Week Six Newsletter

Project: Take Shape
Week Six Newsletter

Week Six – Into Production

Riding the wave from our recent faculty review and a wash of positive feedback we moved into full production mode beginning the process toward a complete and unified experience. This includes the design of our background animations on screen, the color choices for our modifier dashboard, kinetic typography for feedback and continuous construction of our modifier prototypes. We are looking to build a unified package that we can take to the MAKESHOP and begin playtesting as soon as possible. We will be looking for intuitiveness of the desired task, interest once the connection is made and the excite in the children’s reaction.

For the background, or environment, design Ryan and Dan have begun to draw up some concepts that lean toward portraying what the inside of the computer may look like. Some references include The Matrix, Tron, and typical wire-frame designs found in ‘futuristic’ settings. One key feature they’ll be striving for is to blend the edges between the physical machine and what is being seen on the inside. To do this they’ll wrap the wood texture into the digital environment as if the child, and other guests, are peering into the inner workings. Hopefully this will reinforce both the connection and the differences between the potential of working in the physical and digital environments; only play testing will tell.

Sticking in line with the overall MAKESHOP theming we wanted to keep the structural aspects of our machine to bare wood and metal materials, with the interactive objects being brighter colors that will stand out and appeal to the children quicker. For these colors we tried to stay in the ROYGBIV color range but also make the modifiers have a relation to the color it was assigned; i.e. Squeeze is colored Orange as one would typically squeeze an orange. These colors will all translate into the kinetic typography that Kevin has been working on to provide additional positive feedback. So, as of our current plan, we will have the kinetic typography on the screen to match both color and action, LEDs to provide visual feedback to connect physical modifier to digital model and further down the line some sound assets may come into play to drive it all home. The included speakers and sound clips will rely on being about to provide speakers that will limit the potential bleeding of noise throughout the space.

On Friday myself, Kevin and Andy took a trip to the MAKESHOP for an observational period. During this time we were looking for what types of groups visit the space, the average kid-to-parent ratio, involvement from the parents to explain or assist with an exhibit, which exhibits the children spent the most time interacting with, why and how long of a time was spent. What we found was quite surprising. From our observation we discovered a big involvement from the parents on just about every exhibit; whether it was directing interest to one or another, explaining the deeper meaning or simply bridging the connection between two parts of an exhibit. Also, the amount of time spent in each station was surprisingly lower than I, and the team, had imagined. On average, we saw children spend less than a minute on most activities, with the longest being six minutes at a sewing station; one that involves more attention and longer involvement by nature of the activity. One big concern we have had is the ability for our exhibit to be a multiplayer experience and, judging from our observations, the typical interest levels, time spent and ability for children to occupy close quarters should lend a hand to our experience overall. We envision children walking up, exploring the various modifier inputs and, as soon as they’ve discovered the function of each, move on to another exhibit. This too, will be solidified during playtesting.

This coming week we have a meeting with exhibits team for the Children’s Museum to, hopefully, receive final confirmation to move forward with our machine design. We will also be having meetings with Jessica Trybus, ETC Alum and CEO of ETCetera Edutainment; Arnold Blinn, adjunct faculty member and executive at Microsoft; and Susan Dansby, adjunct faculty; to discuss the progress and direction of our project.