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I just finished watching Grounded: The Making the Last of Us. If you have played the game and you haven’t seen the film put whatever you are doing down and click play. Not only is it one of the most insightful depictions of the game making process ever created, but it shows the depth of thought possessed by the best designers, artist, and programmers developing games. It eloquently shows the most important aspect of game creation- the emotions that you want to feel as a player should drive every decision that goes into creating a game. Bravo Naughty Dog and Level 5!
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Evening everyone. Last year I received a handful of Disney Inventor Awards. (Three are pictured here and I’m waiting to receive another one or two.) They were given for design work I did on Disney Infinity that resulted in patents for Disney. I’m particularly proud of the award that is shown top center. I received it for conceiving and designing the logic and creativitoy system in the Toy Box.
I also photographed the Disney Employee Recognition award that I received a couple of years ago. I posted about it previously, but at the time Infinity hadn’t been announced so I wasn’t able to say why I received it. The inscription on the award reads-
As part of the Avalanche team working on Disney Infinity, Chad leads and acts with enthusiasm. Chad had a vision for the Toy Box that extended beyond common ground and a drive that allowed him to in essence, change the game. His efforts provided an experience so compelling that the Toy Box is now the centerpiece of the Disney Infinity experience.
It’s kind of funny to me how things change. When I received the award I don’t think anyone had any idea how significant Disney Infinity would be and I certainly didn’t know how, with the help of a lot of people, my little prototype would develop into the centerpiece of the game that helped return Disney Interactive to profitability. It’s a huge honor and blessing to be a part of and I will forever treasure these mementos of my contribution.
On the photography side these shots were a significant challenge to take. By the time I was done I think I used nine light stands, three monolights, two speedlights, five or six flags, and a whole lot of trial and error. I snapped a behind the scenes shot of the setup. If anyone is interested in it let me know and I’ll post it.
Nooooo!!!! They shot this in my secret alley, one of the few places in SLC that actually feels authentically urban. I’ve been shooting here for twenty years. Many a wall texture in Twisted Metal came from this alley. Something tells me it’s never going to be the same.
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Hi everyone. As most people who know me are aware, I’m very passionate about the idea of teaching people, particularly children, how to harness creativity and logic skills. Recently I’ve been reading about academic thought on the subject of teaching these specific skills. Various articles are creeping into mainstream media, (ted.org, wired.com, etc.,) covering the best methods for teaching and in particular I’ve been paying attention to thought relating to teaching children about programming. The consensus seems to be that academia would like to see programming concepts taught at a much younger age. I’m not going to get into that side much. But thinking about this coaxed me out of my cocoon to share some thoughts and I would like to make a request as well.
In Disney Infinity, the entire Creativitoys system inside the Toy Box is our effort to help children learn programming concepts and apply them in a creative way. My belief when I set out to design the logic system was that there is probably no better way to teach children programming concepts than in a mainstream video game. I felt we could essentially sneak in teaching programming concepts in a fun and transparent way.
In Infinity, the, “language,” portion of programming is a magic wand and it works it’s programming magic simply by pointing at various objects and connecting them to each other. In programming terms each object you connect with the magic wand represents a function, operator, or other type of logic controller. By connecting them you create programs, and it scales to handle pretty shockingly complex functionality. It has proven to be a very effective interface or language to teach just about anyone, including children as young as five, to program.
The process of developing the system combined with parsing user data gave us a mountain of insight into the subject of teaching children programming. One of the most shocking observations was that pretty much anyone can program. The easy part of the problem is actually learning the language side. And it doesn’t really matter how old a person is. Within 15 minutes or so I’m pretty confident I can get almost anyone to make their own, “programs,” in Infinity. The takeaway was teaching someone the language of programming isn’t particularly hard if the language isn’t abstract or overtly technical.
By far the most difficult thing to do is to help an individual turn that language understanding into something creative or useful. While it is easy to learn the core functionality it’s very difficult to transition into understanding the potential applications for that understanding. In Infinity I’ve watched countless people connect a trigger plate to a confetti cannon, step on the plate and watch the fireworks. This is a program, but it’s not particularly useful or innovative. However, I haven’t seen too many people do something like this. Why?
This phenomenon where understanding and usefulness don’t necessarily correlate actually parallels both traditional language learning and usage as well as traditional programming. Everyone learns to speak and write but how many of us innovate with it? I think the pinnacle of many individual’s creative writing skills are probably making a shopping list. And how many professional programmers actively engage in writing innovative code to create compelling and valuable applications? What are a legion of students who understand the concepts of programming going to do with it? Will they do more than the average person does with any other primary school taught skill?
So, to me the great challenge is how can educators, parents, and *gasp* video game creators, take a pupil, (or, “player,” as we call them,) by the hand and lead them from understanding programming principles to creatively applying them to create art, solve problems, or simply innovate? And, can we make this process more engaging and, dare I say, fun? Moving towards a better way of doing this is at the core of my responsibilities on our current project. I would love to open a dialog with Infinity players, parents, kids, and academics on how to better accomplish this. If you or someone you know with an expertise in this would be willing to volunteer some insight I would love to start a dialog.
Posted the first couple of making-of videos of my work on Disney Infinity’s Toybox. This one shows how the customization system works within the Toybox and some of the customization sets that I worked on. More to come!
This was put together by Worth Dayley. He is an extraordinarily talented part time artist on Infinity. I’ve mentioned him here before. Worth is the guy who created all of the Tron assets on his own time. He is one of those guys who loves making games, is extremely good at it, and goes above and beyond what is asked. Worth has unlimited potential and he is going to make a fantastic full-time employee for someone. Please check out his portfolio site at http://www.worthdayley.com/.
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So…. Today I spoke with the programmer who showed me how he used the door toy as a logic gate. After he originally worked with the door as a logic gate he changed the Power Switch toy to be a straight up logic gate. It is much better because it doesn’t require a convoluted chain of other toys to work correctly.
The way the Power Switch works is there are four actions on the toy- “on,” “off,” “output,” and “stopped.” There are three behaviors, “on,” “off,” and “input.” The “on,” and “off,” behaviors will open and close the logic gate. If you connect the, “on,” or “off,” actions to something they will fire out a trigger when the, “on,” or “off,” behaviors are set. The, “input,” behavior will query the state of the logic gate and fire an, “output,” action if the switch is, “on,” and a, “stopped,” when it is, “off.” Hopefully I got that all right.
The vernacular on the toy is crazy confusing. The reason is he made the change at the very latest possible moment before we went gold and the Power Switch’s wording was set in stone with language translations and such. He tacked on, “stopped.” He actually did all of this the week I had left on vacation. While it is confusing I’m still glad he did it because confusing is probably better than confusing plus non-existent. Short term we can hopefully get the word out for how it functions and long term we will fix the toy.
I pulled the door based logic gate video off youtube to avoid any further confusion. I apologize for creating the confusion and upsetting people. If I can get time to make a new video for the Power Switch I will.
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