Author Archives: Jack Heseltine

projector night (5)

Blackspace: The Garden of Life

Image/Poster ATTRIBUTION: Callum Bayle-Spence, his work *sys.#2/blck.spce* What I ultimately called The Garden of Life, based on John Horton Conway’s Game of Life.
Blackspace System Description:

A 2D space that emulates Conway’s Game of Life, except the designs usually implemented are rejected in favor of something more {{floral}} – one tulip, that is one garden ‘node,’ determines its neighborhood, and then behaves accordingly as it moves through its life cycle (or not). Scaled up and projected into a dark space, this becomes a dynamic simulated garden as an installation piece where the isolated ‘flower,’ earthy and natural elements of the designs offset the stark black of this new environment, creating an effect of dislocated, floating intelligence perhaps: a system that auto-perpetuates.

shot (on iPhone, self) from further away, actually right though a group assembled for Boobies piece

shot (on iPhone, self) from further away, actually right though a group assembled for Boobies piece

This idea was developed out of figuring out how to do an animation sequence in Processing, from an image array, and loading that to the screen dynamically (System #2), and combining it with our class’s original simple_GoL code.

The System Description also gives an idea of what I had in mind going into the project:

–something dynamic

–integrating design ideas I had been developing in Pixel Art

–permeated by a sense of intelligence

–projectable, even decorative. Could be put to use as such in the future too!

–needs to work nicely in a black, dark space

I think I achieved these goals. Complications, and frustrations, include dealing with code errors, more or less descriptive and helpful in that sense, in Processing. This came to a head when I decided I really also want to port this to the web (see separate post for that.)

another angle, shot on iPhone, self

another angle, shot on iPhone, self

Putting the project on display at out Black Space event was illuminating (no pun intended), but to a degree, the results were also predictable. I was happy with them to be sure. The piece, understood as part of the collectively created space, was one of the less obtrusive. It was not a live group performance in the middle of the room, with or without bottles! It was instead on the wall. There, however, it was all the more persuasive, encapsulating the ideas in the System Description, and as such, striking surprise in more than the occasional passer-through and visitor: they would stop, and look more closely to see what is actually going on in this presentation. I really enjoyed that more subdued engagement the work was producing!

Another aspect of this work I enjoyed is, that once the thing is built, I can lean back and enjoy these sorts of pleasures: the code is running on its own. It’s a system!

another close-up like the one used for Callum's poster: shot on iPhone, self

another close-up like the one used for Callum’s poster: shot on iPhone, self

Having a dark, black in fact, background was a no-brainer, though I did experiment initially. The black background is what ultimately gave the animated tulips their sense of suspension, just floating in the darkness.

Language-Ideas Further to (and a Bit Against) Re-Imagining Conference Work

conf.{B}.OLD1.&and.conf.NEW1.frame.work_ideas I have found an analogy to our system-considerations, musings, etc. in my work in designing and developing for the web: what I find is that the system idea is actually instrumental in defining that transition point between a web site (static, 1D) and an /application/: somehow multi-dimensional, functional, more dynamic.

I can draw a direct connection from the definition we have been building for systems more generally (starting point, consideration of the neighborhood, auto-evolution) but also, it becomes clear in the actual experience of /building/, that somehow the thing I am working on is becoming more complex, almost taking on the characteristics of language, and in that, I think, it becomes systematic. Meaning patterns appear, and more concretely tools I use in one instance are adapted to another: in fact the way the DOM works, the cross-pollination of html, css and js on the client side, and then (in my case) python within the Django framework for web applications on the back-end, all start talking to each other in unsuspected ways! Suddenly, I can invoke a design idea I came up with months ago by mere reference to a css class: the design becomes part of a new pattern just established and brings /continuity/. In all sorts of manners, there are echoes, reflections, …

I think of /A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction/ by Christopher Alexander here. This book obviously is about architecture. But things get really intriguing when I actually take the basic modus operandi (identifying abstracted, archetypical instances, using them consciously for design projects) and apply it to a whole new field: what I am doing here.

So it really is a language then. I chose the punctuation, the occasional exclamation mark, or rather, this comes out of itself, organically: that, to me, strikes at the heart of what actually makes this a language. Like human language, that lives on, mutates, and is around long after the actual bearer perishes, this has a life of its own, with its own rules, idiosyncrasies. This is the system in my conference work, actually.
close-up, angled shot of the piece live @blackspace

Black Space: the Garden of Life; & Porting to the Web, a Technical Post-Mortem, as a Guide for When You Want to Put (Black Space and Processing) Stuff Online

Image/Poster ATTRIBUTION: Callum Bayle-Spence, his work *sys.#2/blck.spce/sys.#3*

The transition from local to web was a little less than straight-forward. What follows is an exploration of the tech of assembling this piece for showcasing not on my computer locally, not on a project in Blackspace, but for a global audience online!

First, there are some syntactical differences to work through, that go hand-in-hand with file structure changes ( – on the web, there is actually not a data folder that is used for images and other media!)

/* @pjs preload=”/static/processing/Garden_of_Life_fix/tulip_01.png,/static/processing/Garden_of_Life_fix/tulip_02.png,/static/processing/Garden_of_Life_fix/tulip_03.png,/static/processing/Garden_of_Life_fix/tulip_04.png,/static/processing/Garden_of_Life_fix/tulip_05.png,/static/processing/Garden_of_Life_fix/tulip_06.png,/static/processing/Garden_of_Life_fix/tulip_07.png,/static/processing/Garden_of_Life_fix/tulip_08.png,/static/processing/Garden_of_Life_fix/tulip_09.png,/static/processing/Garden_of_Life_fix/tulip_10.png,/static/processing/Garden_of_Life_fix/tulip_11.png,/static/processing/Garden_of_Life_fix/tulip_12.png,/static/processing/Garden_of_Life_fix/tulip_13.png”; */

The above is now the first line in my file set-up, required to pre-load media so that the code can pull them as soon as they are ready. This process of getting images ready is the major limitation to performance on the web! (To consider when implementing image-intensive application such as an array of animation frames, as the present writer found himself doing.)

Apart from this there was one particular error that made my life harder – it was an error that we actually talked about in class, in the Game of Life code.

In my case, I was adding up neighbors that did not exist, so an out of bounds thing ultimately: I changed

//add up neighboring cells for(int x = 0; x < columns; x++) { for(int y = 0; y < rows; y++) { int neighbors = 0;

for(int a = -1; a <= 1; a++) { for(int b = -1; b <= 1; b++) { //throws error processing-v1.4.8.js:13556TypeError: undefined is not an object (evaluating ‘$this_1.grid[(x+a+columns) % columns][(y+b+rows) % rows].previous_state’) in browser ?? neighbors += grid[(x+a+columns) % columns][(y+b+rows) % rows].previous_state; } }


//add up neighboring cells for(int x = 1; x < columns – 1; x++) { for(int y = 1; y < rows – 1; y++) { int neighbors = 0;

for(int a = -1; a <= 1; a++) { for(int b = -1; b <= 1; b++) { neighbors += grid[(x+a+columns) % columns][(y+b+rows) % rows].previous_state; } }

The important thing is, the error did not show up as an Out of Bounds Error, but a Type Error! So things like this kind of error conflation make troubleshooting a bit harder. I think I caught on to the issue when I used the developer console in Chrome (Safari was not showing any details apart from Type Error): another thing to keep in mind when going about these things ( – different browsers do also handle debugging differently!)

Final, little, thing was this issue: I was not able to use fullScreen(); command in Processing for online stuff. Which was hard, because I use that a lot for local.

Introduction (to my /New/ Conference Work)

EDITOR’S_NOTE//sys.3.OLD1//conf.NEW1.introduction From abundant CIA evidence it seems clear that the present application is the original brain child of none other than Henry Rhodes Hamilton (HRH; although the actual authorship remains disputed). Founder of the Perfect Light Movement (PLM), this quixotic character of the early 20th century is known to us by way of a profoundly detailed index to a suppressed autobiography, written after a prolonged episode involving a plane crash and capture by insurgents, in Cambodia.

After the Tenth Convocation of PLM the proclamation of HRH’s divinity reports of Scientology-style apparatuses for measurement of personality types, explanations of the universe, and sometimes less specified purposes, start appearing. These ideas were born out of His interest in telepathy, and the experiments He Ran Himself. Hotly contested from the start, but especially following CIA infiltration and seizure of the equipment, most fruits of this labor have been lost. It is only thanks to this humble editor’s efforts that some of the original functionality of this instance could be restored for posterity.

It is unclear whether the results produced have validity (for our times), or even follow the scientific (or any) method. HRH, His Righteousness Himself, always had a vision that arguably transcended sanity, so much is clear. As such, when he asked for this application to be built, he also requested that every user and the information they submitted, along with the IP address for the machine they were using, is taken and collected in a large unspecified data storage facility in Tucson, Nevada.

The nature of this project is both mundane, and metaphysical. On a practical level, HRH is compiling the most extensive birthday calendar known to man, for personal, congratulatory use. He hates forgetting people’s birthdays.

On a more metaphysical level, HRH is convinced of the endlessly mirroring, echoing, fractal nature of information. What does it mean to be born in one place, at the time of great disaster in another? There must be a connection! Perhaps it is in the individual’s life, but maybe, just maybe, it’s a game of numbers: HRH believes, at the end of all of this, the database in the Nevada desert will hold the answer; like a tree, a Tree of Knowledge indeed, this thing emerges and stands tall in a wasteland of random Facebook quizzes.

Conference, All New! Presentation Response, Integrating an App and a Site

conf.{C}.OLD1.&and.conf.NEW1.pres.nttn.resp(onse) The main question, and criticism, food for thought certainly, that I was given at my conference presentation was about the complexity of the system, and inherent limitations of (fixed) databases, even in combination with each other. Is there a point where it takes off, becomes its own? Can it be more intelligent, or will it just be a more cumbersome project?

The other Jack’s (Jack C.’s) project threw up the question of relation of the text to the visual impression, with regards to interpretation by an audience. We were wondering about control (of the artist, the audience) over the making of meaning. With this interesting over-arching idea space in mind, I would argue the text-basis of my system #3, “no1” or “The World on Your Birthday” is the demarcation point to my overall conference project, the system inspired architecture and design (facade) of

On the question of meaning then, and particularly of this as (web, and other kinds of) design and taking systems into account: I would argue, the intersecting space where design takes on the features of system is an interesting space for design certainly, for systems too, to the mind of the designer again, where for systems things are a little more binary. Does it qualify as system? Yes/no. Apart from this, what is the significance of a category like “being interesting” for systems –– something I ask myself at this point.

For my project though, some of the take-aways from our class did directly inspire ideas for the building process: the interesting ones I think I touched on are –

– simple rules can lead to complex results (this one is basic, but also:) – randomized access point for system initiation – integrating of interesting results in the physical sphere, digital rendering, cross-over of things like Ron Resch’s paper work – polygon and processing system inspiration applied to design; random, systematized, coded visuals

(_)Elements, or: Ron Resch Now Digital (Picking Up: An Early System)

conf.{A}.OLD1.elem.ents.&and.conf.NEW1 Because the application is a system that only exists in relation to a user, a user who ultimately has to click and search through the application for it to reveal itself fully (it is informational, it exists on a server somewhere, but it is only actually “there” when it is read. Kind of like the tree that falls when no one is looking, except this is more about /use/: there is only a point to it if someone uses it) – it has to have an appeal and an elegance and a /flow/.

What emerges in our systems class is the idea of systems aesthetics, and I find the perfect application in an actual web application, at precisely this intersection of machinery and observer. For it to work well ultimately, these separate entities must work together, and the actual meeting point is the aesthetically sophisticated system. Where if it does not have sophistication (visual appeal in color and form, elegance and good function), the system is not only not engaging, but won’t be used in the first place. The internet and its web apps and sites are designed more and more to be consumable: something that is not palatable can easily be discarded in favor of something more usable. The internet is competitive and the drive goes towards consumability, in this sense.

But anyway, it’s what I wanted to achieve in designing a portfolio of systems: an actually system-inspired application, that more than anything, marches to the drum of system aesthetics.

While always being mindful of the too much and kitsch that might go with that. I don’t want to be the person with the crazy power point – all those transitions and effects, so that the thing is just unprofessional in how dynamic and centerstage it is. (You know?)

Finally, some concrete examples of what I mean here, in

– the tabs in top of the site alert the user to their location in the logical flow of the website – the center piece of the page is a an animated triangular design (svg images loaded by a script) inspired by the work in my analog system right at the beginning of the semester (Ron Resch paper folding ideas). It is based on the scanned version of the actual, physical Resch fold:


  Subsequently turns into (screenshotted):

Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 11.03.42 PM

– sitting on top of this field of triangles is a pop-up menu that follows the user and collapses depending on their location on the page (css menu manipulated by script). The idea was to have this be very dynamic, and also centered (literally) and prominent, hovering slightly above the rest of the page (drop shadow): the social media icons that will populate this “flower petal” menu are central to the content ideas of the project. The idea is that these things get shared and find their way to lots of users, so that something really /systems/ grows out of it.

Apart from these design ideas inspired by systems aesthetics, of course, the whole website, and the actual code that runs it, on a sever, is a system. I also decided to appropriate the thing as a portfolio of my work this semester: I am also showcasing the Garden of Life (processing piece running on Conway’s Game of Life logic), and last semesters work in Unity, on ADAM, on this website!

Non-Linear Design: Post-Mortem ADAM

Despite this being the last paper test, what became clear to me is that I want to work over the narrative ideas this game still works by: particularly, and at this point, the game is still too linear. Here a much much more non-linear approach can actually really help me out … the elevator (Tree of Knowledge) does not need to take me somewhere, for instance – this is an idea I really love: instead of going somewhere, the elevator just brings me back, perhaps. But that can become more complex – As a side-note, I am getting more and more into designing my game on tablet. The artwork used for the paper prototype was actually painted using the app Procreate on iPad, with the Apple Pencil. img_0007 img_0018 img_0002 img_0001 I am putting most of my work into designing the Garden at this point, so what I am arriving at is a conception of the elevator as a device to actually initiate change in the Garden. The main character might step into it, there might be an interlude, perhaps something wildly unexpected as the “elevator scene,” and stepping out again, the Garden has changed a bit, or even dramatically. The non-linearity lies in the fact that the Game now becomes cyclical: in fact, perhaps scenes reoccur in the elevator, and “earlier” states of the Garden can be returned to. I think I am thus abandoning the whole office space I was envisioning, and contenting and enjoying myself just developing the Garden as an explorable space in and of itself. The goal I arrive at in this way for this class and this semester is then to complete a game that works by these shifts in emphasis. In the technical sense, I want to have the main Garden scene (initial Garden), an elevator scene, and then another Garden scene, showing the Garden in a new light. screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-2-41-02-pmscreen-shot-2016-11-22-at-2-34-38-pm What I have come up with so far is a daylight change to the Garden. What I initially developed is the Garden at dusk: and everything this symbolically suggests. There is a dark, gloomy city in the background, and somehow the earth the character moves in is barren and dark too. I am thinking of contrasting this view of the Garden with something much more cheerful: fresh, green colors for the palette, a rising sun in the background. Angela and I were talking in conference about how the Garden might thus come to take on a quality of being alive: a living, breathing organism in its own right. On the technical side again, this image has the color palette I am thinking of for the second view of the Garden. img_0060img_0059img_0060 This is a wall mosaice I found in the NYC subway system: I think it was a station on the F-line somewhere … (unknown artist). The colors a cheerful. Again on the subway (the subway as a repository of art, and the time to look at it too – waiting for my stop; price of admission $2.75) I saw this piece (again unknown artist) that develops a vision of technology (transit, the train) and the city much more optimistic, as indicated by a similar color palette to the when I am eying at the moment – img_0056img_0055 img_0054 Thinking about my landscape like this is fun to me: it’s a project that is carrying over into the rest of my life. I am curious as to where these things might be going, thinking beyond this semester as well. For now, it is a challenge to develop this alternative form for the Garden. What are the changes I want to make beyond those to the color palette? There is a whole other aspect to this, less expected: designing a slightly “fallen,” strange, barren Garden was more fun that creating a fresh, new, healthy one. How might this aspect influence my design approach? How might I consciously let it? I want to see if I can tie it all in to work nicely together and provide a continuos experience by Game Night!

Non-Linear Design: Proposal ADAM

img_0080 In A Day on the Grand Canal with The Emperor of China David Hockney brings all his expertise as a contemporary painter to bear on an analysis he does of a 17th century Chinese scroll painting. The most striking aspect about this scroll is the way it engages space – I called this Spatial Elaboration in the title of this post. Hockney illustrates an example of this when he arrives at an interesting junction along the river. Coming down a street in a village, our view works from bottom left to top right. But if you pay attention as the street goes around the corner, the viewpoint shifts: the lines of the roofs of the shop stalls, and the store fronts indicate as much. We see sides we would not see if the viewpoint stayed the same. It is a shifting perspective we are talking about now. At the same junction there is gorgeous wooden bridge with a rounded top line that is seen from the bottom right, the same place the second order of store fronts is seen from: when you go to the top of the bridge then, with your mind’s eye, the wall of a house becomes visible that would only be visible from the bottom left, the perspective we had in the first place. The perspective shifts organically, according to the needs of the art in the painting. So you see what you need to see when you need to see it, but it still all makes sense to the logical mind too: it is not paradox in the end, actually, because it works. As Hockney remarks about the experience of seeing, and analyzing, the painting, these devices “make it far more spatial than our old friend Canaletto.” There is also another scroll, from slightly later, painted 75 years after the first one. Hockney is keen to trace a difference in style back to Western missionaries arriving in China with examples of Western works, deploying fixed perspective systems, in the time since the painting of the first scroll. The scroll again depicts a journey by the emperor, but this time “everything is beginning to recede: even the landscape is receding, the [emperor’s]  boat going into the space, as it were, and not along it.” It is true, the parallel lines and fixed focal points draw our gaze very much into the picture, and at that, into one particular point at a time, instead of gently over the surface of the whole thing. Difference in spatial qualities extend beyond the vista of the whole, to the depiction of the particular: the characters are, Hockney notes about the first scroll now, less suspended in space. They tie in more organically with the land and the village and the river because they themselves have the organic features of animation and engagement with the other figures in the scene. There is linkage, and overlap: there is the unexpected effect of depth now that the more two-dimensional space (in the absence of the one vanishing point to help create spatial depth in a more three dimensional sense) is broken up like this, or rather, played with actually. There are interesting relationships between elaborating space, and elaborating time: Devices relating to “telling time,” even the story of time on one level, include such creative tricks as subtly shrouding the scenery in mist to convey a jump, as it were, in space, and therefore time, at times: the mist goes on to get so thick that only individual aspects of the landscape remain visible, and coming out the other end, the space we were in has changed. This particular device was a way to dissolve an edge too: there is no saying where or when boundaries were crossed, or to what extent; instead it is a continuous flow through the physical scroll (through a device like this made even even more capable to “hold” vast amounts of space that the 72-foot-length of the scroll already does). These strategies, for this is what they really are, to handle space and time and the narrative they can construct into a work of art relate very practically to where I was with my game at the time of the Unity play test and where I am now still: in fact, these questions will go with me until the game is fully developed. If I boil the aspects I talk about above down to the shifting perspective and the mist-device in particular, I can definitely find junctions and spaces within the overall space of my game to deploy these, or similar ones, in the vocabulary of the game language I have already established. For instance, a version of the mist for me might be a cloud shaped and colored to parallel the clouds already present out on the horizon line. This very trick would also be a way for me to address a criticism that emerged in the play test: the question of the relationship between the landscape in the “back,” as it were, and the main Garden. Can characters cross over? What is the significance of the city? Bringing things like the clouds out from the back into the front, playable space, represents away to tie it all together aesthetically, if not thematically, perhaps. Perhaps I really don’t want the character to go to the city in the end, in the game and where I am headed with it now that is – I simply don’t have plans for that (yet). But a device like this can give me a bit of breathing room: by creating a bit more of a unified field of sorts for the whole game to organically come together, this question suddenly does not seem as important anymore. An overarching design idea is to actually shape the landscape of the Garden in the shape of a fish, the ichthys, or the Jesus Fish in Christianity: that was an idea I had to begin with actually, something I subsequently went away from, and now would like to come back to. img_0099 The relationship of the Garden to the city can be something like the river, river bank landscape and villages on the one hand, to the city behind the walls at the end of the scroll in A Day on the Grand Canal on the other. The river landscape exists in contrast to the city, the city does not need to fully explored either. The scroll’s artists were also not very concerned with their city: in fact, they made heavy use of the very mist device I was talking about, not so much to jump in space this time (that happens too, though) – but to pass over the city, to choose not to elaborate on it. It is the outside form of the thing, rather than the inside detail, that comes to fulfill some function for the rest of the space, and that is fine. I just need to put my finger, in not directly on, then at least a little closer to, what that function might be. img_0098 In these ways, I have found my work to develop very organically, and in pushes and rushes and inspirations rather than continuously. We talked about this in class: the ideal conditions to get artistic, creative work done. They seem really different to more intellectual and academic work. For me it remains environmental, and has a lot to do with my schedule: I do not think I can do this kind of work as easily or to a better quality if rushed and to a deadline. I really notice it when I have things from my other classes on my plate … when I compare those days to a weekend with a little or nothing to do, it’s the latter I can get a lot of doodling, drawing and writing done in. The ideal for me is a lazy, rainy Saturday morning, with a bowl of cereal and a book – but this stands opposed to more realistic and practical requirements life makes generally. Right now I want to push what I can do with animation and collision to bring the world I am creating to life. I want to use collision more than just on the edges to create unexpected obstacles and thus add complexity to the surfaces. I am working on the river right now, one more strategy to tie in the background to the foreground. I had already established the body of water coming and going into the cityscape: I want to extend that into the Garden directly and exploit it as a great creative opportunity for some atmospheric animation. With perhaps only two frames, or more, I would love to add mirror reflections and the light bouncing off the surface of the water as movement. I would love to add falling leaves too, to the trees. image Lastly, one more thing I want to change a bit is Adam’s walk cycle, which as it is now does not have very pronounced leg movement: adam-main-walkcycle

Non-Linear Design: Poster Children Progress

My paper prototype was finally based on Poster Children, in its playable version. I tried to capture as much of the story as I could and found this interesting effect: as I decided on rules and mechanics to make the game work, the project took an a life of its own in the sense that it became incredibly easy to work out the details to match the story. This worked so well that I was able to discover aspects and nuances of the story I had not been aware of. It is a give and take though: arguably, the initial decision on the basic workings of the game are already a significantly biased interpretation. My decision on the rules of the game were as follows: (1) the player can only moved across smooth surfaces and (2), the player looses a life point (one out of three total) every time he runs into the police, which are moving NPCs. Rule (1) does stretch the idea of creating a 2D game, I am aware. I decided to go with it though to put that emphasis on movement and difficulties of movement that the characters face, which, at least in part, is what the story is about to me. An ambiguity that was encountered was the actual physical implementation of smoothness and non-smoothness in the game’s surface. At various points in the play-test the player was unsure about his movement, if he could or could not get across somewhere. I could argue that this could be seen as an essential aspect of talking about movement in this story – the movement of being handicapped, in a wheelchair. But the game-play suffered, so this would be an actual thing I could work on to improve – say, by changing out materials used, or adding visual cues. An interesting point came up during the play-test: perhaps in choosing to set up the game in this way, I was putting too much focus on the movement-aspects, at the expense of other themes in the story, such as questions of moral high-ground, that are also essential. The flash-back and -forth between the “main” game and the cell worked okay. I think the player and spectators appreciated breaking up the temporal order of things in this way, but playability of the future scene in the cell (future, or later in the time-line) could be increased. As it was implemented, the exposition I pushed for in the cell just slowed down the game to the point of dragging. If I were to develop this game, apart from options already mentioned, contrasting the movement (or rather, different kinds of movement) of different players would be something I would want to add as well – since allowing for the player to play different characters is actually an essential non-linear feature of the game. The objective of the game became character interactions: the player receives points for meeting different characters at the convention, each intended to develop the weirdness of this whole convention. The limiting/time mechanic of the game are the encounters with the police force, as mentioned.fullsizerender-7 fullsizerender-8The end scene with the final encounter would also need to be developed. Or maybe an abrupt, strange, open ending is exactly what the story needs: these qualities make out the story from the beginning.  

Non-Linear Design: Paper Prototype Poster Children

Quick notes and impressions (see photos, especially abstract for game (as non-abstracted as I can get pre-actual design) about on-going design of the game::actually making it playable now, that’s where it’s at. I have my materials and ideas in one place. Challenge: view finder and 5-part layout. What’s good: fleshed-out ideas. Focus: materials, design, own art work, having fun doing it – ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Details to These Notes –– (mainly concerning the mechanics of the game–) I drew/wrote up a mind-map style plan for the game play of this game (see image below): the main idea is to switch between characters. All of the characters are mentioned in the story, so that is what I can work with, and although the story is told from the point of view of one character, the way that character emphasizes the we and us when she talks about the protesters at the convention lends itself to having all of them playable throughout the game. The other idea essential to the game is how I want to deal with time and space. I’ll go ahead with that initial thought of having the cell scene flash back to the main events of the story (outside and inside the convention, really). The way I actually want to have the flashbacks work is to switch over to the cell whenever a room change occurs. This is where the view finder and the layout come in: as I want to test in class, I am going with a five part cross/grid, and the view-finder model to implement the different “rooms:” outside the convention (hotel lobby), inside (in three parts/rooms), and the cell make for five separate parts that the character can move between. Only the cell cannot be accessed physically, that occurs with flashbacks. I mounted all of this to a large piece of cardboard I had in my room, and I went with a sort of collage to tie it all together. I still need to set aside some time to work on my pixel art, but basically I would just glue/tape that on the board. For now I have some sketches as stand-in artwork. See below for an image of the materials in loose form (see class for the finished board), and a photo of the white board with Angela’s ideas I tried to implement (the five-part layout and viewfinder in particular). The photo with “High Concept – Practical Ideas” is part of the mind-map I made (let me know if you would like to see it, but I will try to talk about some of the difficulties of implementing ideas at the next/last play-test). fullsizerender-3 fullsizerender-4 fullsizerender-5 fullsizerender-6 :)  

Non-linear Design: Poster Children

Poster Children was a flash fiction that resonated with me. But it was actually a design element I could use as an avenue into designing the game, or at least a general outline of what the game could be: I got excited by the idea of using the pictogram/icon/abstract style of wheelchair access signs, either in vector (smooth) or pixelated form (both would make for interesting designs, I think), for characters in a flat 2D world – the background for which is not developed yet; right now I am going with sketchbook-style simplicity. fullsizerender-2 So on this visual level there is already a lot of abstraction going on: maybe some kind of incorporation of non-abstract art would make for more depth, the contrast to the pictogram style adding an interesting effect. An idea prompted by the strange, futuristic wheelchair/scooter/gadget convention in the story was to use 50s/60s style advertisement/magazine/sales catalog background elements and mix styles in an equally strange way. There is something strange to the story as a whole: the way it’s broken up into three disconnected bits, and the fact that we don’t know what’s going on exactly, make for a sense of danger, and give us an impression of the character as somehow lost in the world. I want to think about how the game might capture these aspects … The segmentation of the story lends itself to non-linear design: the fundamental (narrative) idea I had was to tie the two sections in and outside the convention lobby together spatially (through a passageway/door?), and connect these as a unit via flashbacks to a dialog scene in the cell. fullsizerender Maybe the dialog could contain game elements, but it could also be straight-forward exposition-type reading, except that I want to focus more on conveying that mood of strangeness (setting the stage for the flash-backs) than on the narrative – since, really, the narrative itself does not seem to matter too much in the end. I am not sure what the story is about then, and I don’t think I can know for sure. I would say though that the central theme is living with a handicap: this is where I see the main challenge of designing this game – how could I address this? (Initial thoughts I had was to think about movement and design this into the game: perhaps the wheelchair characters move horizontally, and other characters vertically, to highlight the differences of movement. Perhaps getting through the door into the lobby is a challenge – things like this.)