Category Archives: Projects

Games User Research: A Case Study Approach

Are you interested in computer games and learning more about how research is applied in real-world usability testing?

You can now purchase “Games User Research: A Case Study Approach” from CRC Press! Please check out our contribution in Chapter 7 (Usability Testing of Video Game Controllers: A Case Study, G. W. Young, A. Kehoe, and D. Murphy).

Abstract:

This chapter presents an investigation that compares the performance of game controllers in two-dimensional pointing tasks as defined in the international standard that specifies the requirements for non-keyboard input devices, ISO 9241-9. In addition, we discuss the evaluation of usability and user experience with these devices during game-play. We compared performance measurements for controllers while varying the user’s exposure to the different feedback elements contained within each controller device. We assessed the performance of the controllers according to the ISO 9241-9 evaluation recommendations. The devices used in the study included a Logitech mouse and keyboard, a Logitech Bluetooth Touchpad and keyboard, a Sony Playstation DualShock 4 controller, and Valve’s first-generation Steam controller. Besides performance testing, we measured user experiences with the controllers while playing a popular first-person video game. Participants were asked to complete game levels for each type of controller and answer questions outlining their experience.

Here’s a run down of what else to expect in the book…

Features

  • Provides case studies on intermediate to advanced usability testing of video games on various platforms
  • Describes pragmatic techniques, implementation guidelines, and case discussions on how to improve the usability and user experience of video games
  • Focuses on multidisciplinary approaches to usability testing of video games, covering points of view and supporting information from areas such as interaction design, human/computer interaction, cognitive science, and others
  • Shows proven and effective usability methodologies and techniques for evaluating video game interfaces

Summary

“Fundamentally, making games is designing with others, everyone contributing from different angles towards the best possible product. Conclusively, Garcia-Ruiz has chosen a collection of chapters that demonstrates several different aspects of working in gaming and working with others that stands to raise the level of expertise in the field.”
—Veronica Zammitto, Senior Lead Games User Research, Electronic Arts, Inc., from the Foreword

Usability is about making a product easy to use while meeting the requirements of target users. Applied to video games, this means making the game accessible and enjoyable to the player. Video games with high usability are generally played efficiently and frequently while enjoying higher sales volumes.

The case studies in this book present the latest interdisciplinary research and applications of games user research in determining and developing usability to improve the video game user experience at the human–computer interface level. Some of the areas examined include practical and ethical concerns in conducting usability testing with children, audio experiences in games, tangible and graphical game interfaces, controller testing, and business models in mobile gaming.

Games User Research: A Case Study Approach provides a highly useful resource for researchers, practitioners, lecturers, and students in developing and applying methods for testing player usability as well as for conducting games user research. It gives the necessary theoretical and practical background for designing and conducting a test for usability with an eye toward modifying software interfaces to improve human–computer interaction between the player and the game.

BookCover

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DRHA 2015 Abstracts Launch

Abstracts for DRHA 2015 can now be viewed!

For U – Modified, check out pages 48-49 in the Installations and Performances section or click here.

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Why come to DRHA Dublin 2015?

I am pleased to announce that “U – Modified” (an audiovisual collaboration with Siobhan Mannion & Sara Wentworth) will be included in this year’s DRHA conference in Dublin on Wednesday, 2nd September 2015.

You can catch U – Modified in the The Hub DCU Student Centre between 14:00 and 16:00. The original 10 minute found sounds and extended vocal techniques composition has been further refined and expanded to include visualisations reflective of the themes that were developed for the live performance at the INTIME symposium in 2014.

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Sound and Music Computing Conference.

My paper “Vibrotactile Discrimination of Pure and Complex Waveforms.” will be included in the 12th Sound and Music Computing Conference hosted in Maynooth, Ireland. I look forward to seeing all of the delegates there and hearing what the keynotes have to say about their fields of study.

Here’s the abstract for my paper!

Abstract:

Here we present experimental results that investigate the application of vibrotactile stimulus of pure and complex waveforms. Our experiment measured a subject’s ability to discriminate between pure and complex waveforms based upon vibrotactile stimulus alone. Subjective same/different awareness was captured for paired combinations of sine, saw, and square waveforms at a fixed fundamental frequency of 160 Hz (f0). Each arrangement was presented non-sequentially via a gloved vibrotactile device. Audio and bone conduction stimulus were removed via headphone and tactile noise masking respectively. The results from our experiments indicate that humans possess the ability to distinguish between different waveforms via vibrotactile stimulation when presented asynchronously at f0 and that this form of interaction may be developed further to advance digital musical instrument (DMI) extra-auditory interactions in computer music.

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IDEAS Meeting, June 2015

I will be presenting at the next IDEAS meeting at UCC on the 12th June, 2015.

See you there…

G. W. Young, “Vibrotactile Feedback in Digital Musical Instrument Design,” at the IDEAS Group meeting, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland, June 12, 2015.

Abstract

Digital Musical Instruments (DMIs) present musicians with performance issues that are unique to the genre of computer music. One of the most significant deviations from conventional acoustic instruments is the level of physical feedback returned via DMIs to users. Currently, computer interfaces for musical expression are not enabled to be as physically communicative as acoustic instruments. Specifically, DMIs lack the ability to impart important performance information relating to the current state of the device to the user. In my research, it is argued that the level of haptic feedback presented can significantly affect the user’s overall rating of a DMI. In this session we will discuss my research findings to date and explore HCI inspired device evaluation methodologies that can potentially be applied in a musical contexts.

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Bowl Music…

Coming soon!
Bowls

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GameTrak game controller Project

Here we will be taking a look at the GameTrak game controller and modifying it to use with a PC. The first step to to this project is to check out these links and follow the steps to determine if your GameTrak is the easily modified Gen I or the difficultly modified Gen II:
http://janoc.rd-h.com/archives/129
Also look here for more info:
http://x37v.com/x37v/writing/mad-catz-gametrak-mod-for-maxmsp/

We will be going through a number of steps to circumvent the limitations of the Gen II. There are other options for making use of the original cct board, but I think that they are overly complicated and not very hobbyist friendly, so here goes…

GameTrak. I think I paid something like £5 for it on Amazon, so get going there to purchase your own.

GameTrak. I think I paid something like £5 for it on Amazon, so get going there to purchase your own.

You will need a small crosshead or phillips screwdriver, a soldering iron and the skills that are needed to operate these tools, and a knowledge of things an Arduino hobbyist would know, but do not fear, there’s a whole community of individuals out there to offer assistance and a friendly smile for Arduino.

Useless Gen II chip

Useless Gen II chip

After going through the steps found in the first link above, you may be faced with this cct board and a sad face will be forming in the general area of your head, but do not despair! You do not need to re-list on eBay or return to sender on Amazon, you need to go buy an Arduino: http://store.arduino.cc/category/11 I have a 100% working example on the Arduino Uno smd edition and I’m working on an Arduino micro at the moment too.

Remove the Gen II circuit board and USB cable.

Remove the Gen II circuit board and USB cable.

The cables you see above relate to the inputs and outputs from the variable resistors for the left, right, and up/down inputs (I will refer to these as x, y, z). There is also a power supply and ground for each of these variables. You should cut the heads off all of them all and group the reds and blacks separately. These are the 5v supply (red) and ground (black) for each variable resistor. The yellow, orange, and white cables are your analogue variables that control the x, y, and z input, specifically: x, y (orange and white) and z (yellow), this is multiplied by 2 because there are two sides to the GameTrak.

Arduino UNO smd edition

Arduino UNO smd edition

Those of you familiar with Arduino should see a pattern forming. Yup, the 5v and earth connect to the 5v supply and earth terminals on the Arduino, and the analogue outs from the variable resistors should be connected to the A0 – A5 analogue ins. Sounds simple, but might be a little advanced for a total beginner. I suggest that a small pin board is soldered together to assist in plugging in and out of the Arduino terminals. Feel free to hit the Arduino forums about analogue ins/outs and building breadboard/stripboard prototypes. In the picture above you will see that I have also made a little table for the Arduino and routed the USB off to the right. This is beacuse…

Modified base for my new controller.

Modified base for my new controller.

I have cut the GameTrak out of its original shell. Here’s where your imagination should go wild. The original black case is dull dull dull and not very nice at all. The major components are the variable resistors, so keep them. The big reveal… a haptic bowl!

Here's the shell I chose. Thanks Ikea!

Here’s the shell I chose. Thanks Ikea!

There are a few other modifications to the GameTrak that I made to make it haptic, but I’ll go through them at the end of the walkthrough.

 

What happens next is that the Arduino needs to be programmed to convert your analogue inputs into computer readable code (visit Arduino for more info). For this  project I used the standard Firmata included with the Arduino software as such: plug in your Arduino to a USB port, open the Arduino software, click File>Examples>Firmata>StandardFirmata. A new window will open with the code to be uploaded to your Arduino. Verify the code (tick button top left) and upload it (arrow right button next to the verify button). Your Arduino should now be communicating with your PC via serial data. Next up is translating this code to something that you can work with. For this I use a program called Processing. There’s a tutorial up for this with the Arduino code taken from the tutorial at http://www.arduino.cc/playground/Interfacing/Processing. I chose processing for this job because I can now route the input from the Arduino over a network via OSC messaging. Which is handy. There are other methods of applying the Arduino inputs directly into Pure Data or MAX/MSP, but the freedom to route messages over a network works best for me. Ultimately, I do use Pure Data to read the OSC messages, but the ability to route over the network is still available if I need it. Here’s the PD patch for reading OSC…

Here's a patch for reading OSC messages in PD.

Here’s a patch for reading OSC messages in PD.

You can see in the picture above that the analogue inputs range from 0 to 1023 and the digital pins are represented by a 0 or 1. There is a slight mistake in the above patch because the 0-1 (Tx/Rx) digital pins are not active in the Processing software. The patch still works, just don’t expect anything to appear on /digital/0 or /digital/1. The digital pins can be set up as digital switches, such as momentary floor switches etc. That’s about it for the refurbishing of the GameTrak. Ask me questions if you get stuck or hit up the forums for Arduino and Processing. Stick around for a look at what I did next…

logitech Butchered x100 mobile speaker.

logitech Butchered x100 mobile speaker.

Inside my bowl I added the components of an X100 from Logitech. This speaker is Bluetooth, so attaches to your PCs audio output wirelessly. The tiny amp is used to drive the speaker and is also routed to an audio jack output on top of the bowl. With the GameTak gloves and audio jack plugged in we need to modify our gloves a little. Inside each glove is an audio frequency vibrating transducer. If you look at my previous project to do with gloves, you will see what I’m talking about. The transducers are connected to the audio amp via telephone wire, in series with each other and parallel to the speaker. This balances the impedances of the drivers to one that the amp can handle.

Vibrotactile glove components.

Vibrotactile glove components.

With the combined spring return force of the GameTrak mechanics and the vibrational elements of the glove, we have the force and tactile elements of a haptic system. We can now route tactile information to the performer that can pertain to near anything in the vibrotactile detection range and capture movements to be broadcast over a network via OSC. Cool huh?

GameTrak modified into a Haptic Bowl.

GameTrak modified into a Haptic Bowl.

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INTIME 2014 Performance

INTIME 2014 Symposium
Voice and Text: Experimentation/ Transformation
The annual INTIME Symposium is a two-day symposium of papers and performances hosted by the INTIME music research group at Coventry University. The symposium seeks to discuss and theorise current practice in experimental music. It aims to deepen our understandings of existing and emerging repertoires and practices.

Evoking the Narrative: A Brief Description of “U” (2014)

G. W. Young & S. Mannion

Experimentation and transformation are facets of the dream-like narrative evoked from this fixed tape performance of “U”. This is further modified by the addition of advanced vocal techniques provided by voice. Sound operates within this arrangement to construct a surreal plateau of looped and tangential narratives that serve to mix reality with dream. It is the sonic overlapping of these two themes that operate to inform the listener’s own construct and evaluation of a sonic storyline. The movement of this narrative through diegetic, extradiegetic, and metadiegetic motifs, the manipulation of the spatiotemporal experience, and the evocation of memory are all represented through metaphoric sonic events. The vocalist, by imitating, developing and distorting sonorities from the tape in a live setting, assists the listener in their journey to the great unknown. A subtle pattern to guide and inspire listeners is presented, one that summons memories of reality and dream, a fictitious spatiotemporal experience that forms a complex warren of thoughts. The journey of the listener is unclear and unresolved by the end, a mysterious excursion that is unfathomable. We intentionally produce vagaries between realism, recollection, and insentient thoughts. The role of this joint project is not simply to present a story, but to summon one from within the listener, to embody this, and to affect its outcome.

G. W. Young:

Gareth is a graduate of Glyndŵr University, Wales, where he studied Sound and Broadcast Engineering. After graduating with honours, he moved to Dundalk in 2007 to study Music Technology. He gained his M.Sc. in 2009 and is currently studying for his Ph.D. at University College Cork. His research interests revolve around haptic feedback for new musical devices. For further information see GarethYoung.org.

S. Mannion:

Siobhán Mannion, a native of Galway, is currently a PhD student of Music Composition at University College Cork. Siobhán is a graduate of NUI Maynooth where she received a BA in Music and Anthropology, and an MA in Music Composition. Siobhán is currently fulfilling her doctoral research focusing on choral music using extended vocal techniques under the supervision of John Godfrey.

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CAVE ICMC 2014

40th International Computer Music Conference
joint with the
11th Sound and Music Computing conference
Music Technology Meets Philosophy:
From digital echos to virtual ethos
ICMC | SMC |2014
14-20 September 2014, Athens, Greece

Jeffrey Weeter, Derek Foott
The Box multimedia performance 15′
is a multimedia performance utilizing a newly designed interface. The
source material for the performance derives from an old bottling plant,
now used as a storage facility. In this space, cameras and audio recorders
were used to sample the slowly disintegrating source material consisting of
generators, animal cages, outdated technology, office furniture, sinks and a
few other surprises. “The Box” seeks to breathe new life into these objects.
On stage the performers will be using a newly made performance controller
to interact with the audio-visual source materials. Each of the performers
will perform with a wooden box equipped with buttons, thermistors,
photoresistors and infrared motion controllers. In this box, the source
material will be manipulated by the hands of the performer, creating a
striking visual representation of how we creatively handle objects. All of the
controllers are part of a network of control information used for real time
processing/performance of audio and video.

Jeffrey Weeter: From Cork, Ireland, CAVE is University College Cork,
School of Music and Theatre’s newest performance ensemble. Cork
Audio Visual Ensemble is a technology-based group consisting of 7
students under the direction of Jeffrey Weeter and Derek Foott
working to explore the musicality of technology through
performance and computer processing. The CAVE performers are
Jason Shannon, Eric Browne, Sara Wentworth, Gareth Young,
Flannery Cunningham, Morgan D’Arcy and Eamon Ivri.

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C.A.V.E – Cork Audio Visual Ensemble – Half Moon Performance

Hi all. I’ve been working as part of a new audio/visual ensemble of late. Here’s a video of our first performance in Cork’s Half Moon. Also, keep up to date with our future performances on Facebook

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