An exploration into a strange future; narrative, weather and consciousness.
Cold Sun is a dual-mode adventure game that is affected by real-time weather. In the game you flip between your Existence which is set in the future, and your Dream world which is a one-touch platform game where you must navigate a magnified environment—generated by the real weather data. Matt describes the state of this research project so far.
Some themes we explored for this stage one prototype included:
· Coils. Mortal coils, electric coils, etc.
· Circles as a general theme. Sun, timers, time running out, the globe.
· Colours and it’s variation in weather patterns.
· Dreaminess. Blurry. Disorientation, spirals.
We then started to explore how using these visual ideas could work as a title for the game.
We arrived at a really atmospheric graphic that we could use for a title screen, some Dream mode disorientating circular gameplay, and more.
Mudlark creates games, from small mobile and desktop games through to real-world experiences based on your heartbeat or games the size of London. Game design and playful thinking are central to Mudlark’s creative processes. Take a look a other games we have made.
May has been a fun month. We”ve been into a two-way mirror room testing the CBeebies project, published the Perceptive Radio (our BBC R&D project) and work has continued apace on and several other – as yet untitled – projects. I also left the country for a week, enjoying a wonderful Saga of my own up in Iceland.
“As a user, I would like to click on some URLs with interesting content behind them.”
Quantum Break teaser trailer, Remedy Games for XBone.
In the future, . We”re not sure about Quantum Break, the flagship new XBox Tv/Game thingy. We”re curious though, don”t get us wrong.
- Our friend Zoewi has started a very good . It should work as a go-to-guide for all significant gaming and play-related events/conferences across the world. It”s really heart-warming just to see the breadth of stuff out there already.
- London is getting its own E3 fringe this year with EToo. Organised by Guardian games correspondent Keith Stuart and veteran game designer Georg Backer, EToo should help keep you from feeling lonely when everyone has sacked off to LA.
- Fascinating, long post on Polygon about , and using game design/play as a medium to explore many of the ideas around gender, roles and society.
- A good and interesting post by Tracie Lee twinning a couple of my favourite things: UX design and restaurants. I”ve briefly written in the past about what web design can learn about high-end restaurant experiences, but it”s good to see the other approach being taken too.
- Typically excellent article from Kill Screen discussing the , and talking to one of our favourites – Rex Crowle of MediaMolecule. The tactility of physical materials used in digital forms in something we are very interested in, and is informing a lot of thinking around .
- Pitchfork continue to spit-roast trends with both a parallax scroll and full-screen/full-attention experiences for the new Daft Punk album, Random Access Memories. Sidenote: RAM is a tiny bit shit, but James and Richard seem to like it.
- Matt Locke wrote up “After The Spike and After The Like” – his talk at Digital Shoreditch – and it”s as essential a piece on the new forms of attention and the behaviour of “audiences” as you”re likely to read for while. Particularly useful for storytellers.
- Entertaining three-way interview with Molly Soda on the new Tumblr persona brands and the performance of personality with a hefty dose of feminist reading.
Each year Mudlark hosts Playful; our one-day conference about games, play, design, interaction and behaviour. Each year we give the conference a new look to reflect that year’s theme, keeping things new and exciting.
Last year we focused on DIY, attempting to inspire people to do things themselves, and so the design was very texture heavy—influenced by the photocopied sleeves of punk 7 inches and worn paint. This year, looking at the things we were interested in—the trends that were bubbling up and the work Mudlark have been doing—we soon realised that the nature of things was central.
We settled on “playing with form” as a broad theme, to look at approaches, materials, and using them differently—creatively and playfully. Changing direction from last year, we flipped the design on its head by employing strong colour, geometry and angles peppered with some cutting-edge browser technologies.
Design in its broadest terms is central to everything we do at Mudlark, from designing the interactions and behaviours around our latest project, the Perceptive Radio, to the wordmark laser-etched into its fascia. From the process that takes a user from A to B in the best and most enjoyable way, as in our work for Ravensbourne university, to social impact game design with Half the Sky.
In a way the design for Playful is a very selfish exercise—one that lets me design to my own brief, to try things or techniques that maybe aren’t quite ready for client consumption. It’s a way of flexing my creative muscles and, really, to show off.
Playing with Form
Greg and I set up a Pinterest board to gather and share visual inspiration and to generate a direction. As things began to develop we saw some fun coming out of using illusions. We liked the idea of messing with people almost to the point of annoyance in a fun way.
Some early experiments explored pure typography and layout, whilst followed a more rigid and straightforward style with some animated elements; but overall came across a bit too sedate for my own ‘visuals that fuck with people’ remit. I had to get back on track, shake things up a bit.
I was inspired by Siggi Eggertsson when thinking about visual ways of showing form. Eggertsson uses his own geometric grid to create wonderful designs and in some pieces uses contrast to create form between the segments. Initially I thought this could be a route to explore—using subtle contrast and shadows between shapes or images to show form.
A visual trick I eventually developed—the moiré background pattern—became the showpiece of the final design. Using this method I applied different colour combinations and pattern sizes for different sections of the site. I set some of the text at the same obtuse angles making for a playful and unusual layout.
This year’s design has had a very favourablereactiononTwitter and has made its way onto—signs that it has made an impression on people. We pat ourselves on the back at this knowing we’ve done what we set out to do, but also knowing that we have to top it next year.
At Mudlark we’re in our element when we get to push the envelope with projects. If you have a design problem then we’d love to hear from you.
Playful 2013 will take place at Conway Hall in London on the 25th of October.
I always find the introductory spiel to these Month Links posts to be the hardest bit, so I”m just going to leave it as introductory yadda yadda blah blah etc etc and just get on with the URLs that we”re all here for.
So let”s to start with my absolute favourite thing of April, and one of my favourite things so far this year: the News Machine, created by Fabrica for issue 86 of COLORS magazine.
News Machine, by Fabrica for COLORS #86.
- The News Machine is a Heath Robinson-esque communications machine that mangles, interprets and republishes tweets – mimicking the information/misinformation prevalent in the 24-hour churn of news and online speculation. It”s Chinese whispers in the Chinese room. Read Dan Hill”s good and typically long post about its genesis.
- More interpretations of “what the heck is going on?” come in the form of ambient beeps as Bitcoin transactions are made. Listen To BitCoin is going to be an incredible Merzbow piece when the crash comes.
We interrupt this blog post for a quick word from our sponsors (us).
Tickets for – our annual shindig about games, design, interaction and everything that comes from playing about — and flying off the virtual shelves.
Come along, it”d be absolutely lovely to see you.
- Jenny Odell documented the manufacturing origin of every single item she used/wore in one day. The banality of globalisation is mind-boggling, fascinating and – especially in the light of the horrific Bangladeshi clothes factory collapse – so cheap.
- GDC”s final ever game design challenge was based on “the last game that humanity will ever play“. A pretty bold and borderline-nauseating brief that would send many people under, but Jason Rohrer – creator of Sleep Is Death – designed a game made of titanium and not to be played for another 2,000 years. Then buried it. You should read a quick but .
- Russell wrote an excellent post – to join his tiny mountain of excellent posts – about what it actually means to work in the Government Digital Service (GDS). The story of GDS is hugely important, and based on a radical ambition to completely reshape how citizens access government services, how civil servants can communicate, and freeing people up to be better at what they do.
- At last week”s Do Lectures - an inspiration creative retreat in Wales that I”d love to attend one day – they set a new challenge. Instead of just hosting talks this year, they made attendees Do Something themselves, to make a quick start-up-able idea. John Willshire and chums created Doobox - “an outdoor adventure mission kit for kids aged 6 to 11 yrs” that”s delivered right to your door.
Right, then, it”s a quarter of the way into the year. Time to take stock, maybe, to look around and see what you”ve achieved so far in 2013.
That”d be pretty nice. We”ve been heads down on a bunch of intense, fast-turnaround projects that the recent past is a bit hazy and thinking is a little painful. Still, fun. Here are some things that have filled our eyes and minds in between.
- Skip to about 1″24″ on the above video if you want to get to the particularly interesting bit. When Nintendo launched the Wii U, there were some queries as to what they had in mind for the NFC capabilities on the U-controller. Now, we are reminded that Nintendo started as – and will essentially always be – . The integration of the NFC-enabled Pokémon figures is a natural extension of both in-game and out-of-game behaviours: collecting, training and upgrading your characters. At £1.50 a pop, Nintendo should probably have some time left before it becomes just a publisher.
It”s nice to see Nintendo designing with existing behaviours in mind, even if they”re applied in different ways, moving the technology to its role as an enabler rather than The Thing itself.
- Absolute Radio are taking the commercial road towards Perceptive Media to create personalised adverts based on user data, delivered using object-based programming of music and buffers.
- James saw Mark of Mark Boulton Design talk around their task of redesigning the CERN website at Refresh-LX last year. A few weeks ago the the new CERN site went live and Mark wrote an interesting blog post about the strategy for reshaping such a huge project.
- Bruce Sterling took the opportunity at his SXSW closing keynote to denounce much of the start-up scenes” exhortations of . A bold, and welcome, statement reminding all that not everything that can be disrupted by the market should be.
- BERG”s long post about their Connbox project seeking to solve video calling for Google Creative Lab is a masterpiece in showing your working. Starting with the broad brief, through history, low tech prototypes, collaborations, in-house behaviour testing, and video-as-design. It”s always good to see the design processes behind projects – especially when they”re this open.
- In the future, every single thing you do will be mapped as an input and you won”t know how to cook a carrot. Thanks, Microsoft.
- Timo”s brilliant essay on the current debate/headless march towards No UI is as fascinating as it is well argued. It takes in everything from the industrial architecture of the cloud, to the materials that can fail and takes task with open misunderstandings of what “No UI” is (eg Nest). People will always trip themselves up with absolutism, but ultimately Timo argues of “understandability” in products and appropriate UI as clear and necessary tools.
- Recent projects have seen us using a more explicit “designing for behaviours” approach: to start using ambient behaviour as a material, rather than as a “input”. As well as Timo”s essay, it has also led us to revisit an excellent Tom Armitage post from a couple of years ago about Technology As A Material, which is always worth reminding yourself of.
- Matt Locke writes about the growing trend of agencies becoming their own publishers/product creators – not necessarily bifurcating their services, or doing part-time projects. Of course, this brings with it a wealth of freedom but also difficulties, as we know from our experiences with and Chromaroma.
Nick Cave mood-wheel
- The Nick Cave app for Spotify is an excellent thing. Part curated, part powered by metadata. It points towards the happy medium where data and personal insights can actually make useful, enjoyable things together. A furrow we”ve been attempting to plough in various projects.