For the last two weeks, we monkeys have been busy creating a set of storyboards for our mighty King Kong in Town idea. A long discussion was set on the topic of where the King Kong in Town idea will be installed and what purpose should it serve. It has come to our mind that King Kong in Town shall help relieve some stress or be a platform to let some steam off. This is the kind of approach where we already have a solution and we were looking for a problem, which can be solved by our solution (as is the case with most monkeys’ research projects).
Hence, the target group will be monkeys at workplace (office, or even libraries). We imagined that when the working monkeys have been having hard day coupled with a lot of stress at work, they might find it quite entertaining to let some steam off and admire the mighty King Kong.
Now the question is how could we provide the most entertainment value to these poor working monkeys, and how the King Kong should be presented. This discussion was split up in two major questions, each of which was provided with two potential answers. The questions in play were:
- Should King Kong have a life-expectancy? (The question of K.O.-System)
- Yes, even the mighty King Kong is a mortal creature. (Hit points-based)
- No, the majestic King Kong should rule the world! (Time-based)
- Should King Kong stay forever in the town? (The question of end-game scenario)
- Yes, King Kong can stay wherever he wants for as long as he likes! (No limit, difficulty will be increased exponentially)
- No, King Kong will fall in love with a female human and move back to the jungle with her. (Building limited, on top of the building, Kong and the female will fall in ♥ with each other)
Since we were monkey-arguing too much on these matters, which involved a lot of banana-throwing and pineapple-smashing, we have decided to let the potential users to take a decision for us. Let us hear what the other monkeys’ expectations are if they were acting as the great King Kong. However, before conducting the interviews, we need to help the other monkeys understand our mighty King Kong in Town idea by presenting them with some storyboards (we have to apologise beforehand for the poor quality of drawing, please understand that we monkeys are not that skilled in art). Here are the proposed storyboards:
- Storyboard with no life-expectancy and no end-game limit.
- Storyboard with life-expectancy and princess as the end-game limit.
We could only hope that the other monkeys would be open to our idea and able to provide us with crucial feedback. Only then could we decide on the King Kong in Town idea-design.
After designing the interview questions (the questions are in German but if you require an English translation, you can leave a comment down below and we will get back to you), we embarked on a journey to interview the other monkeys in the neighbour jungles. Naturally, we kept in mind the interview guidelines taught to us two weeks ago, such as concrete but monkey-friendly questions, avoiding direct questions without warm up questions, and many others.
Our warm up questions involved asking the monkeys whether they are working and/or studying and whether they would like the idea of playing a game during a break-time between their work- or study sessions. Afterwards we would ask the monkeys about the King Kong in Town application itself, which includes what the monkeys believe in; the mighty immortal Kong who is only limited by time or the mortal Kong who could be defeated by human beings; and whether the monkeys would agree on the idea of Kong falling in love with a female human being. Obviously there are also some unimportant questions such as would the monkeys be interested in the idea of mini-games in King Kong in Town application, would they be intrigued/challenged by the idea of different difficulty levels, etc. To round-up the interview, we would present some cool off questions to the monkeys, for instance would the monkeys use this application at work, would they enjoy watching other monkeys use the application, would they be interested in sharing the application with other monkeys (multiplayer) and what other critics/comments/tips/tricks they could have.
We interviewed three monkeys last week (initials are used instead of full name for obvious privacy reasons): JD, JW, and GT.
♠♠ JD ♠♠ (original transcript) (empathy map)
Our first interview starts with JD. He is a 27 years old research scientist who is currently pursuing his PhD title in computer science at the TU Berlin. Naturally, when he is pressed under strict deadlines with a big workload, he tends to get stressed easily and to relieve this stress, he would take some short time-offs to take his mind off like coffee breaks with his colleagues. JD also likes to keep himself fit by doing sports in his spare time. When asked about his experience with interactive displays, he claimed that he has used one before, which guided him through stores in a shopping mall.
JD is not a real gamer-monkey (despite the fact that he recently bought a PS4) since he usually spends no more than 2 hours straight up playing games (boo~) and again, being a believer in fitness, he plays mostly sport games and couple of “jump and run-“games such as Assassin’s Creed. “I play games when I feels like it, not necessarily because I’m bored” is what JD answered when asked about the reason of him playing video games. Moreover, he would feel more comfortable if public interactive display games were played anonymously (without audience or passersby recognizing the player). Thus, as long as the game is kept anonymous, JD has no problem whatsoever acting like a silly monkey pretending to be King Kong in front of the audience.
When we showed JD our storyboards, he prefers the time-limited King Kong in Town version (JD doesn’t believe that Kong can be defeated by mere mortal human beings). However, he didn’t completely disagree on the life-expectancy Kong version and even gave us some suggestions such as that Kong should face his arch-enemy before meeting the princess and that between each level a bonus level could be presented for the players to collect some bonus points. On the other hand, JD explained us with his preferences on the time-limited version, such as: the game should start at an according difficulty level (depending on some criteria such as age or body height of the player); this difficulty level should increase exponentially as the game progresses; and it would be cool if Kong could collect some power ups that would make him invulnerable for a limited time. Furthermore an OpenID feature (linking a player’s high score to his/her Facebook profile) might be interesting to some users.
If he were allowed a large enough space, JD would prefer to use his whole body to play King Kong in Town (arms to block harmful objects, or even feet for some special moves such as kicking harmful objects away for extra points or stomping the ground to shake the building) instead of just a certain part of his body. Assuming that the game is fun enough for him, JD would attempt to climb on top of the high score board. Other than that, JD’s thought about different scenery (buildings, areas in-game) is that they are not necessary but could prove to be nice visual enhancements.
Upon finishing the interview, JD left a couple of interesting remarks: when he thought about a monkey and a building, the first thing that came on to his mind is that the monkey will climb the building instead of attempting to bring it down. Thus, to avoid this misinterpretation, some characters could be chosen instead of the majestic and mighty King Kong like Super Mario, Donkey Kong, Yoshi (but seriously, which monkey would choose an Italian plumber over the great King Kong). JD also suggested some other more generic title for the game to further avoid the association of a climbing monkey (how dare you put King Kong at the same level as a monkey, King Kong is his own species!). And so our interview with JD ended and we moved on to the next monkey..
♠♠ JW ♠♠ (original transcript) (empathy map)
We moved on to the next interview with JW, a 24 years old student at the Universität der Künste (UDK) Berlin who is studying Social and Business Communication. Her study is bounded with a lot of project works and on top of that, she is working part time so she tends to get pretty stressed out during the week. Due to this, she has learned that time-offs and breaks are crucial to handle the amount of stress she is experiencing. Most the time she tries to take her mind off by chatting with friends about topics unrelated to work or study. On the other hand, she doesn’t reject the idea of taking a break which involves body movements. JW claimed that she has never interacted with a public interactive display but has ever seen some.
JW plays video games occasionally, but mostly multiplayer and sometimes single-player. She pointed out the example of a single-player game (Karaoke) which is short and thus everyone can take turns even when they couldn’t play together. JW said that she plays video games to take her minds off as well as to reduce her stress level. “Sure, why not. As long as nobody is disturbed and I don’t look like a fool then I would, gladly” is what JW answered when asked whether she would play interactive games in the public.
JW, like the rest of us monkeys, believes in the immortality of King Kong and she prefers the time-limited version of our idea. She didn’t agree with the idea of King Kong staying forever in town since she would want the feeling of having achieved something in the end of her game session. Moreover, she disliked the idea of having the difficulty level adjusted according to the player’s age or body height (or some other criteria for that matter) because she thought that since she has always been the worst player in any games, if the game is set to match her difficulty level, it would not be really entertaining for other better players. However, she agreed with the idea of increasing the difficulty level proportionally to the time spent in the game. Kong’s abilities to block objects and punching stuffs as well as mini-games sounded quite funny to her. JW does not care about high scores and she would prefer something “non-standard” as a high score board (something other than mere numbers). Putting her pictures on the high score board is not something she would do, unless she could do it with her group (again her emphasis on multiplayer feature). Aside from that, various building designs and views matter much more for JW than games functionality (JW is a visually oriented monkey).
Rounding up the interview, JW commented on keeping the game and story simple enough as well as making the game capable to entertain a group of people (be it multiplayer- or short single-player mode). “When can I try this game?” is the last word of JW’s interview. We monkeys are definitely excited upon hearing such words from eager users.
As the day moves on, we journey to other end of the jungle to meet with GT for another interview..
♠♠ GT ♠♠ (original transcript) (empathy map)
Our last interview is with GT, a chemical engineer. He said that his working place has a relaxing atmosphere (probably filled with as many bananas as he wants), and thus, he is rarely stressed out. Time offs for GT means mostly coffee breaks or snacking & chatting with colleagues. GT has seen interactive public displays but never used/interacted with one before. However, on the bright side, GT is a passionate console gamer and he plays mostly actions shooters and strategy games. How much time he spends on playing a game straight up depends on how good the game in itself is and when GT was asked about the reasons he plays game he said, “Gaming is like watching a movie except that you can influence the story”. Even though GT never interacted with public displays before, he has already played Wii in public so he has no objection towards people watching him (i.e., anonymity is not an issue for him).
Regarding King Kong in Town GT prefers the time-limited version and claimed that he would like to play this version with an ultimate ending to it, such as when the player has the sight of the beautiful princess, the game becomes a race against time to collapse the building as fast as possible. If, and only if, the player succeeded in collapsing the whole building, he would get to meet the princess and thus earn the big fat bonus points in doing so. On the other hand, GT likes the idea of difficulty level that increases proportionally to the time spent on the game, whereby the end of the “easy” difficulty level could be the start of the “medium” difficulty level, and analogue for the “medium” and “hard” difficulty level. Furthermore, GT dislikes the idea that the difficulty level is adjusted according to the players (age or body height) because this would mean that a naturally-skilled player would be disregarded.
Kong’s abilities such as blocking harmful objects with his arms sounds interesting to GT and he even proposed a suggestion that perhaps there could be some power ups such as “boxing gloves” which can only be obtained if the player reached out his/her hands to capture the gloves, or even “special boots” and “special helmet” which could only be obtained if the player capture the items with the corresponding body parts (i.e., boots with the legs and helmet with the head). Moreover, GT would like to spice up the game by having the players avoiding huge rocks that fall from the top of the building, which then could be destroyed by the player if he/she were in the possession of the “boxing gloves”.
Various scenery and types of building sounds good to GT and it would provide some good variation to the game, which could also be associated with different difficulty levels. When asked about multiplayer aspect, GT would like it to be some sort of a versus mode where the players are racing each other to collapse their buildings and to meet the princess. “A short tutorial at the start of the game would not hurt”, added GT. As his last remark, GT said that he would like to see some statistics at the end of the game (e.g., how many rocks are destroyed, how many bombs are avoided, did the player meet the princess, etc.) and that the story should be kept simple as it is a casual game after all.
Interview Findings & Design Principles
After the interviews, we monkeys are quite surprised at how important the multiplayer feature is for the potential users. Apparently they don’t want to be playing alone as the mighty Kong but rather together with other monkeys. All three interviews agreed upon the idea of immortal mighty Kong whereby the difficulty level should be increased proportionally to the time spent in the game. There is a great remark from JD about adjusting the difficulty level based on some criteria (age or body height of the users) but this remark is rather disliked by the other interviewees due to various reasons. Various scenery and building designs could be associated with different difficulty levels and it would also provide a diversity in the visual aspect of the game. Moreover, we are also amazed by how eager the interviewees are to use their whole body to enact the mighty King Kong. So, long story short, we determined three design principles that are utterly important for us:
- Multiplayer feature is absolutely essential!
- Kong is immortal and is only limited by time!
- Full body movement support to guarantee absolute satisfaction of the users!
And that was the summary of what happened to the five monkeys during the last two weeks. Let us see where our journey would bring us next week!
Ugghhh, again, every single one of the five monkeys insisted on letting the public know what kind of work they put into the last two weeks so everyone else know how awesome he is, so here is the alphabetical-ordered breakdown (aside from the discussion about storyboards which all of us took part at):
♦♦ Alwin ♦♦ Managing the blog and the presentation.
♦♦ Max ♦♦ Doing the monkey interviews (JD & GT), summarizing the interviews as well as creating the empathy maps.
♦♦ Jan ♦♦ Formulating the interview questions and creating the interactive PDF-file.
♦♦ Jörg ♦♦ Doing the monkey interview (JD) as well as creating the empathy map.
♦♦ Viktor ♦♦ Creating the storyboards, doing monkey interview (JW), summarizing the interview as well as creating the empathy map.
That is all for these past two weeks, monkeys signing out!
Peace and bananas!