Hubbub has gone into hibernation.

From the trenches of project Maguro

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.

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One Comment

  1. Posted January 18, 2011 at 15:51 | Permalink

    “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.”

    It sounds like Stu­dio Hub­bub is miss­ing their interns! I’m quite excit­ed about where Maguro is going: If you need playtesters, I hap­pen to know some Vet­er­an Hub­bub can­non fod­der…