lördag 19 oktober 2013

2 new members and allot of graphical interface design!

Photoshopped image of the team
3 additional members has been engulfed by the mission. Anna doesn't have much time but is very interested so she will get some task that will make the game better but is not a crucial element. I will propose either listening to the music in different settings, gather more info about neurology or something else. The other new member is Felix, he likes to program in python and can make music. We concluded that having two musicians is a delicate issue, we don't want what we say in sweden "The more chefs the worse the soup". Even though it's nice to have the same kind of music through the game to make a stable feeling, it could work having different music during the cut-scenes. I don't know, we'll see.

I've also managed to get a graphic designer that's really good, he has no experience in vector graphics but he can make amazing 3d art. I think we'll either ditch the vector graphics or I'll teach him basics to see if he catches on.

To make the graphics we will make some kind of chart of graphics needed. Anybody in the team (and outsiders?) can upload images and we'll give feedback and chose the most fitting images.

The following pictures is about the graphical interface design. I spent the day mostly making cognitive walkthroughs and visualising the game. This is to discover problems and testing design solutions to see what works best. I just drew the pictures to show you some of my early thoughts, I really just go through them in my head and just write down the end result when I'm done (I'm not yet done). I want to show you how I work so I present to you more sketches!

The process of playing is about having a blank sheet with just stemcells and nutrition, then place neurons and nano-robots to make a defence or solve a puzzle. (There will be tower defense levels and puzzle levels).

So the player will go from that ->
To this down here.

This means that the player will spend allot of time placing and rearranging neurons (the blue ones with "tails" connecting to each other), so we want that part to be as pleasurable as possible. Nice juicy soundeffects and an easy to use interface design. So I spend allot of time thinking about how exactly the neurons will be placed upon this micro world.

navigation and stemcell to neuron GUI
You can just look at the pretty pictures since they are not so well adjusted to be understood. In case you really want to know what some of them are about, I'll write.

In this right picture. The bottom 4 frames are about touching and draggin a stemcell from the middle of the screen to where you want to put it. There is allot of way you could do this and it all comes down to what commands the user likes to do. On a touchpad there is touching, dragging, swiping, tapping and when you combine both hands, there is like no end to the possibilities.

The menu that pops up could pop up at the bottom but in this case it pops up right where the stemcell is placed, this is nice since the player wont need to change eye-focus to much or make big movements with the hand. The brain also recognises objects near to each other to be associated (law of proximity) so that makes it more 'logical' and graspable for the brain to accept the idea that this menu is about this stemcell.

After this menu where you might choose to develop this stemcell to for example a neuron, this neuron will need an axon, so touching and dragging would be nice for this. This is pictured in the last frame.

First 6 frames are about navigation. The game area will be bigger than the screen and we can't have enough neurons jammed into one screen (because we need to be able to pinpoint and touch them). So a small map could be shown in the lower left, this could open a map-screen where you touch where of the map you want to see. To quickly change this area without going through the map-screen we could have arrows beside the map-icon to step to the left for example. Instead of this we could have a possibility like touching wherever on the screen can make you "grab" it and move it around like you can do in google maps for example. So when thinking about this and testing playing the game in the mind you can discover the crash of commands when you want to grab a stemcell from the middle and put it somewhere, will the program move the screen or will it grab a stemcell? When the game is full of neurons and stuff and you want to move the screen, you don't want the menues of different neurons to pop upp, you want to move the screen. Looking for an empty square to grab can be frustrating for the user.

Left picture. When a stemcell is placed and you are able to grow an axon from it, this is what I think I will use. Once the stemcell is placed I think that instead of first choosing what the cell will develop to, the program will assume you will be developing to a neuron so even though this 'chosing menu' will appear from the bottom, the possibility is there to save like 0,5 seconds and just grow the axon directly. And this action of pressing a direction to grow it in will turn the stemcell into a neuron and directly start to grow the axon. Also with this we can have a strain of dna at the bottom and if the player wants to develop another kind of cell she can just press that button and she will see that it means that we inject another part of the dna into the cell. This will give the implicit knowledge that different dna-strands changes what happens in a cell. I really like this idea, I think I will use something like this.

So pros and cons are discovered through cognitive walkthrough. Allot of trial and error is what it's about, and I like it. I love to visualize things and just sit meditative style and really fast go through scenarios.

We have also made an appointment with another proffessor who know more about embryology so that we can understand the process of making neurons from stemcells.

The story is going forward and now we have frequent short meeting every week to see if everyone is doing well.

Thanks for checking my blog out, stay curious!

//Tistou Blomberg

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