UX Lab Quest, Part 01

Mm ba ba de
Um bum ba de
Um bu bu bum da de
Pressure pushing down on me
Pressing down on you no man ask for
Under pressure – that burns a building down
Splits a family in two
Puts people on streets
Um ba ba be
Um ba ba be
De day da
Ee day da – that’s o.k.
It’s the terror of knowing
What the world is about
Watching some good friends
Screaming ‘Let me out’
Pray tomorrow – gets me higher
Pressure on people – people on streets
Day day de mm hm
Da da da ba ba
O.k.
Chippin’ around – kick my brains around the floor
These are the days it never rains but it pours
Ee do ba be
Ee da ba ba ba
Um bo bo
Be lap
People on streets – ee da de da de
People on streets – ee da de da de da de da
It’s the terror of knowing
What this world is about
Watching some good friends
Screaming ‘Let me out’
Pray tomorrow – gets me higher high high
Pressure on people – people on streets
Turned away from it all like a blind man
Sat on a fence but it don’t work
Keep coming up with love
but it’s so slashed and torn
Why – why – why ?
Love love love love love
Insanity laughs under pressure we’re cracking
Can’t we give ourselves one more chance
Why can’t we give love that one more chance
Why can’t we give love give love give love give love
give love give love give love give love give love
‘Cause love’s such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And loves dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
Under pressure
Under pressure
Pressure

Under Pressure by Queen with David Bowie

One of my favorite songs from Queen along with 80’s glam sensation David Bowie, it’s more or less how I’ve felt as of late.  C’est la vie.

I’m currently pursuing a Master of Science in Game Design at Full Sail University.  I’ve alluded to this before, but to reiterate it’s a production degree as opposed to a game design degree.  I’d like to comment on all the classes I’m taking, but for the moment I’ll put that aspiration in my blog backlog and continue with what I intended for today.

In the final five months of this twelve month program, one can choose to do something called Final Project, where X number of Master’s students join forces with X number of game artists (from the Bachelor’s game art program) and X number of programmers (from the Bachelor’s game development program) to produce a game.

The potential alternative is to apply to become a full-time producer (formerly full-time intern) at Full Sail’s User Experience Lab (UX Lab for short).  This lab is associated with Full Sail’s Research Department (wait, they have a research department?), and works with project associated with ESPN, Garage Games, National Flight Academy, and potentially Phillips.

The ESPN, Garage Games, and Philips projects are under NDA, and even if they weren’t, I’m not the producer assigned to work on those projects.  For clarification, there are seven full-time producers at the moment.  Meanwhile, the National Flight Academy (NFA) project is not under NDA, so I can speak to that at length.  All seven producers are working on the project in some capacity.

The NFA project is associated with Tech games, and requires the delivery of missions to be used for educational purposes in the classroom.  The project has twelve missions in the pipeline, on a roughly 1 1/2-2 week delivery schedule.  Missions are created using Flight Simulator X Software Development Kit (FSX SDK), by the producers who are essentially doubling as developers.  Luckily, we have eight digital artists from Full Sail’s Bachelor’s program who create original art assets, such as the Wright brothers’ flyer, and other historical planes.

Among additional responsibilities as a UX Lab Producer is to come into the lab twenty hours per week (I usually surpass this number rather easily).  Furthermore, I’m actually required to write a blog, basically dedicating one paragraph to the lab experience and one paragraph to gaming in any context on a weekly basis.  Since I spent so much time on the introductory posts, I’m naturally behind on this task.  However, I intend to use this post to catch up, starting…right…now!

Week 1: The first few days were spent adjusting to life as a producer.  I would have liked to have eased myself in, but with the NFA project in full swing, I basically dived in as fast as humanly possible.  One reality to the beginning of this internship is that there is an ongoing class going on throughout the month.  The unfortunate effect this is having is that I find I can’t quite devote the time and focus I would like towards the internship.

Week 2: Towards the end of week 1 and going into the beginning of week 2, roles and responsibilities were delegated to all the producers.  Since there are so many of us, and all of us began the internship at different times, it’s important to have multiple producers on any role / responsibility in a lead / associate relationship.  This ensures that when a producer graduates at the end of five months, the associate could take over the lead role.  But I digress; I act as an associate producer for managing developers / programmers, audio design, documentation, and am the lead producer on developing curriculum for the missions we’re making.  Because of an upcoming deliverable that is due the following Monday, myself and a couple of other producers and an artist put in some extra hours in the form of donating our time and efforts all day Saturday, well into the night.

Week 3: The beginning of the week marked the delivery of our first mission 1 deliverable and curriculum powerpoint.  Also, at the middle of the week my joystick arrived from Amazon.  This essential piece of hardware isn’t supplied by the lab, unfortunately, and is essential to using FSX or FSX SDK.  Admittedly, I’m the one producer not working on scripting a mission, but there is an actual method to this madness that was stumbled upon.  I had mentioned that the previous Saturday was spent finishing up mission 1.  My lack of expertise / ability with FSX proved invaluable during playtesting, as many of the problems I had were likely to be experienced by the actual clients (teachers and students).  So I may actually remain where I am in that regard, though like many things in life, that’s all subject to change.

Week 4: This brings me to the current week, where I strive to not only catch up on blogging, but to slowly but surely complete the curriculum powerpoint for mission 2.  I had not mentioned it before, but one reason this task is so time consuming is that I’m trying to align the curriculum with Florida state teaching standards.  The standards are specific to each subject and grade level, so it can be hard to make a connection work.  For example, the first mission dealt with the Wright brothers’.  However, all the standards involved with grade 7 social studies don’t necessarily deal with history around that time, so I have to be creative and try to think of a way to make everything work.

And with all that, I am caught up on the internship portion of the UX Lab Quest.  Later in the week, I’ll catch up with some thoughts on some of the gaming stories for 2011.

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