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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Week 265

Kars spent last week in between two major events hav­ing just fin­ished Cam­parc he pre­pared some play­ful work­shops to run at the open­ing of Vecht­club XL, our Utrecht base of oper­a­tions. One of these was an iter­a­tion on our Play­ing with Rules work­shop but made acces­si­ble for a larger audi­ence. Think Parcheesi meets Nomic.

Playing with Rules workshop at Vechtclub XL opening weekend

We caught up with a lot of the peo­ple we had been talk­ing or work­ing with includ­ing Mon­nik, Rezone, Game Oven, Third Wave, Bruns Niks and Bits of Free­dom.

Literature Festival meets Games

I made a show­ing at Cre­ative Morn­ings Berlin and an event at the Berlin Lit­er­a­ture Fes­ti­val about games. Most enjoy­able though was orga­niz­ing and host­ing our irreg­u­lar get together with Berlin Game Design­ers aptly titled “Game Design­ers Anonymous”.

Stand­ing is in its final tweaks mov­ing towards completion.

My foray into esports and live stream­ing is also cre­at­ing tan­gi­ble results. Mon­day after some exten­sive recod­ing ses­sions I posted a com­men­tary video of myself play­ing DOTA2. It was enjoy­able to make and I hope to watch as well. Expect more stuff to come out of this.

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Week 264

The delayed arrival of these notes should tell you some­thing about what kind of week last week was: busy.

For me, it was all about deliv­er­ing and run­ning Cam­parc. We’ll write more about it soon and are also sift­ing through our copi­ous pho­tos and videos. For now, suf­fice to say we had a more or less smooth build-up to the event, except for a few small chal­lenges which were swiftly dealt with. On Fri­day, I really enjoyed doing a small talk about our approach to play­ful design and the mak­ing of Cam­parc, fol­lowed by a demo of one of the balls. On Sun­day we ran the game for a full after­noon. Thanks to a solid crew of Hub­bub agents, great weather, a nice crowd and only a few small tech­ni­cal hic­cups we had a great run. The indis­putable high­light for me was play­ing a pass­ing game in the spirit of new games, which was a joy­ful expe­ri­ence of col­ib­er­a­tion.

Camparc

Besides Cam­parc, I squeezed in a bit of prep work on our upcom­ing series of work­shops about game-based learn­ing with KLM. I also fin­ished and pub­lished the port­fo­lio write-up of the Cup­pings guide app.

Mean­while in Berlin, Alper was keep­ing an eye on our sales pipeline, plan­ning and hav­ing meet­ings left and right. He also rewrote the rules for KEGANI in prepa­ra­tion for the lim­ited release we’re plan­ning to do of the game at Play­ful. And he did work on the next release of Stand­ing, which is almost done and will sport a lovely new look cour­tesy of Simon. Over the week­end, he played around with live stream­ing and cast­ing local mul­ti­player games together with Lorenzo.

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Week 263

Aldo putting the final touches on Camparc

Last week was the penul­ti­mate week for Cam­parc so every­body was heav­ily involved in work on that. I did research on how to get videostream­ing to work on OS X whose capa­bil­i­ties seem to have seri­ously regressed. I built a cus­tom app using VLCKit that does what we want it to do. Aldo Hoeben worked on the final aspects of the balls so they can be deployed this Sunday.

For Camparc’s launch STRP are orga­niz­ing an after­noon on urban games with a great line-up of speak­ers. The event is open to the pub­lic and we’d love for you to join us.

Scouting Camparc anamorphic drawing locations with Ties

Ties Alfrink did a bunch of stun­ning graphic design work that we can’t wait for you to see. Kars assumed his usual role stay­ing on top of every­thing while also going to Eind­hoven to scout out the loca­tion where we are going to deploy the balls and the games.

I kept up with the var­i­ous pro­pos­als we have run­ning and sent out some new stuff. We did an update on KEGANI and called with Sub­alekha Udayasankar to talk through plan­ning up until Play­ful this year. We should have some­thing fairly def­i­nite to show by then.

Messing with Tupil's Estimote kit

I did work on the new ver­sion of Stand­ing which is almost ready to ship. Other than that I’m explor­ing sev­eral other prod­ucts by build­ing pro­to­types (more on that later). Kars did some research on iBea­cons and play for an upcom­ing workshop.

Worth men­tion­ing here as well that our Berlin/Kreuzberg office KANT has a desk open­ing up. The loca­tion is extremely con­ve­nient and I can rec­om­mend work­ing from our fac­tory loft. If you would like to join us, get in touch.

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Week 262

This week I was joined in Utrecht by Alper who had just returned from his hol­i­day in the Aus­trian Alps.

Most of our time was spent on Cam­parc again. Aldo started work on the four balls we’ll need for the main event. Alper assisted him with soft­ware devel­op­ment to get the video streams from the balls into Quartz Com­poser. I worked with Ties of Pony Design Club on a method for draw­ing anamor­phic ‘puz­zles’, as well as the game’s visual identity.

Anamorphic drawing of a square

We also posted a teaser for the game, and sent out an invi­ta­tion to our newslet­ter. If you’re able to join us in Eind­hoven on Sep­tem­ber 14, we’d love to have you over.

I spent some time work­ing out a work­shop for­mat for the Vecht­club XL open­ing week­end, which is another thing to mark in your agenda, and Alper wrote a draft pro­posal for a museum game we look for­ward to producing.

Finally, there were copi­ous social occa­sions on which to catch up with friends old and new, includ­ing a visit to the tail end of an urban games jam which was part of a game stud­ies sum­mer school, drinks at a Utrecht meetup for indie game devel­op­ers, a chat with friends at Free­dom­Lab and a visit to Cucalu.

Over the week­end, Alper wrote a very help­ful post list­ing 15 eco­nomic myths debunked by Thomas Piketty’s Cap­i­tal.

All in all, a good week.

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Week 261

The view from the perch

I have just returned from the Alps this week­end and directly trav­elled to the Nether­lands to do some after hol­i­day catch­ing up with Kars.

Stand­ing is pro­gress­ing very nicely thanks to Simon’s hard work. We’ll be ready to launch the redesigned app and web­site soon. We’ve been in talks about mak­ing a game about cam­era sur­veil­lance and we cri­tiqued a for­mat for a TV show in development.

Camparc ball

Most of the rest of the week was spent on Cam­parc which has pro­gressed nicely since last I saw it. We demoed it suc­cess­fully to the client and shot a teaser video of the balls them­selves for your enjoy­ment. A crazy con­cept (huge balls with cam­eras in them) turns out to be really awe­some when you actu­ally build it.

Stielman coffee packaging

In cof­fee related news, the Utrecht stu­dio has pro­cured a cof­fee sub­scrip­tion from new Rot­ter­dam based roaster Stiel­man which we highly recommend.

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Come play Camparc

You’re invited to come play our lat­est game Cam­parc at the Strijp-S open day on Sep­tem­ber 14 in Eind­hoven, the Nether­lands. Cam­parc is a panoramic cam­era ball play­ground. It is com­mis­sioned by art and tech­nol­ogy fes­ti­val STRP.

At the event you’ll be able to play with sev­eral man-size panoramic cam­era balls in the Strijp-S area and see a live panoramic cam­era feed of each one on a big screen. We’ll also pro­vide you with a cou­ple of things to do with the balls which make use of their intrigu­ing per­spec­tive on the world around us.

So: head over to Strijp-S on Sep­tem­ber 14 and come play Camparc.

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Week 260

This was the first week after my hol­i­day so I spent Mon­day mostly just get­ting back into things. A process that used to be quite painful but ever since we mostly run on a com­bi­na­tion of Asana and Slack it is much eas­ier to get a sense of what has hap­pened and what needs to be done com­pared to the old email days.

My post-holiday blues were soft­ened by the com­pany of Tom, who had been in the coun­try for a few days. As always, it was a plea­sure catch­ing up, see­ing what he’s been work­ing on and shar­ing our own work. We wrapped up with lunch at De Klub, after which Tom went on to explore Utrecht before his flight back to London.

The rest of the week I focused on Cam­parc. On Tues­day I had a weekly sta­tus update call with STRP after which I drove down to Aldo’s stu­dio in Rot­ter­dam. There I had the great plea­sure to play with the pro­to­type cam­era ball he’s been build­ing. See­ing it live for the first time made a big impres­sion. The ball is seri­ously big and unex­pect­edly heavy. Watch­ing the gyro inside of it move around as you play with the ball is mes­meris­ing. See­ing the panoramic footage stream live as you move around is a bit mag­i­cal. For me it was def­i­nite con­fir­ma­tion we are on the right track.

Aldo with prototype Camparc ball

Dur­ing the rest of the week I delved into all aspects of Camparc’s pro­duc­tion, as there are quite a few things that remained to be deter­mined and arranged. Most notably I had a meet­ing with Trudo, who are the devel­op­ers of Strijp-S, which is the area where Cam­parc will be played. I shared our work in progress, got enthu­si­as­tic responses and we imme­di­ately set out to sketch out the exact loca­tions where we will be play­ing on the week­end of the event the game is part of (Sep­tem­ber 12–14).

On Fri­day, I reviewed our progress with Aldo and made plans for the next week in which every­thing will come together for the beta ver­sion of the cam­era ball, includ­ing cus­tom, brightly coloured 3D printed con­nect­ing mate­ri­als. I also went over the cur­rent state of affairs with STRP again, pin­ning down some details of the event’s time table.

Aside from Cam­parc, I put some prepa­ra­tions into our upcom­ing project with KLM, and a grant appli­ca­tion for a new col­lab­o­ra­tion related to urban plan­ning. I closed the week off in style with Fri­day drinks and very nice din­ner at De Klub.

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Week 259

I am get­ting back into things after a pleas­ant two weeks of hol­i­day on Bali. Mean­while Alper is head­ing to Aus­tria for two weeks of hik­ing, camp­ing and read­ing Piketty up in the mountains.

Judg­ing by the notes Alper has left me as well as the activ­ity logs in Asana and Slack, things have been pro­gress­ing nicely in my absence.

I am par­tic­u­larly excited by the work done on Cam­parc (FUNKOROGASHI) by Aldo. In the taxi back from the air­port yes­ter­day I watched with glee at footage shot by the first cam­era ball pro­to­type. Also, our first big water ball was deliv­ered, giv­ing us an oppor­tu­nity to get famil­iar with its phys­i­cal prop­er­ties. Size, weight and so on will greatly influ­ence the kind of play Cam­parc will afford. Aldo also built a gyro­scope for the cam­era and rasp­berry pi which fits the big ball, and he made good progress on stream­ing video from the raspi.

For KEGANI, Alper did some research into the pos­si­bil­i­ties of get­ting the game pub­lished by a Euro­pean boardgame com­pany. Results are kind of incon­clu­sive so we will con­tinue to talk to peo­ple and think about what is the best match for our slightly left field game con­cept and sub­ject matter.

For Indigo, the annual exhi­bi­tion of Dutch indie games, Alper reviewed a num­ber of games. There were a cou­ple of inter­est­ing entries so I’m sure the next big edi­tion at the end of Sep­tem­ber will be worth a visit again.

And finally before start­ing pack­ing, Alper pre­sented design lessons learned from esports at JOIN, the first local mul­ti­player game sum­mit which was organ­ised by our Berlin friends Sjors and Lorenzo.

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Week 258

The stu­dio is on a bit of a sum­mer sched­ule with one prin­ci­pal gone on hol­i­day and me fin­ish­ing things before I go on mine. Most of my time has been spent doing main­te­nance on exist­ing projects, mov­ing for­ward new ones and lots of social calls for lunch/dinner/coffee.

Two cur­rent projects did see sig­nif­i­cant progress:

Aldo built a hard­ware pro­to­type for FUNKOROGASHI that val­i­dates our assump­tions about what is pos­si­ble. The video of the pro­to­type in action looked like a proper tech­ni­cal break­through. When we have this at scale this is going to be quite something.

We pushed out an update release for the Cup­pings guide which is in the App Store already. There’s some fea­tures in there for peo­ple with­out loca­tion ser­vices and a lot of new cafes that our team has vetted.

I ended the week proof­ing Kars’s chap­ter for The Game­ful World book by the MIT Press. I was happy to find that we had proofed it well already but the final ver­sion is beau­ti­ful and well worth the wait.

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