Week 2 — Team ideation
We’ve formed a team. Meet The Falmouth Foulmouths:
Josh is our
benevolent dictator team leader :-)
The very first topic for the week urges us to rapidly progress through Tuckman and Jensen’s initial stages of team formation, Forming, Storming and Norming (1965).
I suppose we’ve now reached a point where we can call the week just gone “Sprint Zero”. This is a habit from my gov days, where we used the term to describe any period of “team forming” time.
The idea behind "Sprint Zero" is that, where initialization demands time and effort before any value can be delivered, it would be reasonable to account for this in terms of a Sprint of some kind.(Mitchell 2018)
I like how we’ve operated this far. Everyone’s smart and level-headed, and seem to say relevant things at relevant times. It reminds me a bit of how meetings were conducted during the Manhattan Project, although I suspect we won’t cause nearly as much damage.
I’ll copy from the initial idea doc:
A radio soap opera, like you would hear on regular radio; listen with earphones (or stereo) as content will be binaural for extra immersion; played from device with a touchscreen, where the touchscreen will act as input device; the listener will be able to lie on their bed, or be slumped down on the sofa, with their eyes closed, and only generally need to tap on the left or right side of the screen (or swipe left/right) to action binary choices (like go left/right, say yes/no, choose narrative branch A or B); for those who want to have their eyes open, there will be static visuals on the screen, that perhaps moving across the screen by way of the Ken Burns effect.
We thought it a good idea to prototype a narrative-heavy game in Twine (2009), as it seems to be an industry-standard tool for narrative prototyping (Beardshaw 2020). Our initial/ongoing prototype is viewable here. Twine seems to be a go-to tool for narrative prototyping, or even making full-fledged games in. Even one of our inspirations, Bandersnatch, used it:
[...] written in the videogame programming language Twine, which Brooker had taught himself because it was the only way to capture the intra-linked complexity of all the various tributaries and recursions of the Bandersnatch story.(Rubin 2018)
During the first module, I was a bit enamoured with a game called Disco Elysium (“Disco Elysium” n.d.), and came across a piece of fan art in the form of a Twine game (“Re-Hearsed: A Disco Elysium Fanwork by Apepers” n.d.), for which the source code was also available (Pepers 2021).
Being the geek that I am, I downloaded the source code at once, loaded it up in Twine, and started experimenting. It’s during this experimentation phase that I was introduced to the powerful story format for Twine called SugarCube (“SugarCube v2 Documentation” n.d.), which gives you a whole library of powerful macros to work with, like playing audio, working with events, and much more.
I ended up using Twine and SugarCube for our prototype, as it allowed me to get started very quickly. It also had the benefit of having a large support community (there’s a SugarCube channel on the Twine Discord), and the prototype could immediately be hosted on Github Pages and be interacted with.
How I fit in
I’m a do-er. I do stuff. Sometimes without asking, as I just want to get it out of my head and onto the computer/cloud. The team knows that whatever I do isn’t set in stone, nor am I intending to jump the gun and do someone else’s job, but I’m merely creating placeholders for future collaboration.
I take initiative. E.g. when we have Microsoft Teams video chats, I started capturing minutes in the chat, with the added benefit that once the recorded video is available, then the minutes are right there contextually next to the video for easy reference.
I’m a guide. This is Josh’s first time team-leading, and I’ll try and be as helpful but hands-off as possible. I’ve been in various senior, team lead, and CTO positions during my career, so really want someone else to take this opportunity to lead.
I’m quite direct. I tend to quickly reign in scope creep, not by striking off ideas, but by creating escape hatches for when things go wrong. (E.g. there’s talk of porting the Twine product to a more polished Unity (n.d.) product, but I would make it clear that if time runs out, then we can ship the Twine product instead.) Or if someone says “I don’t think…” then I would educate them (using either humble opinions or informed facts), but again - not to shoot them down, but to level the knowledge landscape and get us closer to the finish line.
I’m a dreamer. Sometimes, not too often, I might drift off a bit during conversation (don’t we all?). My fix is to rewatch our recorded video chats, then find missed information, create missing tasks, etc. But, I also turn this con into a pro by having my notebook handy and jotting everything down sharpish so I can get back to the conversation, and a bonus is that my idea isn’t lost.
Onwards and upwards. We’re just getting started, and I can’t wait to see what we come up with.
Week development log
- Made a team logo for fun. (No worries if it’s just a placeholder, and Maciej whips up something more pro.)
- Continue with Twine spike
- Worked on Twine prototype some more, and made audio work.
- Organised Team meeting tonight at 8PM via Doodle
- Set up Github org for team
- Set up initial Twine repo so we can collaborate on the story
- Looking into Twine as a “game engine” for our project
- Created “Rapid Ideation Plan” doc in Microsoft Teams with initial points pre-filled.
- Continue with Twine “spike” to see if images, swipe gestures, and audio would work
- BEARDSHAW, Joel. 2020. “Three Free Tools to Level up Your Prototyping.” GamesIndustry.biz. Available at: https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2020-04-08-three-free-tools-to-level-up-your-prototyping [accessed 8 Aug 2021].
- MITCHELL, Ian. 2018. “Scrubbing Sprint Zero.” Scrum.org. Available at: https://www.scrum.org/resources/blog/scrubbing-sprint-zero [accessed 10 Jun 2021].
- PEPERS, Alexei. 2021. “Disco Elysium Twine Macros Source.” Available at: https://github.com/apepers/DiscoElysiumTwineMacros [accessed 8 Aug 2021].
- RUBIN, Peter. 2018. “How the Surprise New Interactive ’Black Mirror’ Came Together.” Wired. Available at: https://www.wired.com/story/black-mirror-bandersnatch-interactive-episode/ [accessed 10 Jun 2021].
- TECHNOLOGIES, Unity. n.d. “Unity Real-Time Development Platform \Textbar 3D, 2D VR & AR Engine.” Available at: https://unity.com/ [accessed 10 Jun 2021].
- TUCKMAN, Bruce W. 1965. “Developmental Sequence in Small Groups.” Psychological Bulletin 63(6), [online], 384–99. Available at: http://content.apa.org/journals/bul/63/6/384 [accessed 10 Jun 2021].
Unlabelled images are Copyright 2020 Juan M Uys, and are for decorative purposes only.