April 23, 2014

Hamlet’s Hit Points Applied to User Experience Design

A Thing I Always Say is that the beat analysis system from Hamlet’s Hit Points can be used to look at much more than what we traditionally consider as narrative. News broadcasts, commercials, and political speeches all resound with the emotional up and down beats that engage our attention over time. One area I’ve never thought to examine, because I know nothing about it, is user experience design—the methods used to navigate us through web sites and keep us from closing that tab.

Matt Leacock, who we in the tabletop world know better as the genius designer of Pandemic, knows a lot about user experience design. In his civilian identity he does it for Sococo, a virtual office space site. And in the presentation below he applies beat analysis not only to the play experience of his board game Forbidden Island, but to the process of engaging with a site like LinkedIn. This last choice is not coincidental, as he’s speaking to designers from that company.

The entire talk will well reward your time, even if you don’t care about user experience design. It includes great insight into his process, the development history of Pandemic, and even the German market’s preference for meeples over abstract pawns.

Thanks for the insights, Matt!

April 22, 2014

Hardware Store Found Poetry Corner

“Do you have screws with white heads? I don't want to paint.”

“No. Do you have white-out?”

“No.”

“You can put that on the heads.”

“Buddy, I don't white-out nothin’, buddy.”

April 21, 2014

That Demon Within

In Dante Lam’s That Demon Within, now in limited North American theatrical release, a tightly-wound police constable (Daniel Wu) loses his already tenuous grip on reality after donating blood to a stabbing victim. The beneficiary of this reflexive act of altruism turns out to be the Demon King, cop-killer and leader of a ruthless armed robbery ring. The intensity of Wu’s internalized madness places him alongside Keitel and Cage in the cinematic cop-on-the-edge hall of fame. Nick Cheung, previously seen as the soulful MMA trainer in Lam’s rousing fight pic Unbeatable, vibrates with grinning menace as the Demon King. Lam’s oppressive, wildly expressionistic direction situates the audience inside the protagonist’s skewed reality, even as it keeps up the cat-and-mouse crime thriller tension. As such it recalls the director’s previous portrayal of a policeman’s spiral into insanity, the classic Beast Cop.

Cinematographer Kenny Tse again shows that Hong Kong is the world city that was made to be photographed in beautiful digital.

Lam knows how to escalate a third act, and here serves up an outer conflagration to match it’s anti-hero’s inner disintegration.

A must-see for fans of Feng Shui, gritty crime flicks, and hallucinatory cinema.
HK movies now routinely show up on streaming services, so if you can’t catch it now, remember That Demon Within for later.

April 04, 2014