Category Archives: Activities

GDC 2018

I had the fortune of attending The Game Developers Conference 2018 in San Francisco this year.

Throughout the conference I took the following notes which I thought to share!

Day 1 – 3/19/2018

My first day at GDC involved visiting a number of sponsored talks as well as a great talk on the game Mortician’s Tale.

Google Dev Day

In this event Google was presenting a number of new features. One in particular was Google Instant. The concept is that developers would create partial builds that would act as a lite version of the experience used to give a demo of the experience. One interesting concept they proposed was that as speed increases, consumption increases.

Amazon – Gameon

This session was a demo for introducing Amazons Gameon feature. In the talk the speaker went through how to implement the Gameon system providing diagrams and code samples.

Gameon, as I understood it, is a service that allows deliveries leveraging the Amazon delivery service. The example the speaker spoke at length about was integrating real world prizes into a game system using Amazon’s delivery service e.g. a player wins a game and a real prize is delivered to them by Amazon.

Amazon – Future of E-Sports

In this panel hosted by Amazon the speakers gave their opinion on the future of E-Sports and made a number of interesting points including:

  • What was driving the increase in size of esport was not something in mobile applications, but the increase in the number of devices, and increase in speed of infrastructure.
  • The best e-sport is easy to pickup but hard to master.
  • The perceived skill gap of mobile vs PC is good for the e-sports as its about accessibility having mobile in the e-sports scene.
  • When you have a hit one challenge is to sustain the momentum. There are several ways to do so. Two ways are building a brand or building a community.
  • Games that are good for broadcasting are surprising, unpredictable, and easy to watch.
  • E-Sports has a structure like that of regular sports. Blizzard for example has franchises all over the world, and the owners of E-Sports teams are like the owners of traditional sports teams.

Mortician’s Tale – A Different View on How Games Treat Death

This talk was about the concept of death in a game called Mortician’s Tale. As described by the creator Morticians Tale is ‘a job simulator game’ about being a Mortician.

During the talk the speaker made a number of interesting points including:

  • Death systems in games have endured. In Mortician’s tale they wanted to explore ways of displaying it.
  • It was important that death in the game should relate to narrative and mechanics of game.
  • One book that was influential to the development was ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’ by Caitlin Doughty.
  • The purple color in the game was used to hide the ugliness of death and reflects melancholy.
  • The game removes the ability to fail during preparation of the body as the creators felt it would disrespect the bodies.
  • The protagonist of the game was made silent as a silent protagonist can act as a vessel for players.
  • A silent protagonist also underscores the importance of listening in the grieving process.
  • Post release the feedback was positive and the creator believed there was some evidence of a transformative effect due to the design decisions made while making the game.

At the end of the conference the speaker made recommendations of a number of other games to look at that explore the topic of death:

Finally the speaker made four major recommendations for how to do death in games better:

  1. Make it meaningful.
  2. Do your research.
  3. Be understanding with your players.
  4. Asses your own feelings.

Talk Link

Continue reading GDC 2018

How to Play – Trash Traders

Do you have four iPads and a wireless network? If so you can operate Trash Traders! Trash Traders is an experience developed at Carnegie Mellons Entertainment Technology Center, that has shown to be fun and promote discussions about living a more green life. The following is footage collected from playtests of Trash Traders.

The following is additional footage of discussions about living a green life:

About

In Trash Traders players take the roles of four recycling centers, where each iPad is a recycling center, whose objective is to clean up the pollution in their city. They do this by fulfilling the needs of the city by creating green products using eco-items that are produced at the recycling centers. The recycling centers face a challenge though.

Each recycling can produce only one type of eco-item and more than one type of eco-item is often required to create a green product. Therefore the recycling centers must work together otherwise their city is doomed to be ruined by over pollution!

Continue reading How to Play – Trash Traders

CHI Play 2017

Angle Jungle was a great project and on completion we wanted to expose our work to the wider community for more feedback and potentially even to explore possibilities of formal assessment of the game actually being effective in its transformational objectives. Therefore we wrote up a paper and submitted it to CHI Play. Fortunately it was accepted and we were invited to present the game. My intention at the conference was then to connect with people who were able to help formally assess Angle Jungle as well as keep an eye out for good connections.

Top Presentations

My top two presentations were definitely:

Diegetic ConnectivityPaper here

Why I loved this was that by the end of the work they had a playable deliverable that made engaging with language an essential part of the experience, not at all like the typical chocolate broccoli that tends to happen. I definitely connected with the speaker and will remain in touch with them.

Bibles and BioshockPaper here

Religion is a hot button issue (as usual) and I loved this talk because it opened my mind to the actual academic consideration of religious discussions in video games. Particularly interesting was how it attempted to categorize people into behavior categories.

Other interesting papers I found interesting:

All papers accepted at conferences main program can be found at the following link:

https://chiplay.acm.org/2017/program/

Continue reading CHI Play 2017

To Ireland

Before I started my Masters of Entertainment Technology I visited an old friend in Northern Ireland. The following are a collection of photos taken during my trip.

Carrickfergus Castle

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Belfast City Hall

Tesco Belfast

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Team Tiny

Team Tiny is a four person project at Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center tasked with building an educational iPad game for Colonial School in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.

The following is a week by week look into the project with a focus on design.

  1. Week 1 – Setup & Initial Brainstorming
  2. Week 2 – Client meeting, more brainstorming and first prototype
  3. Week 3 – More prototypes and iterations on prototypes.
  4. Week 4 – Development of ideas for 1/4 presentations
  5. Week 5 – Playtesting and new direction
  6. Week 6 – Focus, meeting with Zynga
  7. Week 7 – GDC!
  8. Week 8 – First digital prototype playtests
  9. Spring Break! – Playtesting!
  10. Week 9 – Puzzle crafting
  11. Week 10 – Further puzzle crafting, playtest day
  12. Week 11 – Finishing puzzles, map and reward system, deeper puzzle analysis, scaffolding introduction
  13. Week 12 – UX Considerations and more polish
  14. Week 13 – More UX Changes, Polish & Playtests
  15. Week 14 – Finals Presentations & Publish to App Store
  16. Week 15 – Final polish

Shadow of The Colossus, Visual Story Assignment

As part of our Visual Story course at Carnegie Mellons Entertainment Technology Center we were required to briefly analyze visual imagery in a piece of media. I choose the game Shadow of The Colossus as my subject matter.

Diagonal Lines

As the game begins with an eagle in the distance. The eagle descends into a mountain range flying rapidly, in a titled manner past our hero creating a momentary clear diagonal, and frame within a frame. The combination of techniques draw our eyes into that area of the screen where we our introduced to our hero clearly contrasted in brighter colors against the dark mountains.

Contrast

As our hero continues to travel under the cover of darkness, we see the moon peer out from the canopy. the contrast between the moon and the dark leaves draws our eyes in which the director then uses for a smooth visual transition to the next scene which has a horse’s feet moving at the position of the moon.

As our hero approaches his destination he encounters a pass. Our eyes are drawn to our hero in his bright cape, and the glowing pass which contrasts with the stone grey scene. The techniques help setup our eyes on to our hero and where he is heading.

Continue reading Shadow of The Colossus, Visual Story Assignment

solo-editing-image

Solo Editing – Visual Story Assignment

As part of our Visual Story course at Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center we were given a solo editing assignment which required us create a video given professionally shot editing software. The following is my video. The music used is Denial Revisited by The Offspring.

Task

Our task entailed selecting footage from a number of videos, namely:

  • TN Parkour: First experience with editing & storytelling.
  • Stranger at the Door: Easy but more storytelling elements.
  • Anesthesia: More story(scary) with effects.
  • Unleashed: More challenging with Green Screen, VFX.

I chose to edit TN Parkour. With this video I attempted to create a music video of with cuts at beats, and attempted to tell a story of friends meeting up to do Parkour and ultimately feeling some sense of accomplishment at the end.