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Northumbrian Water Audience Award Prize Winners!

We’re chuffed to have been awarded the Northumbrian Water Audience Award for their Innovation Game challenge. The prize was fiercely contested by the region’s games and entertainment companies and Fluid Pixel’s entry ‘Water Jam’ won over the employees of Northumbria Water for it’s social and fun ideas.

Game Concept – Water Jam
Using familiar match-3 puzzle game mechanics employees are challenged with levels that have been created from situations colleagues will face during their daily work. Each level has a target to reach that is based around the roles within the organisation that were involved in solving a problem. At its most simple level a problem could be solved with one employee, which would make the level solvable by only matching one type of colour/shape that represents that job role. A more complex level would be created from say a water leak. The engineer who solved the final problem might also have had to rely on further engineers, but also call centre agents, support staff and a number of other roles. That level’s target will be reflected by this mix of colleagues involved and create more of a challenge to complete. Although the game will be seeded with some sample scenarios, each employee with be encouraged to add their own scenarios, which become levels for other colleagues to play and compete against each other.

How has the game been designed to help employees think about their colleagues contributions?
The game asks the employees to think about the total contribution of the whole organisation to do their job, rather than just their immediate role. Employees are given a simple tool to record any task they might perform, which includes attributing contributions by their colleagues, either by role, or by individuals if appropriate. These tasks are turned into procedurally created levels that use the mix of roles as the target points for the level. By creating ‘levels’ they have to use their on job experiences and consider how the contributions of others allow them to accurately carry out their roles.

How has the game been designed to highlights the scale of effort/ number of people involved in solving a problem?
The levels include information on the job/problem that it relates to. so that any employee who plays the level has this information. A short version of this is used as a preamble to the level, with the longer version, including more detail provided once the level has been completed. The difficulty of the level will be an indication of the scale of the problem that was solved including the amount of people involved. Comments can be made about the involved employees, whether any further people would have been involved so that this can add to the conversation and encourage thinking about the scale of the involvement of employees to solve any problem. Levels can be rated on their accuracy for the number and types of people involved by other players.

Soapbox Race Party Development Starts

We’re working on a new project! A party race game for the Apple Tv.

There’s a development blog set-up where you can track development progress or if you have an Apple TV and want to request a Beta Invite, then please sign-up.

ASTEROID – Vision Test

Here’s an introduction to the ASTEROID project the team has been working on:

On TV #OurCreativeNorth

Fluid Pixel and the team have been featured on TV. A program dedicated to the North East have picked us out as their creative business of the week.

See the interview with our director, Stuart along with artist Gareth and programmer Paul below:

Our three minutes of fame are between 10:10 and 15:20.

Apple Watch Impressions

Having used an Apple Watch now for a week now here are some initial thoughts.

The battery is fine. I’ve never been close to using it during a day, even after an 18 hour day of regular usage it kept 25% charge.

The watch communicates with the iPhone to do pretty much every task (at least until Apple releases the new update to be announced at WWDC next week). When this communication doesn’t work for whatever reason, nothing works; Siri, 3rd party apps, apple apps, they just constantly ‘load’ waiting for the phone to respond. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it’s rather frustrating. The problem seems to be worse when the iPhone has a low battery, but that could just be coincidence.

The email client only shows limited text from emails, no fancy images or remote content, although most emails have some content that can’t be shown no the device. The watch currently shows a warning for every email that it can’t display fully (most of the them). We got it the first time, no need to waste a screen every email.

3rd party apps are pretty raw. Yes apple don’t allow you to do much, but most have reduced the functionality a little too far. I’d quite like to read more than a few lines of a BBC news article, not all of them, but some; why not let me? Although these limitations aren’t related to the 3rd party apps. The calendar app shows you your next week’s schedule, if you want more it prompts you to reach for your phone, annoying.

Workout tracking works well, but the resulting data isn’t very useful, even with the activity app on the iPhone. We’re still looking for an Up equivalent (maybe Up) that shows it in a nicer way.

Force touch takes a bit of getting used to, there is a tendency to close the menu with a second force touch rather than a tap on an icon by accident, especially after a heavy workout! It’s also not used consistently, even within Apple’s own Apps. Most of the time it simply does nothing.

Siri on the whole is strong and strangely seems better than the iPhone equivalent, however there’s no way of correcting a message and you still have to tap to send (at least we couldn’t work out a way of telling Siri to send or cancel a message) so requiring a second hand, when one might not be free. Generally not enough can be done with one hand, a few more commands that Siri understands would come in handy.

Getting out my phone has become a real pain and I begrudge doing so when the watch should be able to handle the task. It was surprising how quickly this paradigm shift happened and I certainly find myself doing less on the phone.

Haptic feedback is subtle and I’ve not tuned into it yet so still miss some messages. Phantom taps is also a thing, (perhaps caused by the missing notifications worry) be interesting to see if both these settle down with time. I didn’t have the problem of too many notifications that some have as I’ve both been selective about what apps I install on the watch, slowly adding them, but also had many services to pull rather than push before anyway. Interestingly now the mental capacity required to interact with say an email has reduced I don’t mind getting these notifications so much. Not sure whether that’s just a novelty that will wear off.

All in all it’s been a positive experience so far, and with the promise of a lot more control for developers and an major new update for the Autumn, things are only going to get better.

Happy Christmas 2013

We want to wish all friends and supporters a wonderful Christmas and New Year with a sneak peak of a new game we’ve working on that is going to be released in 2014!MerryChristmas 2013

Phil is famous again

We’ve been involved in a project with Big Ambitions to encourage young people to get into the software industry. As part of the campaign Phil has been interviewed on life inside Fluid Pixel featuring our new office.

Take a look at the video below:

Fluid Pixel from Steffi Orme on Vimeo.

Newcastle – Creative City

There’s an insightful article about Newcastle and its host of attractions, creative talent, venues and events by the lovely Creative Boom team. If you ever wanted to know “Why Newcastle?” then here’s your answer(s)

Student Placement Week

We’ve had a great week in the Sun here at Fluid Pixel. Especially as we’ve had the talented William Price on a Work Experience week from Cardinal Hume School. We introduced Will to the development environment and all areas from design to coding through testing. Here’s what he had to say:

“My work experience was an experience I won’t forget. I’ve met some awesome people who have skills far beyond my level. Over the course of the week, I have created a game with Actionscript in Flash. The game doesn’t meet a good standard however I made a game with no knowledge of Flash and Actionscript. I couldn’t have learned these skills without the help of staff in Fluid Pixel and the other companies in the workplace. I had an enjoyable week but it felt quite short, time flies when you’re having fun I guess.”

-William Price

Newcastle hits critical Mass

Nice report on the BBC today about startups in Newcastle and the community that’s really building nicely.

Happy to be part of it.