It used to be that the thing I couldn’t deal with was this picture of a dog. Hysterical laughter would ensue and work would cease. The dog picture became a Pip-specific Rick-roll.
Höme Improvisåtion is a furniture construction game from The Stork Burnt Down. You’re given a number of rooms in need of furnishing and must construct a solution using digital flat-pack furniture. Slats of wood are jammed into poles to form shelving units, decorative boar heads must be attached to decorative boar tusks, crockery must be glued together after being dropped from a great height… The catch is that there are no instructions beyond the picture on the box/in the catalogue. Also the pieces might be wrong.
“Lol!” you might say, spying the joke.
I did not say “Lol!”
I tried to build a chair. Properly.
That was on Friday night. It is now Tuesday and I am still trying to build the chair.
Let me be clear. I have built other things in the intervening hours.
There is the shelving unit:
And, of course, the chair raft:
Now, those are all valuable additions to the home but that chair… That sodding chair.
The thing about the chair is that it’s an early enough game item that it has all the pieces you need and they’re the right shapes and with the right holes and pegs. (The game does a great job with lulling you into thinking later furniture will be just as possible as the lamp and the trestle table and the chair before abandoning you to the hell that is the shelving unit and the dresser.)
The chair comprises eight pieces. There are two front legs (scrolled things, a little more fancy than I was expecting), two back legs (quite plain), the seat, the chair back, and two side pieces which connect the back to both the seat and the back legs. The latter pieces are the jerk pieces. This is a technical term.
To attach the different parts you need to rotate them, lining them up with their companion as best you can. You can rotate each piece through two axes – one horizontal and one vertical – before hovering it near the construction until a dotted line connects it with where you think it should go. The game then takes control, shunting the piece into place with no chance for fine tuning. The front legs kind of work out okay but the back is a nightmare. The isometric view means I’ve not seen the difference between each of the jerk pieces, how they bend ever so slightly to match the curve of the chair back.
They’re now mashed into the upholstery, clipping through. It’s as if two parts of a chair have evolved in separate dimensions, each adapting to the demands of its environment, evolving, changing – then suddenly thrust into my living room and forced to reunite. I hate this chair so much.
I look at it for a long time, trying to work out whether to continue or to attempt a repair.
I build a table.
The table is bad.
I play a game of Dota to clear my head but all I can think about is the chair. I talk about it before, during and after the game. I think about the chair when I can’t sleep that night. I wake up on Saturday and consider canceling a trip to see my sister and little niece so I can fix this chair. While I’m with my sister she takes delivery of actual chairs. They’re part of a garden set and I consider asking her to let me build them, then and there, just so I can prove myself to the other chair. The hell chair from the two weird chair dimensions.
We make crowns and go on the swings instead.
On Sunday I stream some Höme Improvisåtion. It’s fun and eventually I decide to start just building the furniture into weird shapes. I try to make a snowman at one point. But that chair. That fucking chair. That awful, embarrassing, hell chair.
On Monday morning I woke up and thought about the chair. Enough was enough. I took the in-game mallet to it and broke all the connections between the joints, staring at the constituent parts on my in-game laminate flooring. For an hour I attached and re-attached the jerk sections, trying to get them to line up with the chair back and each other.
The biggest obstacle here is that clipping is a “feature” not a bug so the pieces never snap into place. They just mash into one another, overlapping where they don’t line up. The second biggest obstacle is that you can’t line up two connecting points at once. You have to pick one and the other falls victim to clipping. You just have to try and luck in so that the clipping happens in such a way as to conceal the join.
It’s been three hours now and I’ve been responding to emails, dealing with some social media bits, glaring at the day’s schedule and tinkering with the chair.
This is as close as I have gotten to satisfactory:
It is utterly unsatisfactory because one of the joins is visibly wrong but I think it might be time to stop. I sometimes joke that I “must have nearly finished Dota by now” referencing the hours I’ve spent and the fact it’s a game without end. I can see the chair going the same way, but without hope of any smaller win conditions along the way. My chair MMR is functionally zero. My days stretch ahead – an endless sequence of mallets and rotations and clicks and mallets.
So how does this story end?
It ends with the chair – the embarrassing hell chair with its awful joint-based transgressions and inadequacies – cunningly hidden.
No-one will know about my lack of Höme Improvisåtion skill now.
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