A fascinator, in the millinery sense, is a decorative headpiece, usually brightly coloured and designed to attract attention. We’re working on the digital equivalent.

IMG_0004Of course in the digital realm, many things could be classed as “brightly coloured and designed to attract attention”, from screensavers to Skyrim. We’re specifically interested in interactive artworks and minigames, running on your iPhone, designed to hold your attention for a few minutes but not much longer. (As a side note, the question of where “interactive artworks” end and “games” begin is something we hope to explore with this project.) Cyllr will give you a near-infinite universe of fascinators, all in one app.

IMG_0006We don’t just want everyone to have eye-catching headgear; we want to create a world where everyone is a milliner. (OK, enough with that analogy.) At the touch of a button, you can edit the fascinator: choosing from various templates as starting points, swapping artwork, tweaking parameters from adjusting the movement speed of an object to completely changing the scoring mechanics. There’s a distinct lack of tools which allow people to create their own games without any technical expertise: tools like Scratch, GameMaker, Twine, PuzzleScript and the like are great, but we want to take it further, to flatten the learning curve and reduce the time it takes to create something new and unique.

IMG_0007Think of it as the creative equivalent of Nicholas Lovell’s “Starbucks Test” — never mind playing, imagine if you could create a brand new game in the time it takes the barista to make your macchiato? And then make another using just your left thumb, while you hold your coffee in your right hand. We’re working hard to streamline the interface as much as possible to make this a reality.

Cyllr has gone through a somewhat circuitous evolution so far. It started life as ELVIRA, an evolutionary system for generating abstract art. Some of this technology found its way into the Painting Fool project. Cyllr grew from an iPhone port of ELVIRA to a full-fledged casual creator app for digital fascinators. Many of the fascinator templates in Cyllr are inspired by the possibilities of Apple’s SpriteKit framework, particularly its tight integration of the Box2D physics engine.

IMG_0005Cyllr will be released for iOS in early 2016. We’re still exploring possible business models, but you will certainly be able to enjoy and create fascinators for free. We’ll be posting more about Cyllr, and the research questions we will be using it to address, as development progresses.

Oh, and then there’s “Son of Clippy“, but more on that later…

Progress on Cyllr, our casual creator app