Week 183

And so the last work­week of the year has come to an end. I’ve just wrapped some going-away gifts for Wieger and Syl­van, who have been interns at Hub­bub for the past four months. I’ve put togeth­er a lit­tle sur­vival kit con­tain­ing every­thing a junior agent of Hub­bub needs to make it out in the big bad world.

It’s been a rel­a­tive­ly qui­et week, with some work on Maguro, which will kick off prop­er­ly in the new year when all of the team is back on deck. Alper has start­ed doing some small soft­ware pro­to­typ­ing of the basic game­play. Pro­to­types over ideas, that’s how I pre­fer to do things.

I went over to the Nether­lands Film Fes­ti­val to look back on our col­lab­o­ra­tion as part of the PLAY Pilots project. Seems like we’re both keen to do more work togeth­er in 2011, which is nice.

I was at Media­mat­ic wednes­day night to do an Ignite talk on the work that’s been going on at Hub­bub. That went quite well (I was glad to have prac­ticed the thing a few times, because the time pres­sure is killer). I’ll post slides and a tran­script to the Hub­bub blog soon­ish.

I man­aged to squeeze in some shenani­gans in the snow too. A nice fol­low up to last friday’s snow fight, this time I rode a too-fast-for-my-own-good sleigh down the side of the old city for­ti­fi­ca­tions towards the moat and almost col­lid­ed with a dog and a lit­tle kid. I man­aged to stay dry though. That was fun.

And with that it is time to sign off. I start­ed writ­ing these wee­knotes at the begin­ning of this year and wasn’t at all sure if I would keep it up. Turns out I did, and I have to say it’s been a plea­sure to write these for the most part.

Even so, I don’t think I’ll keep writ­ing these here in 2011. Most of my work now hap­pens at Hub­bub so I’ll be writ­ing the occa­sion­al update over at the blog there.

When it comes to the link posts, I used to do this with Deli­cious, but like many I’ve made the switch to Pin­board last week. I don’t think I’ll reac­ti­vate link posts, so if you want to fol­low the book­marks, fol­low me there.

And of course there’s my per­son­al Twit­ter account, and the Hub­bub one. That might be eas­i­est in fact although maybe a bit over­whelm­ing at times.

All that’s left to say is thank you for read­ing this, have a mer­ry Christ­mas a hap­py new year, and I will catch you again some­time some­where.

Week 182

First at the stu­dio, cof­fee brew­ing, Tron Lega­cy sound­track play­ing mak­ing this feel like an epic morn­ing. It’s week 182 which means the penul­ti­mate work­week of this year. I’m look­ing for­ward to a much need­ed hol­i­day between Christ­mas and the new year dur­ing which I will be com­plete­ly off the grid. Being dis­con­nect­ed has become a lux­u­ry.

Thing are qui­et­ing down, but still there’s plen­ty to do, although things seem a lit­tle less frag­ment­ed. I basi­cal­ly focused on get­ting a new project code­named Maguro off the ground. I signed the con­tract with the client and briefed the team. We’ll be mak­ing a per­va­sive game aimed at cre­at­ing a change in the atti­tude of a large gov­ern­men­tal service’s per­son­nel. It’s ambi­tious and excit­ing. Good thing I have some very bright minds on the team: Alper, Simon, Karel and Niels. We’ll get start­ed prop­er­ly next year. Can’t wait.

Besides this I went over to Muiden to attend a demo and pre­sen­ta­tion of the game my stu­dents cre­at­ed for the island of Pam­pus. There was too much ice in the IJs­selmeer so we couldn’t actu­al­ly go to the island, so the demo was done on a dike with a view of the lake. I took some pho­tos. It was great.

And in between I have been talk­ing to the stu­dios who cre­at­ed the PLAY Pilots live games. Eval­u­at­ing the project, so that if we get to do it again in the new year (which I am very much hop­ing we can) we keep doing what we did well, and improve on the things we could have done bet­ter.

With that it’s time to sign off and dive into fri­day. Tonight’s Hub­bub Christ­mas drinks at Kafe Bel­gië. Very much look­ing for­ward to that.

Week 181

And then all of a sud­den there’s only a few more weeks left in the year. As is usu­al­ly the case at such a time I’m try­ing to tie up as many loose ends as I can before tak­ing a one-week break between Christ­mas and the new year:

I worked with Alper, Simon and Bernard to get the last PLAY Pilots addi­tion out the door. I did a final assess­ment of the work my stu­dents did for Pam­pus. I worked with Wieger and Syl­van to tweak the very last test they’ll be doing for the Learn­ing Lab metagame…

And then there’s new things, such as Maguro, for which I wrote a brief­ing and drew up con­tracts. And Twee­t­akt 2011, for which I had anoth­er meet­ing to go over pro­duc­tion details of the var­i­ous works on dis­play. I also talked with Ianus and Alexan­der about the next edi­tions of This hap­pened – Utrecht. So 2011 is a lot on my mind already.

I don’t know if I will keep on keep­ing these notes next year. I want to free up some time to do oth­er writ­ing, and I think a bet­ter place for these sta­tus updates is the Hub­bub blog, since I have more or less phased out my free­lance prac­tice this year and so don’t work under the Leapfrog moniker any­more. We’ll see.

Week 180

Last week was packed again. When a few last minute meet­ings get squeezed in, it usu­al­ly means trou­ble. Week num­ber 180 was no excep­tion, which explains the absence of a wee­knote on fri­day. A quick run­down of stuff that went down:

  • Wieger and Syl­van worked on a pro­to­type of the Learn­ing Lab metagame, which we pre­sent­ed on fri­day. Got heaps of feed­back, now all that’s left to do is: do a last live test, doc­u­ment the design, write up things we learned through­out the project.
  • Togeth­er with Irene I spent time detail­ing a sto­ry­board for a video sketch for project Buta. We met up with Hein on fri­day, to see if he could be assist us, since he has mad video and motion graph­ics skills.
  • Prop­er­ly kicked off Maguro on thurs­day. More on that one soon.
  • Did a review of the Pam­pus project, which is com­ing along nice­ly. This fri­day I’ll do the final assess­ment of the project, and the week after it’ll be pre­sent­ed to the client so the heat is on.
  • We did a “pants down” release of the Band­jes­land addi­tions to the PLAY Pilots web­site. Shame’s a good moti­va­tor, so now we have a real incen­tive to tweak it so we can announce it offi­cial­ly this tues­day.
  • I wrote some descrip­tions of the inter­ac­tive work that’ll be on dis­play at Twee­t­akt 2011.

Week 179

Anoth­er quick wee­knote, things are sim­ply too busy. I was going to attend the STRP con­fer­ence today, for exam­ple (which looks great) but have had to can­cel. Too much to attend to.

So what’s up?

  • We ran This hap­pened – Utrecht #8 last Mon­day. For a great impres­sion of the evening read this report by Iskan­der. Video’s will be up soon at the event’s page.
  • Work with Alper, Simon and Bernard on the last of the addi­tions to the PLAY Pilots web­site. The project is near­ing its end as the last live game will launch tonight at Le Guess Who?
  • A full day of meet­ings and a ses­sion with the Pam­pus stu­dent team at the HKU. I also had the chance to dis­cuss the next steps for project Buta (you know, the thing involv­ing pigs).
  • A trip to the Graph­ic Design Muse­um to dis­cuss the chal­lenges of exhibit­ing games.
  • Some work with my interns at Hub­bub on the Learn­ing Lab metagame. They’ve built a great paper pro­to­type; we’re going to play it today.
  • And some talk in between about what hap­pens after PLAY Pilots, as well as about the inter­ac­tive pro­gram for Twee­t­akt 2011…

Week 178

I have devel­oped a sort of rou­tine when it comes to writ­ing these notes. I usu­al­ly sit down on fri­day morn­ing and bang them out in around half an hour. The trick to a lot of the things I do is devel­op­ing habits. Oth­ers would call it OCD.

But when­ev­er some­thing oth­er than the ordi­nary stuff hap­pens on fri­day, it’s a chal­lenge to still post wee­knotes. This was the case last week. I was at Game in the City to see Kei­ta Taka­hashi speak and also par­tic­i­pate in an invi­ta­tion-only work­shop with him. A great expe­ri­ence all around, Taka­hashi-san turned out to be a bit of a philoso­pher, an inter­est­ing com­bi­na­tion of a super-seri­ous and very play­ful per­son­al­i­ty. The signed Kata­mari disk I took home is a per­fect sou­venir.

Week num­ber 179 has tak­en off already, so I’ll have to keep this short now. The most impor­tant things to report are that I worked on the Band­jes­land addi­tions to the PLAY Pilots web­site with Alper, Simon and Bernard. The game had a test-run last fri­day and we’ll be doing a test of the data import this week so we can tweak and tune before the whole thing goes live com­ing fri­day.

Fur­ther­more, I spoke at an event for mid­dle school teach­ers on wednes­day, where I pro­posed a trav­el­ing games stu­dio that would part­ner with teach­ers and stu­dents to make games about a vari­ety of sub­jects (any­thing real­ly). Got some nice respons­es after­wards, which was heart­en­ing. Slides and notes will prob­a­bly show up once things calm down a bit on the Hub­bub blog.

Aside from this I worked on Maguro, the Pam­pus project, Twee­t­akt 2011 and the Learn­ing Lab project, and took care of the last prepa­ra­tions for This hap­pened – Utrecht #8. The lat­ter took place last night and was a lot of fun once again. Bring on the rest of num­ber 179!

Week 177

I was just check­ing out a secret devel­op­ment ver­sion of the Band­jes­land page on PLAY Pilots. It is shap­ing up nice­ly, all the basic tech is in place, now it’s just a mat­ter of knead­ing it to look nice and con­nect­ing it to the instal­la­tion Monoban­da are build­ing for Le Guess Who? When all goes accord­ing to plan we’ll have a love­ly online record of what went down in that very spe­cial place in Tivoli Oude­gracht. Get­ting the scaf­fold­ing up for this took up a large chunk of the week, with Alper and Simon back in the stu­dio for engi­neer­ing and design.

Next wednes­day I’ll be speak­ing at an event for teach­ers in mid­dle edu­ca­tion at Pakhuis de Zwi­jger orga­nized by Noord­hoff Pub­lish­ers. I’ve been asked to share my most remark­able idea for engag­ing stu­dents in a nov­el way. I have a rough out­line of the thing on paper (it popped up almost ful­ly formed when I woke up this morn­ing, love it when that hap­pens). Now it’s just a mat­ter of build­ing the slides. Shouldn’t take too long.

Anoth­er major thing this week was coach­ing the devel­op­ment of a paper pro­to­type of the game we’re design­ing for the Learn­ing Lab. Wieger and Syl­van, my two awe­some interns at Hub­bub, have come up with a love­ly con­cept for some­thing that runs on top of the course’s inter­nal blog sys­tem and sup­ports stu­dents with reflect­ing on their self-devel­op­ment. We played through it this morn­ing with the client, filled a big white­board with com­ments and are now in good shape to work towards a ver­sion that we can playtest with stu­dents. Love­ly.

Week 176

As I was start­ing to write this a dis­cus­sion broke out on dra­matur­gy and game design. So I got side­tracked debat­ing sim­i­lar­i­ties and dif­fer­ences between dis­ci­plines and most impor­tant­ly what they have to offer to each oth­er. The room was filled with inter­ac­tion design­ers, game design­ers and folk with a the­atre back­ground.1 So that was inter­est­ing.

More mix­ing of dis­ci­plines: on tues­day I spent a day work­ing on Buta with Irene van Peer, a prod­uct design­er with a tremen­dous amount of expe­ri­ence in the health­care domain. We sat down and man­aged to push the work for­ward through lots of sketch­ing and mak­ing. Next up is more work with pigs and farm­ers on site.

The rest of this week was tak­en up by work for PLAY Pilots (Monobanda’s Band­jes­land for Le Guess Who? is turn­ing out great), the Pam­pus project at the HKU, and a few meet­ings for new projects on the hori­zon.

I have been pay­ing atten­tion to my calo­ry intake the past few weeks. It turned out this was far too low. Now that I am eat­ing much more I find myself being able to cope with less sleep, more stress and just gen­er­al­ly feel­ing much bet­ter. Which also makes for more plea­sure tak­en from my work. Who’d have thought food could be such an upper?

  1. Wieger and Syl­van, interns at Hub­bub, study Design for Vir­tu­al The­atre and Games at the HKU. []

Week 175

This week, a large chunk of my time was tak­en up by the return of project Maguro. A few weeks ago, I think it was num­ber 171, we (a team of free­lance con­sul­tants put togeth­er by Demo­vides) pre­sent­ed our con­cept. It turns out the client liked this con­cept so much, they actu­al­ly want it pro­duced, pron­to. Demo­vides has asked Hub­bub to take care of all cre­ative work, which is great. I’ve been plan­ning the project, togeth­er with the oth­er folks dri­ving it, and fig­ur­ing out bud­gets and dead­lines and deliv­er­ables and so on. We should be able to send the client a pro­pos­al before the end of next week.

Anoth­er big ses­sion was devot­ed to a review of the work Hub­bub has been doing for the Learn­ing Lab. We have three games under our belt so we talked about what worked and what didn’t. And we looked ahead and came up with a plan for the next phase. In gen­er­al, we’ll be mov­ing away from prop­er games and explor­ing more sub­tle ways of intro­duc­ing rule­sets into exist­ing process­es. It’s going to be more about mak­ing game-like learn­ing tools and less about prop­er games that have sec­ond-order teach­ing effects.

On mon­day we announced This hap­pened – Utrecht #8. Rain­er Kohlberg­er, Hel­ma van Rijn, Lotte Mei­jer and my friends at Fource­Labs… it’s going to be awe­some, I am sure. Three more weeks to go. Apart from the usu­al arrange­ments, not much needs to be done for this, luck­i­ly.

Those were the high­lights of this week I guess. I did work on the Pam­pus project and on PLAY Pilots (have you seen the roundup in Eng­lish for that one, by the way?) but that’s about it.

Week 174

STT again

This week on Wednes­day I found myself in the love­ly KNAW build­ing to talk about the far future of applied game design. I was invit­ed to do so by STT, togeth­er with David Shaf­fer, Jeroen van Mas­trigt and Jeroen Elf­ferich. I talked about the inca­pac­i­ty of design as well as sci­ence fic­tion to effec­tive­ly imag­ine a future, how to deal with that as a design­er, and two areas that I see as tru­ly vir­gin ter­ri­to­ry for applied game design: the new type of city we’ve seen emerge in the East, and syn­thet­ic biol­o­gy. I got some nice respons­es and some chal­leng­ing ques­tions from the crowd, so I guess things went OK. The anno­tat­ed slides will find their way to the Hub­bub blog soon.

Aside from this, I spent the week work­ing on PLAY Pilots — con­tin­u­ing work on the next pilot for Le Guess Who? togeth­er with Monoban­da. And at the HKU, work­ing with my stu­dents on the Pam­pus project. Final­ly, my interns have kicked off their third game at the Learn­ing Lab, this one run­ning on their inter­nal blog plat­form. It involves mon­keys and a blind drag­on. Look­ing for­ward to the write­up for that one.

Quite a few bits of con­tent found their way online too, by the way. In case you missed them the first time around, here they are:

Plus a video of the Boc­ce Drift ses­sion Hub­bub ran a while back: