22 May

Final presentation went well for us last week. We feel that we sufficiently covered all of our ground, effectively conveying our project goals, the progress we made, and what we learned along the way.

We now have it confirmed that the kiosk will be completed by May 29th. Unfortunately, we will not have our computer by that time as it will ship on June 7th. It could ship before or it could ship later, we have no control. The good news is that by that time all we will have to do is install the software and we will be ready to go. The other good news is that we can roll out the kiosk with a temporary set up using the computer we do have. We will only be able to run two games with this temporary rig, but as soon as the new machine arrives we will be at 100%.

We are now setting up a hand off/wrap up meeting with Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh so the second week of June or so to tie up any loose ends. Though we finished of schedule, a better product is being delivered as a result. Check out the latest screen captures in the Demo section of our page.

17 April

Kiosk construction is finally under way! Interbots Initiative, an ETC startup company, has been contracted to take Arc Design Consulting's work into the physical world. The internal components have also been ordered. This kiosk should be, knock on wood, finished by our original projected date of May 10th. If you haven't already, check out the final design of the kiosk in the Art section of our website.

After you have seen the design please feel free to check out the updated demos of our games in the Demo section of our site. These games have been play tested with children 3 times now, and we are getting very positive responses from both kids and parents alike. The next round of testing will be Wednesday, April 19th. This one is crucial because we have really had a chance to react to our test data and to add more assets to the games than ever before. On 4-28-06 at 2:30pm we will be presenting our progress to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh right here at the ETC. Don't be shy to come out and see what we have done. We are in the home stretch now and we are excited to see this project up and running.

28 March

It feels good to be back in the same room working as a team again. Our kiosk designer, Adam Aaronson, is really doing a great job. Each day he has an updated version of the design, and it looks better and better. The screen will have a 20 degree tilting capability and the body will have both active and passive ventilation methods. Check out the latest design documents in the Concept Art section of our page. The design is right on schedule, and it looks like we may be able to get this thing installed for final presentation. (May 10th)

We are a little behind in our content development, however. This week is being used to catch up and get these games ready for testing. Speaking of which, a new game has been made! Phil sat here over break and cranked out a free drawing game. This is good because we were worried we wouldn't have time to make it. As it stands we will have 4 games ready for testing next week. We are simply putting some new touches/features into our interfaces that we see as necessary to test effectively. Get ready kids, here we come with some fun stuff to play with!

13 March

It's been a hectic few weeks. Shortly following the last blog entry, our entire team went through unrelated personal crises. Once all those family matters were attended to, it was time to settle back in to get ready for the halfway presentations. In order to get there, a number of things happened:

  • A prototype kiosk was built, which will allow us to test with offsite users
  • Our first animation for the magic coloring book was added and setup. It looks very good.
  • The interface for coloring was redone (again!)
  • A placeholder interface was added for search
  • A texturing problem in instrumateering was fixed... sort of

Unfortunately, our touchscreen—which had been working flawlessly for 8 weeks and survived a journey cross-state and back—broke on a 2-floor elevator trip. This sent the team into a high stress state for a few hours while we labored to solve the problem in time for our presentations. They went off without a hitch, but not before going to "Plan G!"

Now, it's spring break and we're taking a bit of a rest after the crunch. Next up, Pat and Fred will be out of town at GDC and Gainesville, respectively. Following that hiatus, we'll be back to the grindstone and will begin testing in earnest.

We've been discussing details with our Kiosk designer, and will begin fabrication ASAP.

23 February

Things just keep moving along! The coloring book is nearing completion on its first real version; it has a pretty interface and has been tested on the touchscreen successfully. The 3d character "Chunk" has been fully modeled, rigged, and an animation test passed. Check the Demos page to see him doing some psychedelic calisthenics.

As Phil has been whipping the code into shape, Fred and Pat have been toiling away furiously at some scenes for the search game. Two of the finished ones can be seen at the top of the Art page. Can you find all the hidden images?

We also recently spent a few more hours observing families in the waiting room, continuing our initiative to study how the room is actually used, and what the most important problems to solve are. We will be sure to return as soon as we can spare another few hours.

It's worth mentioning that 2/3 of the team are now sporting fine, distinguished beards, and the other 1/3 is doing his best to catch up. :) None of us are going to shave until the project reaches its successful conclusion.

14 February

Whoops, missed making an entry last week. The team made our 1/4 presentation about a week ago, and answered a host of questions from the faculty. In general, our response has been very positive, and we still feel good about the progress we've made. Most of the ETC had not seen our prototypes yet, so it was very helpful to start to get feedback on them.

We have been in touch primarily with two kiosk designers recommended to us by the good people at Thinkwell, and aim to hopefully select one or the other this week. The design for the kiosk will need to go through an iteration or two before we're able to approve it for manufacture, so we'll need to be nailing down our exact requirements for it.

Art-wise, we have completed the model sheets for our 3d models, and are working with the ETC Animation Studio (another project) to create and animate the models for the magic coloring book. Pat and Fred have also begun cranking out the large volume of 2d art which we'll need for the search game.

Phil spent the weekend working on a number of simple tech demos to solve some really challenging problems; he actually crashed on the office couch Saturday night rather than venture into the snowstorm at 3:45 AM. But now, we can all progress full speed ahead, knowing that some scary technical issues have been dealt with.

31 January

The last few days of project work have been filled with trips to the hospital: On Thursday, we began our gathering data about how the room is used currently, and were already surprised by some of our findings. For instance, we knew that an emergency room could be swamped suddenly, but we were surprised to see just how much so. Another surprising trend was the way families gravitated to the center of the room instead of the walls.

On Friday, we had a fantastic kickoff session with some of our closest contacts at the hospital. We got a chance to show off our prototypes working on the touchscreen, and an awesome idea for our third game was suggested: a Where's Waldo-type search game.

On Monday, we went back in to accompany our friend Greg Roberts and his associate Kevin as they demonstrated Playmotion to the steering committee at Children's.

Overall, we've been totally blown away by how receptive and supportive the hospital has been to our project. When your client is asking what they can do to facilitate your success, you know you've got something special. We'll do our best to exceed all expectations.

22 January

Keep looking to this page to catch the latest updates on the project! In the first week, we spent a majority of our time setting up our new office, (Fred's first ever) working on a few playable demos, and creating lots of concept sketches of new characters.

We feel very fortunate to have done so much preparation in advance; having already established our contacts with Children's, and lots of discussion about our plans during the pitch process has given us a huge head start versus the projects of our peers. Phil is quite possibly the only programmer on any new project this semester who is already prototyping. He's got both demos running on a touchscreen in the office, and essentially began the test cycle on day one.