Week 274

At the start of this week Alper was still in NYC after enjoy­ing another excel­lent edi­tion of PRACTICE. He did some work on Bycatch with Subalekha and oth­er­wise enjoyed the city before head­ing back to Europe on Tuesday.

While he was mak­ing the cross­ing, I par­ti­cip­ated in the first Tegenlicht meetup in Utrecht. We watched the epis­ode on the maker move­ment and sub­sequently had a nice little debate with the episode’s dir­ector. I also briefly presen­ted on how “mak­ing” fig­ures in Hubbub’s prac­tice and why we appre­ci­ate work­ing from “maker space” Vechtclub XL, using Camparc as my main example.

Most of my time this week was taken up by work on Bycatch. I sketched out the explan­at­ory illus­tra­tions that will be part of the rules. Our bril­liant editor Natalye got the rules’s text in good shape for pub­lic­a­tion. Agnes sent us a cross-section of all the art­work. On Thursday I went over to Pony Design Club to do rough lay­outs of the game’s rules, box and cards with my brother Ties.

Laying out Bycatch rules at Pony Design Club

I also did a little work on Standing together with Simon. We were so close to ship­ping the visual update when we all of a sud­den had to deal with those new iPhones. As a res­ult we’ve been mas­sa­ging the app’s autores­iz­ing set­tings in Xcode to get to com­pat­ib­il­ity. Nearly there.

We wrapped up the week with two events. I par­ti­cip­ated in an event organ­ised by Rezone on games for urban devel­op­ment. Alper, mean­while, mod­er­ated a panel on smart cit­ies at #lab4city. By all accounts he did a great job.

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Week 273

Last week Kars and I crossed con­tin­ents. He came back from hol­i­day in Seoul (check out his visual food report) on the day I flew out to New York to attend PRACTICE.

I spent the week doing some admin­is­tra­tion, review­ing cur­rent pro­jects among which Standing and pack­ing. I’m also organ­iz­ing the fourth edi­tion of Game Designers Anonymous at our stu­dio in Berlin.

After work­ing on Bycatch in London with the three of us, it was con­veni­ent for me to be in New York and be able to work on it with Subalekha. We had a mara­thon hangout ses­sion with Kars from the Impact HUB to go over the copy for the rules before Natalye Childress does the final edit.

PRACTICE was just as great as last year with lots of amaz­ing people present and a slew of insight­ful talks. The talk about Netrunner by Lukas Litzsinger espe­cially hit home both because the game is a stu­dio favor­ite and because we are in the pro­cess of design­ing a card game ourselves and see­ing his pro­cess was rather humbling.

PRACTICE

I met too many game design prac­ti­tion­ers at PRACTICE to count. During the week I hung out mostly with old Amsterdam friend Peter Robinett of Bubble Foundry and Paper + Equator (Subalekha’s design firm).

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Week 272

Last week was a fairly quiet week over at the stu­dio. Kars did the deliv­ery for our engage­ment over at KLM and then got ready to go on hol­i­day to Seoul where he is right now.

Bycatch was fea­tured over at Killscreen with a very nice article.

I was sick for most of the week but I did make it over to Amsterdam to hold a work­shop at ThingsCon there on Friday together with Ianus. We did a ses­sion called “Playful Devices Improv” and every­body had a lot of fun think­ing of new approaches to con­nec­ted products. We asked par­ti­cipants to take kit­chen devices and come up with a char­ac­ter for them. With these char­ac­ters they would then have to devise stor­ies and finally these stor­ies were acted out over the kit­chen counter.

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The groups did really well, each one had sev­eral inter­est­ing finds and as a whole the work­shop really showed that adding fric­tion to situ­ations can be more pro­duct­ive than start­ing from a func­tional per­spect­ive. And even though we ran the work­shop fairly free­form, the ideation that came out of it was as good or maybe even bet­ter than what you would get in a more formal setting.

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On Saturday I vis­ited the Interface Critique event at the University of the Arts in Berlin which was an inter­est­ing con­trast from the applied think­ing at ThingsCon the day before.

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Week 271

These week­notes are late because of some irreg­u­lar­it­ies in the stu­dio. Kars is cur­rently enjoy­ing a hol­i­day in Seoul while I have been sick for most of the week. Last week was event­ful so there are the week­notes anyway.

Last Monday we finally got around to doing our Q3 OKR review with optim­istic res­ults. In the even­ing we caught up with Jussi Holopainen of GEElab who was in Utrecht for the Games for Health event.

During this entire week we kept on test­ing and tun­ing Bycatch. After hav­ing opened pre­orders last week at Playful we need to get it into shape to ship quickly. Thankfully we did crack some of the big­ger game design nuts and we now have a game on our hands that is fun and does what it needs to do.

We are inch­ing towards releas­ing the new ver­sion of Standing. Those new iPhone mod­els were a bit of a set­back but pro­gress is steady. The team would love to have this out there so we can take a breather.

We con­sul­ted with Sebastian on KLM and did a bunch of work to fin­ish that engage­ment for final deliv­ery. It has been a pleas­ure work­ing with them and find­ing a solu­tion fit­ting for their prob­lem space. We may be writ­ing some more stuff about what we pro­duced later.

I met up with Berlin based Affective Systems to tie up that engage­ment as well. This one was dif­fer­ent in almost all respects but because it is an early stage star­tup we think that this is the ideal moment to start think­ing about how play can add value to the product.

We brain­stormed with Ianus for our upcom­ing work­shop at Thingscon Amsterdam. What we thought would be the most fun and the most inter­est­ing was to mashup the works of Keith Johnstone and Bill Buxton and see whether we can impro­vise a bunch of play­ful devices that talk to each other.

Kars ran a work­shop at the uRule sym­posium about smash­ing the bor­der between online and off­line and met with Rosie Poebright of Splash and Ripple (pic­tured below).

Splash and Ripple's Rosie Poebright talking about the wonderful Ghosts in the Garden

On Friday we had a call to dis­cuss fur­ther details of Bycatch with Subalekha. Kars met up with Jamin Warren to talk through the Kill Screen panel on video games and affect at Impakt Festival.

Setting up for Kill Screen panel on games and affect at IMPAKT festival

On the week­end Kars appeared on that panel. I atten­ded the first Berlin Producthunt meetup and I worked a bit on remaindered pro­jects: a new release of Cuppings should be out soon.

Producthunt Meetup

And in ran­dom facts we were pleas­antly sur­prised to hear King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands men­tion the Pig Chase pro­ject in a speech.

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Week 270

My week star­ted with the second day of the Asia-Europe Culture Ministers Meeting (ASEM)‘s work­shop on play­ful cit­ies. It was a huge pleas­ure spend­ing two days with tal­en­ted peers from Europe, many of whom’s work I admire greatly. It was equally great to meet Asian prac­ti­tion­ers and hear about the big dif­fer­ences in their local con­texts. By the end of the day we had gone very, very deep into the chal­lenges of lever­aging a play doc­trine to for­mu­late a coun­ter­ar­gu­ment to the pre­vail­ing smart cit­ies rhet­oric. One com­ment I pos­ted about this got a very pro­duct­ive dis­cus­sion between some big thinkers in the field over at Facebook.

ASEM Playful Cities workshop LEGO creations

In the mean­time Alper traveled by train to the Netherlands and got a decent amount of work in, pro­cessing the out­comes from his work with Affective Systems and resub­mit­ting All-Seeing Eye proposal.

The whole of Tuesday was taken up by our third and for the moment final work­shop with KLM. Now all that is left for us to do is doc­u­ment all the out­comes and deliver them, after which we’ll start explor­ing next steps.

On Wednesday, a fun inter­view with us about our way of work­ing together remotely was pub­lished in Dutch on Achter het Scherm.

I spent most of that day and the next fin­ish­ing up the web­site for Bycatch and then traveled to London on Thursday, as did Alper.

That Friday, we atten­ded Playful, where Subalekha talked about our work on Bycatch so far, and we flipped the switch on pre­orders. If you want to be one of the first to own a copy of this card game about drone sur­veil­lance and remote war­fare, go on and click that “add to cart”-button.

Playful was a pleas­ure as always, with standout ses­sions (as far as I’m con­cerned) from Aardman’s Dan Efergan and George Rowe on easter eggs in video­games, Boneloaf’s James Brown on the mak­ing of Gang Beasts and Ida Marie Toft’s lovely and weird hybrid performance-game Lovebirds.

Team Bycatch united at last

The day after Playful, while watch­ing the first orders trickle in via our Slack-Stripe integ­ra­tion, we made good use of the oppor­tun­ity of being all three phys­ic­ally co-present and furi­ously tweaked and tuned Bycatch’s rules.

I traveled back that same even­ing. Alper stuck around for a Cuppings cof­fee tast­ing exped­i­tion in Fitzrovia and headed back on Sunday.

While recov­er­ing from a pretty intense week, our friends at ThingsCon Amsterdam announced the work­shop Alper and Ianus will run on play­ful product design.

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Presenting Bycatch, a card game about drone surveillance and remote warfare

We’re proud today to present Bycatch, a card game that we have been devel­op­ing and that’s avail­able for pre-order right now.

As the site says, Bycatch is a game about ‘flawed sur­veil­lance, impossible decisions and the people caught in between.’ Players can shel­ter civil­ians, gather intel­li­gence about those of oth­ers and based on this intel­li­gence they can per­form drone strikes to elim­in­ate sus­pec­ted enemies.

Intelligence to inform your actions is gathered by using your cam­er­a­phone on another player’s hand of cards. By its very nature this mech­anic yields incon­clus­ive inform­a­tion. This mir­rors the inform­a­tion gath­er­ing and infer­ence pro­cess on which gov­ern­ments base their mil­it­ary actions.

We think this is a very import­ant issue and it deserves a treat­ment that makes it play­able and fun without trivi­al­ising it. Violence is a com­mon theme in games but it is usu­ally not treated crit­ic­ally. We hope play­ing Bycatch makes people think dif­fer­ently and more deeply about cur­rent secur­ity practice.

We’ve been work­ing on this game for the past half year with Subalekha Udayasankar across Utrecht, Berlin and Brooklyn. The game design has evolved over count­less video calls and we have each play­tested loc­ally. We now feel that we are at the point where we can share the product’s fur­ther devel­op­ment with the world.

For the illus­tra­tions on the cards we are work­ing together with Agnes Loonstra who has an amaz­ing draw­ing style. Ties Alfrink of Pony Design Club is help­ing us design the cards and the pack­aging of the final product.

Bycatch is turn­ing into a beau­ti­ful card game, it is fun to play and it will give you a lot to think and talk about. You can pre-order the game on the Bycatch web­site and you will receive your copy at the start of the new year.

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Week 269

We’re mak­ing good pro­gress on Bycatch for which we got a wel­come refo­cus­ing after a sit-down with Joris. Joris him­self was at SPIEL demo­ing Super Duo a card game of his own so he’s def­in­itely an expert when it comes to this kind of thing. We’ll also have a web­site online this week through which you can pre­order your copy.

We did a sprint review for Standing to see what we need to do to get the ver­sion out the door. We have a bit more test­ing to do thanks to Apple releas­ing a bunch of new iPhones but stil we should be in good shape this month.

We had a week of stu­dio work for KLM for which we worked through the stuff we pro­duced dur­ing the last work­shop and brought in Sebastian for a design crit. We have developed some con­cepts but dis­cuss­ing these we inev­it­ably are led into stra­tegic con­sid­er­a­tions which will be the focus of our final ses­sion tomorrow.

I did an after­noon of work­shop­ping with Affective Signals in Berlin to see how their product in the field of com­puter aided psy­chi­atry can be improved by apply­ing the right game mech­an­ics. The rest of the week I spent doing behind the scenes work, call­ing people to make sure we are still aligned and send­ing out pro­pos­als. One of those calls was a review of the cur­rent pro­jects for Open Cultuur Data part of the Open State Foundation of which I’m still a board mem­ber. I am also still look­ing for a new loc­a­tion for our Berlin office which is prov­ing to be a challenge.

Kars went over to Philips to dis­cuss a new game for them and had a meet­ing with STRP about the future of Camparc.

We are gear­ing up to head to Playful at the end of this week. A bit later I’ll be doing a work­shop on Playful Product Design at Thingscon Amsterdam together with Ianus and in November while Kars is on hol­i­day, I will be attend­ing PRACTICE in New York.

Work con­tin­ued dur­ing the week­end with Kars attend­ing the ASEM Playful Cities work­shop among many other things.

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Week 268

After a false start on Monday due to a linger­ing head cold I was back in action on Tuesday. We made good pro­gress this week on KUMA (our pro­ject with KLM on game-based learn­ing) and on Bycatch (our card game about drones sur­veil­lance and remote warfare).

Let’s start with KUMA. We pro­cessed the out­comes of the first work­shop and delivered them in the form of a brief. We then moved on to pre­par­ing for the second work­shop, which focused on cre­at­ing a port­fo­lio of con­cepts. To this end, Alper flew in on Wednesday to work with me in the stu­dio for the remainder of the week.

We called in the help from Agnes to do live illus­tra­tions. This turned out to add real value. They provide an imme­di­ate visual anchor point for each idea and add an addi­tional dimen­sion to descrip­tions, mak­ing it easier to empathise.

Sebastian is also con­trib­ut­ing to the pro­ject with his con­sid­er­able know­ledge and exper­i­ence in the sub­ject. We had a very use­ful con­fer­ence call on Wednesday and he sent us some use­ful last-minute input before the work­shop, des­pite it being a hol­i­day in Tel Aviv, his tem­por­ary place of residence.

So after ample pre­par­a­tion we ran a second pleas­ant and pro­duct­ive ses­sion from one of the neat work­shop spaces in Vechtclub XL with cater­ing from De Klub, which is hard to beat. Afterwards we imme­di­ately sent out the raw out­put to the cli­ent (a bene­fit of work­ing com­pletely ana­log and record­ing everything that is decided on paper).

Reference images for a game design workshop

On to the Bycatch front. I also talked to Agnes about a first round of illus­tra­tions for the cards which we can show at Playful. I also talked to Ties about get­ting some offers from print­ers and get­ting his help on graphic design. Other than this, we dis­cussed the state of the pro­ject in another call with Subalekha and we star­ted set­ting up a web­site for the game with Stripe Checkout built in to take pre-orders.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, Alper also fin­ished up our applic­a­tion for a grant from Creative Industries Fund to do a first round of design work on All-Seeing Eye (a game about cam­era sur­veil­lance we’re work­ing on with Bits of Freedom). Alper also star­ted pre­par­ing a few design work­shops he’ll be run­ning with a Berlin-based star­tup and he made plans for a work­shop we’ll be run­ning at ThingsCon Amsterdam. Phew!

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Week 267

Let’s hope late week­notes does not become a trend but we’re rather busy these few weeks both with cli­ent work and pre­par­ing the future. I flew back to Berlin last week but now I’m sat in Utrecht again writ­ing this.

Last Monday we had our KUMA work­shop with KLM which was excel­lent. We look for­ward to work­ing fur­ther with this cli­ent to map out the prob­lem and solu­tion spaces.

Kars roun­ded up Camparc for which we just pub­lished a video here:

Bycatch (web­site forth­com­ing) is mov­ing along nicely. We now have a card game that does what we want it to do and also is fun to (re)play. The next step is to pre­pare a fully func­tional demo that we can present and take into pro­duc­tion. We’ll be show­ing a pre­view of the final product at Playful.

To announce: we will be in London around October 17th with a sig­ni­fic­ant com­ple­ment of Hubbub people headquartered in Dalston. Kars, myself and Sebastian will be present at Playful to see Subalekha present. All of us look for­ward to meet­ing you.

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Week 266

I spent the first half of last week writ­ing stuff for sev­eral poten­tial pro­jects that are in the pipeline for the end of 2014 and the begin­ning of 2015.

Kars was mostly occu­pied with redesign­ing and pro­du­cing stuff for KEGANI. The cur­rent title for the pro­ject is “Bycatch” which feels like it could be defin­it­ive. All three of us (Kars, myself and Subalekha) will be out in force at Playful in London next month and we would love to see you there. If you want to play the cur­rent ver­sion of KEGANI catch any one of us in either Berlin, Utrecht or Brooklyn.

On Wednesday I traveled to Amsterdam to pre­pare the first work­shop (pro­ject name KUMA) for KLM this week. That work­shop also the reason that these week­notes are a bit late. I did a tour of Amsterdam on Thursday and caught up with people around the city.

Indigo

On Friday we pre­pared some final stuff for KUMA and then went into Utrecht to catch a bit of Indigo and Bring Your Own Beamer.

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