, though generally at a pretty goofy, intentionally low-fi level, and the engine behind that is entirely that all the judging is done by a handful of friends on a couch, not an AI.

Stuff like this I'm really fond of but with really reduced expectations going in about why I'm trying to be creative: a game like this is an excuse to do it, not something that's going to explicitly reward me for doing it, basically.
posted by cortex at 3:07 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]

It's kind of a pain to actually distribute a deep learned network to a computer that isn't already set up as a deep learning development machine

I have to admit I'm way behind the curve on ML but I think there are several standard formats for this (e.g. TensorFlow and MXNet).

I mean, I imagine it would have to connect to a remote cloud server where all the processing is done, which some people wouldn't appreciate.

Frameworks like Apple's CoreML and Google's MLKit let you take a predefined model and do this on-device.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 5:08 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]

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