W11-Tedious Prototyping

During the last few weeks I have been working on my game design in depth through tedious prototyping. Although I haven’t gotten to the play testing stage of the game, the design of the game is extremely technical and unique to the market in regards to the transformation from digital back to analogue gaming. Through Marshall McLuhan’s concept  we can see the light (the medium) as a message through its use of space and environment as its critical function in playing the game.

I have overcome many issues in regards to 3D modelling this game. The first, being the scaling of the shapes as well as the thickness in order for the printer to efficiently print the base, hence the graft which you can see in the below images to ensure that the 3D printed lantern doesn’t stick to the machine (it ensures an easier and cleaner removal.)

After making a number of different models, it became clear that the height as well as the shapes that were being projected had to be strategically created to ensure that the shapes being printed were clear enough to be copied during the game by each player. The model that you see above took 4.5 hours to print. The initial draft took 20 mins because I had scaled the size of it from Tinkercad. One of the main advantages of this was the ability to go back through and rescale from 20mmx20mm to reprint another draft which is the perfect size (90mmx90mm) This also allowed me to test out the particular shapes that I have used in regards to the light projection and whether they were defined enough to be recognised once projected. One thing that I will have to change after printing this model is the lid which will have to be extended upwards. The lid will have to sit higher than originally anticipated in order for the light direction to project the shapes clearly. Below is my initial design of my lantern lid.

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Design mock for lid for the lantern

My diagrams can be seen in the below images when dealing with the light in regards to Newtons prism experiment which reflects the reason to change the height of the original mock up:

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As you can see in previous weeks my design has been worked on early and I am still not 100% finished with this design. My aim therefore is to create the lid and ensure that I can create at least 1 lantern to test and play with to ensure that the angle of the light can project the shape etc.

I have many ideas to make this prototype better, which includes having panels of different shapes, patterns and images which can be changed like slides. Instead of having a fixed box. Therefore coding the structure with interchangeable slides. Here are some examples.

Overall I am extremely happy with my progress and will continue to tweak the issues with the hopes of introducing the product to the market within the near future once I can design the main lantern. I also believe that my prototyping has acted like my play testing stage throughout the weeks because I have constantly been showing different people and getting multiple opinions of how my game works through the piece I have created. All of these opinions have been documented within my dossier which has allowed me to build on different functions that need to be added and also the different features which I could add or change which I hadn’t of thought about.

Over the last few nights I have been tediously measuring my distance of light while also researching about Newtons prism theory. With a 45 degree trajectory,  the opposite angle should equal the same in regards to the light being easily distributed/projected. I have also taken apart a battery operated fairy light pack, cut the wires and refused them to create one led fairy light that can be switched on and off and is small enough to be inserted inside the lid, once constructed. This also allows for the batteries to be easily changed by the players if needed creating a game that can be easily self maintained.

Playtesting Notes: 

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Watch this space for more updates!

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3D Printing in Gaming

My last post, ‘Let me project you back in time,’ explored the history of projection as a means of gaining a better understanding of the potential of projection with close reference to the game I am designing in DIGC310 which uses projection as its main mechanic.

In Marshall McLuhan’s book, 1964, ‘The medium is the message’ he states “A light bulb does not have content in the way that a newspaper has articles or a television has programs, yet it is a medium that has a social effect; that is, a light bulb enables people to create spaces during nighttime that would otherwise be enveloped by darkness.”

Over the last 7 weeks I have been experimenting with my projection game, Reflectand have begun to understand the value and potential of projection. In attempting to construct a draft of my game, I have been experimenting with different light sources, light directions and materials, which have all highlighted the challenges and positives of using light. One of the main positives I found was the ability to create a social effect through the use of projection, creating a specific environment, this works well in highlighting (for players) the potential of projection as well as the spacial reality it creates.

In drafting my game, I discovered that the best way to create my version of the ‘Magic lantern’ was to 3D print the pieces, so that each piece could be detached and each player could have there own mini lantern to play with, while also creating a multifunctional game and having the pieces stacked on top of each other to create something new. Without 3D printing this wouldn’t at all be possible, so within this post I am going to be researching 3D printing within gaming in order to link the history of projection which I have already spoken about and my mechanic that I am in the process of making.

In reversing the idea of digital to analogue, I am exploring the potential of gaming as a tangible object rather than digital to highlight McLuhan theory, ‘The medium is the message,’ as well as showcasing the potential of projection in analog gaming.

There is much debate today surrounding 3D printing within the gaming world, many believe that 3D printing is beneficial in the sense that 3D printed objects can be easily shared for free and collaboratively worked upon in order to discover its potential, whereas others believe that with 3D printed objects becoming ‘free,’ gaming companies may lose a significant amount of profit due to IP and licensing deals.

A company called U-dimensions seems to understand this problem and states, “U-Dimensions’ goal is to make it easier for game companies to develop and expand their merchandise line, and allow them to gain extra profit from games,” the company says. “The unique, and free platform makes it possible for game companies to reach a larger audience, and allows for a variety of 3D printing merchandise options. Our software allows for company’s 2D or 3D game elements to be automatically converted into 3D-print ready elements. The free model also allows game companies to gain commission while U-Dimensions take care of production and distribution.”

U-dimensions suggests that they are helping in generating profit for gaming companies, the website also targets the low quality of mass produced games. In opening up a 3D market in which game companies can use to generate their own customised pieces, it reduces or even eliminates the problem of gaming companies losing attainable profit while making a higher quality game.

On the other hand U-dimension limits the potential of gaming mechanics/pieces to be manipulated by its audience. For instance, my game, Reflect, could come with generic pieces but people can also create or download additional pieces in order to add to the game and change the difficulty and aesthetic etc.

Digital leisure Cultures mentions Cubify and Shapeways (3D printing companies) which “offer objects for sale and provide digital files of their prototypes for download by people who may want to fabricate them for themselves or learn from their design.” Its important here to mention that these websites encourage collaboration and creation in order to help further the potential of certain mechanics in gaming as well as helping people learn about 3D printing.

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This got me thinking about the marketing of Reflect, do I want to give the files to the public in order for them to 3D print the game for free? It sounds selfish but for something I have worked hard on, I believe there should be some recognition much like many other 3D games that you can print for free on the internet. After looking at the above companies and the different ways they approach the gaming market however, I see a lot of value in people being able to access files and add to the potential of the game. It also adds to the idea of the ‘ecology of gaming’ which focuses on how we participate as gamers, producers and learners. Therefore, if I was to market Reflect, I would sell the original game with generic ‘starting’ pieces but also create other pieces which people can download and manipulate for free in order to add to the potential and aestetic of reflect as well as helping people learn about the design of the game.

Im Pitchin’

In Marshall McLuhan’s book, 1964, ‘The medium is the message’ he states “A light bulb does not have content in the way that a newspaper has articles or a television has programs, yet it is a medium that has a social effect; that is, a light bulb enables people to create spaces during nighttime that would otherwise be enveloped by darkness.”

My game design, Reflect uses projection (light) as its main mechanic instead of a physical board game. This has proved challenging as I am reversing the idea of physical to digital. Projection which has been around for centuries focuses on the idea of creating a space of reality that people can enjoy. My design teases out the idea of projection as a spacial element, in order to create a game in the space that its in and for players to interact with it. The light is the medium in which the spacial message is created. It also draws attention to the idea of forgotten projection potential. Potential which can be used across multiple mediums in order to create a new sense of space, purely through the manipulation of light. It is both digital and analog in the sense that the pieces which are being created through 3D printing and software design are being created for the sole purpose of analog gaming.

The definition of Analog eludes to the idea of a mechanism being a continuous variable. This can be applied to my design in the sense that it is a physical object that will produce the same outcome, however I have modified the lantern mechanic to change and be multifunctional in order to play multiple games with the one device or mechanic.

Much of game design today focuses on digital gaming, however by creating a tangible mechanic such as my lantern, which I will be talking about shortly, I wanted to create a social space, which coheres to both the digital and analog as a way of thinking about revolutionary game design.

The magic lantern which was developed during the 17th century was one of the main gadgets within my research in DIGC335 that stood out to me with gaming potential. I have obviously dramatically adapted the lantern by adding gaming features but as an initial starting point, this is where I gained my idea.

During the very beginning I was playing with the direction of light and material by using a lamp in order to understand the way my game would have to be designed, which was great in figuring out the direction of light in regards to what I was projecting as well as what shapes I would use and the distance I was projecting them (because this changed the outline of the shape and the direction of the projected shapes). After much trial and error, I decided to take what I had learnt when making my ‘Draft lantern’  and 3D print the pieces of the lanterns structure.

Over the last couple of days I have been using Tinkercad, a 3D modelling program which has been great in establishing what needed to change with my initial design concept in order for it to work.

Below are my mock designs for the 3D printed game mechanic that I will be creating:

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Above was my initial idea, having 1 lantern which could be interacted with by each player twisting the layers in order to project the correct sequence of shapes that is shown on the play cards before the timer sounds and they have to pick up a new card.

However, to 3D print runners in-between each layer in order for them to be spun would of been a nightmare not to mention it would send the printer into overdrive.

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Below is my new and improved lantern. Each layer can be separated and players can each have there own mini lantern to work on by drawing cards that show a shadow of the projected shape, players work to get the right cards that match each projected shape on their own lantern in order for one of the players to win.

This design also creates a multifunctional game, where each layer can be slotted on top of one other in order to a) either add levels to the game or b) create one giant lantern where players work as a team to beat the timer.

As seen in the below mocks, the shapes are what will be projected. Each layer will have a lid with a spike on the top so that the other layers can slot on top of one another in order to create a stack.

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The second design I believe works a lot closer to this idea of spacial interaction as a way of establishing that the medium (which is the light) is the message. It also draws players attention to the importance of working with light in the space that they are playing in, in order for them to enhance the gaming experience. The light adds a massive historical respect value, which although may be overlooked, targets the ability to create a social effect through its spacial limitations.

Please see the below video, highlighting my thought process:

 

 

 

Experiencing Leap Motion

During this semester I am exploring projection which led me down the path on motion gesture as a means of interaction with projection.

Introducing Leap Motion

This USB plug-in is outrageous, there is so much unexplored possibilities that this plug in can do, I don’t know where to start.

During my initial interaction, I noticed how user friendly it was to install and begin playing in the ‘Playground,’ this resulted in me being distracted all night placed heads on robots and picking petals off a flower.

I loved the idea of interacting with the computer/game without having to place my fingers on the keys. It immediately felt personalised and realistic, although the tracking became very interfered when I moved it into different locations where there was more light. Over time though the tracking readjusted I picked up little hand gestures precisely.

I also noticed that there was no lag between what I was doing with my hands and my ‘virtual reality’ hands that appeared on the computer screen, which was completely new to me. This saved a lot of frustration, smoothing over a heightened experience of the leap motion as a whole. Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 6.04.17 pm.png

After reading it had over 60cm of range, I began to play with the distance of the device and what it could actually pick up and how precise it was at different distances. Kneeling and using my hands to pick petals it was still extremely precise. A massive round of applause goes to Leap Motion.

Im still playing around with the device to explore its potential and limitations, but overall this device is killing it.

 

Camel Up Review

Spiel Des Jahres is a German board game competition for  best board game of the year. This competition was created in 1978 and promotes quality family-style games into the german market. Many state that the reason so many games are coming out of germany is because of this competition.

But why strive for the Spiel Des Jahres prize? Because a nomination alone increases the typical sale of a game from 300-500 copies to around 10,000.

Winning the prize? 300,000-500,000 copies sold. 

Camel up won Spiel Des Jahres prize in 2014, designed by Steffen Bogen, illustrated by Dennis Lohausen and published by Pegasus Spiele.

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Pyramid is a randomised dice roller made from a template cardboard and a lever which is used by an elastic band.

This strategic board game requires up to 8 players to place bets on which camels they think are going to win the race. With 5 coloured camels in total and 5 coloured dices to match, a pyramid which I believe does a fantastic job of randomising the dice, displays the colour and number that the matched camel can move when you open the lid of the pyramid.

Sounds simple, however each player gets given a card which they can place down during each round.

Drought card- A camel landing on this card will have to go back a space and the player who put that card down gets a coin.

Oasis card- A camel landing on this card will go forward an extra space and the player who put that card down also gets a coin

These cards in turn manipulate the way that the race ends up and in the end the winner.

The most annoying rule of this game but also one of the best, is the fact that if the second camel lands on the tile the first camel lands on, the second camel must climb onto the first camels back and is sitting in first place. If the first camel now moves again, it must take the second camel with it. Eventually the camels could all end up being stacked on top of one another.

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Green won. p.s. I bet on green 😉

As a game, I throughly enjoyed the idea that the betting can be manipulated entirely and the odds and results can change very suddenly. For instance a camel coming last could eventually come first.

Camel Up is centred around the theme of betting/gambling, which is one of the most universal themes that any culture or age can understand. The earliest evidence of gambling was in 2300BC and involved ancient Chinese tiles that could of formed part of a lottery game.

 

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Ancient Chinese Tiles- used in a lottery type system.

Betting involving dice, similarly used in Camel Up, was discovered in 500BC, said to be created by a mythological hero during the siege of Troy. Some of the first writings in Greek history during 500bc mentioned the dice. A pair of dice were recovered from a Egyptian tomb in 3000bc however, although the greek scripts were the first to introduce the dice and gambling. Although Greeks and romans loved betting it was illegal in the ancient city of rome. This didn’t stop them however, they began to play with chips instead, as a way of confusing the guards if they were caught.

As we can see just by these two examples betting has been around for centuries which may be a reason this game works so well. It takes the concept of chance and strategy in order to bet accordingly. This is probably a reason why a german game also did so well overseas by incorporating this universal theme.

The betting system in Camel Up works in rounds:

  1. 1 round means that each camel has to move.
  2. During each round the oasis or drought card can be put down to manipulate the results, picked up after the round is over and then played again in the next round.
  3. There are separate betting cards (according to the camel colour) that the players can pick up on there turn that are ranked by the number of coins you can win or lose if that colour camel wins or loses in that round. The amount of coins you can win is also determined on which player estimates first that, that camel is going to win and so on.
  4. There are also the big bets which you put down with your character cards. These stay there until the end of the game. You can bet for the camel you think will win and the camel you think with lose.
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All of the betting cards and oasis/drought cards on the board

The player with the most money at the end of the game wins.

My thoughts on the game: 

I thought the way in which the game has been crafted has been really thought out. What captured me the most was the stacking of the camels and the pyramid which really randomised the dice in a way that treats the game fairly, although there is still an option for you to manipulate the game.

In the first round I thought it was just a game of luck. Mostly because I wasn’t winning. But then I began to learn the strategy behind it, watching a player (Huey) who had already played it before. I began to realise that by putting the oasis card down, and by paying attention to where each camel could be stacked, it changed to a game of odds as well as strategy rather than luck.

Get to round 3 and I was very stressed after placing my main bet for the green camel to win.

It was a constant feeling of excitement because you were winning to disappointment after you were carrying all the camels on your back, to winning again.

Eventually the green won!! However I didn’t end up with the most coins. Amy (another girl in my group) won. I think because she kept using her oasis or drought card and I didn’t use mine the whole game.

This was an extremely intuitive game. Would I play is again? Absolutely!

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Took to snapchat to let everyone know I was the winner of Camel Up.

Two new editions have also been added which I will be checking out over the weekend:

Camel Up: Supercup 

Camel Up Boardgame App

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Don’t worry Chris, I made sure everyone took photos!!