Week 15

Vis Viva Week 15:

This week our team worked on our project documentation early in the week and outline then outlined

final changes we want to make to the game. There are still some details to implement about the

different types of feedback in our game and what that means from a game and educational standpoint.

We had the opportunity to skype with the geologists from Chevron this week about their thoughts on

the project. They are excited about the progress that has been made this term, and are happy that we

were able to create an experience that represents their field in a simplified, fun, and educational way.

We went out to Elizabeth Forward several times this week to test controls and put final touches on the

kiosk. We had hoped to get our final playtest footage this week, but while setting up we realized that

there were several extender and adapter cords that were needed to connect everything correctly and

we needed to enhance our speakers with an additional amplifier. The silhouetted building designs were

laser cut, and after these parts arrived, we were able to fully connect all the buttons and lights and

integrate them with the game.

In addition to our several trips to Elizabeth Forward, we also demoed our project at the

Transformational Experiences Summit on Thursday. We had many guests stop by our room to test our

game, and their reactions were overwhelmingly positive. It was a great morale booster to see people

enjoying our game.

Next week we will have our final playtest at Elizabeth Forward and work on final documentation and

handoff plans. We will be using this weekend and the beginning of next week to rehearse for our final

presentation on Wednesday.


Week 7 – 8

During week seven our team worked in to complete a playable prototype of our game to test with students at Elizabeth Forward. We added some art assets and worked on getting some prototype controls. We were able to implement some prototype controls using makey-makey, xarcade controls, and a microphone.

On Monday of week 8

We tested our game at Elizabeth Forward. We tested with 12 students and found that students understood the mechanics and who they were in the game. They also seemed to be engaged in playing. However we also realized some things that needed improvement. The geologist side was pretty complicated so students didn’t have enough time to analyze the information they needed to pass on to the driller. This created a pacing problem that made collaboration between the two sides ineffective. We talked with the teachers after testing and they liked our idea of collaboration but also felt that the objectives and goals for each side needed to be clearer, especially for the driller. On Tuesday the majority of our team attended GDC in San Francisco, so our next iteration started after spring break.

Week 14

Vis Viva Week 14:


We started this week with soft presentations on Monday. We had our new build of the game up and running. Members of the Faculty walked around and gave feedback on things to polish before finals. Most were small fixes that will be quick to implement. We edited our tutorial text to make it clearer and are continuing to respond to the other feedback.

On Wednesday our clients from Chevron stopped over to the ETC to play through our experience and give additional feedback. The geologists loved playing through the game and thought it was a great way to help students understand and get excited about geology concepts. They had a few small tweaks about terminology that we will work to address next week, but overall they are really excited to see this project come together and are curious to see what other applications it could have in a museum setting.

Newsletter_14 Newsletter_14_2

On Friday, members of the team went out to Elizabeth Forward to Paint the now completed wood installation. We chose to use a dark blue for the top and silver for the bottom. The Pittsburgh cityscape will be painted in silhouette black around the tv screens.  After seeing what it looked like we have decided that we will repaint the bottom black as a continuation of the silhouette. This will be done next week. We are going to laser cut wooden building cases that will also be black to cover the LED lights that will go on the installation. This will also be completed early next week.

We will be busy next week as we need to install the lights and controls on the installation at the school. All the parts for controls have been ordered and we are awaiting their arrival so we can go install them next week. We will also work on project documentation, prepare for the TES summit and begin rehearsals for our final presentation.

Week 13

Vis Viva Week 13:

This week our team started the week with a playtest at Elizabeth Forward. We received some useful feedback and saw what adjustments still needed to be made, such as changing the layers to grayscale because students were using colors instead of shapes to analyze and improving the tutorials.  After, we spoke with both the teachers and Dr. K who were excited and happy with the experience.  While at the school we also spoke with Bruce who would be working on the construction of the installation.

Which brings us to… The installation! This week we went from cardboard concept and computer model to a nearly completed installation in one week.


Newsletter_11 Newsletter_11_2.jpg Newsletter_11_3 Newsletter_11_4

We will be working to get all the smaller details worked out next week when we go to playtest, but the TVs and speakers arrived and the pieces will be assembled next week. Our team is also planning on going out to assist with the painting of the installation.

We are in the process of finalizing the parts needed in the installation such as last minute button changes, which LEDs to use in the background, and how they will be placed on the installation.  During the week our team worked to make changes based on the playtest feedback and prepare for halves. We are working on implementing improved tutorials and story into the game. We also made some changes to make each stage flow a little smoother and make sense within the story of the experience.

We ended the week with another playtest, this time at Beth Center. This is the first time this client has seen our progress on the project and they were excited to see and hear what we were making. It was good to get an idea of how our experience will fit into their lab, and also how the teachers intend to use it. We had a group of students playtest the game and they thought it was fun and that it helped them learn about this topic. Through the playtest, we discovered that layer properties like permeability and layer shape are not currently included in curriculum, so we needed to give a little more explanation. This will also be included in the final story of the game, but it also provided the teachers the opportunity to explain more in depth, the science behind each stage as the students played.

Over the weekend our team will get the next iteration of the game ready and prepare what we will be showing at our Soft presentation on Monday. Next week we will probably set up a time to go paint the installation and plan out button placement.

Week 10

Vis Viva Week 10:

This week we received feedback about our halves presentation. The primary concern from the faculty

was how we are going to get the physical installation built and what purpose it serves in the experience.

We ordered several parts on Monday and are already starting to receive them in the mail. We will be

implementing and testing with these as they come in.

Newsletter_10 Newsletter_10_2

This week we worked on making improvements to our game to get it ready for playtests on Friday and

Saturday. However at the end of the week, we felt that there were still some pieces that were not yet

implemented and we decided it would be best to move the Friday Playtest forward to Monday so we

could spend Friday getting the other components working clearly.

After spending the day testing our game ourselves and seeing exactly where the holes were, we

prioritized a list of fixes for our game that our programmers worked to fix for the playtest on Saturday.

We will see how the students respond during the playtests and will spend next week polishing the game

as needed. We will also be meeting with our contact at Elizabeth Forward who will assist with the

fabrication of our installation.

Week 6

Vis Viva Week 6:

This week our team continued to work on developing a testable prototype to test before GDC. As we talked about our project we realized that we had a lot of questions about the specific design of our experience and had thus far been trying to design as a whole team which was creating a challenge for us. We have since decided on team members who will be primarily responsible for these decisions moving forward.

We also talked with our client to gain more specific information about the intended use of the lab and what knowledge they wanted students to gain through this experience. This information is helpful in deciding what our full experience will be.

Our team posters arrived this week and they look great! They are on display in our room as well as around the ETC.

We have divided up work on the prototype and are working to get it ready for play-testing on March 3rd.

Week 5

Vis Viva Week 5:

This week we had quarter presentations on Monday. We received a lot of good feedback from the faculty! While we had an initial tech prototype to show for our drilling mechanism, we know that we will be adding to it next week to make a complete experience. Other thoughts and concerns included how to better incorporate the careers and make them relate to each other and the content, how to make sure the goals and progress in the game are clear, and including some unexpected events or obstacles during gameplay.

On Friday we met with our client Chevron. We talked with the geologists from Chevron about how the drilling process works, what kind of tools machines and methods they use, and what they would like to see in the project. They seemed to be in agreement that they would like students to come away with an understanding of how to locate the resources using the geology of the earth and an appreciation of where their energy comes from.

We also took a side trip to the history museum to check out the Stratavator. While it was a neat idea with the elevator concept, we found it to be a bit of an information overload and not very interactive. In our project, we hope to balance the information with the gameplay and interactivity so that students don’t feel like they are just having information thrown at them.


Week 4

Vis Viva Week 4:

This week our team continued to prototype the tech and game for drilling resources. We also worked on some story development, character and control station sketches, and screen mockups.

Our producers attended the play-testing and branding workshops, and the team branding materials were submitted on randon.  We also edited the team photo.

We met with our advisors and our client at Elizabeth Forward to talk about our current progress and upcoming quarter presentations. We developed and rehearsed our presentation as a team to prepare for Monday. After talking with our advisor, we realized that there are a lot of questions about our project that we still need to answer regarding the scope and goal of the project. We have also been discussing how realistic our experience should be in order to balance the educational goals of the project with a fun learning experience. We will be addressing these as soon as possible next week so we can move forward.

visviva_poster(final)This is our poster.

Vis Viva_team photo

 And this is our awesome team photo!!!

Week 3

Vis Viva Week 3:

This week our team decided on an idea to begin prototyping! We will be focusing on oil and natural gas. Our idea is to have students play collaboratively to find and extract the resources. One player will have an iPad and be able to tap to locate where the oil is on the map. Other players will work together to control a drill and collect the oil. We are thinking of having some sort of control panel or station that will be a physical installation in the room, but we are still thinking about what form it will take exactly.

This week our programmers started to prototype and test some tech mechanics, like how two screen networking will work and how to drill for resources. Our artists continued to wrap up the logo and poster designs, and began discussing and researching what art style will work best for our experience. And our sound and game designer worked on the story and design documents for our game.

We met with our client and the classroom teachers to discuss our latest idea and think about our next steps. They are excited about the direction we are heading in and we will hopefully be going on location to see an oil rig in the near future to help us gain a better understanding of the oil extraction process, what the machinery looks like and how it works.

We also shot our team photo this week, and will edit it next week.

Next week we will continue to prototype our idea further in preparation for ¼ walk-arounds.

Week 2

Vis Viva Week 2:

This week we met with Elizabeth Forward on Monday to discuss the project and see the energy lab. This was very helpful to answer some questions we had about the direction of the project. We also took a look at some of the curriculum that is used to teach energy and continued our research on fossil fuels.

We had several brainstorming meetings, where lots of good ideas came up. Ideas varied from a general overview of fossil fuels to breaking down the processes and focusing more specifically on one type of fossil fuel. It has been a challenge to pin down one idea that we really like because there are many different possibilities and directions for this project.

We’ve developed some major themes or areas of interest and decided that we are each going to expand on one type game experience for Monday’s team meeting, and then hope to pick something.

This week some mock-ups were also made for our branding materials, and will be polished up next week. The current theme is the relationship between oil, water and the earth. How our current existence relies on both water and oil, and how they both are powerful living forces on our planet, which ties in with our team name, Vis Viva.

Next week we will be meeting with the Elizabeth Forward teachers to talk about how the project will tie in with the curriculum. We also hope to pick an idea and get to work with designing and prototyping.