Week 161

This past week, again, was most­ly about project Ebi. We kicked off the third iter­a­tion on mon­day with a review of the ver­sion we deliv­ered the fri­day before. What fol­lowed was a heat­ed dis­cus­sion about the rule­set. I felt it need­ed a bit more depth so play­ers would have more inter­est­ing choic­es. The trick is to not go over­board with the com­plex­i­ty, because we want the game to still have imme­di­ate appeal.

By the way, project Ebi has a name now and it is PLAY Pilots. The site is still cloaked but the process blog — where you can find many won­der­ful wee­knotes by Fource­Labs and Zes­baans as well as our­selves — is pub­lic. We’re also on Twit­ter and Face­book. Keep tabs on those chan­nels to get ear­ly access to the BETA

On tues­day I head­ed to Ams­ter­dam for a taste of Stump­town’s cof­fee — some­thing Alper had been bug­ging me about for ages — and a trip to Pris­tine for some acces­sories for my new bike. I spent the rest of the day at Alper’s stu­dio review­ing one of my stu­dents grad­u­a­tion the­sis. She’s designed a point-and-click adven­ture game with an inter­sex pro­tag­o­nist, an attempt to cri­tique gen­der con­ven­tions through game­play. Inter­est­ing stuff.

On wednes­day I con­tin­ued work on Ebi with the team. It was Bernard’s last day before his vaca­tion so we wrapped up an impor­tant part of the copy. In the after­noon I head­ed to the Ned­er­lands Film Fes­ti­val’s office to kick off the sec­ond pilot that is part of Ebi, which will be cre­at­ed by the awe­some crew at Zes­baans. They have post­ed their first wee­knote over at the project blog.

Thurs­day, I met up with a few of my stu­dents. Some still require help, but a few oth­ers are at the point that they looked apolo­getic when I asked when they would like to meet again. They’re in the final phase of their work, and I’ve done what I can. We’ll see each oth­er at the finals, which will be in august. 

A first for Hub­bub, I had a chat with an pos­si­ble intern on thurs­day too. I’m still not sure if we’ve reached the point where we can offer a good envi­ron­ment for interns (I take the edu­ca­tion­al respon­si­bil­i­ty we would have quite seri­ous) so we’ll have to see if we take one on board. 

On fri­day, I was back at the soon-to-be new Dutch Game Gar­den on the Neude square — we’re mov­ing next week — to work with the Ebi team. Alper was most­ly hack­ing away at sign-in stuff for Twit­ter and also the new ver­sion of the game engine. Simon made good progress with the designs for the game inter­face and I was surf­ing for fun cus­tomiz­able gad­get to hand out to our play­ers dur­ing the first fes­ti­val we’ll appear at; Stekker Fest 2010. Would you fan­cy an eight­ies style sun­cap?

Also, a few of our Fource­Labs friends dropped by to dis­cuss tech­ni­cal mat­ters deal­ing with how we’d inte­grate the web game we’re build­ing with the phys­i­cal one they’re doing for Stekker Fest. They also showed some awe­some mock­ups of the whole set­up made with LEGO. They’ve also been play­ing around with high speed cam­eras, yield­ing awe­some footage. I’m sure they’ll share more details in their next post.

Week 160

So here we are at the end of week 160 which has been most­ly about project Ebi. Today we’re wrap­ping up the sec­ond iter­a­tion of the project. It’s crazy to think we have been going for only four weeks in total now and at this point we have a a first soft­ware ver­sion of the game run­ning with copy and design shap­ing up nice­ly too. My per­son­al con­tri­bu­tion has­n’t been that huge, it’s most­ly been about mak­ing sure the killer team I’ve assem­bled (if I may say so myself) can do its job.

In between writ­ing this, me and Bernard are play­ing with the pro­to­type, as Alper is hack­ing away at it. Mean­while Simon (back from a vaca­tion to Aus­tria, his father­land) is back in Rot­ter­dam pol­ish­ing some of the new screens we’ve iden­ti­fied after set­tling on a ruleset.

Aside from this I’ve spent some time again at the HKU talk­ing to stu­dents. This includ­ed a live demo of a game a few of them are work­ing on that involves brain con­trol. They’ve got­ten their hands on an Emo­tiv BCI and are fig­ur­ing out ways to make mas­ter­ing thought pat­terns as a play­er actu­al­ly doable. Stu­dents have all the fun these days.

links for 2010-07-16

  • “When artists become inter­est­ed in sport, “they become ter­ri­bly anx­ious that they could be con­fused with the quote-unquote nor­mal fans,” said Hans Ulrich Gum­brecht, a pro­fes­sor of com­par­a­tive lit­er­a­ture at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty and author of “In Praise of Ath­let­ic Beau­ty” (Belk­nap Press, 2006). “So intel­lec­tu­als, when they play games, they can­not just play nor­mal games. It has to be intel­lec­tu­al­ized.”” Guilty as charged I guess. But when are these ‘new sports’ art, when are they design and when are they just muck­ing about?
  • “We need first to acknowl­edge that today’s play­ers are aware of the mag­ic cir­cle – they are often will­ful­ly and hap­pi­ly par­tial­ly with­in it and play­ing con­cep­tu­al­ly with their sense of pres­ence there­in at any giv­en moment, regard­less of how immer­sive the game is. Sec­ond, we need to offer them more than the mere abil­i­ty to enter and exit that cir­cle. We need to let them touch it, manip­u­late it, and explore and test its lim­its.” I object to some of the stereo­types in this essay, and have trou­ble grasp­ing what is meant by the term “immer­sive sim”. But I can only agree with the point that any­thing of impor­tance in a game should be in some­thing a play­er can act on. The rest, frankly, is dressing.

links for 2010-07-15

Week 158

It’s the end of week 158 and I am sat at a table in what will soon be the new Dutch Game Gar­den. On the fourth floor builders are putting final touch­es to the stu­dio Fource­Labs and Hub­bub will be shar­ing. I am on the first floor, with a gor­geous view of the Neude square which is the scene of much sum­mery activ­i­ty. The city as theatre.

This week has been main­ly about project Ebi. We kicked off a sec­ond iter­a­tion, after wrap­ping up basic func­tion­al­i­ty in iter­a­tion 0, this one is about adding the game spe­cif­ic stuff. Most of our ener­gies so far have gone into design­ing a good rule­set. We had a break­through on wednes­day and recon­vened today to for­mal­ize those ideas, and fill in the blanks. We now have enough mate­r­i­al to push for­ward on design, copy and engi­neer­ing. It’s that stage of that project where the shape of things starts to become clear and you can’t wait for it to mate­ri­al­ize so that you can touch it, use it, play with it.

In a short while I’ll be strolling through the cen­tre of Utrecht to the cur­rent and soon to be old Dutch Game Gar­den, for a farewell par­ty. We’ve had plen­ty of good times in Driehar­ingstraat 6, let’s give the old build­ing one more bash.

Week 157

Had anoth­er busy week, with time equal­ly divid­ed between projects Buta and Ebi.

The for­mer has come to an end with the deliv­ery of a video sketch yes­ter­day. Lead­ing up to that on mon­day we test­ed sev­er­al paper pro­to­types of games for peo­ple and pigs with farm­ers. The response we got from them was encour­ag­ing. Hav­ing processed this feed­back we set­tled on one con­cept that would be devel­oped fur­ther into a video sketch. After this we devel­oped a sce­nario, sketched a rough sto­ry­board and divid­ed up tasks. I hacked togeth­er a soft­ware pro­to­type of one half of the thing, which is aimed at peo­ple (using Pro­cess­ing and the Live­View screen­cast­er) while Irene built a to scale phys­i­cal mod­el of the instal­la­tion for pigs. I can’t share the video just yet but I’m sure it won’t be long before I can.

Ebi’s first iter­a­tion has come to a close today and I am hap­py to see we have work­ing soft­ware with pret­ty pic­tures and nice words, all thanks to the hard work of the team (hel­lo, Alper, Bernard and Simon). I was most­ly mak­ing sure these guys could do their jobs, as well as orga­niz­ing work that will need to be done by oth­ers in future. Next week, after iter­a­tion two, I think we will have a thing we can show you. Can’t wait for that.

And now, it’s time to close this damn lap­top and pre­pare for the after­noon’s game. I’m not a big fan of foot­ball but Nether­lands — Brazil is not to be missed.