Developing robot head idea 3

Ok, so I’ve had a natter with Mike Blow regarding my concept, and he put forward some ideas for me to consider, namely the interaction with the actual head of the robot, as opposed to the on screen stuff the user has to do. He seemed to think it was a good idea to have the head controlled by an actor- that is to say that that the user would be able to speak freely to the head and expect intelligent responses – because they’d be that of a person. Mike suggested using Skype, and obviously a microphone and possibly webcam setup inside the head so the actor could monitor and respond to the user.

The trouble here is – why would the user want to/have to speak directly to the head? That needs to written into the story and the…game plan? Yeah, let’s call it the game plan. My initial idea was to have the head introduce you to the game plan, and explain that it needs your help to remember how it came to be severed from its body and left for dead. Then maybe it could pipe up with some cryptic speech, or offer clues if the user becomes stuck. Also, I’m quite keen to creep the user out a bit, since my recollection of the super disturbing ‘Play With Me’ interactive video art installation. Why would I want to do that? Because fear is a very strong emotion. If I can gain the users trust at the beginning, and then get them to question whether helping the robot is a good idea or not, and making them sympathetic or mistrustful could be a really interesting thing to explore. I’m keen on emotional gameplay, you see.

As for the design of the head – I’ve been out and about today looking for a suitable toy robot head or mannequin for me to modify to my purposes. Sadly, it seems like the Doctor Who voice changing Cyberman head remains the closest thing I could use – but it’s pricey at thirty quid, and the design is way too distinctive. It seems like a cop-out to simply repaint a toy. Oh, I should mention that the re-purposing of a toy idea came from Sohelia, who spoke to us a while back regarding her amazing interactive art installations. I’m keen to follow in her footsteps a little bit with this project. I really should contact her and see if she can help with the emotional side of the project, and very possibly the technological part too.

When I came home from searching for head, defeated, I took to Ebay for help – again, very little, but there was a nice plastic mannequin head that may serve well – that was when I stumbled upon the skulls. You know, the kind of skulls they use in science class that come apart and are super realistic. I wondered If it might be a good idea to skip over the point in my story that I had originally planned to set this project. You see, in my story, the robots later get upgraded by way of the nanomachines, which bond the machine parts with human parts. So when the user fiddles with my robot head, and pulls away the front piece, a bloodied human jaw could flap lifelessly from within the machine housing – revealing its true monstrous nature. Trouble is, that would mean re-writing the story to fit this – which isn’t really a big deal, as the story isn’t set in stone anyway. But yeah. Just another idea, really.

As for the stuff on the screen, Mike reinforced my ideas about how there could be a product user manual to help the user of the installation out in the beginning, and the hiding of clues within pictures and text. I also thought about using the video clips as the payoff for the game play parts. Looking again at the Donnie Darko website gave me some better ideas about how to present information from a corrupted or confused source. It also occurred to me through looking at that site that if I do decide to say that my robot head is actually part human – that would explain away the idea of seeing the creatures dreams within the on screen stuff. It would also explain a good deal of the data corruption – for when the robots became more human like due to their upgrade, their brains would have gone decidedly bonkers from the fusion of data and human memories, dreams and feelings. So in fact – in terms of my story, that would very much be the final point, after Genus turns into a monster and destroys himself and the city. So maybe the content for the on screen stuff should present a summary of events right from the inception of the robot guards, right through to their destruction. It would have to be a hugely ambiguous tale – but all told from his point of view. Which fits in rather snugly with my interest in exploring different narrative forms for a single story. Chris Kelly summarised it nicely in his presentation for the last project. It was a strange coincidence that we both had similar feelings about how interactive a story could be if you only freed it from conventional story telling methods.

I really need to start outlining these ideas properly, so they can be presented back to my tutors and the class, because I imagine trying to follow this blog is a major headache.


~ by traumatron on November 27, 2007.

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