The past two weeks were full of tweaks to the project—and were also the last two weeks of the semester! We spent time completely re-vamping our UI, writing documentation, doing some final playtesting to examine educational efficacy, working on the physical installation and adding a couple small features while debugging old ones.
Our UI received quite a makeover thanks to the help of our classmate Carrie Yang, and we also added in sound to help create more responsive feedback, thanks to Kristian Tchetchko.
As you can see, we went with a more organic feel and color palette designed to pop out more from the background. Additionally, a small change on our end but big change to the experience is adding energy cost to each and every item, allowing for more streamlined comparisons. Originally, we had withheld that information for the sake of surprise and encouraging use of the fossil fuels number, but through testing we came to realize that the mental conversion was so difficult that players gave up, thus, the surprise we created wasn’t always welcome.
We spent much of the two weeks writing up technical and educational documentation. The Educators’ Guide we wrote details all the in-game learning moments as well as suggested pull-out activities, in-class discussion points, and key facts the teachers can use in their classroom.
On the Friday of Week 15, we stopped by Elizabeth Forward to conduct our final playtest, which involved getting the teachers to start up our system, play through the game, and then facilitate the game with two groups of students. We were pleasantly surprised by how quickly the teachers started speaking our language: they used fossil fuels units as one of their primary decision-making tools, something we then saw they brought into student conversations. Overall, we saw that students did indeed learn something about high-consumption areas (scores on a test of energy consumer knowledge improved from an average of 70% before the game to 100%!), and they also learned about both more diverse and effective habit changes they could use at home as well as their true carbon footprint.
The teachers got so excited about all the data we had in the game that they wanted a way to bring it into the classroom, so we added a few features for them in our last week. First off, we’re now automatically generating CSV files of each team’s choices, savings, and energy usage. Teachers can then pull these from our station.
We also further automated the boot-up procedure by getting the machines to boot into the game and to connect to our server automatically. Other than that, we also added coal consumption to the leaderboard to add a bit more nuance and complexity to the scoring.
Over the weekend before finals, Dale and Andrew went to the CMU Human-Comuputer Interaction Institute’s shop to machine some acrylic panels we’re edge-lighting with LEDs using as a centerpiece of our installation. Seven hours later, we now know how to operate a ShopBot!
On the Thursday of Week 16, we visited EF hoping to complete our final install. There’s certainly been progress, but unfortunately, there were some construction delays, so the kiosk wasn’t quite ready. Thus, we reviewed all the modifications with the EF staff, and they’ll be completing the rest of the physical construction work.
Besides all the work on our experience, we also spent a lot of time presenting the experience to ETC Faculty and community members through our showcase, final presentation, and final playthroughs. For the ETC Showcase, our client brought our kiosks to the ETC to show off the experience in its close-to-final form. We put together a little pre-show and had some fun with theming!
Our final presentations were on Tuesday of Week 16, followed by Final Playthroughs that Friday, during which three faculty members came by for 30 minutes each to poke at the experience. We got lots of positive feedback from both!