Archive: mobile

Half The Sky Mobile Games finalists for INDEX: Award

We are delighted to announce that our suite of mobile games for Half the Sky Movement/Games for Change have been selected as finalists for the 2013 INDEX: Award.

A film about the development of Half the Sky.

INDEX: Award is a prestigious biennial design award, set up in 2005 by INDEX: Design To Improve Life to acknowledge and reward companies developing creative solutions to global and local challenges. Spread across five different categories - Body, Home, Work, Play, and Community – previous winners include groundbreaking social housing projects, One Laptop Per Child, an airbag for cyclists and the Tesla roadster.

Mudlark worked tirelessly with  to design the three games - Worm Attack9 Minutes and Family Values - in a way which would have a genuinely positive effect in India and East Africa, especially amongst women and girls. We are particularly pleased our work, blending social impact content with compelling gameplay, has been recognised in the Play & Learning category.

Downloaded over 25,000 times to date, the Half The Sky Movement games were designed for target audiences on non-smart, low-end, widely-available mobile handsets and built in J2ME – a platform for older “feature phones”, still dominant in the developing world.

Winners of the INDEX: Awards will be announced on 29th August at the home of Hamlet, Kronborg Castle, Helsingør (Elsinore), Denmark before a public exhibition opens across Copenhagen on the 30th August.

We will be sporting our black ties and crossed fingers.

Month Links: May 2013

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.

- A good post by Jeremy Ettinghausen of BBH Labs about “accentuating the negative” to encourage positive behaviour, the value of failure in play and the need for different approaches to get the best result.

- 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.

- Some interesting things are starting to come out of the BBC”s Connected Studio process. From the Sports studio is the Virtual Crowds prototype by MadeByPi which looks to create a web-native version of the conversations in pubs and stands.

- James wrote a lovely post about being Playful by Design, and the opportunity to play about with the web”s visual form.

- NYT”s Snowfall has definitely created a nice bit of a trend, with The Guardian having done their own version this month, using the opposite element, fire; UsVsTh3m have done Icefail – a nerd link-bait version – and scrollkit wrote their own code so that anyone can create immersive articles.

- But actually, everyone secretly hates Snowfall.

Two week UX cycle at GDS, via @kalsop

- 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.

- John Tolva wrote about his ideal for people”s relationship with public spaces, taking in architecture, city design, networked spaces and human behaviour.


QR Sushi, S&S

- Saatchi & Saatchi used squid ink to make edible QR codes for sushi, and lasercut logos into nori. Because why not, eh? Why not?

- The . This is huge news in itself, but extra significant that it”s a 22-year-old recent graduate, who has already won a BAFTA and set up their own company. Oh, and is female. That”s good.

- All the memes.

- Who”s changing what and where and oh my god it”s so busy in Wikipedia.

- The future of advertising is in beards.

- Soundtrack to May: , ,

Month Links: March 2013

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.

- Good post by Alexandra Lange on the always-reliable Domus looking at the content strategy and the visual architecture of current social sites/mobile apps. The discussion around shifting attention behaviours and trends towards users “not always looking for the whole experience, but just a taste” is very important. Now Flipboard are making the DIY magazine explicit with user “curated” magazines.

- 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.

- From the good of Google to the bad: we”re all a tiny bit pissed off with their planned killing of Reader. Luckily, Paul Bradshaw from OJB set up an open Google Doc of best alternatives. There are 54 so far, so the choice is still a bit dizzying.

- 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.

Frank Chimero provides a good follow-up piece, The Cloud Is Heavy and Design Isn”t Invisible, that looks at the negative impact of popular myths in obscuring the truth.

- 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.


- Dark Igloo make me want to contact them.

- Going to the edge of the Earth and making do without your usual tools, and from noma”s perspective.

- Strelka post about the lifespan of technology, and the items considered “household essentials” in the UK by the Office of National Statistics – which now include eBooks.

- Enjoying the Pitchfork Advance album previews. Some sort of digital version of listening to a new LP with the liner notes.

- Gyford has been collecting the public announcements as companies shutter after being aqui-hired.

- The Guardian have made a snazzy interactive panorama of London from the top of the Shard, complete with field recordings and stories.

- What we”ve been listening to: , & .

Month Links: February 2013

Hello, March – it”s really good to see you. It”s been a while. It feels like I hardly got to know February, before it spirited away for another year.

Still, in those brief twenty-eight days, we kicked off three new pieces of work as well as continued work on a good half-dozen live projects. Good, busy days with some exciting things on the go. In the quieter moments, here”s a bunch of things we found interesting and provided happy diversions.

Olafur Eliasson, Model For A Timeless Garden.

- The Light Show at Hayward Gallery is a marvel, and really worth sticking your head in. Even if just for the Eliasson piece above.

- One of the best things so far this year is one of the smallest and simplest: Jargone. Jargone is a bookmarklet that scans websites for jargon language and suggests common, day-to-day alternatives. It”s made by Roo Reynolds and is an excellent by-product of the dedication to simple, clear, quality work being done within Government Digital Service.

- Continuing the “doing simple well” thread, James has gone back to Twitter”s post from last summer about their process in overhauling their mobile site. It”s easy for us to advocate mobile first practices, but how do you go about that when you have half a billion users and thousands of devices to serve across the world?

- We”ve been enjoying the open epistolography of Hubbub”s Recess! project – a published discourse around games between Kars, Alper and Niels.

Asshole Mario 3, Stage 1.

- Die Gute Fabrik”s Doug did a “best games of 2012″ end of year post. Normally you”d expect a top ten of indie, AAA and folk games, but Doug”s list is a brilliantly of 2012 – specific moments of play that stuck out. From a trampoline-controlled mod of Proteus to competitive yoga and the Hokra “world championships”. All incredibly exciting and envy-creating.

- Our thoughts have started about 2013: what it is, what it will look like, who we”d like to speak, things we”d like to hear more about. It”s an exciting bit of the project, the first flushes of romance before the realisation that oh god 400-odd people are expecting a good time. As ever, we”ll be looking for interesting ideas and cold hard cash for sponsorship – so get in touch if you have either of those things.

- A few times I”ve caught James making some odd movements in the corner of my eye; he has been playing with the Responsive Typography demo by Marko Dugonjić. It”s an interesting project, and feels like it touches the ideas about Perceptive Media, not just a straight up “responsive” approach.

- In other face-tracking news, the brilliant Henry Cooke has created Faces In The Cloud – a thing mixing computer vision and humans” tendencies to pareidolia.

Sruli Recht A/W 13, Runway Presentation.

It”s been an excellent month for apocalypse fans, the best since December. I read a very cold, but beautiful, collection of graphic short stories recently published by Fantagraphics, Beta Testing The Apocalypse. It”s part Ballard, part design fiction, part straight up comics. Never seen architecture used so well as a character in comics.

- Channel 4 have put out plenty of paranoid drama lately, in the form of Utopia (eugenicists, preppers & conspiracy theorists) and Black Mirror“s pop-apocalypse of glowing rectangles.

- Utopia led me to this excellent article in the NYT about TEOTWAWKI (“the end of the world as we know it”) and the prepper scene in New York. Particularly interesting in the post-Sandy context.

- Black Mirror (for all of its many, many, many failings) has provoked a few discussions in the studio. One of particular interest is its approach to interaction design, which seems at times insightful (who doesn”t want the curved digital drawing board?) and sloppy (the mixed metaphors of tactile and gestural interactions clearly come from a Surface Tablet user).

- Black Mirror is interesting in terms of how non-designers are designing interactions that are eventually adopted. That has seen us revisiting the excellent post by Einar about wifi in Sherlock, an interesting read about how Minority Report has locked people into bad IxD, obligatory Dan Hill post about world building, as well as this wonderful blog looking at HUDS and GUIs in film/games. All of which is very helpful for unnamed project #2.


To advance the cause of the world, Al Gore wants you spam climate change deniers.

- Things that have been in our ears: , , .

- A great reason to get a Little Printer from BERG.

- A blogging platform designed for transience.

- Richard took the black, in his “finest” Sean Bean accent.

- An archive for a classic of Modernist design, Vignelli”s NYC TA Standards Manual.

- A “mood data sculpture” that waters (or not) a Rose of Jericho based on scraped feelings.

- Machine manuals out emo tumblr users.

- A nice bit of IoT that processes a lot of complex data to let you know the best route to work.

- Russell”s back in café”s, revisiting some of his greatest hits.

Information Working Everywhere

While creating a new user experience for prospective students at Ravensbourne university, we noticed a big disconnect in a very common (and increasingly key) user journey – QR codes to mobiles.

This one didn’t work.

A Bit About QR Codes

Greg hates QR codes. Really hates them. I don’t think they’re great, but they serve a purpose as a sort of stop-gap before something better (and as universal) comes along to connect the physical world with the digital one. A user wants to find out more than can be shown attractively on a printed ad, or sign up to something advertised – scanning the code is quicker than typing a URL into a phone while standing in front of a billboard in the rain.

QR codes are becoming more widely accepted, as well as recognised for what they are by the non-techie public. They’re on most billboards, printed adverts, products and product receipts and a user interfaces with them using their mobile. That’s where the convenience ends though, since most QR codes (if they work) take a user to a web page that is very hard to navigate and/or load on a mobile device. Why would anyone trust a code when the content it serves will be difficult to handle?

It’s like wanting to look at something closely, and someone handing you a magnifying glass the wrong way round.

Hopefully this will improve over time as responsive web design becomes more of a standard. James has written a really nice post about that here. It feels good to know that a website you’ve built will work wherever.

Making Information Work Well Everywhere

The Ravensbourne Digital Prospectus was the first project where we got to create a smooth user experience that starts in print and continues on a mobile device. The printed prospectus used by the university already had QR codes in the template but these directed the user to large undigestible web pages.

Not mobile optimised

We put a stop to that using responsive web design. The content changes according to the device it’s being displayed on. With mobile, the information is stacked, and the text size large enough to be easily read on a small screen.


While we didn’t design the Digital Prospectus ‘mobile first’, we did design the desktop experience to be smooth, helpful and clear. Printed material and QR codes being scanned by mobile devices is an important user journey, and now it’s as smooth and helpful and clear as it can be.