Thursday 17th March 2022
WEEK 7 -
TO DO: REVIEW GAME VERSION 1
PURPOSE FOR THE DAY
We have been in contact with James today regarding our first Game Version! This is to demonstrate how our core interaction will work and give us a greater understanding around the topic of webcam/image processing. We can take notes on how exactly we intend for interaction to work and later gather feedback from users regarding this.
WHAT WILL WE BE DOING?
We should be reviewing the first Game Version, and be in discussion with James about how we can take this further. This should also be uploaded into GitHub which Kiera Walton should be taking care of. For now, I plan to review the first version of the game and take notes regarding its overall functionality.
GOALS FOR THE DAY
Review first Game Version and evaluate the effectiveness of our core interaction.
WEBCAM PROCESSING - HOW DOES IT WORK?
In Week 3, I familiarised myself with the process and researched into the different ways it's used. This gave me a greater understanding of the topic but today should be useful to see it in play. The process works by identifying any given object/body part which when moving, can be tracked and followed. This allows us to identify any particular object/thing and allow it to be in control of another object/asset.
HOW WILL THE GAME BE PLAYED?
Other than being projected into a space for the Arcade Event and potentially university/school campuses, we'd ideally like the game to be accessible to all whenever they might need it:
In the physical space, we will use our desired setup (short throw projector) and connect a suitable device to the projector, in order to display the program. The program is setup on an online server, which can be played on any device with a webcam. Similar to our prototype/testing, we will connect the laptop to the projector via HDMI cable, and the webcam will have to be embedded onto the wall(s).
To enable people to play from home, we will need to set up a domain to allow players to open the game on their devices. This of course takes away the opportunity to play on multiple walls, but still provides players with the intended player experience, allowing them to interact through webcam using gesture, and immerse themselves into a visually pleasing environment, with soothing music. To do this, we must eventually set up our own domain/website which we can run the server from and allow them to play easily.
PURPOSE FOR PROTOTYPE
This first prototype is to demonstrate how 'webcam/image processing' works and how players will interact with their webcam to interact with the digital world. This is a basic prototype to review and think about how we could enhance it.
HOW COULD WE USE THIS?
Referring back to our game idea, it would be ideal if we were able to identify one part of the body to interact with the Snow Bunting bird in the mountainscape. You can see in the video demo that James moves his hand and head, and the red dots follow. This implies that, wherever he moves, the dots follow! James is aware of our plans to have the bird follow the players palm, so he plans to find a way for us to do this and feedback ASAP.
WHAT DOES THIS DEMONSTRATE?
This short clip demonstrates James interacting with the webcam processing program! As you can see, the red dots represents the different body parts that the webcam has identified. So far, they have identified the facial features, both shoulders, palm and fingers. This suggests that we can use this process to identify a body part of our choice and use this to be in control of a particular asset within the environment.
PURPOSE FOR PROTOTYPE
This second prototype is a demonstration of the use of one single body part. This is to prototype our core interaction which should eventually be used to guide the bird through the environment, and hover over snowflakes to trigger layers of music. Using, this we can evaluate the effectiveness of gameplay in terms of our project goals and player experience.
WHAT DOES THIS DEMONSTRATE?
In this case, James has specifically programmed his left eye to be the main source of interaction, meaning wherever he moves his left eye, the red dot follows. This is an example of tracking/recognition which is translated into the digital world. Players can essentially move in any way that they like, and the dot/object will still follow their movement!
HOW CAN WE USE THIS?
We can use this by identifying one body part to be in control of the Snow Bunting, allowing them to guide the bird throughout the environment and hover over the interactive snowflakes. Ideally, we'd like this process to work with the palm of your hand and James has told us that you can essentially use any body part you like, it's just a matter of adjusting the code according to this.
PROJECT GOALS & EFFECTIVENESS
In terms of our project goals, we wanted to encourage players to move slowly, in a controlled movement to encourage both emotional and physical regulation. From my regulation research I learned that motion is important to take control of both your body and mind, as well as having physical effects such as lowering fast heart rates and steady breathing. This interaction will be extremely beneficial and work well with our overall player experience. It'll encourage players to fly the bird within the environment at their own pace, without the need to rush as well as spark curiosity and interest, as the interaction itself is already very fascinating!
REFLECTION & EVALUATION
Our Semester 1 Project Proposal aimed for the game to regulate players both emotionally and physically. As we have established, our gameplay does just that. With all the moving parts, we should provide players with a fully immersive experience, designed to reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. Alongside the sound and visual design, interaction is just as important and our choice of gesture control allows us to achieve this goal. We are happy that we changed our choice for input over the last few weeks and feel this is more suited to our overall idea. If students visit the Getaway on campus, we don't want it to feel setup or forced in anyway, and the need for controllers might negatively impact the way they feel in the space. The use of gesture will feel more natural, and players can walk into the space with immediate control.
PLAYER EXPERIENCE / REGULATION
Similarly, this method of interaction will be perfect for our player experience. It'll require slow body movement from players and require them to focus on guiding the bird across the scene, distracting them from negative thoughts and therefore, disconnecting them from personal problems or worries. A major factor of emotional regulation is learning to manage your thoughts in challenging situations, and this teaches players to take a step back, become in control of their mind and body and get lost in their surroundings. If the setup of the space goes as planned, they'll have the opportunity to wander freely, observe their environment and listen to the music they essentially created. These elements combined will allow us to achieve our intended player experience, and thankfully, we are on the way there!
HOW TO TAKE THIS FURTHER? GAME DEVELOPMENT
Our next steps for game development will be to get our chosen body part into the code. James plans to send us instructions for setup next week, which will enable us to take control of the program, adjust code and input our own asset and sound creations. First steps will be to change the input and second will be to implement sample assets into the environment, to represent what should be our own assets around Week 9. Kiera is responsible for the technical sides of the project, so will have more control over this, but I will also be there to give input and help where necessary.
NEXT STEPS - WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
As we wait for guidance and access to the server from James, we will continue with our individual tasks and work according to schedule. We have less planned for this week because we have our essay deadline on the 21st March (this coming monday) which we need to be prepared for and submit as soon as we can. Because of this, we plan to spend the rest of the week focusing on refining and finalising our essays.
After submission, we should be planning for the Easter Holidays and making sure we have everything prepared for our event on the 31st March with Eagle Labs. We have scheduled in playtesting with a handful of second years next week, so if we keep to our plans, this should hopefully be taking place and we will gather feedback to make changes or improvements.