Developer Workshops

SCOOT 3 Workshops

This was the first large scale, organised workshop series that SCOOT hosted and supported.

The SCOOT participants were referred to as 2 specific levels:

  1. The Entire Development Team: This is the entire Core Crew, student and volunteer developers. Supported by these Development Workshops
  2. Smaller Project Groups: The Development Team was split up into project groups who collaborated to develop specific works together. Supported by forums and independent collaboration activities

End Game?

Why have workshops?
Essentially SCOOT workshops provide three main functions:

  1. Maintain the SCOOT aesthetic: Every single component of SCOOT is an opportunity to add to the experience of SCOOT. This way it is essential to maintain how SCOOT looks, feels, acts, sounds etc. SCOOTs value is in it’s ability to consistently tell a story. Some contributors may be tempted to stray from the SCOOT story to express something personal about their ideas, skills, lifestyle… but the success of SCOOT depends on the ability of all it’s participants to contribute to the narrative aesthetically, interactively etc.
  2. Maintain project momentum: They are mini-deadlines for presenting progress, getting feedback and assistance from the collective. Each contributor to gauge their progress comparatively
  3. Generate goodwill: The mere fact that we are creating unique experiences together is very rewarding. The workshops are a special time for feeling part of a bigger work…. and that our obligations are not only to the funding organisations (clients), players, project managers… but to each other… there is both a collaborative and a competitive attitude to the SCOOT team… this is what leads them to work harder and better… way beyond initial expectations.

Before beginning a series of workshops it its imperative to be able to articulate what we are working towards. What is the End Game?
The SCOOT series of Workshops are part of a broader process with a major public event at the end.

Effective Model for Workshop Design

Articulating the objectives of the workshops is only the first step. Other considerations are:

  1. When they occur is also important. They should not interrupt work in progress until feedback will be useful. SCOOT found that scheduling them when the end (review) of one phase and the start (advise) of the next phase was the most effective.
  2. As important are the resources made available previous (for preparation),  during (for reflection) and post (for progressing) each workshop.
  3. Channels and methods for communicating between workshops is also critical. The manager needs to seek out and cater to individuals natural communication channels. If a crew member responds better to ‘chat’ services than email for example. There should always be a central person or place for exchange of ideas, assets etc. For SCOOT an online discussion forum was set up as the key Community Interface. The first topic was “the best way to catch me if you need me” that each member responded to. Then members could request assistance from their… and Deb could coordinate and stay ahead of all progress.

Working Towards the Final Workshop: Testing complete set ups with consoles in SCOOT green! This is in Brisbane the night before all works were freighted to Melbourne... LATE NIGHT!

First Contact: Recruiting and Preparing New Members

Email invitations to participate were sent to all previous collaborators on SCOOT 1 and 2 and to students of music, interaction design and IT at Queensland University of Technology. These emails were sent with a document describing the SCOOT project, potential roles and available resources to work with. It was stressed that SCOOT was ultimately an opportunity to collaborate with others to create innovative, unique and experimental works combining graphics, sound, animation, programming etc. Deb received a surprising amount of serious submissions. Deb and the core design crew then reviewed, discussed and short-listed the proposals. Some were rejected (with clear justification), some were merged with others and a few were accepted with some minor suggested changes to keep all works aligned with the SCOOT brand. Those that were rejected were given detailed feedback and had the option of joining another submission. All works required more than one developer. This was the desire of SCOOT so that we could assist and observe the collaboration. It also insured that the individuals were being able to use their individual skills while also being challenged by other perspectives and techniques.

Each workshop is described in terms of resources, participants and activities

Workshop One

This was the initial gathering of new candidate SCOOT developers.

Workshop One: New Recruits meet the crew, form project groups and planing

Resources:

  1. SCOOT summary docments: outlining the SCOOT narrative (carnival), objectives (creative/subversive museum intervention) and assets (caharacters, props, materials etc) available for game conception and production.
  2. Project Proposal Templates: this helped them understand the project requirements, limits and expectations in order to write a relevant proposal. (see post Professional Support: Resources)

Participants:

SCOOT core Crew (Deb Polson and contracted developers who had previous experience with SCOOT as past volunteers), volunteers (unpaid but keen!) and students (Deb negotiated course accreditation in return for participating)

Activities:

An email list was formed to include students, graduates and some familiar practitioners to invite them to participate as designers on the SCOOT project. The SCOOT project has significant profile and so attracted over 50 interested individuals.  Some requested further information that meant they could not continue due to time or other work conditions. Once we had some more refined proposals and a shortlist of potential candidate student collaborators,, I designed and hosted the first developers workshop. This workshop consisted of three main activities:

  1. SCOOT CREW INTRODUCE SCOOT AND THEMSELVES (What and Why is SCOOT): Myself and some core crew  introduced themselves and SCOOT. The core crew told stories of how they have contributed to SCOOT and what other opportunities may be available to them. The core crew were recent graduates at this time and were all familiar to many of the students that attended this first workshop. Most of the core crew and workshop attendees had participated as players in SCOOT 1 and were aware of it’s structure and aesthetic. This was  an opportunity to detail the SCOOT concept, design process and potentials for making and hosting a Location Based Game. I also outlined the initial specification requirements and the expectations of the key support organisations. This was critical for students to appreciate this was a responsibility in real environments with real deadline obligations.
    Selected Works Summary:
    I presented the short list of project proposals we had received. All of the students who had proposed these projects were present as well as students whose projects were not selected but had provided evidence of how they could contribute to the works selected. SCOOT merged some project ideas together as they were similar in concept or technology.
  2. NEW RECRUITS INTRODUCE THEMSELVES: Students introduced themselves and articulated what their skills were and how they would like to contribute to the SCOOT team… and what they are hoping to learn from the experience.
  3. DEVELOPMENT GROUPS FORMED to discuss feedback and make plans: Students decided which projects they would like to work on based on a combination of who they knew, who they’d like to work with and what skills they had.

A number of students were assigned individual tasks such as Luke Lickfold who became responsible for updating the SCOOT  sound and music library for all SCOOTworks according to specific requests made on the new SCOOT Dev Forum (see the Professional Support: Resources post). Arief was responsible for developing new SCOOT characters according to historic location-based stories, Australian animals and the narrative/action requirements of the characters for individual works.

From this workshop we were left with the most dedicated group of talented people… way beyond our initial expectations. The group was to work on 12 complex installation pieces, 6 mini games (flash) and 8 animations (3D and 2D). By the end of the session we had a schedule for reviewing the works and a protocol for communicating progress and requesting assistance from each other.

An important outcome of this workshop was that SCOOT had a refined understanding of all the resources required… people, things and cash. The budget was always assigned in more detail after an initial workshop… and a comprehensive list of all production assets (dials, buttons, microphones)

Workshop Two

This workshop was required to insure Project Groups were progressing within SCOOT aesthetic and interaction brand. To manage the SCALE of resources required… and to understand where any further assistance may be required to insure all deadlines will be met.

Simon and Matt showing Deb early iteration of Balloon Slam, Katie describing POOK, Ben's early sound input demo for CheerUp and Tina's FoodHall minigame.

Resources:

  1. Project Final Proposal Templates: Describing the refined proposal according to feedback from the first workshop and further project group discussions.
  2. SCOOT Prototype Reports: outlining the next phase of project documentation that summarises progress (keeping to the deadlines!) and to assist the Core Crew to coordinate resources (for this project and across all projects), installation (locating it on-site based on narrative relevance, technology and space opportunities) and testing of the project locally and on-site.

Participants:

SCOOT core Crew and Project Groups

Activities:

  1. PROGRESS PRESENTATIONS: Project Groups presented progress made on the various mini-games, installations, sound production and animations.
  2. FEEDBACK: Groups got helpful feedback and requested any specific assistance or new assets from other collaborators.
  3. OPPORTUNITIES: Deb and Sheridah outlined the schedule for completion, testing, freighting and installation. Project Groups were invited to apply for travel funding to join the SCOOT Crew in the installation and hosting of the event. This was expressly recommended as the collaborators would get the chance to see their works in use and meet the other stakeholders (museum curators, technicians, visitors). This is a great opportunity to learn a lot more about the effectiveness of their practice and possibilities for refinement.

Workshop Three

This workshop was required to insure Project Groups were progressing within SCOOT aesthetic and interaction brand. To manage the SCALE of resources required… and to understand where any further assistance may be required to insure all deadlines will be met.

Resources:

  1. Project Final Proposal Templates: Describing the refined proposal according to feedback from the first workshop and further project group discussions.
  2. SCOOT Prototype Reports: outlining the next phase of project documentation that summarises progress (keeping to the deadlines!) and to assist the Core Crew to coordinate resources (for this project and across all projects), installation (locating it on-site based on narrative relevance, technology and space opportunities) and testing of the project locally and on-site.

Participants:

SCOOT core Crew and Project Groups

Activities:

  1. PROGRESS PRESENTATIONS: Project Groups presented progress made on the various mini-games, installations, sound production and animations.
  2. FEEDBACK: Groups got helpful feedback and requested any specific assistance or new assets from other collaborators.
  3. OPPORTUNITIES: Deb and Sheridah outlined the schedule for completion, testing, freighting and installation. Project Groups were invited to apply for travel funding to join the SCOOT Crew in the installation and hosting of the event. This was expressly rec

Project Groups doing final project demonstrations and tweaks.