24 juli 2011

Improved Twilight Imperium layout

What it is
It’s a reworked GUI for the large and complicated board game Twilight Imperium 3rd edition. It will consist of new player sheets and modularized boxes for easy setup and packing and some other modifications.
A new layout for a race sheet, focusing on how technology advancements affect units.
Why it is
My intention is to make a better user experience concerning the overwhelming amount of information and exceptions that occur in the game. Since the play-time lies anywhere between 8-12 hours with 5+ players it is easy to be confused and forgetful when calculating modifiers in the later hours.
 It is also a game that takes a fairly long time to set up and get back into the box. I have a system that works well but with the latest expansion (which nobody thought would come) it has to be redone to accommodate the new units and additions.
A read from left to right Tech tree before shards of the throne expansion.
Journey and Goal
 I intend to put a lot of effort into making this version better looking than just practical. I’m not quite sure how far I will go with details and the artsy aspect but the quality will be better and equally player oriented. It will be a logistical puzzle to find the best configuration that requires the least amount of alterations depending on game setup configuration. Another challenge will be to make the pieces from cheap (ish) materials that will work and how it will all come together.

What I lack
Nothing in this project except some time and a kick in da butt.
Although, at a later date I will try and make a digital version of this game, then I will need some help.

Done so far
 V1.0.
Current setup - Individual plastic unit containers, race specific boxes and general compartmentalized stoage units for easy access and setup.
 For V 2.0 - Lots of thinking of deployment of game setup and case design.

Status
 Waiting for inspiration.
Place manuals and race sheets in the middle and it's all packed up
Source material
 Since I do not need help with this I’m not going to make any of this available just yet. There will be more of a progress report on this one.

20 juli 2011

Action Gym

What it is
 It’s a gym where you exercise using only your own body mass with machines that challenges you to perform well in simulated action sequences or other playful situations. Every machine is like a game where you get points depending on how well you do. Every machine is slightly adjustable to fit every body type and there is no specific set way to do an exercise, the only thing that counts are the results.
A very early concept, The platform is balanced to be level when no one is on it. You are supposed to touch every one of the white lights, each light gives you points.
Why it is
 The number one reason people quit the gym is because there’s not enough payback for the amount of energy they spend there. Losing weight is hard, not just because you exercise but because it’s not a FUN process. I’m not saying it is boring (some/many might), but it isn’t fun either. Going to the gym is good for you and you enjoy the results (eventually) but the majority doesn’t like the process. Some people enjoy going to the gym but most people that need/should go doesn’t like it. In my opinion, exercise should be fun. When I go to a gym I feel good and I pat myself on the back for going, but where is the joy? If there was a way to take the monotony and uninspiring aspect out of the equation and replace it with variety and more imaginative exercises I think everyone would be better off.
 I grew up with action and adventure movies and I might have a slightly romanticized view of that kind of action/adventure but it still feels like more fun to try escaping capture, tackling bad guys, balancing on a cliff holding a strange artifact than sitting in a steel contraption and do 10-20 reps. Right?
 I have no illusions that people in general will be skeptical about this concept but I also believe that there will be enough people that will embrace the concept and prove that working out can be fun. And did I mention that you could win prizes? Yes, every month the person with the most points, best improvement and other statistics will each be able to win a nice prize and motivate them ever more.
Climb to the top of the dome and touch the light, climb down and to any light that lights up on one of the pillars, repeat.
Journey and Goal
 This is one of the larger projects that I have in my cookie jar and it is of course going to be really hard to get this thing off the ground unless it is done very incrementally. It will require a lot of money and experimentation but all the technology and materials that are needed exist and is cheap to use. The main cost comes from research and development and testing. Then when all is tested, proved and documented it needs to be manufactured, with enough planning this will be the easiest part (speaking from personal experience on the matter) but it will still cost money. The hardest step will be to get a space to put it all in and convincing people (investors and future members) that this is the most fun they ever had.
 The ultimate goal is of course to have a complete working establishment with paying members, but before getting there we must complete three stages:
1)      Complete concept, every machine to be tested has to work in theory before committed to the next step. Have a vision of how the establishment should work and look, with finance calculations and target audiences etc. clearly defined.
2)      Prototyping and testing. Everything should be built and tested and then modified and tested again, making sure everything works as intended and reliably. Lastly, public testing, letting others evaluate the fun factor and difficulty settings. Modify and test again.
3)      Compilation. Put together all findings and results to present to everyone with enough money to back it up at least partially. There will be need for multiple sponsors and collaborators to spread the risks and get a wide spread of competence.
Steps 1&2 will overlap quite a bit overall but for every machine and detail step one must be complete AND fit in the overall framework/vision/goal before starting on step two.

Touch the dark hexex when they light up.
There are many variants to this one.
What I lack
 Lots of money, not huge amounts but enough to pay rent and materials for testing
 A space to put together prototypes and test them, nothing fancy, four walls and a roof and some electricity
 More money, there will always be a need for money
 Contacts to people with money
Any end of the staf need to come in contact with the white light spread around the room. It is a long heavy staff, designed to be cumbersome to move around.
Done so far
 A concept abstract for 21 different exercises in Swedish that I have shown to a handful of people with different background. It will be translated upon request. Positive response all around so far.
Status
 Considering the amount of work needed to get this going one have to have a lot of time and money, I have had neither. I think early prototyping is possible for relatively little money but without a space it will be too cumbersome.
An "advanced" version of dance dance revolution mat for console games.
Source material
 Concept pictures of 17 different stations/exercises (Here) Many of these pictures will show the desired interaction, not the final design of the machine itself. There will be alot more of these, some will be scrapped and some will be combined.

14 juli 2011

Senior

What it is
 It is a casual game where the players race each other as really old people in a retirement home. It is the slowest race ever. There would many parallels with real racing. The different retirement homes substitutes for racetracks. The different classes are walking unsupported, with support, human powered wheelchair, electric wheelchair etc. Visitors smuggle in “boosters” to increase performance and the staff must not know; if the contraband/boosters are found there would be questions and we can’t have that, the races would be shut down! Odds are calculated in the gambling corner in the laundry room. The senior citizens have it all worked out, let no one from the staff know (except Bill the janitor) and especially not the grown up children that put them here.

Why it is
 I think the idea came about mid-2002 as a counter response to the high-end graphics (at the time) hype. Don’t get me wrong, I like the high-end graphics games but I wanted to do something different. This is also a couple years before Facebook and casual gaming came into existence; I really did not think that this game would sell when I thought it up but now the market is completely different.
 Having visited both grandmothers in these kinds of homes is really depressing for someone that has all faculties and movement intact; they really are just waiting for death. Old people need stimulation just as much as anyone else, maybe more. It is also such a huge contrast between the atmosphere of a retirement home and racing I think it would be hilarious to do a game about this. I think that any senior citizen would appreciate an image boost and some sort of awareness that their lives could be improved with some competition, even if it meant dying trying to get to the other end of the hallway - first!

Journey and Goal

 I see before me pixelated graphics like early 90’s adventure games; 2D sprites with a couple frames animation and very simple controls. The challenge lies in the strategy in how to gain advantages and timing obstacles/enemies (staff). All characters are caricatures with eccentric behavior and quirks that should be taken into consideration when racing.
 Since it will be a very slow and low-fi graphics game there would be very few performance issues. There might arise some interaction issues if players want to challenge each other and/or have more advanced trade-mechanics which will require higher networking standards. I have no specific market in mind for this but a Facebook- or smartphone application would be ideal. I do not think this would be either a good console game or a stand-alone release.

What I lack
Programming skills to put it all together
Pixel-artist for all illustrations
Sound technician for sounds and limited dialogue
Distributor and that stuff

Done so far
 One pitch (early draft for a GDD) in Swedish, describing most of the functions envisioned in 2002.

Status
 Waiting for the right collaborator to join

Source material
None at this time

11 juli 2011

ACMI

What it is
 ACMI is the acronym for Analog Cybernetic Musical Instrument. The ACMI (or PMI –Programmable Musical Interface) is basically a glove with small pressure sensors attached at specific points that allow easy access when tapping with your fingers. When each these sensors get tapped the signal is recorded with hardware which starts playback of a sound stored in a memory bank. It works exactly like a programmable musical keyboard where you replace the keys with a small sensor and assign a sound to each sensor. The output signal can be plugged into a speaker/amplifier or a computer for more post processing.

Why it is

 I really can’t remember why this idea popped in my head in the late 2004-05 but I liked the idea that anyone could don a pair of gloves and a utility belt and be a musical orchestra where ever that person went. Since the memory bank can store any sound, from a piano to farts, there is no limitation what a person with a sense of rhythm can perform.

Journey and Goal
 I have no real ambition to do anything with this except design the physical hardware (not the electronics) and figure out what materials to use and how do develop manufacturing of commercial products. There will surely be a display somewhere too, I could design the GUI.  I could take the concept further with “real instruments” as seen here below. These work on the same theoretical idea, only a sensor that can determine pressure and/or position on a surface, which will translate to some sort of modulation of the sample sound. These in combination with the gloves could produce an enormous variety of sounds and/or modulations.

What I lack
 Knowhow, equipment and skill to put together the electronics hardware and software.

Done so far
 The concept sketches you see here.

Status
 Waiting for the right collaborator to join.

Source material
There have been some creations that do something similar made by other people but I have not seen anyone go all the way like this concept. There was this guy who made a pair of drummer jeans (pressure sensor on the thighs) that plugged into a speaker; that is as close I have seen something that resembles this concept.
And of course, three days after posting this, I see this. It is actually way more complicated than my idea but my setup was more intended as "the guitar/drums/keyboard on your hands", this new thing is an entire preformance-kit.

Searches

What it is
 A graphic novel set in a fantasy world. It is about a handful of characters that find each other’s friendship through a series of events of personal stakes and worldly choices. The emphasis will lie on the interaction and growth of the main characters exploring their world and making rather large discoveries that will alter the entire world view in a new perspective for everyone.
Why it is
 It started out as collaboration between me and two other friends (Magnus and Mats), we had one set of skills each that we would like to become better at and would in turn fuel each other’s creativity. Magnus would write an interesting story, I would do concept art and visual blocking of how the story should be told in a visual form and Mats would turn my sketches into amazing oil paintings (he is really good). This worked for a very short while until Mats had a falling out for some reason (somewhat unclear about his reasons but I think it had something to do with limited experience working with others in creative matters). After this falling out the project kind of died since both Magnus and I found other things to do.
Journey and Goal
 I liked the basic concept so much I kept coming back to it now and then, mostly refining the story and the backstory to personal preferences. Unfortunately I did not sketch as much as I wrote but I felt that a good solid story that I could work from would make it easier to get a sense of proportion and style. I am after all inventing an entire new frigging world here! Better getting it right-ish early in the process.
 I do need to say that I do not have an agenda or a message to tell the reader. This is not a vehicle to promote a real world idea/ideology except this: Whatever you do, there will be consequences. It will be possible to draw some parallels with our time but that will be purely coincidental. I want to tell a story about a world that is amazing and describe the people in it as interesting characters that one will care about. More thinking and less violence, more awe and wonder than fast action, more philosophy than one liners.
 I want to use this project to hone my skills in concept art and storytelling. I feel a need to being creative coming up with all kinds of alternative solutions to old, new and exotic problems. This is the playground for my imagination where I can roam free and just make things up that does not have to work in reality. As long as I can describe what I want in a frame I am happy. Ultimately I would like to see this effort bear fruit in the shape of a finished book with more stories to tell for another one or more.
What I lack (In order of relevance)
*Inspiration to continue, especially to keep sketching, I need feedback and/or encouragement.
*Help with some parts of the design work; I can’t do all of it. How and what will be decided when the time arrives but basically we will divide the work between the different cultures to be consistent.
*I cannot produce the finished look that I want. I would like to find someone that would be interested in making every frame detailed enough and so well lit that will make people want to buy this story as a book, wanting more.
Done so far
A large amount of loose ramblings about why things are the way they are and loose descriptions of three of the main characters. Some sketches from the old phase.
Status
 All background text is being collated and translated into English. The few sketches made will be uploaded as soon as they have been adjusted for web publishing, est. late July.

Source material
 You will be able to read but not edit these Google docs. Any comments/suggestions are made here in the blog.
 World description so far (Google docs)
 Background story (Google docs)
 Basic story and key points (Google docs)