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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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: