Week 14

Our plan for the playtesting on monday did not pan out. There were some issues with booking the slot for the playtesting at University Center’s Wean Commons. So, we booked another slot on Wednesday, from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM.

In a way, this worked better as we had time to finish more features. We got the model in, and the gene mixer was working as well.

The playtest went really well. We got a lot of people from diverse backgrounds, age groups and majors. Once a guest completed the experience, we asked them to complete a written survey with questions on how they felt about the individual sections and the overall experience. They also a got a donut!

Some of the feedback we got for the overall concept –

“Crazy, but potentially futuristic” – Connor Hayes, Policy Managment

“I think it’s possible but highly alarming. We exist as individual, wholly biological and beautiful creations. I think when we start messing with the engineering; we strip the individual from their individuality.” – Anthony Prats, MPD/MII-PS

“Overall the experience was fun and interesting. This whole idea may one day be possible since gene technology is pretty advanced even now.” – Sylvia Kosowski, Computer science and Art

We also got feedback on several UI elements, and how to make it easier for users to select different genes and physical attributes. We will be implementing them next.

We also filmed and edited our 3 minute and 30 second introductory video for our team and project promotion.


Week 13

Since our playtest in ETC, we had a list of features and bugs that we had to work on. We organized the list according to priority, and started working on it. We also committed to using NGUI for the front end framework in Unity3D and purchased the pro license.

We got the both the male and female child models into the system. We got the gene mixer working with the new DNA-styled models. We also got the timeline and add-ons working. We will be working on populating XML files and reading from it next week.

We also have a playtest scheduled on CMU’s main campus on Monday, to get a broader spectrum of playtesters.

This week, our advisers got a few guests to visit our project. We enjoy such interactions, as it provides an outside perspective on our project, and we receive excellent feedback from some exceptional people. Also, it is a welcome break from our daily routine!


Week 12

Since we started working with NGUI, we have been able to move rather quickly. We completed the overall flow of the experience with the UI elements in place and dummy data. This allowed us to quickly playtest the UI with our fellow etcers.

Our main feedback was that the gene mixer, with it’s simple shapes, was removing users from the experience. We were considering a more realistic DNA based style for the gene mixer, and we got our playtesters to pick the one they prefered. The majority was with the DNA double helix based design.



Since, most of our playtesters preferred the DNA style, we will be using this design.

We experimented with the attributes being represented as hexagons and as spheres. We found that spheres were a lot more intuitive and easy on the eyes.

Also, in another good news, we resolved the bug with NGUI and TouchScript. TouchScript requires TouchManager component to be present in the scene, to handle touch events with NGUI. Once we added the TouchManager component, it worked like a charm!


Week 11

We found that NGUI for unity has a small learning curve. We picked it up quickly, and started building the overall experience using this plugin.

Hurricane designed the mockups for the experience based on the style choices we made last week, and the related GUI skin.

This helped us gain a lot of mileage in our work. We have completed building upto selecting species as a parent.

However, later in the week, we found a bug that prevented TouchScript to work with NGUI, specifically when we changed the scene in code.

This bug set us back, and we were forced to come up with a workaround which may get tedious to implement in later scenes. We have also posted this question on several online forums, to check if there is a solution to this.


Week 10

As part of our plan to build it the experience from start to finish, we created a barebones game in Unity. It is just a bunch of scenes and GUI elements tacked together, with some logic thrown in. Although, the game was nothing fancy to look at, it revealed to us what we need to get the experience working with Unity.

We started exploring different options in the unity asset server. Our main requirement was a tool that would help with GUI as that was the most used element in the project.

Also, we started brainstorming the overall look and feel of the project. We found a GUI Skin on the asset store that matched our requirement really well.

We also got TouchScript plugin to make touch gestures work for Unity 3D on a Windows 8 machine.

Next week, we will explore NGUI and the GUI skin in greater detail.


Week 9

We received mixed reactions to our half presentation. There was a lot of confusion in amongst the faculty as to the purpose of the project, and whether it is based on real science or not. We were able to answer a few of these questions during the presentation. However, the doubts remained.

Our project was lacking in clarity of design.

We had an internal team meeting with our advisers and our client to sort this out. We discussed on whether incorporating a story, where the guests would play as distinct characters, help with the making the experience more meaningful.

Finally, we decided to stick to the current design, and make small incremental changes was we playtest it. The focus for the coming weeks would be to build the experience as soon as possible, so that we can make the required tweaks.


Week 8

Next week, we have our project Half presentation on Monday. So, we pulled all the stops preparing for it. We have our presentation ready, and have run through it several times in our project room and the RPIS where the presentation will happen. We have received good suggestions and feedback from our advisers and we are raring to go.

We also finished some concept art for the gene mixer module –

gene_mixer gene_mixer Gene Mixer4We are excited and looking forward to present our project to our faculty and colleagues. Once we are done with that, we will be putting in all our efforts into building the experience by the first week on November so that we have plenty of time to playtest and iterate.

Week 7

We completed building the Online Mockup of the experience, which can be seen here – http://bit.ly/1hwJ6Pn

We used the software Axure to build the online mockup.

We also created a Paper Prototype of the experience to understand each of the individual steps better, and to see how the interaction can be made a lot more interesting than just clicking through some webforms.



We also started working on the 3D model of the preview of the child. We are going for a semi-realistic look so that we don’t hit the uncanny valley.




We also created an interaction prototype for the gene mixer module. 

We playtested these this week. We got some great feedback about them.

For the overall experience, we got a range of feedback. Some people were creeped out by it. Some were really excited about the possibilities presented here. But none of them were apathetic. So, our experience is thought-provoking.

We also got feedback and suggestions about the amount of content we need to present in each step so that the experience is clear.

Some people commented that the experience felt like they were setting up for a game that didn’t start. So, we need to brainstorm ways to give closure to the guest. One of the possibilities is the showcase. We are also considering making a comparison to the genetically engineered children in the future to children now.



Next week, we will be working on the overall concept art and the half presentations.

Week 6

Our client, Brett, visited us on Monday. We had an excellent brainstorm session, complete with pizza. We started out by discussing what excites us the most about the future of technology, and then we talked about each of the modules in our current design, and talked about the pros and cons of each of them. We decided on pursuing the Designer Babies module, as it excited us more than the diagnosis and consultation module.

We introduced some additional features to the Designer Babies modules –

1. More than 2 parents – Guest has the option of adding more than 2 parents for their babies. They can pick a parent from their friend Reproductive circle on a social network, they can choose Celebrity genes, or even Other species genetic traits.

2. Some amount will be given initially, which the guest is allowed to spend on the different genes, physical attributes and advanced features. We are thinking of keeping it at 5000 credits. We do not want to use a specific currency at this stage.

3. Gene mixer – This is the crux of the experience. Here the guest will be able to select the genetic attribute that they want to include in their baby’s genetic mix, from the parents they have chosen. We will be limiting the genetic attributes to 10 pairs – 1 pair for gender, 3 pairs for health related information, 3 pairs for physical attributes and 3 for mental capacity and talents.The different attributes are represented by different shapes. Based on the inherent randomness of genetics, only 1 set out of the pair will be dominant and expressed.

4. Preview of your Child – After, the gene mixer, we show a preview of your child. This will be a 3D model.

5. Physical attributes – Considering the randomness, we provide the option to change some physical attributes like height, body type and skin pigmentation. This will be reflected in the 3D model.

6. Advanced features or Add-ons – We also provide some additional options to improve the life of the baby in the future such as 50% increase in I.Q. and 25% increase in Longevity. However, there is a price tag associated with it.

7. Gestation options – We then provide the guest with different gestation options. The guest can use their own womb, rent a womb or use AutoWomb (an external incubator) for gestation.

8. Showcase – Once the guest has completed the process, they can browse through the different babies that have been created previously.

9. Feedback – After this, the guest is prompted to provide a 30 second video feedback about what they think about the experience and the future of medical technology in the future.

In this experience, we do not want to take a stand on the possible future. We will be presenting the advances in the technology as a commercially available product that will be widely used in the future, and invite the guest to think and have a conversation about the future presented here. We want the guests to think about the ethical and moral implications of the technology showcased here.

Based on this design, we will building a mockup to better understand the overall flow of the experience by playtesting it.

Week 5

This week we had our Quarters Presentation to the faculty and staff at ETC. The main intention of this presentation is to get early feedback on the project direction, and receive help on the challenges we are facing. So, we walked them through the project design and how we arrived at it, our references and research that we did.

We received some great feedback and additional reference for the project. The concept and design did indeed provoke thought and conversation about the future of science and medicine amongst the faculty. So, it did validate the core premise of the project.

We presented our main challenges to the faculty –

1. How to present a serious topic in a fun manner?

They agreed that we must tread carefully, as the topics we address are controversial. We need to work on getting the voice and tone right while presenting these topics to guest.

2. Ensure that we don’t overscope the project, so that we can actually finish it this semester.

We have 5 different modules right now. We will be working with our client to scope it down to a more manageable and doable size.

We discussed the feedback with our client as well. He will be visiting us on Monday to finalize the scope and design.