A busy week and no signs of slowing down. As promised this week we’ll look at rituals, brainstorming, pitching, feedback mechanisms and a quick look at the response to studio orientation.
Many of my students are already familiar with a lot of the basics and processes we will use in studio as they have been integrated into Production 1 and other previous trimester units. Specifically they already knew what KPIs were, and that we would use Google Drive for all work (WIP and final).
They had heard about LOs/Baseline but not really understood; they saw them as 23 (your number may vary) assessments that must be completed, this is entirely wrong. They are a minimum threshold of quantity and quality that must be met in a wide range of areas, they must be met before the end of trimester to be eligible for a higher grade than a pass concede but they are not themselves tasks or assignments. They can be met at any time and in any order, they just need to be observed by facilitator and evidenced by the student.
The idea that almost everything is group work but all marked individually had to be explained many times in different ways. The project may fail or do poorly, in many respects this does not matter, what does matter is the work that went into it. “How will you know what belongs to who” came up, we explained that Google Drive has track changes. We also keep track of what each person is working on in class, via their project management, task reporting and them posting evidence on their personal blog.
Holistic assessment for final grade seemed to daze them at first. Explaining what an HD required cleared this up. We discuss this topic in more detail at a later date on this blog.
We got all their blog addresses shared among them and gave them all their own Google Drive folder shared from us. We are the owner of all Google Drive folders and can see everything they are adding and working on.
These will be an ongoing topic throughout the blog series, this week we’ve used;
- Openers/Stand ups
- Normally done only on the first session of the week, it’s a chance to identify any problems that have occurred between classes, and anything ahead or behind of schedule.
- We also open this up to talk about what has been happening in industry recently, this could be a release or an interview or a company opening/closing, tech announced etc.
- Close outs
- The opposite of Openers, normally done at the end of the last session of the week
- What is everyone working on between now and next session
- Is there already something that they have realised they need help with or would like more info about need week
- What are they blogging about this week, sometimes we assign them (more on this in week 2), sometimes they have to nominate something
- Class room behaviour
- Facilitators wear many hats, we are mentor, teacher, team lead, co-worker, producer, executive producer.
- If anyone says a word or uses a phrase or we’re in a context you don’t understand you MUST let us know. It’s OK to not understand something, you’re here to learn, that’s kinda the point. What isn’t OK is to say nothing and reveal that you’ve been lost and doing nothing for weeks.
We want to promote feedback from and to all involved. For pitches and presentations of any kind, we follow the following stages:
A short question that has a short answer. Yes/No questions for sure. It is also intended to get small bits of information that were missed or needed a tiny bit more than was given during the presentation. The response should never be more than 1 short sentence. These are to fill in gaps of understanding that are missing in the person who listened to the presentation. If the answer is unknown that is fine, a simple, ‘I don’t know yet’ is fine, do NOT design on the spot. Similarly if you have an answer but it requires lots of explaining then note it down. This means the presentation needs work, the way that you explain the thing isn’t quite there yet, but you’ll get there next time. This section is purely about providing information to the questioner if it exists, if it does not exist then simply state that it not known yet. It is not a section for defending your current decision or explaining your process.
During presentations we write these down, these are deep questions that seek to prompt new thoughts or deeper understandings in a certain area.
Often during a presentation you have an idea pop into your head that you want to tell the presenter, so they can incorporate it. That’s good, it’s better than you tuning out. However, If you say ‘Hey, your game needs a double jump’, then it is easy for them to either dismiss it or take it on board without really considering it. That’s not how we make the concept stronger, especially when the 20 people in the room all want to add something. So instead you need to figure out why your brain said ‘it needs a double jump’, maybe you were thinking about the level layout they proposed and thought it could make more use of the height given the current proposed camera position. So you would write down a probing question about camera location as it relates to vertical movement or ‘how important is verticality to your game?’
I tend to think about probing questions as adding new nodes to the presenters mind map, it gives them a new thing to build off of and cross link with their existing ideas, both the ones they’ve put in the concept presented and the ones they’ve ruled out or not used yet. You need to be aware that you aren’t simply giving the presenter advice in disguise, don’t try to trick them into embedding your idea, that’s not what we want here.
Specific things about the concept, or whatever it was that was presented, that you liked. These are things that you are basically voting to stay in the concept. Could be things that you feel work well or suit or speak to you personally. The important part here is we want the why behind the positives;
- so they can be considered in future projects
- it can be reinforced for the presenter
- all in attendance why that part works for you
- it may not be for the reasons they intended, they may not have intended it at all.
Further, if it does turn out that the thing you like or something connected to it does need to change the reasoning behind it can be considered and hopefully integrated in some other way. These are normally a short 1 or 2 sentences. Make sure you don’t start telling the presenter what to do with it, at least not yet, just specifically what is it and why it works.
We don’t tend to allow the presenter to respond during warm feedback, merely absorb and make notes.
This is the opposite of warm in that it should be specific things that:
- you don’t feel sit right
- are poor
- need more attention or perhaps need to be dropped entirely.
- Things that don’t mesh or seem irrelevant.
This will also include things that are entirely necessary but aren’t there yet, they need more attention in the next draft. Specifically what isn’t where it should be and why. It may not be that it needs to be changed or removed at all, but giving the feedback can allow the presenter to see they need to change the way they explain the thing, rather than need to change it.
We don’t tend to allow the presenter to respond during cool feedback, merely absorb and make notes. Even if there is cool feedback that is due to a misunderstanding they need to know that and acknowledge it, not fight the person giving the feedback. We’ve found that allowing the presenter to defend against cool feedback gives the wrong impression. It leads less people to want to give the feedback because they think they might be in for a fight. It also makes the presenter brush off the feedback if, in their mind they can argue for why it doesn’t matter.
The conception phase doesn’t have any explicit LOs assigned to it but it is implicit in the process. You need ideas, lots of them and then you work them. Pull them apart put them back together in new ways, pitch concepts to others and use the feedback mechanisms. The intent is to get to a best/better version of the idea and to try to find the obvious realisations as soon as possible, rather than making it because you need to make something.
We recommend mind maps, word associations, and solo and group brainstorming. We also recommend separating pure generation of ideas/concepts/sub parts from determining if they are feasible, cohesive or any good at all in the first place. We don’t want to kill off a line of thought just because at that moment it seems like it doesn’t match the other ideas on the page. The things that spring from that idea might match or its siblings, further, the core idea may shift over time such that it ends up matching. We call these 2 phases expansion and contraction.
Contraction is where you start trying to join different parts of the mind map together to form a cohesive idea, it’s where you can start ruling things out for not fitting or being too large in scope for the time permitted. It is also where you start to see a version 2 list forming, this is a list of all the cool ideas that you wish you could implement but cannot due to time or cost or non-matching, etc.
Pitching is a tough thing to do and very easy to do poorly. Aside from the limits there are a few pointers;
- don’t be a snake oil salesman
- don’t just read a prepared speech
- be excited; if you aren’t excited about the concept then why should anyone else be.
We put limits on how pitches can be done to avoid some of the more obvious short falls.
- Time limits
- You can’t waffle on about every little detail you’ve constructed for your world lore in your Tetris clone in 3 minutes so you need to figure out what is core to your concept and how best to deliver it.
- This also helps with concepting, if you can’t narrow the core down to a clear few minutes then it needs more time to bake; maybe you don’t know what the core actually is yet.
- No text on slides, only a title
- It’s too easy to put your dot point talking notes or entire paragraphs on a slide, this is terrible, it’s not a presentation anymore it’s a pamphlet that is in the wrong medium, it creates a disconnect between speaker and audience and is more often than not boring as you read faster than they speak.
- Images, graphs, diagrams etc. to support or illustrate talking points are far more engaging (multimodal).
- Limited number of slides
- Further assists in cutting down on chaff.
Next week monitoring student progress, play testing, blogs and brief 2.