Monday, April 26, 2010

just a quick sneak peak

I thought I would post a picture of my game! I am really excited to see everyone's project. Everyone is making some awesome things.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Nothing new

Well, I will begin with a good news. I am going to Haiti in the beginning of May. I will mostly do research for a University trying to launch an online program. And of course I will field test the game with some kids.

I have been finishing up with the little pieces of the game mostly painting and the alike.

I have been also preparing my presentation.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Physical model in progress

Because of the complexity of the game, I will not make all the sub-cubes. I think that with only a few of the cubes I can explain the point of the game.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Video games and story telling

Found this last week. The person did a few other good episodes which you can watch here

Monday, April 19, 2010

I need help selecting a material pallete

I originally wanted to give the game an antique feel, more like an old newspaper. But I am having trouble creating such material, so I thought that maybe on aged copper will do it. What do you guys think?
Here are some of the materials I have been playing with:

Also I got to import it on Unity 3D, and Ashutosh helped with programming. Here is the link:
there's still some problems with the keys. you can rotate it with the up and down arrow keys.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Collaborative visualization

When I saw this project it makes me think of the presentation Arturo and Anton are about to do this week. Besides It makes me think of Audrey's project with the cube appearance

Sunday, April 11, 2010

UPS using serious game to train drivers.

UPS is seriously buying the digital natives vs digital immigrants concepts of Mark Prensky. As 30% of drivers were not passing the exam they decided that the high failure rate should have been link to the new generation being used to play games. Part of the training is linked to a video game. Since then the rate is only 10%. I would be curious to see the stats of previous generation besides the stats of immigrants being train through the game. I know that serious games can enhance learning but as a teacher I am afraid that in the future problems will be oversimplified to one answer gaming. We tend to forget that behind the game there is a design which is done by instructional designer.Maybe there content was simply bad... So far I'll enjoy people thinking that game can do miracles as it might bring money on the table for all of us registered in that class! :)

I am pasting the article below as you need to have a wall street journal account to read the complete article.

Vexed that some 30% of driver candidates flunk its traditional training, United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) is moving beyond the classroom to ready its rookies for the road.
In the place of books and lectures are videogames, a contraption that simulates walking on ice and an obstacle course around an artificial village.
Based on results so far, the world's largest package-delivery company is convinced that 20-somethings -- the bulk of UPS driver recruits -- respond best to high-tech instruction and a chance to hone skills.
Driver training is crucial for Atlanta-based UPS, which employs 99,000 U.S. drivers and says it will need to hire 25,000 over the next five years to replace retiring Baby Boomers.
Candidates vying for a driver's job, which pays an average of $74,000 annually, now spend one week at Integrad, an 11,500-square-foot, low-slung brick UPS training center 10 miles outside of Washington, D.C. There they move from one station to another practicing the company's "340 Methods," prescribed by UPS industrial engineers to save seconds and improve safety in every task from lifting and loading boxes to selecting a package from a shelf in the truck.
They play a videogame that places them in the driver's seat and has them identify obstacles. They progress from computer simulations to "Clarksville," a village of miniature houses and faux businesses on the property where they drive a real truck and must successfully execute five deliveries in 19 minutes.
So far, the new methods, designed by UPS and researchers from Virginia Tech, are proving successful, UPS says. Of the 1,629 trainees who have completed Integrad since it began as an experiment in 2007, only 10% have failed the training program, which takes a total of six weeks overall and includes 30 days driving a truck in the real world. UPS is known for promoting within, and many driver candidates began as UPS package handlers or other employees.
By getting out of the traditional classroom and using technology and hands-on learning, "we've enhanced the probability of success of these new drivers," says Allen Hill, UPS's senior vice president of human resources. A second Integrad will open in the Chicago area in the summer, and the training methods will eventually go company-wide, he says.
"Are you ready for this? Shake the nerves out! Take a deep breath," cheers Chris Breslin, a graying Integrad instructor, rallying his fresh-faced recruits on a recent day.
As Nick Byrnes, a 23-year-old with a buzz cut and black Ray-Ban sunglasses, drove through Clarksville, a UPS instructor tossed a football in his path. Mr. Byrnes hit the brakes. But then, when he hopped out to deliver a package, instructor Mike Keys sneaked an orange traffic cone in front of the truck.
Mr. Byrnes hopped back in and started up. "Stop! Stop! Ugh!" yelled Mr. Keys. He picked up the cone. "This is a kid who was playing football around your vehicle and went to get his ball."
Mr. Byrnes looked shaken and slapped his forehead. The lesson stuck: At the next stop, he checked for cones.
UPS isn't the only company using new training tools. Food service company Sodexo Inc. has recruited chefs through "Second Life" virtual job fairs and Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) has taught programming techniques through videogames. FedEx Corp. says it, too, has moved toward more hands-on learning in the past five years, although it adds the change wasn't prompted by a high failure rate among trainees.
On a recent day, UPS students at Integrad moved through "kinetic learning" modules. In one corner, they practiced loading and unloading packages from a UPS truck with clear sides, timed by instructors.
UPS allows 15.5 seconds to park a truck and retrieve one package from the cargo, which is arranged in order of delivery.
Over at the "slip and fall" machine, an instructor greased a tiled runway in preparation for a regular drill: Students must carry a 10-pound box down the surface -- while wearing shoes with no real tread. Luckily they wear a safety harness, as most flail around like drunken ice skaters until they are taught to stand straight and take slow baby steps. (This is the one time UPS relents on its rule that drivers walk at a "brisk pace," or 2.5 paces per second.)
In another corner, Rich Gossman, at 37 the oldest in the group, was slumped at a videogame that tests recruits' ability to find sales leads for UPS, something today's drivers are expected to do. The game puts his avatar in rooms where he has to identify competitors' packages.
Mr. Gossman, a married father, works overnight at a UPS warehouse, unloading packages for $12.50 an hour. Being a UPS driver appeals to him because of the pay and job security.
"This has been the most stressful week of my life," he said. But as he played the game Mr. Gossman got a pat on the back from UPS supervisor, Peggy Emmart. "I saw you identify that competitor package," she said.
"I saw that FedEx package and went, click, let's get 'em," said Mr. Gossman.
Trainees must pay attention to detail and appearance and work as a team. Students whose brown uniforms aren't ironed properly -- hanger creases are forbidden -- lose points for their teams, as does any trainee caught without his keys. UPS requires drivers to wear keys on their ring fingers to avoid wasting time searching for them.
"Raise your hands," Mr. Breslin ordered one group. Five jingling pairs of hands went up. "Good job," he said, clapping. "See how easy it is to bond with your keys?"
Write to Jennifer Levitz at

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sweet sweet success

So i have literally spent my entire day from the time i got up this morning until now working on my radio transmitter and radio receiver to be employed in my in situ game/sculpture location system. After many failed attempts and dead ends, finally IT WORKS the way it is suppose to. I did however have to break down and employ two arduino MCU's, one for transmitting and the other for receiving.

I had originally planned to have only an MCU in the locating device with receiver and to build a stand alone battery powered circuit with transmitter embedded in the "gameboard". I spent the majority of my time today trying to make that setup work. I thought that if i used a 555 IC timer configured to continually "ping" the data pin of the transmitter that i could than tell the receiver to listen for this "pinged" data. Here is a picture of the 555 setup (w/o transmitter):

I attempted executing this method several different ways, the problem always being that it was too difficult to filter the data from the noise, especially because I wasn't 100 percent certain what data the 555->transmitter was sending. I assumed it would be a value between 1 to 2 volts which in the ardunio serial monitor would appear as values between about 30 to 70. Even when i constrained these values it was still too unreliable to tell if i was actually getting the transmission or noise.

So finally i broke down and employed two arduino MCUs, one running code for transmitting, the other running code for receiving. I also created a stand alone power supply so i could attempt moving the transmitter out of range and check the results:

This method worked really well and after some tweaking to the code I was finally able to get the receiving arduino to provide a consistent output, in the form of turning on an LED and keeping it on, when the transmitter was in range and turning it off when the transmitter was out of range.
So from a cost/benefit analysis this method of TX/RX is not ideal considering I must use two arduinos and theoretically 4 in total if I want one in each of the three planned in situ sculptures, but it works now for the purposes of demonstrating the game system.

what adults can learn from kids

I think we have already seen from Garrett's class how great the ideas kids come up with are. This talk is related to that:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Kid games

Here are scans of some of the prototypes of the games my kids are making in the class I teach. Remember these kids are 6 and 7 years old and some of their ideas are really brilliant. It's also interesting to note the different strategies they apply in developing their games, some write more some draw more. The last one is by a little girl in my class and she has a completely developed robust rule system for a game that actually sounds fun, and it fits on one page!

A soccer board game (very cool)

A game like chess but with less pieces
only one piece can capture the "king"
and only one piece can kill this "king killer"
also the board spaces will be hexagons.

A game called "quick" in which players
try to get through a forest as fast as they can
without getting eaten by a bear.

GDC 2010

As the end of our semester approaches and we gain respect for what we call a game, a process of creation which does not give in at a casual push, but demands total focus, concentration and dedication, in other words, it costs a year or two of precious human life to produce and bring to the stage where it will be judged and voted on, I would like everyone interested in this ancient activity, one of the oldest that we developed as we became human, not only historically but personally as well to sit back and enjoy (if you have not seen it already) the geeky humor, or lack of it, the anti-Oscar event of the year where those millions of human-hours are rewarded with a little plaque that guys rock! We love what you do, and we will prove it by devoting billions of our lifetime to honor your creativity.

How Games Can Change The World

Hi everyone! After yesterday's presentation by Ben Devane and the previous TEDtalk we watched by Jane McGonigal, I thought this talk by Jesse Schell would be another great facet.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Check out this 4D cube game.

Audrey this game looks very relevant to what you are trying to do with your game.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


I could finally think of a decent design for my gameboard (well subject to revision) but I think that this one can be easily printed on any type of materials particularly the bandana!
Barring the failure of my arduino MCU board this last week (a new one should be here in the mail today), I have still continued progress on my game. The "board/collage" (the piece that is hidden in the city). Is completed. I will try to bring the physical board today so you can all see it in person. Also I have drawn the semi-final plan for the wrist locating device with the reciever in it to find the board with.
Here is an image:

I have also worked on the (very) short story that will scroll in the LCD display once you are in transmitting range of the "board/skulpture".

The Evolution of Samus Aran

The article on game aesthetics brings up some interesting insight on how current technologies effect the development and final versions of so many games. I think that the Metroid series is a great example of such a trend, and like Zelda and Mario, has made the successful transition from 2D to 3D. The Metroid series had huge obstacles to overcome by moving into 3D without lo features like already difficult jumps and of course the morph ball. The 3D approach has been to use first-person shooter for the majority, and transitions to third-person for ball mode, Screw Attacking, and some puzzles. This offers a great dynamic in gameplay, although the game still "feels" predominately like a first-person shooter. The latest release in the series, coming out this summer is going to cross the classic 2D style into the new game engine, and looks awesome. I think I might be getting a Wii!

Metroid(1986, NES)

Metroid II: Return of Samus(1991, Gameboy)

Super Metroid(1994, SNES)

Metroid Prime(2002, Gamecube)

Metroid: Other M(2010, Wii)

Samus Aran from original NES game's instruction manual...

Samus aquiring the Screw Attack in the NES classic.

The newer rendition of Samus from Metroid II: Return of Samus(still essetially the same up till today!)

A nice 3D Samus from Metroid Prime.

A screen shot from the new game coming out this summer, Metroid: Other M

And the trailer...