Friday, February 24, 2006

MIT/UW Madison AT

Just finished meeting with Erick Klopfer and others at MIT. Major thing of note from the meeting is communication. Should you have anything that needs to be said or fixed for the AR engine, send it straight to Eric or Judy Perry. There is an order of priority and issues will be addressed in due time.

The new editor is on it's way. Should be a few weeks away from getting the new one, which we will look forward to. We spoke about issues with it. Some are basic semantic choices that need to be revised. Others are an understanding of what the game can do.
Overall the conversation went very well and we got to talk about some new ideas for implementation.
On MIT's end they are interested in seeing ways of developing the game (flowcharts, diagrams, etc) and issues that arise from the process. This will be used to help them better understand issues involving development. They want to start a website or faq to assist people using the game. We can help them build this. Using this blog site as a way document these processes.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Distributed Cognition

A major player in Distributed Cognistion is Edwin Hutchins. Will have to look into him for theory background.

Friday, February 17, 2006

New Links to right

I added links to your right to the follwoing sites: Mobile Games and Mobile Gaming.

If you have ideas for other sites that should be included, suggest them!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Narrative vs. Game

Building off the last post, and partly building off tonight's discussion of narrative in games in Kurt's class, I got to thinking about the narrative variables in our ARGs:
  1. Identity: who are you?
  2. Social scene: who are the other players, and how do they relate to you?
  3. NPCs: who are the NPCs, and why are they in the sotry?
  4. Story: why are you here and what are you doing?
  5. Place: Where are you, and where do you need to go?
In the games so far, all of these things are pre-defined. The only question the players answer is "How?"

What would happen if we scaled back the pre-assignment of the variables. If we only assigned NPCs and places to visit, but let the players figure out and construct their own roles, their story, etc.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Matt and I met today to talk about creating an AR game for the GLS conference. One of the thoughts that came up was: how to structure the game in such a way that part of the goal is to come up with and document (digital camera cosplay?) your own narrative (inspired by Tayler the Wanderer). It seems like this could be a lot of fun, and really infuses the game with in-game agency (versus just moving from place to place, collecting information to solve one large problem) and loads of creativity. However, we couldn't immediately come up with a game structure to guide the movement through the gamespace (without becoming too didactic and squashing the opportunity to come up with their own narrative.

In a way, it's a lot like Phonetic Theme Scrabble in that the players are coming up with their own ideas within a larger game structure. The degree of complexity is up to the players, but the initial structure of the game is very simple. Can it be compelling? I think it can be, especially if modeled, or once you see other players get into it (a sort of competitive peer pressure).

Talking it over with Dan White this evening, he came up with the idea of having a rule that if players run into other players, they have to incorporate the other players (and/or the other players' narratives) into their narrative.

Still, we need to come up with a generic-enough idea to structure the game and start it off -- some guide to get things going, that explains why one needs to get to the different points (where they may run into other player groups).

Any ideas?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Learning Principles in Games

Some questions about the learning principles (and other ideas/issues) in video games, translated into Augmented Reality Games:
  • Lower the consequence of failure: How do ARGs deal with the consequences of failure? Are there ways to incrementally fail throughout the game without losing the entire game? What do (or could) ARG bosses look like? does it give the player a chance to learn from incremental failures, and to pick up and try again?
  • Performance before Consequence: How do ARGs let/make you play the game before you know how to play?
  • Semiotic systems: What are the in-game rules, and how do the in-game clues let you know what the rules are?
  • What are the differences between game and content?
  • Identity: What is the role of identity? How do people become connected to their avatars?
  • Fair and Deep: How does the game react to you? How does it suck you in?
  • Accomodation: How does the game accomodate different learning styles and levels?
  • Creativity: How do games foster creativity? One of the things American schools are criticized for is the lack of creativity coming out of schools. Kids are less creative, and less able to deal with situations. Having kids make and create games is a hot idea.
  • Metaphors (transfer): How do games succeed and fail in getting kids to transfer things they've learned in one domain to another domain.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Move to cell phones II

Another article on how the cell phone is becoming the ubiquitious computer [and another log on the fire to make AR games fit them].

And with cheap processors, full-color screens, high-speed cellular networks and versatile software standards like Sun's (Research) Java programming language, the mobile phone is becoming increasingly indistinguishable from a PC. For proof, just look at Palm's (Research) Treo or Nokia's (Research) latest smartphones.

Yet, as Gates discovered long ago, it is compelling software that drives adoption of new hardware. The personal computer didn't become truly popular until the advent of easy-to-use web browsers, good search technology and email.