Adventures in Development Blogging

Richard and I have been keeping a development blog for our project, now redubbed a•part•ment to avoid confusion with Simon Wiscombe’s thesis project. You can find it, our latest builds, and various other info on the game here:

Part of our motivation for creating this blog was to help keep all of the members of our team up to date. Our 10 (or so) person team is primarily out of state and across the country. Most of them are students who can only donate only a few hours a week to the project. The blog has been beneficial in making sure that all of them know what the build for the week is and allows them access to it. It lets our writers see the progress our artists have made, etc etc. It also creates a great archive for all of our builds so we can monitor our own progress over the course of the semester.

The latest build of our project can be found here.

CTIN532: Games as Art (this post sponsored by GAMBIT)

Snowfield is a minimalist narrative game built in Unity that is meant to simulate a wide variety of available actions in the setting of World War One.  Its intention is to create a partly-emergent, partly-designed story experience that is evocative of strong, serious emotions.  Between its minimalist (but not necessarily abstracted) design and its efforts to address darker subject matter in a way that invites player engagement, I consider Snowfield to be a game that qualifies as art.

Improviso is a first-person game designed as an improvisational theatre platform.  Two players, an Actor and a Director, interact in a B-movie sci-fi alien invasion setting.  The two players exchange text back and forth to create dramatic, comedic, or even surreal narrative as they choose, while the Director can use a variety of effects and prop interactions to add flavor and richness to the narrative.  I consider this game to be art in its game design because its aesthetics and mechanics are designed in such a way as to create a pleasant medium between giving players a curated interactive experience and allowing players enough freedom to improvise effectively.

CTIN 532: Show and Tell

Google Web Lab at the London Science Museum

I was lucky enough to be able to play with a demo of this installation at Google I/O this past summer. The Web Labs are a Chrome experiment (just one more way that Google is testing the depths of their web browser) that allow people anywhere in the world to interface with a physical installation at the London Science Museum.

I was able to use a musical web interface to create some phat beats on an instrument of my choosing that was physically located at the London Science Museum. By entering the system and choosing an instrument to play, you are placed in a queue and eventually granted three minutes to wreak havoc on the instrument. A video feed of the museum showed me how my input was carried out by the instruments, which were also being controlled by other people across the world sitting on the other side of computer nodes, just like I was. I was creating music, in real time, with people miles and miles away from me. What really struck me about this experience was the fact that at the moment I was engaged, people in the London Science Museum were able to watch the instrument that I was playing. It made me feel connected to people from a long distance away.

This is an example of just one of the Labs that Google has installed in the museum. While, in it’s essence, this is a tech demonstration, I think Google did a great job of making people feel intimate with their technology by achieving interpersonal art through the technology.

CTIN 532- Show and Tell

Back in the day, I used to go to this site called Newgrounds to see cool and silly flash animation movies and games. So I decided to revisit it after a few years away.

This is something I found on there that I found pretty cool. Reminds me a lot of an old movie I remember watching in highschool as well, Powers of Ten, by Charles and Ray Eames (made in 1977). It’s interesting to see the same area explored in a small interactive piece thee decades later. There are also some interesting comparisons as well, such as the theoretical size of the Minecraft world.

Something a little more “artsy” I found were these installation/projects that a former professor of mine worked on. A relatively simple, but I think resonant idea of taking verbal descriptions of dreams and artistically interpreting them with video and audio. Also a fireplace with sharks in it sounds cool. Wish I had been there to see that.

Live Park: Taking Interactive Art to a New Level

It is blissfully obvious of me to identify something with “Art Factory” on the label as a piece of artwork, but I’m going to do it anyway.

Live Park is a new 4D theme park located near Seoul, South Korea that utilizes RFID, Kinect Sensors, Stereoscopic 3D, and other new technologies to make over 50 different attractions spring to life. Visitors can interact with a holographic avatar, manipulate colorful and responsive environments, put on impromptu performances, and more. From the moment they step inside the park, it is immediately personalized and adapting to the visitors’ input, a truly unique experience.

Live Park exemplifies interactive art for me. By feeding off of the human spirit of “play”, the park is able to provide an experience that is at once wholly unique and tailored to the individual. Furthermore, its audience is not limited to any one realm of interactivity. Sometimes they are navigating through an authored experience, while other attractions allow the visitor to create the experience themselves, and still others ask for collaboration from a group. Different exhibitions also respond to different methods of input, such as movement, voice, touch, expression, or a mixture of several depending on the attraction. There isn’t a single element of the park not contributing to the experience, from the lighting to the screens to the floor.

What’s so incredibly special about Live Park’s composition is that it is able to explore all different aspects of art in ways no other piece of artwork can. Some want to create art for themselves, some want to create it for an audience, others want to view it objectively; at Live Park not only can you do all these things, but they exist in an environment that is tactile, visceral, colorful, and with very few limits. Who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to explore a world like that?

For more information:

532 Show and Tell – Tom Cross

Firstly: a link to Darius Kazemi’s OutSlide: . Play around with it!

Secondly: This is a link to, a site chock-full of awesome tiny games made by  Jonatan Söderström. The game I’d like everyone to check out is called “Mondo Agency,” and this link will download a zipped version of the game onto your hard drive! Here are links to the first and second sections of the game: 1 & 2

Thirdly: Also, I couldn’t help but include this link to wikipedia’s Glitch Art entry: . It’s easy to find examples of it, if you go hunting around the internet…

And Finally, a link to TPHD!:

"There Is This Gap" - Ira Glass via @ZoeQuinnzel

Advice from Ira Glass

Over the summer, someone (I wish I could remember who!) tweeted this inspiring image.

It’s a quote from Ira Glass, host of NPR’s This American Life, and was given a great graphic design treatment by Zoë Quinn, the cofounder of Dames Making Games (she’s at @ZoeQuinnzel on Twitter).

It speaks volumes of wisdom, especially for anyone struggling with a creative project, and I wanted to share it here.

Best wishes,