Brainventures is an educational game for phones and tablets. Brainventures empowers kids (7-10) to become lifelong learners by teaching them about their brains through a quirky brain world and playful gameplay. Brainventures is inspired by research on growth mindset, which shows that kids who understand they have the ability to make their brains stronger perform better in school and are more successful later in life.
Bi-weekly playtests at partnering schools in Oakland, CA.
With several remote contractors, clear communication of the design facilitated faster and higher quality turnaround.
Wrote and refined concise and engaging dialogue that matched unique character voices, while delivering educational messages.
HaluBuBum! (pronounced Hall-Uh-Boo-Boom) is an experiment in people playing together on the same tablet. A specimen BU has escaped in the lab and he's making a real mess. Get them out of your area before they explode! Rub away the evidence. The messiest area when the clock runs out gets the boot!
Our team was tasked with creating an outdoor big game for teens. Fugatives was an existing variant of cops versus robbers played with runners and drivers over a span of miles. This had some inherent safety issues around safe driving and crossing streets. The goal of the Runaround was to make a game that kept teens running but added layers of safety and appeal.
My role on the team was game designer. We did a wide range of brainstorming and experimentation. I led those sessions and helped facilitate team communication about ideas. Over a few weeks we narrowed the ideas down to one game that met our clients goals and the team was confident about. I turned that idea into a diagram of play (inspired by my game design teacher Stone Librande's One Page Design). This breakdown and illustration of the design really facilitated team communication and advisor understanding and confidence.
After establishing the game flow and getting client and advisor buy in, I moved on to wireframing the actual UI flow.
These wireframes proved to be an important communication tool for the team to see the different states of the app and raise questions about how the game transitioned between them. We worked based on these and for our mid-semester presentation I presented a combination of the earlier flow diagram with screens from the wireframe with early art for the UI.
Inspired by a simple typo that turned spell points into spell pints, I created a prototype storytelling card game. Several drafts later Drunken Wizards is a fun and wacky game I love to play with friends. It's an easy to pick up improv game in which you play a wizard competing with your wizard buddies in a dangerous game of one-upmanship inside a crowded tavern.
Turn the bartender into a frog, set the fruit bowl on fire, summon a group of hobbits and strand them in reversed gravity on the ceiling. Anything is possible. Throughout play testing, I've never played the same game twice.
Character portraits created by the excellent Puly (Paulo Henrique Brasil) on paid commission.
RollingCrits is a project aiming to bring tabletop gaming to the cloud through a simple, pick-up and play interface. This goal required merging my knowledge of AJAX/Web 2.0 interfaces with a more object based framework, in this case Cappuccino. It also required developing back-end server code (in Python) to handle storage and retrieval of data as well as the establishment of real time client server streams. These primary goals are just the tip of the iceberg. I learned how to commission and work with artists, how to design and program UI components, and better project management.
The central elements in my app design were the character tokens, or pogs as I called them. These were designed to imitate the cardboard circles that come with the Dungeons & Dragons starter set. The familiarity of these objects would help sell the “pick up and move” metaphor I wanted.
I wanted the actual application to have an unobtrusive UI. I decided I’d use contextual pop-overs to provide object specific controls. This also allowed me to plan for enhancement. The pogs could start as simple draggable elements and have more features (such as adding colored tokens, flipping them over, and showing movement range) added later.
Lazer Mouse was my Spring 2013 semester project team at Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center. My role is User Experience Designer. My job has been to take our observations and findings from playtests and combine them with our brainstorming and concepts to create a product vision and then communicate that vision to the programmers and artists. To help communicate that vision I created a mockup animation of how our interface might function.
This game employs LC Technologies fast calibration infra-red eye tracker. The effect of sitting in front of the little black box and controlling the game using your eyes truly feels like telekinesis. Creating interactions and interfaces for eye tracking was a difficult challenge, one we approached through a thoughtful minimalism. The hardware was robust and during our one week sprint we encountered few problems allowing us to focus on game design and balance. Should eyetracking become more common, our team is ready and excited to explore its possibilities.
Building Virtual Worlds is a course in rapid prototyping and entertainment design. Students are randomly paired into teams of 4-5 and tasked with creating interactive experiences to be performed live for a panel of faculty judges.
The course was developed by Randy Pausch (of Last Lecture fame) and Don Marinelli. They wanted to create a program where artists and programmers worked together in close collaboration. The class evolved into a whole course of graduate studies at CMU's Entertainment Technology Center. Everyday at the ETC students from Computer Science, Art, and various other disciplines come together to create experiences that entertain, teach, and advance the state of the art.
Use your telekinesis (eyetracker) to return objects to the floor before the alien player (on wiimote) can abduct them.
Using eyetracking technology felt like controlling the computer telekinetically. We loved the idea of controlling objects just by looking at them, but the standard demo of lifting or throwing objects didn't appeal to us. It wasn't until we turned it upside-down that the idea became fun and interesting.
Inspired by the Twilight Zone and Orson Welles' radio play for War of the Worlds, our team sprinted to create a cinematic multiplayer game. Our team worked quickly and efficiently with everyone chipping in on tasks that needed to be done. The end result is a game we all enjoyed playing and that the staff at LC Technologies enjoyed playing around with as well.
Mercurio's is a Pennsylavannia Gelato Creamery with a storefront in Pittsburgh, PA. Run as a family business but rapidly growing in popularity they needed to move from their in-house developed static site to a more modern standards based site with a true CMS backend. Though they have switched their main site to a larger web development company as their needs have grown, I'm glad to have had the opportunity to help in their growth.
In my design I sought to avoid the pitfalls of typical restaurant site design that puts looks and interactivity over real content. I considered the most relevant information to a prospective customer: hours, location, and contact information and placed them prominently above-the-fold on every page. I visited the store and took high resolution pictures of both the store and their delicious gelato. Finally, I tried to preserve as much of the homespun whimsy and content as I could. I even recreated the sign that hung outside their store as a vector icon (as seen above).
Perhaps the real magic of the redesign was the content management backend. Built on top of a lightweight PHP framework called PureEdit I created special made AJAX widgets to instantly adjust the "Flavors of the Day" and the Business information. I also added social network integration, that required only pasting information into a couple text fields to display Facebook Likes and Yelp star ratings on the page.
Mercurio's was a great learning experience and I enjoyed working with the Mercurio family to develop a site I was genuinely proud of.
RobotsGoSmash was an experiment in doing a daily comic for a month. It was exciting to push myself to write a comic everyday. It is a different kind of creative mindset and it was a fantastic learning experience. I still post to RobotsGoSamsh occasionally when I get some free time. Philosobot is still close to my heart and one of the characters I'm most proud to have created.