Week Two

Unlike the false start first week, this week was much better. I think my problem last week was that I just couldn’t get back into the groove. The summer break was such a long time and I think my apprehension with regards to our new project was a reflection of that. I wanted to start making games right away. Which is why I think the research focussed start disappointed me. I’ve been marked low on the research side of things in previous projects. Which I think is another reason why I wasn’t particularly thrilled with having to devote such a large amount of time to it. However, I’m now thinking about it in a different way. Instead of dreading it, I’m going to get better at it. With this in mind I ordered a copy of How to Have Great Ideas: A Guide to Creative Thinking by John Ingledew, a book Adam recommended. I’m also planning to read a bunch of other resources on research skills as well.

In regards to my research, so far I have arrived at four initial ideas.

  1. Random acts of kindness.
  2. Tim Vine’s one-liners.
  3. Aaron Homoki ollieing the Lyon 25.
  4. The younger version of me for not making the right decisions.

Each of these was chosen by visualising my answers to the Good Start/Bad Start workshop and then picking one from each emotion that stood out to me. Next week I will evolve these into my four starting points. I also created this blog which will act as my portfolio and host my reflective summaries.

Aside from my research, this week has also been really interesting. Tuesday’s lecture began with a short history lesson about Dr. Grace Hopper. A fascinating woman who pioneered compilers and rose to the rank of rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. We then learned about the fundamentals of C++ pointers and looked into XML for the first time. We created inventory systems using XML with a focus on good design over programming skill. This allowed everyone in the class to flex their design skills and not have to worry about the coding so much.

On Thursday we had our first guest lecturer in our “Professional Context” series. These lectures are industry focused talks which are designed to help us find work when we leave university. This week we were joined by Mark Applin, the founder of Intermedia. He talked about starting a small business and gave really valuable advice. Here are my live notes of his talk. I found him really interesting and I think he deserved a larger audience, sadly only six of us showed up.

Finally, on Friday we were joined by Dr. Seth Giddings, a professor at Winchester School of Art and the author of Gameworlds: Virtual Media and Children’s Everyday Play. He spoke about how we think about games in terms of their relationship to other media. And also how academics define games as a narrative or in terms of a simulation. He falls on the simulation side of the argument which I also found persuasive. Either way, it was really interesting to hear how the thinking has evolved. After his talk we were put into groups and given a task. We were to construct a game from gossip magazines. My team came up with a card game where players are given an even number of cards each. On these cards are pictures of food with a given calorie value. Players then take turns placing a card down. Each subsequent card has to have a higher calorie count that the last one placed. The first player to get rid of all of their cards wins. We also included a card featuring a 51 stone woman who resets the cards to zero by eating the deck. In hindsight this was probably insensitive, but I blame the magazines. Our last activity for the day was to come up with a simulation of our own. I had the idea of a virtual reality game where the player would put on the VR headset and play a game. While in the headset the real world would be transformed to look exactly like the game world. When the player takes off the headset it would look exactly like the game. While the headset is off, the game world would have been transformed to look like the real world. So when the player puts the headset back on they see the real world again. This wasn’t really a practical idea but it’s interesting to think if you could fool someone in this way.

Here is a quick sketch of our idea courtesy of Claudia:


Overall, this week was really productive, I especially liked the guest lecturers who were very interesting and thought-provoking. Hopefully they will continue to be in the coming weeks.

Week Three