Storyboard of User Experience

The short Youtube presentation below charts the app customer, Kevin’s ste-by-step process from purchasing the boxed product to completing the initial investigation/story.

Prototype of Noirscape

The boxed product is sold on the high street in selected specialised stores.

The product’s cover design will be highly stylised to the ‘Noir’ look and feel.

It is clear from the cover illustration that this is a hybrid board-app game.

The localised nature of the product holds special appeal as it provides a bespoke look and feel and a personal connection through the relationship with the consumer’s home town.

FEATURES / FUNCTIONALITY

  • The boxed product is attractively illustrated and crafted
  • The product includes an NFC ID card which allows a radio signal to be detected by the user’s phone from the ID card. This is used to activate the app, so that only people in posession of a card can play. It, is also used to provide hints to the player when they are stuck on an enigma.
  • The smartphone application is available in English and French.
  • The app uses GPS tracking to anchor gameplay in geographic places.
  • 360 degree video with special effects is used to create a sense of immersiveness
  • All features are widely supported by smartphones including budget models

TECHNICAL EXPERIMENTS

Technical experiments have been validated in the following areas:

  • Applying special effects to 360 degree film
  • Applying superimposed footage in a 360 degree film
  • Accessing the 360 footage via Flutter, the cross-platorm app development platform

DESIGN & THEORETICAL JUSTIFICATIONS

  • Familiarity Hypothesis – building a product which is tailored to a user’s home town generates increased curiousity, intrigue, a sense of personal associated; but, also a level of respect and appreciation for the product innovators for acknowledging their town.
  • Thematic Approach – allows for the possibility of future releases of new editions of the product along different themes : Cyberpunk, Medieval, Victorian, etc. I decided to use Film Noir for the prototype primarily because I am personally inspired by the genre but also because it lends itself so well to the embedded narrative of investigating past events, but also the notion of searching and solving enigmas, which is synonomous with escape style games.
  • GPS/Geo – The arrival of smartphones, which are effectively pocket sized computers, has opened up new ways to experience a crossover between different types of spaces, places and narrative.

“The development of mobile technology, global positioning systems (GPS), and augmented reality counters the tendency of computers to lure sedentary users into virtual worlds by replacing simulated environments with real-world settings and by sending users on a treasure hunt in the physical space” [Ryan, Foot & Azaryahu, 2016, pp102]

  • Embedded & Spatialised Narrative Design – an innovative approach to combining storyworlds with the realword using recent smartphone technologies.

“The search for the hidden story takes advantage of the visual resources of digital systems by sending the player on a search for clues hidden in the storyworld” [Ryan, Foot & Azaryahu, 2016, pp108]

“In embedded narrative, space is there to be searched, since it contains the clues to the story that need to be retrieved” [Ryan, Foot & Azaryahu, 2016 pp110]

SHORTCOMINGS OF DESIGN

  • Some older, lower-end devices may not support NCF card reading functionality
  • App requires above average drive space due to 360 degree video media
  • Potential safety/responsability issues concerning public interaction aspect of app (places)
  • Product can be passed on from one user to another potentially without purchase

EXPANSION POTENTIAL

  • Additional releases for other towns including major cities, in France & worldwide
  • New episodes can be developed and added via in-app purchases
  • More Augmented Reality (AR) features
  • Opportunity for users to ‘leave their mark’ with Geo stamped AR.

DESIGN PROCESS NEXT STEPS

  • Build working cross-platform prototype of Noirscape
  • User test in my home town
  • Prepare Crowdsourcing / Kickstarter campaign for furthet towns

“A storyline becomes an option whenever a chronological or a thematic sequential structure is introduced into a spatial arrangement of coesistent elements in the form of routes and paths that direct movement in space” [Ryan, Foot & Azaryahu, 2016, pp158]

SKILLS AUDIT

The app itself, will be built using Flutter, a cross-platform app development framework created by Google. As an app developer, I have been using Flutter for about a year. I have experimented with a range of concepts including machine learning driven games and narrative based educational apps.

The app will require quite advanced video editing skills as it uses 360 degree film and special effects. To address this requirement, I have taken a number of professional Adobe training courses which lead to industry certification by Adobe:

  • Adobe Illustrator – graphic design/icons, etc
  • Adobe Premier – 360 film editing
  • Adobe After Effects – 360 film special effects & animations
  • Adobe Photoshop – photo editing and effects

I recognise shortcomings in respect to my knowledge and skills in respect to the physical boxed product design & production. To address part of this weakness, I have been working with 3D design software to envisage visual aspects to the boxed product. I have also registered for an Adobe InDesign course in January to help with packaging design of the physical product.

I still need to research how to source and manufacture the box and some of the included items. However, I have already purchased samples of NFC cards that will be used for the detective’s ID interactve card. I have researched printing equipment which can be used to illustrate these plastic cards, too.

The project is being managed using Agile methodology via Trello, a popular Kanban app for organising the development into stages while integrating with the user centered design approach alongside personas and the storyboard.

REFERENCES & CREDITS

http://strangetextsbutcher.blogspot.com/2019/09/elements-of-cyberspace-playhouse.html

Walser, Randall. 1990. “Elements of a Cyberspace Playhouse”. Proceedings of the National Computer Graphics Association 1990, Anaheim, CA, 403-410.

RYAN, Marie-Laure, Kenneth E. FOOTE and Maoz AZARYAHU. 2016. Narrating Space/spatializing Narrative : Where Narrative Theory and Geography Meet Columbus: The Ohio State University Press.

ALLEGORIES OF SPACE The Question of Spatiality in Computer GamesEspen Aarseth 2001https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.459.3538&rep=rep1&type=pdf

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/323651616_Augmented_Reality_Applications_for_Substation_Management_by_Utilizing_Standards-Compliant_SCADA_Communication/figures

FONTS : https://fontawesome.com/license

JOURNAL : https://journal.matwright.dev

TRELLO : https://trello.com/b/Ci1fikwZ/town-based-ar-gamification

PRESENTATION : https://adobe.ly/2JxT79x

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