Waterscape Artists Announced

We are excited to share publicly that we have arranged to work with two talented artists to add the visual elements to the MKE Waterscape game.

Lauren Brown, landscape architect with extensive experience in collaborative watershed visioning and a painterly illustration style, will be joining the team to create illustrated maps for the game scenarios.

Dionna Hayden, artist and designer with a knack for intuitive graphics and a passion for engaging kids, will be joining the team to create User Interface art and design elements.

We couldn't be happier to work with these two talented women and look forward to everyone experiencing the fruits of their labor in June 2018.

Stay tuned for other exciting news as well. Things are churning in a positive direction!

 Thanks to Harbor District Inc.'s Tony Giron, Milwaukee Water Commons' Anne Bohl, and School of Freshwater Sciences' Brennan Dow for recently playtesting the "Past" level of our game. 

Thanks to Harbor District Inc.'s Tony Giron, Milwaukee Water Commons' Anne Bohl, and School of Freshwater Sciences' Brennan Dow for recently playtesting the "Past" level of our game. 

Playtest Persistence

We continue to playtest the MKE Waterscape game with adults in April to prepare for playtesting with kids in May.

Riveredge Nature Center educators gave the game a go recently. Excited about the multiple levels of engagement, they started to envision ways the game could connect with middle-school and high-school curriculum, an effort we will be inviting teachers to explore more deeply this summer.

We also connected with some talented illustrators who will be creating the artistic maps and iconography for the game.

The Augmented Reality table was also on the road again, including at the MPS STEM Fair at Miller Park. And coming up, we'll be demonstrating the table up at Riveredge for their STEM Into Nature event May 3-5.

http://www.riveredgenaturecenter.org/techandnature/

IMG_4446.JPG

Preparing UI art design

Our team has been busy with behind-the-scenes work related to the imagery that will ultimately appear in the game.

We are also continuing our Friday pizza playtests and looking forward to some exciting announcements in the coming weeks.

The AR sandbox itself will be taking another journey next week, this time to the MPS STEM Fair in Miller Park. 

 Bryn shows off the fabulous draft User Interface concept.

Bryn shows off the fabulous draft User Interface concept.

 Although our Augmented Reality game will ultimately be played in the space above a flat white surface, the projection looks pretty dang cool on the sand.

Although our Augmented Reality game will ultimately be played in the space above a flat white surface, the projection looks pretty dang cool on the sand.

42 Ale House game developers meetup

Amid the ecstatic din of the 42 Ale House party room--people playing board games, card games, bar games, and a variety of awesome video games all made by local designers--five more brave souls playtested the MKE Waterscape paper prototype.

Last time, we tested the "Past" level of five scenarios. This time at the Miltown Game Developers meetup we tested the "Present" level. (Our humble jar of washers reprised their role as currency tokens.)

Revisions over the past week included trimming back the roles to five, rebalancing the game economy, clarifying player skills, and refining the scenario language.

We noticed players diving into their roles and having some fun with the simple role-play. Player feedback from this group of game fans was critical but insightful, with suggestions for us to amp up the player competition and further empower some of the roles.

We're looking forward to making these and more adjustments as we prepare for next week's playtest on Friday, April 6 with Riveredge Nature Center educators.

Also, we're looking for a programmer fluent in C# and the Unity 3D engine to help make this game to be played on Reflo's Augmented Reality table.

 Thanks to everyone who shared time and feedback. We appreciate it!

Thanks to everyone who shared time and feedback. We appreciate it!

On the road at the Youth Green Jobs Summit

 August Ball (center) makes it rain.

August Ball (center) makes it rain.

 Jose Basaldua shows the table off to youth at the first-ever green jobs expo.

Jose Basaldua shows the table off to youth at the first-ever green jobs expo.

 Adults thought it was pretty cool too...

Adults thought it was pretty cool too...

 Our fearless leader, Justin Hegarty, gives new meaning to the phrase "in the cloud."

Our fearless leader, Justin Hegarty, gives new meaning to the phrase "in the cloud."

We took the Augmented Reality Waterscape table on the road for the first time to the inaugural Youth Green Jobs Summit organized by August Ball and Cream City Conservation Corps (C4) and hosted by the Wisconsin Black Historical Societ on March 15, 2018.

The table ignited the curiosity of over hundred people, many of them area students. The awe and excitement glowed on their faces as Reflo's Jose Basaldua and game designer Bryn Summers shared the story of the table. 

At first some people were tentative about touching the sand to change the virtual watershed contours, but soon they were building mountains, craters, lakes, valleys, and canals of their own devising--not to mention exerting the power to make it rain with nothing but their outspread fingers!

Youth who participated in the first-ever Milwaukee summit connected with local environmental nonprofits to forge connections and learn about career pathways right here in Milwaukee. It was a high-energy day, with high school youth charged to "take over" the city's water, energy, food, soil, and natural spaces sectors not only for jobs but so their voices are represented in decisions affecting our city's relationship to the environment.

C4's August Ball reminded the audience that young people have always driven epochal change by demanding it. Addressing the young people, she declared her hope and her challenge that they not only participate to find job pathways but also to transform our society: "You are not just our future. You are our now." 

Our team coordinated to transport, set up, and calibrate the AR table off-site. We joked throughout the process about our "SOP"--standard operating procedures--regarding transporting this novel and bulky device, which requires a bit of disassembly and reassembly. Things we learned: bring hand sanitizer and a hand broom. 

All in all, transport worked fairly well.

Friday, March 16 features the first formal playtest of our paper prototype role-playing game. If you or a group are interested in participating in future playtests, drop us a line!

A little help from our friends

Thursday the team was visited by game developer Ross Klettke, who expressed interest in learning more about the Milwaukee Waterscape game based on our conversation at the February meetup. Ross is excited to release his team's own game, BombSworders, on console in the the coming months. (Congratulations, Ross and team, on this great accomplishment!)

We were excited to share our thoughts, process, and current concepts with Ross to toss around some ideas. Hopefully our excitement was contagious. We arranged for a social paper playtesting session next Friday, March 16 at Arts @ Large. (If you would like to playtest the game and help make it awesome, drop us a line!)

Much of this week's work focused on wrangling together the list of needed art and UI (user interface) assets. Then we did some conceptualized sketches of how these assets can relate on the AR table. 

Our upcoming task list now includes articulating scopes of work for game programmer and game artist, identifying reference imagery for all assets, prepping playtestable cards, and exploring technical options regarding Unity, Google Earth, and Linux.

 Bryn Summers walks Ross Klettke through our character role concepts. Each character possesses two special abilities.

Bryn Summers walks Ross Klettke through our character role concepts. Each character possesses two special abilities.

 Justin Hegarty discusses the AR hardware with Ross Klettke. The current iteration of the table is the tip of the iceberg of possibilities.

Justin Hegarty discusses the AR hardware with Ross Klettke. The current iteration of the table is the tip of the iceberg of possibilities.

 The visual core of our game concept is an overhead map of Milwaukee that evolves as players make choices that affect the collective "waterscape." We've devised 15 role-play scenarios inspired by Milwaukee's actual water history and the drivers of change identified in the Great Lakes Futures Project. In the game, there are five scenarios per level representing past, present, and future.

The visual core of our game concept is an overhead map of Milwaukee that evolves as players make choices that affect the collective "waterscape." We've devised 15 role-play scenarios inspired by Milwaukee's actual water history and the drivers of change identified in the Great Lakes Futures Project. In the game, there are five scenarios per level representing past, present, and future.

Making of a Game...

 Game designer Bryn Summers considers the balance between user interface and art assets for MKE Waterscape on the AR Table.

Game designer Bryn Summers considers the balance between user interface and art assets for MKE Waterscape on the AR Table.

Our team met again this week to create the role-playing game's simulated economy and work through how different roles will have different special abilities.

We used a jar of washers we found in the Arts @ Large basement to stand in for in-game currency.

This allowed us a quick-and-dirty test of the basic mathematical relationships for how roles interact with scenario choices.

 

 Although we're building a digital game, there's nothing like paper, pencil, and physical objects to work through a prototype. In a few weeks, the paper prototype will be ready for playtesting. Drop us a line if you want to try it out!

Although we're building a digital game, there's nothing like paper, pencil, and physical objects to work through a prototype. In a few weeks, the paper prototype will be ready for playtesting. Drop us a line if you want to try it out!

If you or someone you know is fluent in Linux coding and would like to help create this awesome Augmented Reality role-playing experience, let us know. 

Game Developers Sought!

On Thursday, Feb. 22, Michael Timm shared the MKE Waterscape Table Game design vision with the Miltown Game Developers Meetup at the offices of PKWARE.

It was a fun evening learning about some other exciting projects going on around town surrounded by a dozen very smart, intense, creative, fun-loving people.

If you are or know a local developer interested in being part of a cool project to inspire the next generation, we're looking for someone with a passion for niche projects to help with some contract work. We're seeking people with talent for any of the following: gesture control, symbol recognition, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Linux, 3D graphic design, Unity, Google Earth, HTML, and KML.

In a few months, we'll also be hungry for playtesters for early versions of our game.

IMG_4010.JPG

Drop us a line!

mtimm@refloh2o.com

About the MKE Waterscape Table

With the support of Fund for Lake Michigan and Brico Fund, Reflo teamed with Arts @ Large and Bradley Tech high school students to create the mobile MKE Waterscape Table. ... This exciting table is a perfect engagement tool for K-12 educators both within STEM/STEAM and social studies/ELA. It's local. It connects art and science. It uses gameplay to motivate discovery of local water history and inspire discovery about hidden water stories.