Join us for a Thursday evening playtest of a cool new game!
Hooray! Yesterday we debuted the MKE Waterscape Game at the Green Schools Conference at Fernwood Montessori School in beautiful Bay View!
Over the next few weeks we're tidying up bugs and fine-tuning the Augmented Reality interface.
Stay tuned for more photos and an invitation to playtests later this summer.
Our team is working furiously to bring you a demo of an amazing new game where five players explore and co-create Milwaukee's waterscape as you've never seen before.
Start in the past and play through scenario stories inspired by real history that shape how our city evolved in its relationship with water.
Play one of five characters who bring distinct perspectives that can be cause for harmony or conflict...
The game is intended for ages 13 and up. We are excited about sharing it with educators passionate about new ways to engage the next generation.
Experience our relationship to Milwaukee's ongoing water story in a new, fun way.
Two weeks until we debut the table game at the Green Schools Conference at Fernwood Montessori School in beautiful Bay View on Thursday, June 14!
There are still event tickets available here!
Meantime, our team has been hard at work pulling everything together for the demo.
Lauren Brown has completed an richly interlocking suite of beautifully illustrated maps that transport our players to historic Milwaukee in much the same way readers of Tolkien are transported to Middle Earth.
Our User Interface art is almost complete. Allow us to tantalize you with some of the bold iconography artist Dionna Hayden has crafted to signify some our game's character roles. We think they're vivid, clear, and engaging.
At the conference, we will be presenting the three phases of Reflo's Milwaukee Water Stories program: the Milwaukee Community Map, the Augmented Reality sandbox table, and the MKE Waterscape game. The game will be showcased on a smartboard in the exhibition space so anyone who wants to can see it and play around with how it will work.
Ultimately, one way the game will be played is on the AR table using special cards that our players will use to make choices in the game like whether to evict fishermen to expand a factory, build a dam to construct a canal, or dig a new harbor mouth or keep the old one. Through role-play, the game is a way to explore the actual choices our forebears made over a century ago, leaving as their legacy our present waterscape. The game puts the choices in our hands: what kind of future waterscape will we create together? What are the costs of those choices?
We are pleased to introduce Mike Rea, the newest member of our game design team.
Mike joins us as principal game developer, which means he'll be crafting the code that makes our game go.
He has some great ideas about solving the trickier programming challenges we've come across throughout our design process, and we are confident in his Unity game design expertise, his unfazed approach to problem-solving, and his can-do attitude.
While many of you will be kicking back for the holiday weekend, we're kicking into high gear to prepare for our prototype demo at the June 14 Green Schools Conference at Fernwood Montessori School in Bay View! (Tickets are still available but the event is filling up fast, so don't miss your opportunity to be among the first to see the prototype while learning from an innovative community motivated by creating greener, healthier schools.)
With a month to go before we share our game prototype at the Green Schools Conference June 14, our team is humming with positive energy, and we're excited to share it with you!
Level 1 of the MKE Waterscape game takes place in Milwaukee's past, with dramatic scenarios inspired by actual history.
Together (or not!) five players make choices that create alternate pasts, presents, and futures of our city and our water.
Enjoy a sneak peek of some of Lauren Brown's game board artwork as we advance toward completion of the first level of our role-playing game.
Can you identify some of the areas depicted below?
Can you imagine how things might have developed differently than they have?
Do you know what occupies this land (and water-)scape today?
Our team has been busy making progress on several fronts.
We're pleased to share some images showing the process of creating art assets that will integrate with the map layer of our game.
Artist Dionna Hayden shared some draft sketches that are evolving into iconography for our game.
To right are some draft sketches by Lauren Brown for our historically inspired Milwaukee's "Past" Level 1.
The game design programming is also coming along and we look forward to sharing more updates in the weeks to come. Mark your calendars for June 14 and the Green Schools Conference!
While our artists are hard at work refining draft designs for the next iteration of our game, Reflo is proud to be part of Riveredge Nature Center's STEM Into Nature event, showcasing the Augmented Reality Milwaukee Waterscape Table.
Dozens of students of all ages engaged with the table, learning how landforms affect water flow (and in turn quality), what it means to be a watershed, how basins interconnect or divide the way for waste or invasive species, and, let's face it, just had a great time collaboratively making interactive formations in the sand.
There's something transfixing about this tactile engagement and the gather-round-friends-to-co-create-something aspect that never ceases to paint smiles on faces young and old. We've observed a magic in this most human of interactions. And we are pleased to share the platform for this experience with audiences throughout our area watersheds in order to foster a greater sense of watershed citizenship.
Citizenship starts with awareness of rights and responsibilities. Awareness ignites upon inspiration. Inspiration sometimes requires an intervention. In this case--something as simple as a sandbox is igniting the imaginations of a new generation of watershed citizens.
Onwards (or should I say, downstream!)!
Come visit--the table will be on display at STEM Into Nature through Saturday, May 5.
Our team added Lauren Brown and Dionna Hayden to the project this week.
During an intensive workshop at Arts @ Large, we considered some historic reference maps and drilled into what the various "Past" level scenarios will look and feel like. It was exciting to see Lauren plunge in and breathe a new dimension of life into our plans.
Our game exposes how humans transformed the Milwaukee waterscape and invites consideration of how those choices were made and how alternate choices could have led to divergent outcomes. The workshop was all about aligning the game's vision and design with an artistic sense of interactive cartography.
Our game also invites players to bring different perspectives to the table by role-playing one of five different characters who choose how the Milwaukee waterscape evolves. Dionna's insights on how to represent those characters and their special abilities to our middle-grade and high-school audience will be key in creating smooth, enjoyable gameplay.
We love the insights and expertise Lauren and Dionna have already brought to the process and look forward to sharing a sneak peek at these talented artists' work in the coming weeks!
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!
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.
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.
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.
Our team will be hosting four playtests of the MKE Waterscape game afternoons in April on the following Fridays:
Contact Michael Timm at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for this fun, free way to spend a few hours with lunch provided. Feedback from playtest sessions will improve our game.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Drop us a line!
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.