Transmission 22.1: CALIFORNIA GAMING I
Here come insights and behind the scenes from our futures practice! Travelers use these transmissions to know what we're up to, and potential travelers to know what to expect when time traveling.
This transmission is our first story investigating the Discovery stage of our process and its intertwines with our client's Production. Part 1 out of 3.
We are breaking this case into 3 transmissions, to be broadcasted as follows:
22.1 Thursday April 27th
22.2 Thursday May 11th
22.3 Thursday May 25th
As some of you have experienced, our innovation process is influenced by nature and objects. Nature is change > We seek to explore change with our clients > We turn to nature.
From Bruno Munari's Design as Art:
"… People go to nature looking for images such as these static things, whereas an apple is in fact a moment in the process from apple-seed to tree, blossom, fruit. In nature nothing is still. The idea of nature fixed at 1 June 1969 or a face fixed at thirty-two years and eight days old is completely unreal; quite apart from the fact that if we stop nature we shall never be able to understand her.”
“When we fly over the Pole we see a sunset that lasts for hours, and then slowly changes into dawn. Sunset and dawn are the same thing; day and night are both continuous in the world. They never stop. What kind of art can tell us about these facts of nature? (…). Think of a tree when it is a seed, and then imagine it tall and green and flowering, laden with fruit. (…). All this is nature and nature is all of this, not just one moment of it.”
Our recent work for a gaming company has given us the opportunity to reflect on the Nature in our process. We sell our process as a response to a quest for growth or adaptability, but ultimately, we sell an evolution of our process–– a process of our clients' own, which eventually should also be understood as natural, “always changing”; and its foundations start in Discovery.
“The programmed art of today aims to show forms while they are in the process of becoming, and for this reason it cannot use forms such as painting and sculpture use. On the contrary, its means must be dynamic, and it must be prepared to make full use of motors and other industrial materials.
What really counts is the information which a work of art can convey, and to get down to this we have to abandon all our preconceived notions and make a new object that will get its message across by using the tools of our own time.”
This latest exploration is also shedding light on what our type of art–design in the Discovery stage shows. The artifacts we use to deliver Discovery aim to convey "answers in the process of becoming", thus the artifacts are dynamic and use available materials to contain information that gets the message across.
This is a 3-part story about DISCOVERY and PRODUCTION as natural elements,
and we will point to the balance [artifacts] between these two opposing forces
that are sometimes equal and contrary,
like sunrise and sundown.
We will explore the story through 3 artifacts:
“Not Walking On Eggshells” – “A R G C A T” – “Airtable”,
one per transmission.
Depending on the development of a working prototype for
“Not Walking On Eggshells”, we might switch “Airtable” for it.
These are possibilities for growth using worldbuilding and futures design.
For Winter and Spring 2023 we were hired by a global video game commerce company headquartered in California to deliver Discovery on what so far have been these tracks:
Worldbuilding and sharing that world online with early adopters;
An alternate reality game (ARG);
Experience design for the entrance hall at Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2023 in SF.
In a team of 8 for a company of 700, The Time Travel Agency's focus has been in discovering futures so the team can place them in their vision's timeline, which includes Today (Q1, Q2), Near (Q3, Q4), and Far Future (5 years). Let’s go!
ARTIFACT ONE: “NOT WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”
At one point, content producers have to start sharing the world being made. “World Transfer” during Discovery is scary because content is still experimental, but needs to be tested to discover early adopters.
Another challenge of this stage is a lack of specific stories to be told, especially by those who didn’t invent the world. By specific we mean needs such as “a list of 25 tweets” or “a list of 25 Instagram replies to engage with players”. For this aim, we have to rely on process: from narrative design to publication.
“Not Walking On Eggshells” is a tool of writing, a sort of Production line of story, from storymaker to storyteller. It is an artifact to transfer knowledge, and to induce confidence and courage to producers.
This artifact is an object, but it is also, of course, a process, and choosing a verb for its name reminds us of it (and of change, and of nature).
It is called “Not Walking On Eggshells” because using it does not threaten the storyworld, it just pushes the work forward, all the way to our Brand Director, who is accepting/vetoing final releases.
Here’s how it works!
Producer picks one from the many storylines provided. It is not possible to see the content before picking a paper, which = randomness which = freedom.
They can choose without worrying about lack of context or doing the wrong thing: all they need to know is what’s in the prompt; the rest is their skill.
The different bubbles (and their color) represent the variety of content available (we have experience design ideas, ARG event scores, durational content, campaign content, tweets…)
The size of the board represents the vastness of content available.
There is tech support for this machine! A QR code in one of the sides lets producer consult with the lore keeper or one of the writers if need be.
The motion = one piece taken, one piece replaced. Ongoing seemingly forever.
Here’s an image that DALL-E made to represent concept, size, and diversity of items:
… and a bunch of extras while it was getting a hold of the ask. They can be used to expand on the artifact–process :D
There’s a chance that “Not Walking On Eggshells” (a rapid prototype at this stage) becomes a working prototype by the third transmission of this series (May 25th). If that’s the case, we’ll bring you that creature’s development instead of “Airtable” (GDC)!
Here are behind the scenes of the behind the scenes:
During our own Discovery at the studio, we held on to narrative shape (e.g. tools to get there: Twisty Little Passages; Plus and Minus; Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design and Pattern in Narrative), and then took the lore keeper’s Storyworld as well as the Product Designer’s Content Architecture diagram.
A draft of a Cinematic Universe emerged.
A sculpture to contain the Storyworld was chosen.
To help visualize and keep track of narrative shape and more pieces (storytracks), we chose a “moving sculpture” for our lore keeper during Playpen sessions: “a giant moving sculpture containing all our storyworld– different parts of the same world are seen depending on where any team member stands”. Bruno Munari’s Macchina Inutile mobile from 1984 served as the example.
Every time travel process is different and custom-made.
These 3 transmissions is how Discovery went for this team.
On the next transmission: ARGs.
See you on Thursday May 11th!
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We are a speculative design and innovation studio helping to build futures where people feel happy to be alive. Our services in discovery and front-end innovation allows us to develop and implement new products, services, and processes; help organizations of all sizes to be at ease with a changing present or future; and facilitate imaginative experiences that drive growth.
If what we do resonates with you or one of your peers get in touch through this form and let’s explore dreaming and building together.