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 171 & 172

I have a lot on my plate at the moment. A bit too much it seems. So it’s a good thing I got to wrap up a few things in the past two weeks…

Most notably Maguro, for which we pre­sent­ed our design to the client last wednes­day. We gave away quite a show, includ­ing music and spo­ken word per­for­mances. The whole thing was well-received.

Anoth­er deliv­ery of a kind was This hap­pened – Utrecht #7. Nev­er before did it take us so long to com­plete our speak­er line­up. It’s an expe­ri­ence I would like to pre­vent in future, but we couldn’t real­ly help it. As a result, I had very few expec­ta­tions about this par­tic­u­lar one, but it turned out great. We even man­aged to try out a few new things. A new clock, and a new “badge” (actu­al­ly a but­ton). Good stuff. Some nice reports have been writ­ten about it, too.

More deliv­er­ies, at the Nether­lands Film Fes­ti­val we had a good run with PLAY Pilots live game num­ber two: De Stere­oscoop by Zes­baans. We man­aged to get some nice pub­lic­i­ty, we had it set up at the clos­ing par­ty and lots of peo­ple played on it. Good stuff.

Apart from this I have been busy find­ing projects for Twee­t­akt 2011’s inter­ac­tive pro­gram, and man­ag­ing the Pam­pus group project at the HKU.1 My interns at Hub­bub are also plug­ging away at the Learn­ing Lab games, they deliv­ered their sec­ond one last week.

Good grief. No won­der I was a lit­tle sick and had to take a day off yes­ter­day. I’m hop­ing to take a it a lit­tle bit eas­i­er the com­ing peri­od. No idea how, though. Any ideas?

  1. The group is blog­ging, too, by the way. []

Week 169

Fiona Raby once told me that the major­i­ty of her work with stu­dents at the RCA was about psy­chol­o­gy. After a week like this, I can see where she’s com­ing from. With­out going into too much detail, I had my work cut out for me with a new group of stu­dents who I will be work­ing with on a design research project at the HKU. After a first meet­ing with the team and a kick-off with the client the next day, it became clear I was deal­ing with a group with some seri­ous moti­va­tion­al issues. The trick was to fig­ure out where it all was com­ing from. To do this it was vital to try and see things as they real­ly are in stead of as they were pre­sent­ed to me by the group. After sev­er­al addi­tion­al ses­sions (mess­ing with my sched­ule but that comes with the ter­ri­to­ry) I had it fig­ured out more or less and have for­mu­lat­ed a plan to deal with it. Psy­chol­o­gy.

In between all that crazi­ness my week con­sist­ed of:

  • Work­ing with my two new interns at Hub­bub. We reflect­ed on their expe­ri­ences at the Nat­ur­al Net­work­ing Fes­ti­val and pre­sent­ed a post-mortem of the first game to Thieu after attend­ing one of the Learn­ing Lab mee­tups.
  • Sketch­ing out addi­tions to the PLAY Pilots web­site nec­es­sary to sup­port the Zes­baans instal­la­tion for the Nether­lands Film Fes­ti­val. These will launch next week in time for the installation’s unveil­ing on Thurs­day.
  • Pre­sent­ing my pre­lim­i­nary list of inter­ac­tive works suit­able for next year’s Twee­t­akt fes­ti­val. This is my first time curat­ing an event oth­er than This hap­pened. I am keen to mash up play­ful inter­ac­tion design with the fringes of game design and it seems Twee­t­akt are up for it too. Hap­py days.
  • Anoth­er full day of work on Maguro. Best part of which was a few qui­et hours to bang out a first playable paper pro­to­type of the game. Con­ver­gence is a bitch but always reward­ing when it hap­pens.
  • Today, I hung out at BUROPONY and took care of a few odds and ends for their web­site. In return work has start­ed on a last bit of Hub­bub cor­po­rate iden­ti­ty: a design for the box to hold our busi­ness-slash-col­lectible play­ing cards.

And with that I am sign­ing off. A train is tak­ing me from Rot­ter­dam to Utrecht, per­haps I will be in time to catch the tail end of fri­day drinks at the Dutch Game Gar­den. Nev­er a dull moment there.

A quick look at Tweetakt’s playful installations

Twee­t­akt is hap­pen­ing in Utrecht at the moment. It’s a youth the­atre fes­ti­val, real­ly push­ing the lim­its of what we think that means. As an exam­ple, they’ve pro­vid­ed space for sev­er­al instal­la­tions at the fes­ti­val cen­tre on the Neude. I went over for a quick look today — even though I know most of the cre­ators per­son­al­ly and am famil­iar with sev­er­al of the pieces. They’re all free and open to the pub­lic, so if you’re in the area, you should go too.

Knikker­baan

Medialab Utrecht's Knikkerbaan at Tweetakt

Made by a few prin­ci­pals at the Medi­al­ab Utrecht. Push a but­ton and a mar­ble starts rolling down a futur­is­tic look­ing track. Halfway through it enters a scan­ner of sorts, and is con­vert­ed into a vir­tu­al coun­ter­part vis­i­ble on a screen, only to emerge phys­i­cal­ly after some time again. At the end of the track, you get to keep the mar­ble.

It’s hard­ly inter­ac­tive, but does look kind of impres­sive and of course, mar­bles are always fun.

Kleurkamer

Monobanda's Kleurkamer at Tweetakt

A new ver­sion what is becom­ing a clas­sic by the trou­ble­mak­ers at Monoban­da. A beam­er, a white decor and wiimotes enable you to paint with light. It’s a sim­ple premise, the exe­cu­tion is ser­vice­able but the result is quite mag­i­cal. The addi­tion of white jack­ets for peo­ple that want to become part of the can­vas is a real nice touch.

Block­blaz­ers

Fourcelabs's Blockblazers at Tweetakt

Made by my friends at Fource­labs, this is the one that hasn’t the ben­e­fit of a spec­tac­u­lar phys­i­cal shape but is the most fun to play. It’s a com­pet­i­tive plat­form game playable with eight peo­ple at the same time with some clever social and phys­i­cal touch­es. Scor­ing points is reward­ed with a big pho­to of your­self that is shown for a few sec­onds, and the game wraps around two big screens that are back to back, forc­ing you to move around and com­pete with the oth­er play­ers for phys­i­cal floor space.

It’s nice to see this kind of stuff at a the­atre fes­ti­val. I hope the pieces will do well — despite the fact that not all of them have been placed and pre­sent­ed to the pub­lic in the best way — so that we’ll get more of this stuff in the years to come.