Master Of Pottery

PC, Family friendly (apart from at the bottom of this review)

I’ll admit, I started playing Master Of Pottery with sensible intent. I saw it on Wholesome Games’ Twitter, and thought it might be a nice, relaxing game, perhaps something to recommend. So I took a look. And my being sensible lasted about fourteen seconds.

This is unquestionably a game that allows people to very seriously create beautiful works of clay, as is proven on the game’s Community page. I didn’t do that. Because I am five years old. I instead did my best to craft a penis vase, and then put as many spouts on everything as it would allow.

I’ve had such a good time! I haven’t giggled like that in a long while. I’m not proud of it, except that I am, but I snickered and smirked and properly laughed my way through building the silliest pots the ever-expanding collection of tools allowed me to. And then felt enormous pride as my pottery drew in the crowds to my exhibitions in their hundreds, raking in cash, with people writing me letters begging to buy my work. My Work. Capital W.

Master Of Pottery begins with teaching you to, as we in the trade say, throw clay. You have to gently stroke it up and down, in and out, until it’s lovely and smooth. The ghost of Patrick Swayze is presumably being added as DLC at a later date, but this oversight can be forgiven due to this still being in Early Access.

As you improve as a potter, you’ll become more confident using the various techniques (different bulge-shape buttons) to create your masterpieces, and then when you’ve levelled up enough to unlock handles, lids and spouts in the in-game store, you’ll be tacking those on here too. That done, it’s time to chuck it in the kiln, which is accompanied by an abysmal minigame of mouse clicking to have it be on fire just the right amount.

Then the best bit: decorating it. Again, the more you play, the more you have to play with. In between work days you have exhibition days, which bring in the money to spend on new colours, decorations, patterns, finishes, and pieces of art. These can then be applied with as much delicacy and taste as you desire. I desired none at all. When finished, you fire it a second time, this time thankfully without the minigame, and your pot is ready to put on a column in your exhibition hall.

You can set the ticket price, spend money on advertising, and then fling open the doors as the gullible public comes flooding in. All the time mad fans will be sending you vast amounts of Yen in the post, or offers to buy your Art at a price of their choosing. (There’s later a way to sell your pots yourself in a local shop, but again you’re oddly at the behest of the offers that come in, rather than pricing your own pieces.) Then buy more decorations, and return to your studio to keep the production line flowing.

I spent waaaaaaay more time playing this than I meant to. Because as daft as I was being, I was totally hooked into the game’s systems. I was repricing tickets, spending on TV ads to try to get in big crowds on holidays, carefully arranging my vases and pots on their pedestals to look as lovely as possible, and picking through the store (it’s all pretend money) to find elements that could look most ridiculous on my next creation.

I kept thinking, “I’ll stop now, because this is silly,” and then realising I’d levelled up enough to be able to import my own art into the game. And that meant I could decorate a pot with a screenshot of another pot exhibited in the game, and I laughed until my eyes teared up. Even writing that I can’t help but think of other utterly incongruous things I could import in to wrap around a vase (and yes, of course other people have used it to add their Hentai, bleaurgh). Oh I can’t resist. I’m booting the game up again.

Oh no I’m laughing again. It just occurred to me to make a REALLY big fat teapot with the tiniest spout and handle, and I’m so childish. And decorate it with this review as I write it.

And Buried Treasure too.

I have to stop.

This is phenomenally cheap, just under £3, and while still in development certainly complete enough to have allowed me such a silly Tuesday morning. More features are apparently due, although it’s not clear what they will be. It’s also worth noting that this isn’t a perfect translation from its original Chinese, but it’s all clear enough.

I think if taken seriously, people could design some really nice pots with enough detail unlocked. And played like an idiot man-baby, it’s also tremendous fun, its slowly growing structure enough to have hooked me in despite my childish efforts.

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