Over the next two weeks, my focus is on developing an interface to demo at the interim show. I’ve been heavily involved with my professional practice work over the past month so I haven’t had many opportunities to develop my interactive work – so this has been a great chance for me to design, develop and present an example of my work. I think it will also be useful to get feedback from visitors at the show on what they think of it and how easy, or hard, they find it to use.
In designing the piece of work, I have decided to take all of the interactive controls that I experimented with in my exploratory project, and combine them to create an interface in which it is possible to modulate and mix different sound samples. I want the exhibit to be fun and interactive so that people are able to try out and challenge the work that I am developing. I actually started working on the design and development last week and I’ve commissioned the help of a very talented friend, Aidan O’Brien, to provide me with sound samples. For the interim show, I have decided to use music based samples that can be arranged to create a song, On reflection I think it is fair to say that there are more interesting ways in which I could develop the sound aspect of the project but I also think that the use of recognisable sound samples will make the project more accessible and enjoyable to use. The main benefit of developing this project will be that I can observe the way in which people interact with the interface and find out more about user interaction from a first hand perspective.
The other attribute that I wanted to develop further with this project is the actual design; – so far my work has been very simple and relatively ‘undesigned’, as such, I am investing more thought and consideration into the composition and layout of the interface, and the use of specific colour themes.
In order to make the whole system more user friendly, I am also going to implement the use of some of the fundamental interaction design concepts that I picked up when looking at the work of Digit and my previous experience of working with Electronic Arts. Whilst at Digit, we discussed how there is no such thing as purely intuitive interaction design. It is more the case that interaction is something which can be learnt through the use of prompts which introduce and help a user to effectively interact with a new system. There are many ways of doing this, but I came across a really simple but effective method whilst reading Bill Moggridge’s book, ‘Designing Interactions’. By providing the user with simple prompts, which effectively teach one possible interaction at a time, it is possible to provide them with a gentle and progessive learning experience in which they can gradually pick up new features without being expected to learn everything at once. The basic premise of this is that as the user learns about and uses new features of an interface, they become more skilled and able to use it. This is a system which is often used within computer games, particular examples which spring to mind are the initial levels in games such as Ubisoft’s: ‘Splinter Cell’ series and EA/Criterion’s: ‘Black’. When playing each of these games for the first time, they provide the user with on screen prompts containing either button combinations or playing advice at set intervals so that the user gradually learns the features of the control system. These prompts tend to occur as and when the user reaches a point where each function is necessary.
The other concept that I want to employ within the interface is the use of an attract mode, this is another games design principle whereby, if the interface is inactive for a specific period of time, it prompts the user to interact by demonstrating a feature or possible interaction.
I’m hoping that I can get the majority of the development work done this week so that I can dedicate next week to the testing and physical set up of the interface. Really looking forward to it.