GAMEWELLFaculty: Ali Mazalek
Team Member(s): Tatum Clanton, Daniel Gibson, Andy Korzik, Elijah O'rear, Ari Velazquez, Peter Watanabe, Stephanie Yang
Computational Media senior Ari Velazquez introduces the Gamewell project.
Please briefly explain the project. What is it about?
Gamewell is a gaming platform for table-top computing technologies. We aim to create collaborative and competitive games that utilize two features of our table computer: multi-touch fingertip recognition and trackable tagged objects. We use Microsoft's XNA developer environment and libraries to develop our games because it allows us to abstract a lot of the trivial technical details and get straight to the core design.
Who are the team members?
Tatum Clanton, Daniel Gibson, Andy Korzik, Elijah O'Rear, Peter Watanabe, Stephanie Yang, and myself, Ari Velazquez, are students in Computational Media. The project is directed by Dr.Ali Mazalek.
What is your role in the project?
As the Project Manager of Gamewell, I am responsible for organizing and leading the weekly meetings, assigning tasks for each group member (including myself), making sure people are working on schedule. I also take part in the design and development of our games.
How long have you been working on this project?
I have been working on this project since January 2008, after taking Dr.Ali Mazalek's course in the Fall of 2007.
What does a typical week like in this project?
A typical meeting starts with everyone gathering around our table computer. I quickly recap what happened during the last meeting and recite what everyone was expected to do for the current meeting. We then go around so each team member can show what was done, and give constructive feedback. An example would be showing off a new iteration of a game to test out the maximum number of objects we can throw on the screen at once. After each person speaks, I give them a task for the following week to keep up a proper progression. Afterward, Dr. Mazalek adds any announcements she has.
Why do you like working for this project?
I love working on Gamewell because on top of enjoying creating games, this sort of technology doesn't have much support from the "big players" in the field of gaming, and I feel that we are potentially pioneering something grand and new. How obvious is it to play games on a social platform such as a table-top computer? We get to focus directly on the design of each game we develop as our research group is 100 percent devoted to it.
What are the biggest challenges with this project?
The largest challenges that we come across generally lie in the technical capabilities of the table itself. Dr.Ali Mazalek's Synlab team members built the table-top computer themselves, so the detection isn't always as spot-on as it could be. But the table only gets better as we progress; we learn new methods or configurations and upgrade pieces of the table to higher-quality equipment.
Aside from the technical challenges, we come across design challenges as well due to the self-imposed constraints of using both the finger-touch and physical tagged object tracking. In the end, however, the constraint fosters much more interactive and immersive play.
Is there any other thing you would like to mention about the project?
One of the goals of this project is to standardize our developing environment and create a public application programming interface (API) for anyone to download and create games for the Gamewell. Also, we demo our new work at every Digital Media Demo Day, so come stop by the TSRB next time and check us out!
Prepared by Tanla Bilir