This post is a bit of a diary entry. It’s to help me remember a fun little activity that I was involved in recently.
I bought it and started playing around. I’ve been feeling like I was in a rut recently and wanted to do something creative. After seeing Jim Rossignol mention playing with townscaper as a nightly activity, I thought I’d do similar.
Years ago I used to do lunchtime hacks and experiments as a way to be a bit more creative than I got to be in my day job. Having exactly an hour to create and build something is a nice constraint. Forces you to plan ahead and do the simplest thing to move an idea forward.
I decided to try lunchtime Townscaper builds. Each one with a different theme. I did my first one, with the theme “Bridge”, and shared it on twitter.
Chris Love liked the idea and suggested adding a hashtag so others could do the same. I hadn’t planned to share my themes and builds every day, but I thought, why not? The idea was to try doing something different after all.
That tweet is the closest thing I’ve ever had to a “viral” tweet. It’s had over 53,523 impressions and over 650 interactions.
Turns out people love Townscaper. And are making lots of cool things with it.
Tweetdeck was pretty busy for the next few days. I had a few people start following me as a result, and suddenly felt a bit pressured. To help orchestra things and manage my own piece of mind, I did a bit of forward planning.
I decided to run the activity for one week. At the end I’d either hand it over to someone or just step back.
I also spent the first evening brainstorming a list of themes. More than enough for me to keep me going for the week, so I could avoid the need to come up with new themes on the fly. I tried to find a mixture of words that were within the bounds of the types of things you could create in Townscaper, but left room for creativity. In the end I revised and prioritized the initial list over the course of the week based on how people engaged.
I wanted the activity to be inclusive so came up with a few ground rules: “No prizes, no winners. It’s just for fun.”. And some brief guidance about how to participate: post screenshots, use the right hashtags).
I also wanted to help gather together submissions, but didn’t want to retweet or share all of them. So decided to finally try out creating twitter moments. One for each daily challenge. This added some work as I was always worrying I’d missed something, but it also meant I spent time looking at every build.
I ended up with two template tweets, one to introduce the challenge and one to publish the results. These were provided as a single thread to help weave everything together.
And over the course of a week, people built some amazing things. Take a look for yourself:
- Townscaper Daily Challenge #1 – Bridge
- Townscaper Daily Challenge #2 – Garden
- Townscaper Daily Challenge #3 – Neighbours
- Townscaper Daily Challenge #4 – Canal
- Townscaper Daily Challenge #5 – Eyrie
- Townscaper Daily Challenge #6 – Fortress
- Townscaper Daily Challenge #7 – Labyrinth
People played with the themes in interesting ways. They praised and commented on each others work. It was one of the most interesting, creative and fun things I’ve done on twitter.
By the end of the week, only a few people were contributing, so it was right to let it run its course. (Although I see that people are still occasionally using the hashtag).
It was a reminder than twitter can be and often is a completely different type of social space. A break from the doomscrolling was good.
It was also a reminded me how much I loved creating and making things. So I’m resolved to do more of that in the future.