Though this week was abbreviated due to the Presidents’ Day, we made substantial progress in our triumvirate of project goals, particularly from an organizational perspective. We set into motion a team restructuring last week, following Quarters, and this week saw the realization of our plans. We decided to divide our team into three mini-teams for the remainder of the semester: Martin, Vera, and Nathan will focus on Level Design & Iteration and User Testing, Star and Shaveen (with Vera assisting) will devote their energies toward Data Collection & Sorting, and Anabelle and Emmanuel will work on designing and implementing our Origin recommendation module.
On Monday, in an OCCO office darkened for holiday power- saving reasons and which resembled the desolate and abandoned interiors of a Dead Space starship, Martin, Emmanuel, and Nathan further specified and detailed a “beat-sheet,” or written description of important events, for our Dead Sspace 3 level. This effort bore fruit on Wednesday, when we met with (an unfortunately ill though thankfully patient) Blade. We guided him through the intended path of our level, along the way discussing each modification to his existing level we hoped he could implement, and offering our justification for certain changes with explanations of the metrics we wish to gather from them. Although he wasn’t certain that he could realize all of our level-revisions, he thought that implementing the bulk of what we’d requested would take roughly 10 days, which aligns well with our milestones; he also appeared relieved that we didn’t want him to build anything into the new level from scratch, as such a process would have been very time-consuming for him, and the architectural additions would have also lacked textures, marring the presentation-quality of our level for our testers. Then, on Friday, the team assembled to perform a mock-user test, wherein we set up the various recording equipment we’ll be using in the coming weeks, ran through a few play sessions, and acclimated ourselves to the testing process. This trial was restricted to our team (as well as Ben, who guided our tryout), as we didn’t want to waste the time of any potential testers with the bumbling of inexperienced practitioners. We are now, however, confident in beginning user testing in earnest next week. During this timeframe, Star, Shaveen, and Vera collaborated on research for a data management system, and Shaveen created a preliminary spreadsheet for amassing data from Dead Space 3 YouTube and Twitch.tv playthroughs (as a supplement to our live tests). Meanwhile, Emmanuel and Anabelle busied themselves with refining our project website and researching biometric recording equipment, respectively, and made preparations to embark upon Origin module recommendation-system design discussions next week.
We generated a tremendous amount of momentum this week, and though certain elements of the project remain beyond our control — such as when Blade can deliver his first implementation of our level — we’ve now the agency and structure to proceed regardless of external factors. The next week will see the finalization of our testing metrics, our first true user test, and the development of several Origin recommendation concepts: it should, in fact, prove our most gainful week thus far.