Big Photo Post! Tower Opening, Marty Sklar, the Case, and More!

This is going to be a photo-heavy post, so let’s get started!

Designed by our very own Katherine and fabricated by Freeland Studios Inc, here’s a look at the current iPad cases. There will be some adjustments made to the final cases, to ensure they’ll survive years and years of use at the Village.

The team is heading back to Pittsburgh today and tomorrow, so it was vital that we train the staff and volunteers on how to run the experience, register the stars, place the stars and troubleshoot any problems.

We had several very special guests come visit us as we prepared for opening, including the legendary Marty Sklar!

As night fell, we were able to finalize all of the registration / home star positions and final camera calibration.

The Village chose 4-year-old Sophie as the first Wish Child to have her star placed in the Tower. On Thursday, she left her star for the Fairy, who put it into her night sky. She also asked Matt to help her place it in the Tower.

This morning, after a dedication ceremony, Sophie was able to visit the Fairy World and see her star!

After Sophie finished, everybody else was invited into the Tower to visit Fairy World, too. Henri Landwirth, founder, and Alyssa Pietruszka, former Wish Child, got a peek at it, along with numerous families, volunteers and charitable donors.

An awful lot has happened, and we still have the Give Kids the World Black & White Gala to attend this evening. In the coming weeks we’ll also be making an appearance in an installment of Orlando Attractions Magazine online series. Plus, tomorrow Tom and Katherine will be graduating with their Masters of Entertainment Technology! We will, of course, be posting more video, photos and updates as we’re able to.

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A View Into Fairy World

For those of you who haven’t had an opportunity to visit Fairy World, we’ve created a little video to show you what it looks like!

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Starscape Informational Videos

Here, for your viewing pleasure, are our end-of-semester documentation videos.

Things are changing every day, getting better and better, so some of the footage is already a little bit outdated, but the information remains the same. Let us know what you think!

Yesterday the first Wish Child’s star was hung in the Tower, this morning we showed our experience to Marty Sklar, and later this afternoon we will be doing volunteer training on the system, so be prepared for plenty of photos later!

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Installation Video from Finals

Yesterday was our final presentation for school, which would normally mean that we’ve finished up our semester. With an install project, of course, that’s never the case. Along with a Skype presentation, we were given permission to show a short video of the space and our progress since arriving here. Enjoy!

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Week 1 of the Install (aka Matt on a Lift Week)

We arrived in Florida on Monday and we jumped right into work.  Monday we spent some time unpacking and setting up our computers and catching up with ITEC and the progress of the tower. There was a lot completed, but still a lot left to do, both inside and out.

In addition to the building design, ITEC designed a daily outdoor show where the Star Fairy will come out of her cupola and greet the families below. Matt was eager to jump onto the lift and help hoist her into place.

There were a few hiccups along the way, though, and that Star Fairy… well, she really lost her head for a little while there.

The second day we began connecting everything to everything else.  There was a lot to do to get installation of the Tower’s cameras and lights up to speed, so we put in some extra hours to help get things running.  Basically, Matt’s been in some sort of lift ever since we got off the plane…

The rest of us have been working hard, though mostly from the ground. The server has decided to retire now that we’re in Florida, and there are still tweaks to the rest of the systems. There are registration stars to design, documentation to write, presentations to prepare for and videos to film and assemble.

Now, some might say that our project room at the ETC was rather spacious (which is definitely true). Its a good thing we all shower regularly, and like each other a lot, because we’re in much tighter quarters down here!

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Florida, Here We Come!

As I type this, I am sitting in Cassandra’s living room while she searches for sunscreen and debates the appropriate number of shoes to bring: will she need heavy duty sneakers for install days, as we move around our server and work with the show-control system integration? She needs dressy shoes for the black-tie fundraiser gala, of course. And it’s Florida, so sandals are a must for the hot weather…. There’s an awful lot to consider when eight people take over a tower for two weeks! There are playtests to do, tweaks to be made, presentations on the 25th anniversary, the official tower opening ceremony, documenting everything, training volunteers, plus our Finals presentation to film AND Skype in for! And THEN, when we get back to Pittsburgh, it’s almost immediately off to Heinz Field for graduation to wish Tom, Katherine and all of our other friends well. Whew! I guess I better remind her to pack a camera, too!

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Playtest Photos

Our posts have been a little boring lately; let’s have some playtesting photos!

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Playtest Summary

Dani wrote up a summary of our first playtest, just in time for our second! We’ll be at the Museum again tomorrow from 11-4 and we’d love if some familiar faces were able to visit!

Playtest 4/2: Summary

Number of playtests: ~ 60
Age Range: 2-33
Avg. Age: ~ 7 yrs
# Boys: ~ 26
# Girls: ~ 34


  1. when little boy played– touch flipped view around
  2. server failed, had to restart
  3. sent 2 cues together– moon and end show
  4. managed to switch to TRAX game in the middle of experience

Most common favorites:

  • mouse
  • moon
  • pirate ship

commonalities: all had interactions and feedback

Most common least favorites:

  • Troll (mostly because it didn’t speak or do anything when clicked on)
  • Anything that didn’t respond when clicked (pirate ship and moon when they didn’t work)

Other random side-notes:

  • The troll is named ‘Peter’
  • There should be pie

Great collaborative experience.  Children knew how to share the screen– one child would hold it, one would follow and help touch things in the world.  Parents were also a great source of guidance– they would ask the kids what they saw in the world, what they could find, etc.

Many kids, usually older…and often boys, approached the world as a game.  They wanted to know the ‘point’ and they also really wanted to kill the troll.

The most important thing we learned was that once kids learn they can touch stuff on the screen, they will try to touch EVERYTHING. So have as many interactive elements as possible, even if its just a sound clip.

Very successful playtest! The kids really seemed to enjoy it and many of them asked where and when they could get it.

Favorite Quote:

“What’s so great about this is that it’s like you’re looking at something that’s really there–but you need this special lens to see it.”

–Angela, age 28

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Halves Presentations

Please enjoy the video recording of our half-semester presentations!

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First Playtest!

If you were one of our gracious volunteers today, a big thank you once again, and please feel free to contact us with any additional thoughts or comments on your experience! You can leave a comment on this post, or send an e-mail to Dani or Tom, our student producers.

Once we’ve parsed through all of our feedback from today’s playtesting, we’ll be posting a more detailed synopsis, but here’s a quick overview of our Saturday:

We spent about five hours at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh today, asking the experts in fun — kids themselves — for some opinions and advice on how we were doing. We had boys, girls, moms, dads, grandparents and friends; we had a huge range of ages, big families and small, shy and outgoing, tech savvy and not…. and the response from our 50+ playtesters? Overwhelmingly positive.

Of course, a couple of them managed to find bugs we didn’t know existed, like the ability to accidently switch to a motorcycle racing game that was also installed on the iPad, and some weren’t sure what they could or should do when playing with the window, but all of this was great information to learn. We got some awesome suggestions of things to add to the world, and everybody wants that silly troll to just do something!

We’ll be working hard in the next couple weeks to make it even better for our next test. Stay tuned for more information: maybe we can even get some repeat visitors!

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