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Dev Blog 7: Weeks 7-9

In our seventh week we met with a few special guests,and continued work on simulation 1. Our guests were John Sharp, visiting scholar from Parsons, and Anthony Daniels, actor and ETC special faculty.

John and Anthony both playtested our current iteration of simulation 1.  We noticed that both Anthony and John tried to use the gyroscope in the data collection phase of simulation 1. In addition, they both struggled to understand what their goal and point of view was in the experience. The sorting phase went a lot smoother. After each playtest, we discussed the project concept and design. John advised us to better connect the facial recognition gameplay to the exploration of AI in the project. Anthony agreed with this point. Anthony’s discussion was geared towards our target audience and why we are specifically targeting them. His questioning, though intense, helped us hone our focus moving forward.

After the playtest sessions, we updated the control mechanism of the data collection phase to use the gyroscope on the mobile devices. Players would now be presented with a “blank” face that resembles a wire frame of the character’s face. Then players will collect data, by tilting the phone to rotate the face. The feeling of data collection more resembles painting on a 3d model. We felt this iteration better communicates the process of 3d model creation that the AI in mobile devices do in real life while also engaging the player better.

To address the confusion with point of view, we hope an opening shutter at the beginning of data collection phase will better inform the viewer that they are inside the device in this phase. This can also be reinforced by short animations before the minigame in the opening scene of the game.

In addition to mechanical changes, we further iterated on the story of the game. Instead of playing as focus group member, players are now the Minister of Technology for a fictional nation. As Minister, players examine uses of computer vision AI, the minigames, then sign mandates that either ban or allow the technology to be used without regulation. Then players are presented with the ramifications of their decision, in the form of a social media feed that includes news headlines and posts from the public.The team feels that this raises the stakes of the game and highlights the moral complexities that advancements in AI bring.

Beyond the changes detailed above, we also purchased art assets to save production time.

Week 8 consisted of the implementation of the gyroscope mechanism and half-semester presentations. We spent the weekend between week 7 and 8 adding our new features. The beginning of the week was spent preparing a slide deck and rehearsing for our presentation on Wednesday. You can view our slide deck here.

Half Presentation Day

Our presentation went over well. We received positive marks for our presentation quality. Our feedback on the product we presented was sufficient, though we were not thorough enough in our explanation of how we were tackling the moral complexities of the subject matter. The faculty advised us to include a few aspects  that make the moral choices compelling, such as a virtual world that connects with the player and a set of choices that offer outcomes of significant moral weight.

With this feedback in our minds, we set off on spring break and the Game Developer Conference (taking place over week 9). After returning from GDC, our top priority is the completing of playable demos to playtest on ETC playtesting day Saturday, April 6. After this, we will complete the interstitial minister scenes and stitch together the scenes, all the while playtesting often to improve the total experience.