Catch up with my latest activities in game design, storytelling, interaction, and custom hardware, gain insight into my process, and join me in ruminating on the events I attend.
I was give the incredible honor of being invited to speak at the Gotland Game Conference in Sweden (video of the talk in my post Defining the Box). They flew me over there and put me up in a lovely hotel, along with a bunch of other incredible speakers and judges that really made me feel like I had to prove something. 🙂 The event is largely organized by Uppsala University’s game development program, so the conference had a high percentage of undergraduates. I decided it was important I gear my talk towards them, and focus on the challenges I’ve personally faced over the years when it comes to my creative and technical career.
Sometime late March I spent about two full work days doing Unity tutorials to prepare for building a cross-platform mobile location based game. It’s called MysteryPhone: Art of Darkness. Clever huh? It will be a game played for one night as part of the annual Northern Spark festival held in Minneapolis, MN. This year it will take place from dusk on June 14th, to dawn the next day. Considering I’m the only developer working on this project, and how busy things have been with the Choosatron and other stuff, it will be a challenge. Megan Dowd is project managing, and David Pisa is leading the story writing, though I will be deeply involved in the direction.
The Choosatron was nominated for the WTF! award at A Maze in Berlin. I honestly didn’t think we’d make it over there (Megan, my acting project manager, and myself), but by the grace and generosity of the friends and supporters of the Choosatron we made it happen! THANK YOU ALL, so freakin’ much. Now about the festival!
The Choosatron got into Alt.Ctrl.GDC which as the name suggests consists of hybrid software and hardware projects using alternate control and output schemes. So, kind’of perfect! The exhibit, organized by the amazing John Polson, was the first big event for the Choosatron, and I was slightly terrified. Thankfully my partner Megan has been project managing, and attended with me.
The Librarian’s Apprentice is the first story ever submitted to be played on the Choosatron! Robert Valentine, a writer/director based in London, has done me the great honor of putting his time into such a random project. His excitement over the Choosatron was incredibly inspiring and definitely pushed me along, so thanks Rob! Hope you enjoy the video and disregard my terrible pronunciations. Anyway, without further ado please enjoy a video of my first play of Rob’s story.
I recorded this at 3:30am just after cobbling together the lovely cardboard enclosure for it. With a body, comes a name: Argyle. The first Choosatron prototype!
I’m quite enjoying the part of the process I’m in now with the Choosatron. Getting quality feedback that makes you think, “Yes, of course!” is quite motivating in pushing development forward at a time where it would be easy to lay back and call it complete.
Last week was intense. Finishing a hefty project at work, building a card version of the Nakatomi Plaza for our Die Hard Swede, rehearsals/costuming/props for my show Matlock: The One Man Show which is part of Fringe Orphans at the Minnesota Fringe, and finally finishing a few user facing features for the Choosatron and getting it in an enclosure! Phew!
One frustration I’ve run into with this project is the different power requirements my components have needed to work nicely. 12 volt, 9 volt, 5 volt, plus inconsistent amperage requirements. The thermal printer takes almost no power until you ask it to print, when it spikes to 1.5amps! Most of the other components don’t take too much; probably 300-500ma combined as a rough guess. I determined that I’d need a minimum of 2amps to power everything appropriately. 1.5 reserved for the printer and 500ma for everything else. The coin acceptor was the first annoyance since it wants 12v and the supplies I had were all 9v. I ended up finding many 12v power supplies ranging from 2-3amps that were for external hard drives so perfect! Except, after I get the coin acceptor power how do I get the printer what it needs?
Last night I finished the final feature that would allow full story play support for the file structure I created. Auto-jump, which simply allows you to set a single, unlabeled choice on a passage so it will be printed out and immediately forward to the link provided and continue from there. This is useful when you want to converge two different paths back together with different narrative preambles but common narrative body and the same choices. Is that confusing?