Newsletter 5: Quarters

Newsletter for Project Heidegger Week 5 in PDF format

Week Overview

Our team’s energy and focus was, this week, directed wholly toward our Quarters presentation, which took place on Wednesday in the Triangle auditorium (which is denoted for identification by the shape of a triangle rather than by written word, for those curious). About 35 guests were in attendance, ranging from the clients of our various teams, to employees from other EA departments. We survived Quarters intact, and, with the remainder of the week, prepared for the submission of our Dead Space 3 level to Blade, as well as for the onset of our user tests, both of which will occur next week.

Week 5 newsletter

In Detail

Monday and Tuesday found us, with the counsel of Jiyoung and Carl, oiling our presentation into an address of fluidity, efficiency, and precision. And so, for Quarters, Shaveen, the God of PowerPoint, created a visually rich slideshow. Emmanuel covered for an ill Martin by bearing the burden of two presenters and elucidating for the audience the essence of our project. Vera delivered an enthusiastic punch to the homeward stretch of our exhibition. Star explained our milestones with his trademark coolness and confidence. Anabelle designed for our PowerPoint a custom Heidegger-themed background template and she also strongly concluded our presentation. Martin fought off an invading virus from a far-off quarantined area, sparing us from potential contagion. And I, Nathan, have written this. During our Q&A period, the audience was most interested in our playtesting process and the preliminary choices we’ve made in that regard. From their inquiries, the importance of every decision concerning that area of our project, no matter how seemingly small, was made clear. For example, what game (apart from Dead Space 3 and Army of Two) we choose to serve as a control for our experiment will significantly impact our results, as will the order in which we have our testers play these games. Our Quarters experience was, overall, was exceedingly positive, and we look forward to showcasing an abundance of hard data, as well as the concrete efforts of our conceptualization and research, for Halves.

Next Week

As we gather information about the logistics of conducting playtests and investigate affordable biometric equipment with the final hours of this week, we hope to begin initial playtests, using the release version of Dead Space 3 and Army of Two: The 30th Day (rather than our custom level and Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel), by next Friday. A few of us also plan to work over the President’s Day holiday next Monday so that we can submit a draft of our custom level to Blade next Wednesday, so as to facilitate his implementation of it.

Newsletter 4: Army of Two (Plus Five)

Newsletter for Project Heidegger Week 4 in PDF format

Week Overview

Level design precepts were our foremost concern this week, as Wednesday brought with it another visceral (and viscerally instructive) meeting with Blade. As the week drew to a close, we divided into two equally potent splinter groups to best address the charges of the coming week: one team is focusing on level design, and the other on the creation of our Quarters presentation.

Newsletter Week 4 Photo

Martin, overwhelmed by birthday cupcakes.

In Detail

On Monday we held a meeting in which we each shared five pre-prepared design goals for our custom Dead Space 3 level, as Blade had, last week, requested the creation of such a list for him to appraise and pare based on what’s possible and not possible for him to (most generously) implement on our behalf. Our design list was based on our team co-op experiences with Dead Space 3 and Army of Two: The 30th Day (as we don’t yet have access to The Devil’s Cartel); analysis from outlets of video game analysis and criticism such as Gamasutra and Kill Screen; and assumptions based on player psychology information synthesized from The Bartle Test, as well as key emotions and the Four Keys to Fun defined in the research of Nicole Lazzaro. Martin thoughtfully condensed these Heidegger-guiding principles into a preliminary metrics-gathering spreadsheet within which the gameplay particulars of the Dead Space and Army of Two could be measured against the desires of specific player types to aid in our hypothesizing about the potential connections between the games: this document, and future revisions of it, will prove instrumental in our iteration process, as with it we can better refine our level to collect the precise player data we seek. During our meeting, Blade further sharpened our expectations of what manner of level we’ll have agency to design (one very closely based on an existing segment of Dead Space 3) and what mechanics and assets we can modulate and modify to assist in our data-hunt. As a testament to Blade’s charity, after our substantial meeting at the end of a doubtlessly hectic day for him, he drew on the room’s whiteboard, from memory, detailed user-interface schematics of the level design toolsets he’s used in response to an off-topic question about his job posed by Vera. We’re all greatly appreciative of his time and vital contribution to our project.

Next Week

The first half of the week will be almost-exclusively devoted to preparation for our Quarters presentation on Wednesday, but we plan to have a draft of our level ready to share with Blade by next Friday.

Newsletter 3: No Dead Space

Newsletter for Project Heidegger Week 3 in PDF format


The foundation of this week was a critical meeting with Rich, Ben, and Blade, a level designer from Visceral Games. The first half of the week was, once again, meeting-suffuse, and we spent the majority of our project-devoted time solidifying and finalizing our preliminary approach to the type of data we hope to collect from our custom Dead Space level (such as gamer types, behavioral analysis, and general telemetry) and the methods by which we intend to collect this data (extensive player testing, primarily, through which we’ll gather gameplay data, ask our testers to complete surveys, and record the demeanor of our testers as they play). We also formulated a list of tentative project milestones divided into two-week intervals, including estimates for when we should have formed a solid hypothesis, completed our level design, constructed our Origin module-facsimile, and begun playtesting.

Promotional picture of Dead Space 3 featuring the main character, Isaac Clarke

Isaac Clarke, left, unofficial eight member of team Heidegger.

Day of Meeting

We received, during our meeting, confirmation from Rich that we should proceed in our delineated direction, and we also received a good amount of useful feedback. Blade suggested, for example, that we push level design concerns up in our schedule, as he currently has a lull in his own and will be able to confer with us with greater frequency over the next week; in a subsequent sub-meeting, Blade also informed us of what is and what isn’t possible regarding our Dead Space level, and stressed that we should modify an existing slice of Dead Space 3 rather than requesting all-new puzzles, assets, and environments, as they’d be fundamentally impossible for him to execute in the time that we’re here (or within his professional constraints). Rich’s commentary was focused almost exclusively on playtesting and data collection issues, and emphasized that we should (and that it’s feasible to) target specific gamers for our purposes. Ben urged that we define the player-type spectrums that we wish to incorporate in our study as quickly as possible, and that we should begin reaching out to potential playtesters within a week or two. Again, the responses we received were fantastically helpful, and we’re now all the more enthusiastic about our tasks.

Promotional picture for Army of Two: the Devil's Cartel, featuring the two main characters, Alpha and Bravo.

Alpha and Bravo, our spiritual advisors.

Post-meeting and plans

We’ve since been gradually co-oping through Dead Space 3 and Army of Two: The 30th Day in pairs (which has been an amusing challenge due to the limited amount of hardware at our disposal), comparing and contrasting the multiplayer experiences in each game, and forensically attempting to determine their design philosophies: we’ve a follow-up meeting with Blade on Wednesday, in which we’ll detail our custom-level design wants and data assumptions, and in which he’ll, by his own admission, shatter our dreams by instructing us what’s humanly possible for him to implement and for us to acquire. Sanctioned project construction will at last commence next week, and we look forward to the impending routine of mercurial investigation and iteration!

Newsletter 2: Black and White

Newletter for Project Heidegger Week 2  in PDF format

Week Overview

Our focus this week was once more primarily on conceptualization and brainstorming, and we continue to gather information from our OCCO contacts regarding the ultimate direction of our project. With this week came several new and unexpected—though provocative—permutations of what our project goals should be, and we’ve striven to remain versatile and undaunted as our client’s expectations crystallize.

Newsletter Photo Week 2


We began the week by making final preparations for a pitch presentation that was to be delivered to Rich Hilleman. After honing our proposals with feedback from Jiyoung and Carl, we delivered our three pitches, each based on our original project goals delineated in last week’s newsletter: rEAdy, a matchmaking utility based on personality, needs, and play habits; Virtual mEA, an evolving EA avatar system and sandbox environment; and rEAlm, an interactive, explorable EA theme park and archive. Rich saw potential in our first pitch, the rEAdy system, and instructed us to create a data collection and game-recommendation system using it as a framework. We returned to brainstorming that afternoon and categorized several possibilities concerning what type of data we wished to collect and what features we might wish to include in our system. The next day, Ben informed us that our project goals had been further refined and specified, and that we’d instead be using cooperative gameplay as a parameter for collecting data from Dead Space 3, using the data we collect to somehow build player interest in Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel, and creating a data visualization and recommendation system which would connect to EA’s Origin service. With these new directives in mind, we met again, at the close of the week, with Rich, Ben, and Zach, an EA data analyst.

Next Week

Though this week was one of flux and transition, by next week our target should be finalized. We aim to study cooperative player topics and trends, solidify a list of data types that we’re interested in gathering from Dead Space 3, and then split into two teams: one which will design a small, sample Dead Space 3 level (with the assistance of a designer from Visceral Games) used to capture data so that we can test our hypotheses, and one which will begin creating the system we’ll use to collect and parse the data.

Newsletter 1: Origin

Newsletter for Project Heidegger Week 1 in PDF format

Week Overview

Our inaugural week has been one of acclimation and intense ideation: the Electronic Arts campus is a grand and inspirational environment, and it’s perhaps taken us as long to adjust to the uniqueness of our setting as it has to develop our project during our daily brainstorming sessions. Our first client meeting occurred at the week’s beginning, and it served as the origin of the creative journey upon which we are united.

Newsletter Photo Week 1


As a team, we are embedded within EA’s Office of the Chief Creative Officer, or OCCO, which is an R&D department that incubates new platforms and technologies, fosters fresh talent and visiting students (such as us), and assists in solving developmental issues that arise throughout EA. Our client representatives are Ben Medler, the office’s Technical “Visual” Analyst, and Richard Hilleman, EA’s Chief Creative Officer. The goal of our project is to design an information collection and visualizaton system or a global metagame that connects EA games, franchises, and genres that heretofore existed in a state of disconnection; data, game mechanics, and narrative are the tools with which we should construct our experience. Our project should emphasize user history, storytelling, and customizability, and it should be personally important to the user. Our final deliverable will likely be a convergence of a large-scale design document, simulations of significant facets of our project, and at least one functional and refined segment of what will almost certainly be a product of immense scope.

 Progress & Plans

Next Wednesday, the 23rd, our team will pitch three project proposals to Ben and Richard, and their decision will dictate our direction for the semester. We brainstormed in four, two-hour increments to determine and define our pitch subjects, and we’ll work over the weekend, as well as with Jiyoung and Carl next week, to ensure that we’re exceptionally prepared and professional. The establishment of scheduling and meeting routines will soon begin!