Updated: Jun 4, 2019
Event: Southampton Science and Engineering Festival 16th March
James presented an opportunity for myself and Rubi, along with Venny to demonstrate our game development at Highfield Campus's Science and Engineering Day. The day was open to the public and had a high turnout of families.
We developed a maze game utilising the pipping of the NFC to a digital output. This was to test how children interact with the tactile interaction with the cards. The build we created unfortunately is only working on Windows machines at the minute, so myself and Venny had to swap laptops for the day . We additionally showcased the art that goes with the game via slideshow on Rubi's iPad.
The day went really well and we were busy all throughout the day. People responded well to the idea and it gave us an opportunity to quiz parents on their opinions of the game proposal. The build lasted well, however half an hour before the end of the event, the NFC shield burned out. It had been heavily handled all day and running for about 5 hours. It demonstrated the need for encasing the NFC antenna and also established that powered down breaks should be at least taken every 4 hours.
We made some other key discoveries from this event:
When interacting with the cards, the children tended to bend them. We definitely need to use a heavier weight card stock during the FMP production of the game to withstand both degree shows.
The Arduino and the antenna need to be encased to prevent damage. This could be in the cauldron. Additionally slots could be added either side of these sections to prevent bending of the ingredient cards.
We also discovered that the game is best played around a table with chairs, demonstrating that it is very much inline with a tabletop game. Potentially needs to use a round table to keep everyone involved.
We found that rather than waiting to play the game, a few participants actually joined in with strangers or their siblings by creating new rules. I.e. turn taking or having control of half of the cards and communicating decisions. This could be used for suggestions for gameplay.
The children enjoyed interacting with a physical controller as it was more tactile.
The parents appreciated the screen-less experience and were interested in the project.
"You're like amateur witches, learning spells"
From this I felt that we learnt a lot about the hardware capabilities of the game and how the players interact with the game and each other. This knowledge can be utilised for the degree show and for instruction suggestions for the game.
Event: After school art club
Myself and Rubi were asked to come and demonstrate our game to a local primary school after school club by Laura who works for the university youth outreach clubs. This involved Rubi delivering an art workshop surrounding the game along with myself demonstrating the NFC technology. Across two days we split up, focusing on our retrospective area. We discovered that the players really engaged with the tactile play of the cards, however could not comprehend prospective developments. This meant that I could not test out the interaction system. This was mainly because the average age was lower, with 6 and 7 year olds being most common. Rubi was able to draw upon her art experience with them and allowed them to take part in some digital drawing on her iPad. This demonstrated a lot of competition and arguing amongst the group, which furtherers our findings on using technology. This further tells us by removing screens from our game, we remove an opportunity for arguments to form among siblings and young players.
Overall I feel that this was not a great decision playtest wise, as the environment of school vs family home environment is different. We should establish more opportunities to connect with families as this is our intended audience.
Interaction model playtest
Having built the interaction model as a website and development of the cards continuing, we were in a good place to start a playtest of the game. Before the playtest we discussed with people the interaction model and people thought than illustration of the room could really aid the interaction. I subsequently mocked up the kitchen level using The Sims 4, for use during the playtest, with hopes for Rubi to illustrate each level for aids. We propose that this could form the spell book, which includes the instructions.
We conducted the playtest with Adam who, video messaged his daughter to gather target audience perspective. Rubi acted as the Alexa voice, reading from the website. The game was hard to understand via phone call, but that illustrated that the game was hard to initially understand. This demonstrated a need for a tutorial level, with individual instruction step-by-step. This was simply play-tested via verbal development on class-mates, who picked it up with a the minimum repeating interaction, i.e. "you can look forward to explore". This also identified a pattern that we could use to our advantage. Once the tutorial is finished and players are open to look in all directions, they almost always look forwards again.
The visual aid was deemed unnecessary, the game requires the players to be creative and no other visual material id used so it feels disjointed. As opposed to a spell book, a simple card with the commands on to prompt the players could work. From here I should work at the following levels, with the introduction of a tutorial as well as finding solution to development build problem.