Andy’s Workshop in the iLab – Flocking

I signed up to Andy’s workshop on Flocking that ran today. I didn’t know too much of what to expect but I learnt a lot and it was a mentally tiring and challenging workshop.

I made a document showing my progress through the workshop through screenshots and notes. You can find it on my memory stick in the folder called Coding – Andy’s Workshop iLab..

Andy first started by taking us through the brief basics of HTML and how to make general stuff. I hadn’t touched HTML in… about 7 years(?!) but found this really useful to look at as it ended up being really quite simple and something that I could easily do and make myself.

html tryout.png

The HTML tryout I did for fun

I found this workshop very helpful in many ways. I felt that this helped me to improve my confidence in coding with different languages. When we got to the later exercises, they definitely increased with difficulty but I was pleased that I still managed to keep a basic understanding of what was going on. 

This workshop also helped me to further understand our C languages that we’ve been working on with Dr James. It turned out that all of these languages tended to have similarities between them and whilst discussing with Andy how to program with JavaScript, he would ask about how you would do these sorts of things in C++ or C# and when Millie and Aaron would reply, it seemed to all slot together with more clarity. 

Doing this workshop has definitely helped me with progressing my core skills and it makes me feel more confident in myself that I can make things happen on a screen with code. I feel that I have definitely progressed recently in trying to understand coding languages. Taking the code to the laptop is about ‘translating it into French’ which I am not so good at right now. But these workshops have definitely helped to restore confidence in myself. It would be nice to try and work out how I could code some of the prototypes I’ve been given to do – such as the character customisation.

Group Idea Generation

See Sketchbook 2, blue tag labelled Idea Generation, pages 45 – 52 for Group Ideation.

We used the weekend to follow up on feedback and extra research we were informed with from the Etherpad session on Friday. Today, we started the ideation process by highlighting all three of our themes and looking into how they could connect from the off just by doing a simple brainstorming technique. 

Once we had done a brainstorm on how the three of our themes connected together, we did a workshop that we did previously last year with Andy. It was useful to revisit this technique as it offers a wide variety of ideas that you wouldn’t necessarily think of on your own. Sure, there are some really bad ideas that come up, but when you think about it, no idea is a bad idea as this may lead you on to something bigger and better. 

As we were to be separated as a group due to personal issues, we decided that we would continue to use the workshop method we were using today but on our own just to see what else we could possibly come up with. I think this is a good idea as we can always reconvene on Thursday and jam together more ideas based on the ones we had individually. 

See Sketchbook 2, blue tab labelled Individual Idea Gen, pages 53 – 60 for Individual Idea Generation.

We will be joining together Thursday to continue Andy’s workshop as well as look for another creative thinking technique to help us create interesting and innovative ideas. The goal is by the end of Friday to be in a place where we have a range of ideas that we will have expanded into more detail so that we can look at what we can try to get on with prototyping and testing.  

Presentations and Workshop of Objectives

For Notes on Presentation, see Sketchbook 2, orange tab labelled Presentations Cyborg, page 21.

Presentations

I felt my presentation didn’t go as well as I had planned. In my head, I was certain as to what I was looking at and what areas I was looking into, yet when I was speaking about my research it felt all confused and muddled up. I feel that I will sit down at the next available free time (after the afternoon workshop) and pin down what I’m excited about and get enthusiastic about it to then push through into my ideas process in these three weeks. 

After looking at everyone else’s presentations, I quite like the idea of Millie’s futuristic and sustainable environments as it links to my themes well. I’ve been getting ideas of how we can merge together our ideas and research in order to create a game of some sorts.

James’s presentation on Lucid Dreaming and nightmares I feel is exciting and interesting – merging this sort of area along with my theme gives me the idea of a Black Mirror feel which is current at the moment. As all three of us are looking at contemporary issues and ideas, we have discussed that we would like to combine our work and create a game together. We will be reconvening after the weekend so that it gives us all time to look into the feedback that we all got given on Etherpad earlier today. (see below for the notes from the Etherpad. I am likely to look more into stories and narrative as this could spur me to think of new ideas or twists on other themes and ideas.)

 

Workshop

This was relatively useful to do as the learning objectives and outcomes irritate me as they are vague and bland. By deconstructing them all together as a group it meant that we were able to mix ideas together and figure out what we can gain from this and apply it to our work.

By dissecting these objectives, it has given me a better understanding of these as well as giving me a bit of reassurance that I’m on the right track at the moment. I tried to look at a wide range of research, more so than the last few projects that I’ve worked on, so I tried to push myself which I feel has helped me to get more valuable research to inform my ideas – as now I have so many ideas and need to narrow them down! 

1-1 with Adam

See Lectures/Crits/Talks book, orange tab labelled 1-1 with Adam, pages 59 – 60 for notes on talk.

This was helpful for me to understand how I get my head around all of these elements that I’ve looked into at the moment – Body enhancement, AI, Neuroplasticity etc. We discussed what sort of game I want this to be which has to be the first thing that I come up with. After my 1-1, I feel like I am more likely to head towards making a powerful narrative with great visuals to make people feel something, whether it be good or bad. 
It’s been advised that I look into ‘narrative structure’ if this is the way that I am headed as if I’m doing this, then I want to make sure that I don’t mess it up by being wishy-washy. It has also been advised that I see Dr Calum Kerr once I have more of an idea of where I’m going – or I could ask him to help brainstorm a variety of story ideas! I will try and do this in these 3 weeks but it doesn’t matter too much if it spreads into the next two-week phase. 

I’m feeling more excited about my project now and so I feel that I’m going to knuckle down this weekend in order to look at the feedback that I have been given today and expand on this. Once we reach Monday, I will be sitting down with James and Millie and I believe the plan is to collate all our research, figure out what we like if we’re certain we want to work together and if so, what are we going to scrap. We will then start off by using Andy’s ideas workshop we did last year where we mashed different ideas together along with mechanics and locations in order to create a variety of new ideas.

Workshop with Jussi

The presentation that we had from Jussi was super interesting and I felt that it linked well with the theme I have been looking at recently for this second research phase. Bionics, cyborgs, and robotics all have been linked and are quite regularly used in Dystopian visions and storylines, therefore, I felt this day was very useful to me. 

The idea of design being about problem-solving and how we design to make things functional, easier to use and enjoyable was an interesting thought; however, I was more interested in the idea of using design to make things worse because I’m not a very nice person… 

From the Anthony Dunne talk, I also got some great ideas of how to start my idea process as it made me think about designing for a possible future, probable future and potential future and how they’re all different. By applying the question “what if” to my work, this speculative design could help improve my design process and the potential ideas that I come up with. I like the idea of designing how the world could be, especially with the rise in the use of technology, so I feel this lecture was really interesting and beneficial for my chosen theme. 

The mind maps that we did later on in groups was quite fun and interesting to do. We looked into how to make things worse, which brought the evil side out of everyone. Although it was primarily fun, I did see how thinking about a dystopian future or making life worse could help to influence our ideas. Nowadays a lot of our problems are unfixable and instead we need to change our values and behaviours accordingly to adapt. I will hope to use this ‘Evil Design’ mind map idea of my own research when it comes to the end of this second research stage. 

For notes on Yussi’s talk, see Lectures/Crits/Talks, dark pink tab labelled Yussi’s Workshop, pages 53 – 56.

Presentations and Workshop with Adam

In the morning session, we all presented our four themes and got live feedback due to the use of the Etherpad which was useful. I’d not heard of this before and it definitely proved helpful as everyone put down questions, films, books and other information that has now given me more starting points to research. I feel that I’m going to try and use this Etherpad in the future as it could prove useful in meetings to recall notes and ideas. What with the possibility of us combining into groups, this could prove effective.  

I also found after speaking in my presentation, I was more aware of what areas I was most interested in; this was The Universe and Humans. When I was talking through my subjects to the class, I found these were the easiest to talk about as I was most enthused about them. I found that this made my decision simpler to narrow down to one topic, so the presentations did end up being relevant and helpful.  

The afternoon session was not the best use of time that I could think of. Although the method we were using to do the workshop was interesting and useful in order to look into more of a variety of avenues and sources, having to spend an hour and a half on a topic that we wouldn’t look into meant that I was uninterested and didn’t offer much to the table. I could see the point in the exercise, it just wasn’t one that we should have done in that way. I will be trying to use the flash cards we had in the workshop to do this task around my main topic later on.

The 1-1 was helpful. I was dithering between the Universe and Humans as on one hand, I love space and think it would be awesome to make a game based around this theme somehow, yet with the Humans theme, I was more interested in the bionics side of things as this is new and fresh where we still have so many unanswered questions.
After talking to Adam, I feel more confident that I will choose the theme Humans/Bionics theme as it means that I can investigate into an area I’m not too familiar with, learn new things and design awesome stuff! 

#excitingtimesatwsa right…

For notes on the 1-1, see Lectures/Crits/Talks book, orange tab labelled Presentations Adam, pages 42 – 43.

Seth Giddings Workshop

The workshop that we had today from Seth Giddings was about Simulation and that there was a difference between that of a narrative and a simulation – especially within games.
It was interesting to be having debates into how video games are all simulations and thinking about how narratives are part of it but then that doesn’t make it a story. 

The interactive part of the workshop was the most fun. 
I hate trash magazines. Purely because 98% of it is obviously absolute tosh and I’m not wasting my time on that shite. However, my team used that to our advantage and began to make a game based loosely on Top Trumps and Talisman.

Aim: Get to the party first with all of the parts on your checklist to guarantee you entry!

Checklist:
Cocaine – 1 bag
Alcohol – 4 pack
Bitches – 2
Attire – 1 outfit

On each corner of the outer part of the board, you can pick up parts of your checklist dependant on your roll of the dice, special abilities and whether you get caught in a battle with other players, the po-po or the paparazzi etc. Once you have fulfilled your checklist demands, you must enter the building. Depending on what character you have – they may be only able to go through a certain way i.e. Paul the Alien has to take the roof because he’s an E.T. He can’t be seen!
Once you’re in the building, you’ve got to get round the whole floor (3 times) without losing all of your checklist items in battle with people lurking to mug you in order to get into the party. Once the 3 times rotation has happened – You arrive at the door to the party, you’re in and you win!  

Those are the rules put simply but as we didn’t get a chance to play test it, we didn’t manage to iron out any problems that may have come around. Everyone seemed to like our idea which was nice and a good confidence boost. Part of me would like to make this digital yet this will probably have to be for some time in the future as I have a bit too much on at the moment. 

For notes on Seth Giddings’s workshop and the Simulation talk, see Lectures/Crits/Talks book, bright pink tag labelled Seth Giddings Workshop, pages 27 – 34.

 

Matrices

Today, we started learning about Matrices. Matrices are used in AI, database queries and in many other instances in Games Design. It was useful as matrices are the “bedrock of math” and in turn will help us when coding in the future.

In order to see my notes, see Lectures/Crits/Talks book (A5), light pink tab labelled Coding Matrices, pages 1 – 6.

For the second half of the lesson, we got a brief introductory lesson to C++ and did a “Hello World” example. I was quite surprised in myself as I managed to understand and make a mini text game.


In the future, I will try to add more exciting variables such as adding in a random function so that it could either be red or black depending on what the system has randomly generated.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page, look at the bottom right and click on the next blog post called Project Launch.