- 23 Feb 09, 7:00 AM
Susan Richards writes...
As we've written about before, the BBC Red Button team has a scheme called One in Ten where members of the department can work on innovative ideas which they are interested in and which may also be of benefit to BBC audiences or to the BBC internally.
As part of that, in February we ran our first ever One in Ten Big Day with chances for the team to hack around a selected subject area.
The theme for the day was games, consoles, quizzes and TV Platforms. This day was put together in collaboration with our colleagues in the Red Button team of BBC Vision who brought focus and drive on the editorial side of ideas. The aim was to learn and try new ideas, and to get an idea of what the BBC may be able to do in the future.
A number of ideas were worked on by different team members describe what they did:
Ian Morton and Andy Mace looked at what you could do with two player Pong on the television screen.
"We took Mark Hatton's Pong game - from a previous Red Button Arcade One in Ten project (more on that in a future post) - and changed, or attempted to change, it so that instead of playing against an artificial intelligence you are playing against a friend via the internet. Some good progress was made so that games were created in the database and opponent paddle positions were passed between the 2 games, these would get out of sync though and then you end up with different game scores on the different boxes. The next step would be to sort this problem out..."
Games creation on Xbox (Andrew Evans/Simon Lumb)
Andrew Evans and Simon Lumb hit the XBox and had fun with Daleks!
"The XBox 360 is a hugely powerful machine, and unlike most PCs it is connected to the large screen in people's living rooms. In this regard, it is not too different from its competitors; the PS3 and Wii. The difference is we can develop for the platform without the cost of setting up a professional development suite - thanks to Microsoft XNA - a home development toolkit for PC, XBox 360 and Zune.
"The goal for the hack day was to get a small demo up and running. By the end of the day we had two demo applications running, one exploring 2D and the other 3D rendering, and both featuring Daleks. It is a long way from a full application, but we learnt a lot along the way, including how easy the platform is to develop for, and how much of a community has built up around the platform. And hopefully we've taken the first steps towards building the big ideas.
Level creation on LittleBigPlanet
Andrew Bowden on the other hand was soothed by Stephen Fry whilst attempting level creation in LittleBigPlanet.
"I experimented with LittleBigPlanet - a game for the PlayStation 3 which is a platform game where the emphasis is on customising and creating your own levels, as well as sharing them online to the community.
"I spent most of the day getting to grips with the level editor, working out how to use it (it's complicated and I barely scratched the surface, but did feature the soothing tones of Stephen Fry who tried to tell me what to do) before making a very basic level, featuring some BBC blocks made out of 'pink floaty'.
"It won't give you hours of game play, but I did learn it's possible for a player to get stuck in a rotating big wheel (you may need to actually play Little Big Planet to understand this...) One thing I did learn was that creating a decent level for a platform game is hard. Very hard. And perhaps best left to the professionals..."
Brain training on TV
Ruhel Ali worked on some game concepts.
"A set of small games that can be played on any device, the games will help you keep your senses sharp. You can dip in/out of the applications any time you like and on any platform (web, mobile and TV). You can also save your game and restart it on any platform too. The backend of the games feed all platforms so it's truly cross platform."
Dick and Dom
Tanya Hethorn worked with a team looking at a potential interactive TV quiz:
"Viewers at home compete with the celebrities and also with Dick & Dom who play along on giant plasma screens in studio. Dick & Dom give the viewer at home step by step instructions on how to interact using their remote control, they add two other competitors in studio for the viewer to compete against, and allow for any viewer who hasn't pressed red to still enjoy a full experience. During the One in Ten day we worked up the game rounds and figured out how the technology would work. Next, we're going to take the idea to CBBC & Entertainment programme teams."
John Horth wondered if maps could make good gameplay...
"Originally I'd conceived a PacMan style game using local maps as alternative mazes. Thinking about it a bit more though I think it would be better realised as a navigational device for an IP platform, in particular helping to avoid manual input of URLs via a remote.
"Other bits and pieces... personalised characters, the ability to mark your home on the map so your character would always begin their journey from this point. Perhaps there's a way to use the same interface to allow viewers to explore fictional worlds (Walford, Postman Pat's Greendale, Lark Rise to Candleford etc).
Visualising Radio on TV
And finally James Sheppard took a look at voting on Virgin Media, collaborating with colleagues in TV Platforms, and the Visualising Radio team in BBC Audio and Music.
As with every new venture, we mere organisers of the One in Ten Big Day went through a steep learning curve to get the day up and running, however by the end of the day we'd come out with a lot of learning, and some projects to develop further. Just don't expect to see any BBC logos made out of "pink floaty" any time soon...
Susan Richards is a Project Administrator, and runs and co-ordinates One in Ten in the TV Platforms Group