• First Post

    September 11, 2004

    The new web site is launched, though things are still obviously under construction. This will be a good opportunity to post regular tidbits about what I’m working on for a small group of acquaintances, while working on my writing.

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  • Boston Museum of Science (2002)

    September 3, 2004

    The Museum of Science Bird Hall focuses not just on a lot of stuffed birds, but on bird language. A careful observer can tell a lot about what’s going on by identifying the behavior of birds. The two interactives are designed to demonstrate this through illustration and example. They were designed at Interactive Factory with the Museum of Science’s exhibit designers.

    Both interactives were created at Interactive Factory, primarily using PC Director 8.5 for deployment on dedicated PowerMac 700MHz G4s, back in 2001. An interesting challenge was that the kiosks were designed without keyboards or mice, relying solely on arcade-style pushbuttons. I did the programming with some graphics for each interactive.

    FBI Mystery

    990-02-mosfbi01.jpg The idea behind this interactive is to solve a series of mysteries through auditory cues. The kiosk itself resembles the back of an equipment van, stacked with all kind of audio equipment. The interactive resembles a mixing board that allows users to selectively add and subtract sounds to match audio heard in a recording.


    990-02-mosmural01.jpg There are three different mini-games in this interactive, based around events that take place in Acadia National Park up in Maine. Like the FBI Mystery, the emphasis is on teaching bird language. This screenshot shows the “reconstruct the events” mini-game.

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  • Phase Forward DIA Kiosk (2002)

    September 3, 2004

    990-02-pfdia01.jpg At Active Edge, we created this kiosk application in about a month, starting from concept to final delivery. We worked with Phase Forward’s Marketing department to understand the nature of “clinical trials”. Because of the trade show environment, we designed the game to mostly work as an ambient part of the overall booth, providing background movement and a “high tech” feel. The interactivity is very limited, designed to quickly move into attract mode if no user input is detected.

    313-02-pfdia02.jpg313-02-pfdia03.jpg313-02-pfdia04.jpg We used a two-person team. I was the producer, architect, integrator, working with a colleague at Active Edge who created the 3D look. The Flash engine was very basic, consisting of a shell that could load two completely independent animated SWF files.

    990-02-pfdia05.jpg We accurately animated two complete workflows: internet-based trials versus paper-based. The “simulation” shows that internet-based trials finish faster than paper-based trials. Originally, we had programmed more interactivity into the application to allow exploration, but due to time constraints of getting the application fully tested and stable for installation, we had to axe that feature. Still, the overall project was pretty cool.

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  • NCAA Football ‘99 (1998)

    September 3, 2004

    NCAA Football 99After Qualia, I worked for a year at Tiburon / EA Sports as Art Manager on NCAA Football ’99, the sister game to the well-known Madden football series. The role of Art Manager was to coordinate the activities of the artists assigned to the game (7, in this case) with the Development Director and Programming Manager. Although the studio offered excellent benefits, I found that bekng a middle manager didn’t agree with me, and I returned to Boston after we shipped gold master. Working on the top football franchise in the world in a AAA studio would have been a buzz to anyone who loved the game, but as one generally ignorant of professional sports, I wasn’t as hardcore as I felt I needed to be.

    Years later, I’ve realized it was the sense of “authorship” I missed from my earlier experiences making games. By 1998, the scale of the game industry had started to come within range of billion-dollar levels, and “team” had displaced “authorship”. You can’t afford authorship. It will sink your production.

    So it’s important to me to do my own thing, and I’d rather work on smaller projects as a primary contributor.

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  • Prove It (2004)

    September 3, 2004

    Prove It Workspace NOTE: Showing Evidence is the “official name” of Prove It. The following description was written prior to our official release:

    Prove It is a project developed in Flash MX 2004, using ActionScript 2.0. It’s a pure scripted application: no graphics resources or animation, designed to launch from a web browser and communicate with a back-end server. It’s part of Intel’s Thinking Tools program, and hopefully we’ll see it online sometime in 2005. I was the primary architect of the code, defining the structure of the application and the bulk of its implementation. The key ideas and visual design behind Prove It are the work of Inquirium, an educational tools company based in Chicago, with whom I worked closely.

    Prove It Open ObjectThe basic idea behind Prove It is to visually represent the process of answering a question using rational means. There are three main entities: claims, which are hypothesis that are relevant to the question; evidence, which are the “facts”, and links, which support or undermine a particular claim. The Prove It workspace allows students to construct these entities and link them together in a visual fashion. Students can move, rank, reorder and comment on each of the entities, and then submit the work back to the server. It’s pretty neat.

    This was my first major application written in Flash, and we started it in November 2003 just when MX 2004 was released. I was hugely relieved to finally have a reasonable language to work with: a modicum of type checking, a more streamlined java-like object oriented syntax, and even a rudimentary Project IDE. Plus, the improvements to unicode support and speed were a plus. What I still can’t figure out is why the MovieClip interfaces are still the mess they are…I spent a chunk of time writing wrappers for all of them to make the implementation a little cleaner, at some expense in speed, but it made it easier for Inquirium to work with the code and not have to deal with Flash’s idiosyncratic conventions.

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