28 Apr

Creative Design Lab: Contextual design week 5

Today, I presented my project and received feedback on my location-based game.

Overall, the response was positive, but there was some confusion as to where the starting point was.

I had assumed that when the user goes to the park, as there is only one entrance, the tasks have to be completed in order. Although, I have overlooked that the user could become confused, miss sections out or just get lost. I adjusted my game according to this feedback. I added a quest (the only quest that comes up in the beginning) that directs the user to the meeting place. After the meeting place plaque is viewed, the next quest to collect ten pieces of treasure appears.

 

quest beginning

It was simple things like this that really made the presentation and testing worthwhile.

I also added a logo and splash page photo to my game, to help make it stand out from others in the list. I decided to use the coin image I’ve used throughout the game for consistency and to highlight the fact that it is a treasure hunt game.

AbbottsWoodGame

In terms of the characters and storyline, the feedback was encouraging and I think that children would enjoy playing the game as much as I have enjoyed creating it.

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07 Apr

Creative Design Lab: Contextual design week 4

I have spent this week putting together the narrative game.

The plot goes as follows:

1. User goes to the meeting point, which opens the first quest, along with a quest to collect ten pieces of treasure.

2. User must walk along the path to find the tall trees.

3. When the user has found the trees, a character pops up.

4. The character is a pine cone called Betty, who asks for help. She wants to find her friend Peter. She says she will give you a reward as a thank you for helping.

5. The user then can talk to Peter, then again to Betty who gives you a piece of treasure as a reward.

6. Further along the trail, there are some flowers. There is some treasure amongst them.

The game continues along this theme of helping creatures/collecting treasure. The aim is to get the user to feel compelled to complete the game, and in doing so walk along the trail, as well as looking and interacting with nature.

Editing the ARIS game online.

Editing the ARIS game online.

I found using the online editor very easy to use. It’s possible to get a game up and running in a very short amount of time.

I edited the notes I made on the map to make sure my game followed the correct path, and linked to the location of objects (using the GPS on my smartphone – see week 2).InventoryScreenshot

The treasure collected goes into the users inventory.

It was really important to test the game as I was creating it. Testing the prototype highlighted issues with the gameplay and various loopholes. One important one was I realised that after finding Peter, the user could talk to Betty and collect the treasure from her an infinite number of times, thus completing the game. I went back into the editor, and created a requirement that meant the treasure could only be collected from her once. Each piece of treasure had to have this requirement, allowing each player to collect the treasure only once, but allowing an infinite number of players.

There are a lot of elements that I added to the game as I discovered what was possible with ARIS. For example, I added a piece of treasure that only popped up when the user followed the instructions to find and take a picture of an insect and upload it to the the map. I added this piece of treasure to the map with a requirement that the user has to have ‘created a note with an image near’ the location. The only downside with this is the image could be of anything… it would be good if there could be some sort of recognition for specific items. At the moment, there is quite a lot of responsibility placed on the user to play the game correctly.

PeterScreenshot

I tested the game using the ‘quick travel’ feature, which allows the user to cheat the location aspect.

The game could be expanded to have different levels, longer paths and different areas of the park. As this is the first game I’ve created using ARIS, most of this project has been about ideas generation and learning the boundaries of the technology.

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31 Mar

Creative Design Lab: Contextual design week 3

This week I started with character design and storyboarding for my narrative game.

My character is based on the image of a pine cone I took last week on location.

Character design

I really like the idea of having good and bad characters. The one I’ve made is quite cheeky, playful and childlike. After creating the character’s personality and other details, I begun playing around with Morfo. It is a downloadable app that allows for quick creation of animations based on a photograph.

This is the first video I made playing around with this idea on Morfo.

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24 Mar

Creative Design Lab: Contextual design week 2

This week, I visited the location of my game, Abbots Wood. While I was there, I used the app on my phone to log in to ARIS. As a player in the game, I took photos and made notes on the map using my phone’s GPS. I concentrated on gathering images I could then use to animate characters, inspire players to find similar objects or use to simply teach players about those objects.

I took a number of scenic photographs, and a number of close-ups to get an idea of the area in which the game would take place.

Trees in Abbots Wood Pine Cone

After going to the location, it gave me a better idea of what was available to work with.

I did some research in to gaming, and the idea of this game layer. I found this interesting TED talk (below) that describes the game layer that I will be looking at in my location based nature trail.

I am looking into two different game ideas: the first is a treasure hunt, where the player is required to go to specific locations and find specific objects (a combination of real and virtual). The second is a narrative version, with characters that the player can ‘talk’ to and a sequence of tasks to complete for a reason specified within the game.

TREASURE HUNT

Over the next week I am going to create a version of the game, starting at the meeting point and following the trail where users are required to pick up objects along the way. This includes physical activities such as ‘find a pine cone’, placed on the map near some coniferous trees, and virtual challenges like picking up ‘treasure’ on-route.

It encourages the player to continue down the nature trail, and interact with nature in a fun way.

NARRATIVE VERSION

This version will include more of a storyline, and characters to talk to and interact with. I will look at storyboarding the game and creating characters with a personality and details like whether they are trying to help the player or hinder them.

 

Research

I looked into existing games and technology related to my proposed project. I did some research into Geocaching, a ‘real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices’. It is a very successful project with hundreds of thousands of active players. The fact that it is popular makes it far more appealing, but also the interaction with real-life objects.

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17 Mar

Creative Design Lab: Contextual design week 1

This week is the beginning of a new project: a location based game encouraging children to go outside and learn about nature.

At the end of this project, I will have a working prototype of the ‘nature trail’ game, and develop a presentation to explain the game concept, along with these blog posts that outline the creative methods used to generate ideas.

Aris-Horizontal251

The very first thing we did was familiarise ourselves with the technology we would be using to create this game. We will be using ARIS in this project. ARIS will ‘allow the user to experience and interact with objects and experiences directly while also allowing digital augmentation to add more fun’, as described in our project brief.

I looked at games that had already been created on ARIS by downloading the app and researching what is possible.

Then, in groups, we created a series of mind maps on the topics of location, game model (principles), materials/objects they may interact with and senses.

Initial mindmapWe decided at this point to make individual games based on the ideas generated in our group sessions.

I am going to base my nature trail game in Abbots Wood, located just off the A27 near Polegate (East Sussex). It is a beautiful place, with lots of things to discover and explore. I want my nature trail to include having to walk a fair distance as well as searching, finding and collecting things, as the main aim behind the game is to educate children about nature, but also to encourage gentle exercise and the many other benefits to being outside.

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