Week 2

29 October 2012

A week featuring a lot of business development – ie, meetings. A few of those might lead to interesting things; others were just worthwhile having to catch up with old friends. That included some talking with Makielab, where I currently have a desk, and in return for a desk I’ve said I’ll do a small amount of regular work for them. On the Friday of Week 2, we explored what the first piece of work might bbe.

When not in meetings, I pushed on with the RSC project. Several successes here. I wrapped up the data-recording (for the second play I’m producing visualisations on), finalised the print output format, produced the print design for the second play, and started work on the promotional website.

I shot a chunk of film for the explanatory video on Friday, recording some live audio, and also a guide voiceover, which will need replacing next week. I’ve now got an idea of what shots are missing, and what might need replacing – I can shoot these once I’ve got the final physical artefacts produced.

Speaking of physical artefacts: the biggest success here was getting the first material back from Cut Laser Cut. I was a bit wary of what was going to emerge, but the result turned out to be very beautiful indeed, and won’t need re-cutting. Given that, Week 3 should see the remaining laser-cutting going out the door almost immediately.

So Spirits… is in good shape. I’m hoping to spend at most a couple more days on this – one to wrap up the promotional copy, and then one to wrap up the film and photography once all the materials are back from fabricators. Then, hopefully, it’s just a case of delivering things to Stratford and setting a small site live. It’ll be exciting to have my first actual piece of work since going freelance live, and I’m a bit anxious to finish it all up.

Otherwise: I continue to consider options for the end of the year. There are some interesting things hovering, and it’s a case of seeing if they’ll come into land. (If you’re looking for a smart developer/interaction designer for short projects before the end of the year, or have a Tom-shaped project lying around – do get in touch).

  • "Popular media plays an important part in how technology is understood and how it is expected to be. Which, I would argue, also could mean that these understandings can be challenged through stirring popular imagination. And using media and communication as a tool." Einar's talk from Playful was a real favourite, and I'm glad he's put the whole thing online now. Completely worth a read.

Week 1

22 October 2012

Late again. Oops.

This week began with two days of interaction design work for Good Night Lamp. I’ve written more about that over at their website already. It was a pretty successful couple of days, with lots of new directions explored.

Wednesday and Thursday were spent really pinning down some aspects of the RSC project: tidying up the repository, making the “recording” tool conform to stage aspect ratios, increasing the resolution of recording, and beginning to move towards a final print design.

I also started investigating quotes for print and physical fabrication, and sent the first prototype design to Cut Laser Cut – hoping to get something back early in Week 2.

And then Friday was Playful, which was a really lovely day – one of the strongest Playfuls in years. Particular highlights for me were Einar and Anab, both addressing interesting issues and challenges that face designers not just of games and playful experiences, but almost anything. A great day out, with good company, and lots to take away and chew on.

Next week sees a bit more business development, and hopefully steering the RSC work towards its conclusion by the end of the week. Part of next week’s work is producing the final output materials, and also producing the promotional work around the project – a website and a short film.

  • "jq is like sed for JSON data – you can use it to slice and filter and map and transform structured data with the same ease that sed, awk, grep and friends let you play with text." Sounds super-useful.
  • "We drove about for another hour or two after that, and by this point dad was hooked. Not hooked on L.A. Noire's narrative, perhaps, or caught up in the complex chains of missions, but hooked on the city, on the fascinating, insightful job that Rockstar had done in stitching the past together. Even though I can't actually drive, and the car we were in wasn't a real car anyway, I had a strong sense that I was in the front seat, turning the wheel beneath my hands, and he was riding low in the back, face pressed to the glass. Role reversal. It happens to all fathers and sons eventually, I guess. Why shouldn't it happen because of games?" Chris Donlan takes his Dad – who grew up in late-40s/early-50s LA – on a tour of LA Noire's Los Angeles, and what happens is a remarkable piece of virtual psychogeography. Perhaps my favourite piece of games writing this year.

I did a few days working with the Good Night Lamp team this week, on some interaction design explorations. A couple of days of talking, thinking and sketching with Adrian and Alex led to some writing, wireframes, storyboards, and animatics.

Alex asked me to write a bit more about the work, for the Good Night Lamp blog, and there’s now a post over there about it.

Out of all this work, common strands emerged; in particular, a focus on the vocabulary of the product. One of the things I find most important to pin down early in projects – and which design exploration like this helps with a lot – is the naming of things. How are core product concepts communicated to an end-user? How are they made explained? Making sure nomenclature is clear, understandable, and doesn’t raise the wrong associations in a user’s mind, is, for me, a really core part of product design. Even though many of the core concepts of GNL were clear in our head, by sitting down and drawing things out in detail, I started having to discover what to call things, often bringing Alex and Adrian back to my screen to discuss those ideas.

This kind of design work initially appears very tactical. It focuses on small areas almost in isolation from one another, exploring the edges and seams of the product. But by forcing oneself to confirm what things are called, confirm what interactions or graphic language are repeated throughout the product, it turns into a much more strategic form of design, which impacts many areas of a product.

You can read more at the Good Night Lamp site. It was a pleasure working with Adrian and Alex. If this kind of work is something you’re looking for, do get in touch.