Professor Theresa Jean Tanenbaum, UC Irvine, Department of Informatics
Tim Kashani, Apples & Oranges Productions
Zach Anderson, Apples & Oranges Productions
Time: Mondays, 3-6pm
Location: Calit2 2100 (The Evoke Lab)
This two quarter course will develop three experimental theater projects using augmented and virtual reality technology. These projects are being developed in collaboration with ICS Alum, and Broadway/Film producer and director Tim Kashani of Apples & Oranges Arts. Teams of student designers and developers from the Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences, and from the Claire Trevor School of the Arts will collaborate with professional artists, producers, and mentors to develop three different pieces of intellectual property that Tim has originated. The projects range from a current Broadway show to immersive new endeavors in storytelling. Similar to a capstone project class with a client, students will be on interdisciplinary teams, and will work closely with our clients and partners to design, develop and launch engaging new technologies for theater and performance that incorporate emerging technologies for AR and VR. This course incorporates a blend of traditional and self-motivated experiential learning using the same methodology applied in successful startups. Participation in this class is by application only. Participating students have committed to both Winter and Spring quarters. We are looking for a diverse and creative interdisciplinary team that bridges specializations in ICS and the arts. This is an advanced class for upper division undergraduates and graduate students: maturity, responsibility, communication skills, professionalism, and work ethic are essential for success in this course.
IMPORTANT: This is a two quarter class and requires that students commit to both the Winter and Spring quarters! We will be working with intellectual property owned or licensed by our external collaborators, and so all course participants will be required to sign intellectual property agreements as a condition of their participation.
We meet once a week for three hours. These meetings are meant to be time for us to prototype ideas, share resources, workshop new ideas, and take risks. Our expectation is that the bulk of the work will be occurring outside the classroom, and that class time will be essentially a VR/AR research development laboratory for us to experiment and play.
The syllabus will be posted on the course website, along with any digital resources for your use. This syllabus is a living document and we will update it throughout the class to reflect the evolution of our goals and deliverables.
We will be using GitHub to store and track the assets created for the projects in this class. I will create private repositories for each team as part of the course setup. Every student should create a GitHub account if they do not already have one.
We will maintain a Slack Channel as part of the Transformative Play Lab workspace. I will distribute sign-up links in the first week.
Grading in this class will be a bit untraditional. We have undergraduates and graduate students in this class, and grading culture is very different for these two groups (in grad school, a B- is considered a failing grade). Our projects are also driven by external factors and we are (or should be) intrinsically motivated for them to succeed on their own merits, and not because a grade is at stake.
While there will be milestones throughout the class, we will not have any explicit numeric grades, nor will there be any tests or exams. I will be tracking attendance, using notecards (see below), as is my tradition.
Rather than doing purely numeric grading, I will be running this class using a course contract model, similar to how my undergraduate experience worked. This will be new for most of you, but will be worthwhile. How do course contracts work? There is a process:
All students will receive “In Progress” as their grade at the end of the Winter Quarter. We will have a “mid-term” check-in to make sure we’re all still on the same page. Moving into Spring, we will continue these check-ins.
At the end of the course we will do written evaluations:
Class attendance will be determined by completing index cards. The index cards are also a means for me to get feedback about the course. I will distribute the cards at the beginning of the class and collect them at the end. For each class please write your name on a card, the date, your student ID and a comment about the course. If you would like to submit an anonymous comment, take an extra card and don’t put your name on it.
Save the date now! January 26-28, 2018! I will be coordinating UCI’s GGJ location this year for the fourth year in a row. Previous GGJs have had amazing turnouts, with participants from UCI, other colleges in the area, and local game companies. This is a chance for you to polish your game design and development skills in an open and collaborative environment. It will also be a chance to get to really get a sense of what your teams are capable of. While participation in the Global Game Jam is not mandatory, it is strongly encouraged.
We will be hosting several screenings of key media related to the class throughout the year, including showings of King Kong, and an AR/VR micro film festival. These will be scheduled on an ad-hoc basis throughout the quarter, and attendance is optional.
We’re looking into doing a field trip to experience the new Star Wars VR experience at Downtown Disney in Anaheim. We will have limited spots available for this trip, and are still determining if it is feasible, but stay tuned for details.
We are a diverse and interdisciplinary group, and we may not always agree with each other in this classroom. My expectation is that everyone will act in a constructive, inclusive, and respectful manner in order to produce a collaborative environment where everyone is empowered to contribute fully. Central to any effective design practice is the ability to give and receive critical feedback in a manner that supports the goals of the project, builds up the abilities of your colleagues, and generates new creative opportunities. Certain behaviors undermine this process, and we will not permit them within the classroom. We expect all participants in the class to abide by these guidelines for maintaining a constructive and inclusive environment*
* many thanks to Bonnie “Bo” Ruberg for advice and language around inclusive behavior and conduct. These guidelines are adapted from their ICS 60 syllabus.
At certain points throughout the course we will be doing more formal Critiques of the projects. For these critiques we will use a form of the Liz Lerhman Critical Response process. The version we are employing here is one that has been used to great effect within UCI’s Sound Design program, and all credit for it lies with Professor Vinnie Oliveri. The process is as follows:
“The responsibilities of the responders are twofold:
1) not to bring their own agenda to work they are responding to and
2) have a desire for the artist to do her/his best work.
Responders are attempting to help the artist create her/his piece, not to create their own. It is important for responders, as hard as this may be, to not bring their own bias and expectations to the process.
The responsibility of the artist is to be honest and open. The artist needs to be in a place where they can question their own work in a somewhat public environment. Also, it is the motivation and meaning of the creator that is the basis on which feedback is given, so the artist should be very clear about her/his intent.
1. Self-Statement: Goals and Assessment
Artist identifies goals of the work and assesses those goals. Emphasize clarity in these statements. Consider how the goals may have changed as the work has changed. This helps the artist clarify the intent of the work and will help responders frame their responses.
2. Affirmation and Observation
Responders give the artist either positive feedback about the work or moments that affected them. People want to hear that what they have just completed has meaning. The artist must work to really hear the comments. Responders need to try to make the palette of responses as wide as possible. Be specific and expansive in the use of vocabulary about the work.
3. Artist Questions Responders
Artist has the time to ask the viewers questions about the work. Be specific; nothing is too insignificant. The more the artist clarifies what s/he is working on, the more meaningful becomes the dialogue.
4. Responders Question Artist
Responders ask neutral questions of the artist about the work. It is very important not to be judgmental in the phrasing of the questions. This is a chance for the responders to help the artist step back and analyze the work. If given the chance, most criticisms can be stated or explored in this step in a neutral fashion.
5. Criticisms and Opinions
If there is a criticism that can’t be stated in the form of a neutral question, responders can express opinions about the work to the artist after they have asked permission of the artist. The artist is allowed to refuse at any time. The opinions should be positive criticism, based on problem-solving techniques. It may seem redundant to ask permission for every single criticism, but it is very important. This gives the artist control of this very sensitive step and creates a dialogue, albeit a very basic one.
Our goal in this course will be to iterate rapidly through design ideas, to fail fast, and to learn through doing. Ultimately we will be producing experimental software that exists at the intersection of games, virtual reality, augmented reality, and theatre. We will be figuring out what that looks like together, and will be establishing appropriate milestones and deliverables as we go. Right now this section is intentionally undefined, but it will become more specific as the projects take shape.
We will devote time each week for the project teams to present their current work. This might be the results of research into the specific design and content domains that we’re working with, it might be a new prototype, or a design revision, it might be an idea or exercise to workshop with the class.
Each team will be responsible for maintaining documentation of their projects, including design documents, requirements documents, timelines and task assignments, concept documents, and other suitable materials.
For the Spring quarter we will be moving out of our exploration phase and into a more formal development process. We will be using “Agile” development methods to split the quarter into 5 two-week long “sprints”. This means that things are going to get more demanding moving forward. Every two weeks, each team should have a prototype ready to review. While we will have some time in class to do standups and discuss project blockers, our expectation is that you will be meeting and working on these projects daily outside of class.
We will meet weekly to discuss new content, present current state of our projects, workshop new ideas, and play relevant games. There are readings each week that are mandatory, as well as some recommended additional readings that are optional. This schedule will change and evolve, in particular as project milestones come online, so be prepared for more work and deliverables to be added as we narrow in on specific project objectives.
(Note: This Monday is MLK day, which is a holiday. Class will be optional, but fun.)
During class, you will:
(Note: This Monday is President’s Day. There is no formal class, but the lab will be open and we will have free VR/AR Play Time gear set up)
Please read and heed the following information regarding academic dishonesty. The instructor cannot and will not tolerate academic dishonesty. For more information, refer to the UCI Student Handbook. The UCI campus policy on academic honesty resides here: http://honesty.uci.edu/
The penalty for plagiarism is at a minimum to receive a 0 on the assignment and have the case reported to the Associate Dean’s office. Particularly flagrant cases may receive more severe punishment (notably failing the course).
You should be on guard against plagiarism at all times. At any time that you read anything in preparation for a paper or consciously recall anything that you have read or heard, you must be prepared to provide documentation.
Generally, when you use someone else’s ideas and/or words, you will either quote that person directly or you will paraphrase or summarize that person’s words. You must let the reader know which you are doing.
For example, the text here on plagiarism was initially written Gillian Hayes for the Winter 2013 version of INF 242, although some modifications and additions of my own have been integrated into it. The original can be found here: http://www.gillianhayes.com/Inf242w13/, along with Professor Hayes’ own disclaimer that the material has been “generously borrowed and slightly modified from the UTC Center for Advisement and Student Success.”
If you are a student with a disability (e.g., physical, learning, psychiatric, vision, hearing, etc.) and think that you might need special assistance or a special accommodation in this class or any other class, please check out the Disability Center online or visit them in person at: 100 Disability Services Center, Building 313, Irvine, CA 92697-5130. If you are having difficulty with the class for any of these reasons, please let me know so that I can work with you to meet your learning needs. If for any reason you are uncomfortable discussing the details surrounding a given situation you need not disclose anything, but at least let me know that something is going on so that arrangements can be made to adjust things for you before you fall too far behind.
I am always available to meet with students who are having trouble, and I am usually willing to make some reasonable accommodations if you have a legitimate issue, but I require that you check-in with me before a problem gets out of control so we can work something out. If you come to me during finals week to explain that you were in the hospital for 6 weeks and couldn’t complete your work, my first question will be: “why am I just now finding this out?”
Likewise, if you find that personal problems, career indecision, study and time management difficulties, etc. are adversely impacting your successful progress at UCI, please check out the Counseling Center or Student Services. College can often have adverse effects on one’s physical and mental health, and it is better to seek help early than allow the trials of pursing and advanced degree to cause serious harm.