Lounge music. A miniature disco light device spins in the middle of two adjacent desks, casting colourful spots on its surroundings. People are typing, clicking away. Intense stares at laptop screens. Nobody is making any coffee.
Things seem to be getting busier at the Hubbub headquarters. Not that I know much about the usual goings-on around this place – I just got here – but the team is definitely getting into some sort of groove.
We’re Team Maguro. It’s a damp Thursday halfway through January. This is our third proper, full-team get-together. Kars introduced our project two months ago on this blog, describing it as follows:
A hush-hush pervasive game for a large governmental organization that will be played by employees, blend with their day-to-day work and hopefully ignite behavioral change.
Around that time, I was drafted to join. Not only as story slash copy guy, it turns out, but also as a kind of gonzo journalist reporting about the creation process from within. An embedded writer in the trenches of game development. Rad.
Team Maguro, then. There’s five of us.
Kars is our director, keeping everyone in check. Making sure that, as we like to say here, everyone’s noses are pointed the same way. Dipping his toes into all aspects of the production, trusting his comrades to deliver the goods.
Karel is our game designer. It may look like playing with Lego’s, but he’s actually designing a complex, three-layered game system. So far he pretty much nailed the bottom layer, which deals with the importing, storing and exporting of stuff, using some kind of currency to make everything pay. In the paper prototype he created, two or three players wrote down bids, competing for goods, trying to make a profit.
Each player represents a team of maybe ten employees of the mysterious “large governmental organisation” – the actual players of the final game. That’s the second layer, which Karel is cracking next. He’s tackling questions like: What are the different roles within the team? And: How can a fun and interesting game emerge, while also generating dynamics that will “ignite behavioral change” (for the good – rioting not intended).
The third layer will be the web-based system for individual players to interact with. Their gateway to our game.
We’re trying to think ahead, shaping an idea of what the third layer will be like, so that our designer Simon can start crafting its looks. For now, he’s doing visual research, looking for reference material that sets the right mood. Next he’ll be whipping up some quick designs, such as a first version of a future logo.
Alper is our tech guy. He’s trying to grasp the game system – or at least its contours, so he can start building the required technical infrastructure.
Then there’s me. My main responsibilities are copy and story. At this point, this mostly means establishing the game’s reality. We have a distressed world in the nearby future – and a lot of questions. Just how apocalyptic should this thing be? Should the game try to be funny? How detailed should the scenario be?
Today I start writing the first message players will receive, sketching at least four versions. I probably take too long thinking of possible approaches – once we settle on a style, the process will speed up.
By that time stomachs have started rumbling. We head out for lunch, landing at the Springhaver Café a couple of streets way. Simon and I have carrot/ginger soup. The other guys, I don’t remember.
Kars tells us that one of his goals for 2011 is to do cultural stuff more often. Alper goes on to criticize middle-aged people who feel that by attending politically engaged stage plays, they are doing their part improving our society. I suggest that Kars go to theaters and contribute to society more often.
Walking back to the Hubbub office, we’re quite the sexy group of game makers. Had that picture been sharper, we’d been irresistible.