Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Week 12 Exercise - Revisted Definition of Prototype

For this exercise we were required to revisit our definition of a prototype from week 1.

My understanding of prototyping has changed since week 1. I know now that there can be different types of prototypes which range from ones that test an overall design concept to one that tests in-depth functionality, or even a combination of both.

Prototypes can be used to test specific elements of a concept as opposed to the entire concept as a whole.

From my experiences this semester, I've learnt that prototypes can be built upon for subsequent iterations. They don't always have to be rebuilt from the ground-up, unless you're trying a completely different approach.

The key to prototyping is good user feedback. Without it, you will never figure out the strengths and weaknesses of your concept.

Week 11 Exercise - Theremin Concepts and Pugh Matrix

Concepts

  1. Use the Kinect to track the motions of the user. A screen displays a grid infront of the user. The Kinect will track the positions of the hand for each note. Then, the notes will be reproduced by showing a marker on the grid.
  2. Use air jets which shoot air vertically and horizontallly to help the user find the right positions. This allows to feel where they must position their hand to produce the right notes.
  3. Program the the notes/positions onto an animatronic exo-skeleton  which will moves the users arms in to the position required to play the composition.

Pugh Matrix

Pugh Matrix

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Progress for Interactive Prototype 3

Over the past few days I have been working on Interactive Prototype 3. I have been working on improving the game and redesigning the yoke.

New Yoke Design

After some troubles with the yoke during the testing session for Interactive Prototype 2, I have decided to redesign the yoke all together. I started by taking apart the original yoke handle and rebuilding from scratch. The first thing I did was figure out a way to securely place the shooting button inside the left column of the handle. From there I had built the right column of the handle symmetrically. Finally, I had to incorporate the new game button. The final result is below.

New yoke design
As you can see the new handle is much more smaller and compact. This design makes the handle very strong and durable.

The base has only slightly changed. The rotational joint is now much stronger. Detection rotation still uses the same method, but it has now been relocated closer to the joint. Additionally, the base also allows for cleaner wire redirection.

Modified base
Rotation detectors are moved closer to the joint
I believe this new design is much better than the old one. It should withstand the handling during the next testing session very well.

Game Improvements

For game improvements, I have changed a few things. Firstly, the secret word is now randomly chosen from an array of 24 words. Another major addition is that now the player has an ammo count. The player starts with 10 bullets and ammo boxes are dropped at random intervals by the aliens. These ammo boxes can be shot while they are falling. To refill their ammo, the player must allow the ammo boxes to fall down and they must collect them by colliding with it.

Game improvements include random words and an ammo count
A very useful improvement is the way that random letters are dropped. Now there is bias towards the correct letters which was a much-needed tweak. I have implemented this by adding a second timer which triggers the drop of a random CORRECT letter. A correct letter is one which is still left to guess to form part of the word. The frequency of the original timer has also been tweaked slightly so too many letters don't spawn in a short period.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Reflection for Interactive Prototype 2

This week's testing session for Interactive Prototype 2 was mostly successful. I say mostly successful because not everything went smoothly.

I had received sufficient feedback which I am very happy for, though there were a few issues with the yoke. The problem was, since the yoke is made out of LEGO, it didn't hold up too well throughout the entire testing session. But, during the first playthrough it was fine since the user handled it very well. After a few playthroughs, the handle would sometimes become detached from the base or small pieces would come off. In one event, the left side of the handle which supports the shooting button broke. Additionally, for one person, the left rotation couldn't be detected. This was fixed by re-taping the foil on the underside of the yoke handle. Luckily, these problems were easy to fix and testing could resume again.

Even with the yoke problems, I was still able to fully test it. For the next prototype, I will be redesigning my yoke slightly so its much stronger, durable and addresses the issues discovered in the testing session.

Despite the problems with the yoke, everything else went smoothly. I had received a lot of great feedback which I will definitely consider for the next prototype.

Feedback from Interactive Prototype 2

This week we had conducted testing of our second interactive prototype. The procedure for testing was very similar to the previous testing session for the first interactive prototype. I had set up and displayed my game on the screen. I had also assembled my yoke and connected it to the MakeyMakey.

A video of a test subject using the yoke to play the game is below.

video


I believe the testing session was a success and I had received some very good feedback. I sat down with the users as they were playing the game with the yoke and I asked them several questions:
  • Do you think it is easy to move the player with the yoke?
    • If not, please say why and offer any suggestions.
  • Now that we have the yoke, do you think the player speed and acceleration or deceleration should be adjusted?
  • How difficult is it to shoot with the yoke?
    • Do you have any suggestions to improve on this?
  • Is the placement of the new-game button on the yoke suitable?
  • Do you think adding the bubbles around the letters are a good idea?
    • If so, does it make it easier to shoot the letters?
    • If not, why is it a bad idea?
      • Do you have any other alternatives?
      • Should I remove it completely? 

Summary of feedback

Player movement

Now that the yoke is involved, all of my testers were very happy with the movement system. According to the testers, the player is very easy to control with the yoke. I had asked them about adjusting the speed and acceleration/deceleration, and they responded by saying that it were no issues at all. In fact, the smoothing of the movement feels even better now with the yoke.

The yoke

Overall, players had liked the yoke. They loved using it to play the game and they mentioned that it was very fun controlling the player with the yoke. One person even said that the big orange button to shoot was very intriguing and addicting to use.

Some players mentioned that it is now actually much easier to shoot with the yoke.

The only issues some players had with the yoke were regarding its form factor. Some said that the yoke was too wide, so when holding it, it was difficult to reach the centre-button without moving their entire right hand. Additionally, there were complaints by two people who said that the tilt was too steep when rotating the handle to move the player. In other words, players didn't like the amount they had to rotate the yoke just to move the player. I will address this for the next prototype by redesigning the yoke handle to be smaller.

Gameplay

Overall, players were happy with the game itself. I had stated to them that a lot of the issues from the previous session are still present because the main goal of this session was to test the yoke.

Players liked the idea of having the bubbles around the falling letters because it gave them a visible, larger and uniformly sized hit-box when shooting letters.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Week 10 Exercise - Restaurant Dining Experience

What is the existing experience? From different stakeholder P.O.V.?

Experience from a customer's view

  • Customers walk in, are greeted and are given a seat
  • They are given a menu
  • Customers read the menu and decide on what to order
  • Waiter/waitress comes and asks the customers if they are ready to order
  • Customers order what they want, then wait for some time until their food is served

Experience from a waiter/waitress view

  • Greet customers, give menus to customers, find them a table that is not taken
  • Take orders from customers
  • Give orders to the chefs
  • Serve food to customers
  • Pick up dirty dishes/clean tables
  • Fulfil the requests of customers at any time

 What external/internal factors impact on the experience?

  • How many customers there are on a given day
  • How many waiters/waitresses are working on a given day

What aspects of the existing experience could be enhanced/augmented/supported with technology?

An aspect that could be changed is the way that customers order their food. Instead of reading through the paper menu, customers can browse through a digital menu and then submit their order when they are ready. The order is sent to the chefs which they can see on a screen back in the kitchen.

How would introducing technology in to this context change the experience?

  • Customers can take their time to browse the menu and submit their order when ready.
  • It makes it easier for customers to customise their order. They can change the items and quantities, specify any special requirements, etc any time BEFORE they submit it.
  • There's less hassle for waiters because it saves them going around everywhere to take customers' orders.
  • Orders are sent immediately to the kitchen.
  • Order can be tracked - e.g. how much time is remaining until food is served. This is a good thing for customers to know about.

What experience scenarios might you test with the technology?

On a busy day, get customers to try the digital menu. By using the interface, we will know how user-friendly it is. Additionally, we will see how efficient it is that waiters do not have to go around taking people's orders.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Yoke Completed

After two days of reliving my childhood moments with LEGO, my yoke assembly is finally complete. The handle buttons are fully functional and the handle can rotate smoothly.

Completed yoke handle attached to base

The thumb button on the left side of the handle is for shooting whereas the centre button is to start a new game. Each button is connected to two wires. In order to keep my design elegant, I have redirected the wires though the inside of the yoke handle and out of the back. A rear view of the handle is below.

Rear view of yoke handle - wires are fed through the inside

To detect rotation of the handle, so the player can move left and right, I have used a very simple method by just sticking on foil on the underside of the handle.

Underside of yoke handle

The two foil pieces are connected to wires which run alongside the rest of the wires inside of the handle. To complete the circuit, a foil piece will need to make contact with the base. The base has two contacts which "detect rotation".

The base component

The two contacts you can see on the base are simply LEGO pieces attached to the base and are wrapped in foil which will be connected to ground. The yoke handle attaches onto the base on the rotational joint at the top. The base is actually very sturdy and can hold the weight of the yoke handle.

The development of the yoke wasn't too difficult, but it was quite time consuming. I am happy with the result and I look forward to testing it next week.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Interactive Prototype 2 - Yoke Development

It's been quiet on the blog for the past two weeks because I've been preoccupied with other coursework. Nonetheless, I have commenced development of my physical input, the 'yoke', for my game.

To recap, the yoke resembles the controls of an aeroplane, shape-wise but not entirely functionality-wise. It will feature two buttons: one to shoot and the other to start a new game. The rotation will simply move the player on the screen.

The entire yoke device will be comprised of two components: the handle and the base/stand. The handle will be attached to the base. The base is very important since it will detect the rotation. However, the detection won't actually be proper rotational detection. Instead, I intend to take a shortcut and just detect the contact of the underside of each end of the handle with the base.

My progress so far includes most of the yoke handle completed as well as the integration of the new game button which is situated in the centre.

Most of the yoke handle is completed including the centre-button to start a new game
Although it is made out of LEGO and may look flimsy in the photograph, it does in fact have very good structural integrity. The two wires you can see come from the centre button. They will be connected to ground and some key on the MakeyMakey.

The centre button is actually an old doorbell button. For shooting, I will use another push button I had found. The thickness of the black casing is just perfect to hold so I will have to somehow integrate this as a part of the yoke handle. Most likely, the whole unit will replace the left vertical block of the handle (see picture above).

These two buttons were found in the deepest reaches of my garage among the rest of the useful mess in there
I will try to keep my design elegant and not have a mess of wires everywhere. The two wires for the centre button will actually be run through the inside of the handle and out of the back. I will also do the same for the shooting button.