Monday, 24 August 2015

Week 5: Thinking About The Next Prototype to Build

In class, we’ve been asked by Pete to think over the main questions that will be fundamental for the prototype we’re about to build using ActionScript 3.

What is the key function or interaction? 
Since MathsFun is a physical “jumping game” - the main way users are interacting with the game is - physically - by jumping/standing/touching.

How does it work? 
In the interface on a computer I would replicate this using numbers from 0 to 9. Users would hit those when they know the answer to a Maths problem.

What do you want to know about your prototype? 
How fast should I challenge users with new Maths problems? Is the speed good?
Is it best to go in sets of 10 Maths problems at a time - and then adapt the game to user performance?

How do you want IP1 to work? 

A user will see a Maths problem on the screen - it is also read aloud. Then a user needs to pick the right answer using numbers from 0 to 9. When 10 Maths problems of a certain complexity level are solved - the Maths game gives out a new set of more complicated or easier set of problems - depending on user performance.  

Week 4: Overview of Testing Session Results

During the testing session we were given a chance to watch mates’ video prototypes and present our own ones. As part of this session - my video prototype of the maths game for kids - was also evaluated.
The Procedure
I asked the test participants to watch the video and then complete a short survey (created with the help of Google Forms) comprising 5 questions:

  1. Explain what the game is about and who it is for.
  2. How does the game work?
  3. Was narration clear and understandable at all times?
  4. What do you think could be improved in the prototype and game?
  5. Would you recommend the game to your friends who have kids? Why or why not?
Before watching the video, I told the participants that they could pause the video any time and replay it if needed.
Survey Participants
9 people participated in my survey. All of them followed the procedure, since it was fairly simple.
Outcomes
Here are the results I got - they’re presented in the Google Sheets document:

A full summary of the results can be found here.

Survey Effectiveness
In general, survey participants understood what the concept was about. But there were people who didn’t quite get the technical part behind the idea. One of things I could do - is elaborate more on the technical side, as a few participants were left wondering of how it actually works from the technical side.
Notwithstanding some changes that are to be made, people like the idea of the game and find it really useful. So, all I need it to improve it take into consideration great feedbacks and suggestions provided by test participants.
I'm glad I've used open questions to understand if the ideas was clear to survey participants, as it did show what people actually understood.
Constraints
There were 2 main constraints:
1. Time.
As usual - in this world we're limited by resources. In a similar way, I wish I could come up with a better quality of video given more time to learn and practice.
Idea for my future testing sessions: plan the number of survey participants and make sure each one has enough time to provide his/her feedback.
2. Skills.
I am not a professional designer, so - working on the video was time consuming and my skills were the main constraint I had.
Idea for my future testing sessions: that’ll be great to ask more people as the more feedbacks you get, the better product you’ll have in the end.
Implications
Since my concept is a good idea, I guess I'll stick to it in the future Specifically, I will concentrate on explaining more clearly what the game is about and how to play it and perhaps, cover the technical side of it more. Probably I will add some examples, and also think about refining the voice and text version of the video prototype.
As for the implications for future testing sessions, I will definitely continue using Google Forms for surveys. Additionally, I will provide survey participants with some sheets of paper so that they may take notes while watching videos. Besides, I’ll try to talk to more people in order to get more feedbacks.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Week 4: Updated Video

Final version on YouTube: http://youtu.be/W0SHLcPmkY8
Added sources at the end and screenshots of games.
Minor fixes :)



Week 4: In-Class Exercise - Creating Prototypes for Alarm Clock

In-class we closely looked at horizontal, vertical and diagonal prototypes, discussed their distinctive features and reviewed their applicability depending what has to be tested (see the diagram below).

Image credit: DECO7230: Lecture 4 Slides
Our task is to do design and describe a vertical, a horizontal and a diagonal prototypes for an alarm clock application for a smartphone.
This alarm clock app has the following features:
1)    it allows setting, editing and deleting several alarms;
2)    it can daisy-chain alarms - if one is allowed to ring out, another is activated automatically;
3)    it allows setting various tones for different alarms;
4)    it makes the phone snoozing when the user shakes it.
Now let’s closely look at each type of prototype.
Type of Prototype: Horizontal.
General overview:
A horizontal prototype usually provides a broad view of the product and its features and focuses on user interaction and user interface rather than on low-level system functionality. Usually it doesn’t include any processing logic behind the external features.
Basically, a horizontal prototype is created for identifying the scope of project requirements or showing the external features of the system (dialogue boxes. menus, reports, screens, windows, etc.) which are used for communicating the understanding of the requirement.
Horizontal prototype for alarm clock app:
It describes the main app’s interface without digging into its functions in detail.
As such - this prototype should have the main icons available for navigation: 
  • Add/edit Alarms, 
  • Set ringtones.
Type of Prototype: Vertical.
General overview:
In contrast to a horizontal prototype, a vertical one doesn’t focus on showing all system functionality, it rather concentrates on implementing some specific features in a nearly-complete fashion.
It’s usually used when a particular system feature is hardly understood and needs to be explained in more details.
A vertical prototype consists of both user functionality and access to data which means that a user can view a “working” (but not fully functional or tuned) system.
Vertical prototype for alarm clock app can show how a user can carry out either one of the functions:
      set different tones for alarms;
      set digital or analogue time view style;
      enable or disable snoozing;
      set date, hours, minutes and seconds of a particular alarm.

Type of Prototype: Diagonal.
General overview:
A diagonal prototype is a kind of mixture of the above mentioned types - it is horizontal down to a specific level and then vertical below that level. Unlike vertical and horizontal prototypes, this one might show less details than above mentioned types but might provide an overview of one specific task or a process within the application.
Such a prototype may display how to edit dates and times when the alarm should ring.
Concluding Thoughts
Thanks to this session we’ve got a better understanding of different types of prototypes and know how to apply them depending on the goal we’re challenged to reach.


Monday, 17 August 2015

MathsFun: Game Description


MathsFun is an interactive game that makes it REAL fun for kids to learn basic Maths skills. 

Audience: 
MathsFun audience is kids 4 - 7 years old, who start learning Math at school. At this stage, they have to remember all the numbers and learn how to solve basic Maths problems, such as addition and subtraction of numbers from 1 to 20.

Problem: 

The way Maths is taught now is not fun. Kids have to use worksheets to learn it, they get bored and often start hating the Math itself. At this age - the most important for children it to love the Maths. If this happens - their interest in science will thrive in later classes. The game is designed to help children fall in love with Maths once and for all. 


How It Works: 
The game can easily be built using MaKey MaKey. Stars with numbers are used as inputs kids can stand upon or place their hands on. Whenever a child knows the right answer - they simply jump or place their hand on the numbers they think should solve the problem. The game draws its' inspiration from Twister and Guess Who traditional board games.

Game Description:
Maths problems are given out in sets of 10. Once 10 problems are solved - the algorithm adjusts its difficulty level to make it more complicated or easy, depending on how kids scored. Simple problems, such as subtraction and addition of numbers from 1 to 20 are used to challenge kids. 

MathsFun - because Math is fun! 

Week 4: Exploring Types of Prototypes and Driving Experiences



Today in the lecture - we discussed the different ways to approach and view prototypes. 

One of the ways to segment/approach prototyping: 
  • Exploratory prototypes
  • Experimental  prototypes
  • Operational prototypes
The good questions to ask when coming up with a prototype:
  • What is it that I am trying to test? Which of the prototypes fits best?
  • What are the functional components? 
  • What components are relevant to driving behaviour? 
  • What are the interactions of those components with the driver when driving? 
  • What would you test? 
  • How would you test? 
  • What goal is implied by these specific questions & are there other goals? 
  • Does it function the way expected? 
  • Can I access everything I need? 
Next, we discussed the ways to view driver's dashboard and tried to redesign 1 component in driving experiences.

Functional components of a driver's dashboard: 
  • - steering wheel 
  • - speedometer
  • - breaks
  • - dashboard 
  • - radio control
  • - heating
  • - air conditioning
  • - seatbelts 
  • - gear shifting control
  • - GPS
  • - seat control 
  • - window controls
  • - door locks
  • - side mirrors 
  • - light controls
  • - secondary volume controls
  • - secondary radio controls 
  • - engine read out: 
  • - tackover 
  • - widnshield/windstream wipers
  • - emergency indicators
  • - gas indicators
  • - catch release
  • - speed travelled
  • - seat heating 
  • - child locks
  • - lock controls for every door
  • - beep - horn :-) 
  • - parking assistance 
  • -  key
  • - accelerator 
  • - seat belt 
  • - sun protectors

Next, the idea our team came up with: 
Replacing a steering wheel with a a gesture based ring. 
When you come close to the car - it starts. 
When you are wearing the ring - it 


How to prototype and test the idea:

Riskiest assumption: Test that the gestures are natural and fit human behavior.

Elements of a prototype:
1. Ring
2. Instructions: do this / do that (common things) - Audio recording with instructions.
3. Come up with a list of people: 
- experienced/ not experienced/ non drivers
4. Does our list of gestures fit human behavior?

Peter added a few other ideas our team should also consider:
  • What are non-driving gestures ? So that it doesn’t break the system. 
  • Do drivers panic? 


Week 4: MathsFun Video Prototype




VIDEO from Olena Nesterenko on Vimeo.

Here comes the first version of the video :-)

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Week 3: Game Picked and SuperStars to Shoot the Video Selected


Great news this week!
I'm decided on what I want to shoot and I have a little SuperStar for my video :)

Game name is MathsFun. 
Because Maths Is Fun!

Scene 1: 
Video: Logo and Slogan
Audio: cheerful and playful music
Time: 3 - 4 secs

Scene 2:
Video: show the game and a girl at the end
Audio: MathsFun is an interactive game that makes it REAL fun for kids to learn basic Maths skills.
Time: 5 - 7

Scene 3: 
Video: Girl showing how she is solving problems and having fun.
Audio: MathsFun is simple. It is designed to help kids enjoy solving Maths problems. This is the most important for kids to learn when starting to acquire Maths skills. They'll love the Maths, because it's fun!
Time: 14

Scene 4:
Video: Girl falling asleep on a worksheet...
Audio: The way kids learn Maths nowadays often makes them hate it! They are bored to death by endless Maths worksheets.
Time: 7


Scene 5: 
Video: Girl playing with a computer...
Audio: Another pathetic way to learn Maths skills is poorly designed Maths games for a Desktop computer. Would you want your child to spend hours sitting in front of a computer stareing at poor workflows?
Time: 13

Scene 6: 
Video: Shooting some physchologist...
Audio: Toddlers aged 5 through 7 need activity! In fact, they learn best when playing. If this is a physical activity, exercise combined with learning Maths - this is simply perfect.
Time: 12


Scene 7: 
Video: Words coming out... Fun, Active, Social, Useful
Audio: This is exactly what MathsFun is about! It's fun, active, social, and simply useful for your child.
Time: 9

Scene 8: 
Video: One kid jumping
Audio: With MathsFun a child is challenged by Maths Problems: adding and subtracting numbers from 1 to 20. These problems are in line with the curriculum for Year Prep at Schools in Australia.
Time: 12

Scene 9: 
Video: Many kids jumping
Audio: Kids have fun solving as many Maths problems as they can - and scoring on sets of 10. The more they get right - the more complicated problems get. So your child enjoys the to the full.
Time: 12

Scene 10: Logo + Slogan
Audio: MathsFun is simple and fun. Designed to help your child fall in love with Maths once and for all.
Time: 8

Great!
Now, a couple iterations and shooting time! :)



Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Week 3: Examples of Kickstarter-Style Videos: Pros and Cons

Today we’ve been discussing 5 videos and coming up with a few suggestions on what improvements could be made in each video. The discussions helped me understand what things should be used and what points should be avoided while making a really good video. I think this information will be helpful when I work on creating my own video.

While watching those videos, we were asked to pay attention to some aspects:
  • -        Was our first impression regarding the video positive or negative?
  • -        Was the main concept of the video clear?
  • -        What questions does the video raise?
  • -        What can be improved to make the video better?
  • -        What was done well in the video?
  • -        Were there any things in the video that could have been shown in a better way?
  • -        What was the quality of the video and/or audio?

Now let’s look at the results we’ve got.

Video 1: Brisbane Park Finder (a 48-hour governmental hackathon)



We agreed that overall the video wasn’t the example to follow. Why?

 Well, there were several things that could be done in a better way.
1) It wasn’t a good idea to read the text. The video will definitely be perceived better if the speaker just tells the story without reading or looking at his notes.

2) The main concept wasn’t clear. The video can be improved by removing all the technical stuff, jargon words and acronyms and making the message more appealing to the audience with a diverse technical background.

3) The story wasn’t actually told. We didn’t get an idea of the key aspects of the program. The video will be more convincing and understandable if to show the program itself and support the visuals with audio explanation of how it works.

4) The audio and the video were of a poor quality. Any background noise can be easily eliminated if to record the video in a quiet place – this will raise the overall quality of the video.

5) The video had no scenario and led to nowhere. Since it’s unclear what the video leads to, it’ll be useful to create a scenario showing the program and explaining how it can solve people’s problem.

Summing everything up, we’ve come up with the following recommendations:
  • ·       Communicate the product idea first;
  • ·       Clearly explain the problem;
  • ·       Tell the views why the program is interesting;
  • ·       Always speak the language the audience does;
  • ·       Make sure the demo supports the prototype in context;
  • ·       Show the context of the program use.

Video 2: Google Docs in Plain English

The video gave a positive impression. In fact, there were many good things in it:
1) It clearly explained what Google Docs was and what it was for.

2) The selected animations (paper images and a dental floss) were pretty simple which helped people feel Google Docs was simple, easy and user-friendly.

3) Video and audio were of a good quality, the text fully coincided with what was displayed on the screen.

But certainly there very suggestions on how to improve the video:
  • ·       Tell the story first;
  • ·       Clearly communicate the idea (name Google Docs);
  • ·       Mention a pain point (a security issue) that was omitted in the original video;
  • ·       Demonstrate some more applications of Google Docs (by students, friends, etc.) instead of showing just one story line – this will help reaching a wider audience.

Great idea: the fact the prototype is of a low fidelity makes it easy to understand the concept, and it appears easy and simple to use.

Video 3: Pegasus: The Next Generation n Abstract Strategy Games



It was a bit strange. After watching this video it was absolutely unclear what the product was about. The only thing I’ve understood is that Pegasus is a game. That’s all!!! Well, I got no idea what it was about, how it worked, what the rules of the game were, who and why needed to invest in its development.

Of course it’s clear that to make the video better, it’s advisable to tell people why the game is needed, what its distinctive features are, how to play the game, and why people need to spend money on its development.

After watching this video, I got the following lesson that should be kept in mind while making videos: when you create a video, you must be careful with using the music as in some cases it can be more distracting than useful, and it can easily disconnect the audience.

Video 4: FORM 1: An Affordable, Professional 3D Printer


I was pleased to watch this video (especially if to compare it with the first one). It was a great example of how a top quality video should look like:

1) Only 30 seconds are needed to mention the problem, explain the concept of 3D printer, specify its value for users, show why it’s better than alternatives, and tell the audience how it works on simple and visual examples.

2) It’s clear that the video addresses designers who use 3D printers for their work.

Video 5: Gauss Glasses



This was one more great video shown to us during the class. The strongest points of the video were as follows:
1) It was professional and convincing.

2) It communicated the idea well - it explained the value of glasses and provided some interesting data that supported the arguments (this information made the video more interesting to viewers).

3) It showed the process of glasses production – a great idea helping people to understand how glasses are built and engage the audience who’re engineers and innovators interested in new technologies.

4) After watching this video you have a strong desire to either buy it or at least try it.

Conclusion

Thanks to these videos, now all of us definitely have a clear idea of how to make a really good video and what aspects to pay attention to.  Of course, there are a lot of things to keep in mind but the most important thing is to be able to clearly explain the value of your product in simple terms.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Catching up: Week 2: Wearable Social Interventions and Game Mashups

This week we’ve started generating ideas for our future projects. We were provided with two challenges to choose from:

1. Think of unacceptable or awkward things or behaviours in our everyday world that irritate you or other people, and develop some wearable device that either corrects or transforms this irritating behaviour.

2. Select 2 games from the provided list of 3 groups of games (Pencil and Paper Games, Board Games and Arcade Games) and create a mashup of them combining their most interesting features and making a new game a unique and a captivating one.

Let’s start with the first one.

Wearable Social Interventions
First, I brainstormed any ideas that deal with social faux pas. As a result of the brainstorming session compiled the following list was compiled:
  • Eating too noisily
  • Talking too loud being in public places
  • Listening to music in public places using the speakers of smartphones
  • Constantly interrupting other people mid-conversation
  • Using too many filler words
  • Reading over people’s shoulders
  • Talking with earphones being on
  • Pointing at a person while telling something
  • Swearing
  • Talking with your mouth full
  • Invading your personal space
  • Stopping in the middle of a walking crowd
  • Making phone calls when you’re talking to someone.

Then we suggested developing some devices that would solve or at least transform these faux pas. One of the devices that can be created is a high-tech bracelet that has a micro-chip, a microphone and several spikes inserted into it.

As soon as the wearer of the bracelet uses some predefined filler words or starts talking too loud (or does some other irritating things that can be programmed here), the bracelet via a microphone gets a signal of the irritating behaviour. In this case spikes move to the fore pushing against the hand and signalling the wearer to stop making an unwelcome action.

Game Mashups
Well, telling the truth, I am not a game lover but certainly it wasn’t difficult to choose games as they’re known to everyone. I picked one Pencil and Paper Game (Hangman) and one Board Game (Guess Who). Doing the analysis - I identify the most interesting features that make these games unique and especially attractive to players.

So, let’s see what features I came up with.

Hangman (Pencil and Paper Game)
  • It’s competitive
  • It has a score system
  • It’s a two-player game
  • It’s a puzzle game
  • It’s challenging at times when short words are used
  • It can be played anywhere, and it takes only pen and paper to set it up
  • It’s a guess work
  • It can be prolonged if players add additional lines to a hangman’s picture

Guess Who (Board Game)
  • It has many photos which are flipped down
  • It’s an elimination game with “yes” or “no” answers
  • It’s a short game
  • It’s a two-player game
  • It’s quite easy

The next step is to figure out how to combine the games to make a new, more interactive and unique game.
Here’s how our new game looks like.

The basis of the game is a Guess Who game. It’s played by two people in turns. Players need to guess the card the opponent has selected. To make the game more engaging, competitive and intriguing, we’ve added the elements of the Hangman into it: each time a person doesn’t guess the card, the other player draws one element of a hanged man stick figure as a tally mark.

The player who is the first to guess and whose hangman is not actually hanged wins the game. In case the hangman is hanged before the card is identified, the game automatically finishes, and the owner of a hanged man becomes the loser.




This practical session was really helpful as it showed how to look at everyday things from a different angle and start thinking outside of the box every once in a while. I’m sure I’ll examine the things deeper and come up with a great idea which my project will be based upon. 

Feeling thrilled already!