Design is about connections

January 3, 2009

When I was reading “Pattern: Laying the Groundwork for design”, I particularly noticed one word-” connection “, and I think it highlights the essential point of design.

In my understanding, design is used to present connection(s), and a good design smartly utilizes or transform patterns to convey them. I believe this principle applies to all forms of designs, (like music, painting, movies, games or technologies). Think about a person who laughs hardly when watching comedy, why it happens? because she/he may find the connections to the pattern(s) in real life, which in turn makes sense to her/him.

When it comes to graphic design, this principle also works. For example, folks who are familiar with Illustrator know it is a very good tool for logo, however, it is always one of the most challenging things for graphic designers. The reason is very simple: how to put  patterns together to create a simple icon in the way connecting audiences and designers, business and customers, and messages and shapes.It is even hard to figure out where is the starting point. (e.g, should we really begin with the “patterns” existed in social context, or business sides.)

The part of this paper’s title – “Groundwork for design” indeed makes sense, and it urges me to pay attention to every pattern surrounding me, hopefully, I will have more sensible concepts for future visual design works, not just to make them look sexy and awesome. P


Semiotics Analysis of Coke Zero Game

November 18, 2008

I came across this interactive movie game in summer, and I think it is pretty good example for semiotics analysis.

Let us have a look at a short trailer of it:


At the first glance, we will be somehow clear about what the signs in this movie game refer to – Coke Zero , a specific product of Coke Cola company, as the title explains through its text, yet some “front-line” insiders may be also aware of another big “thing” behind the scene – UEFA 2008, as a lot of soccer things in this game explicates, but folks outside Europe probably are not sensitive to it, as the signs in their physical surroundings do not give many hints, in other words, they are not completely situated in that particular context to play it.

Moreover, the story depicting a dramatic experience a young man has encountered in a cold night which is supposed to be disappointed, is also something those signs directly work on. All in all, the content we can read here is a sort of remediation stuff, as it is a movie, advertisement, and game.


Audience should be able to find a plethora of cues, suggesting and helping them to shape the ways to understand this art work. For instance, the grungy, dark, and cold filtered graphic style indicates a dirty, lonely back-street place; the sharp contrast between this seemly isolated street corner and busy, glittering downtown on the other side of river enhance the sorrow and dejection the boy had before game started; the luring gestures, and the speaking tones of game girls send players a sense of “longing” for a “battle” success.

Hence, by means of interacting with those signs’ metalingual function, audiences will understand the game better. (like the genre of this movie, in the meantime also a game)


The addressers are graphic artists, film folks (actors, producer, and director), game designers, developers, and most importantly the Coca Cola Company.


Young people who are enthusiastic about soccer  (The targeted customers of Coca Cola from their business mode?),or who are fans of game. Interaction designers, 3-D modeling expertise, film makers…


The story and four games embedded in it, the music which highlights ” go for challenges” theme.


As mentioned earlier, this game comes with background of soccer events of UEFA 2008, and it is a festival for soccer lovers.

My board game

November 5, 2008


My board game design:

Inspired by the Presidential Campaign 2008, I pick up a Chinese traditional board game concept and combine it with this very particular event. As Jake has pointed out this afternoon, it can be of some education purpose, teaching kids what is going on with voting as a citizen.

The Rules:

Looking at the prototype above, there are basically two people allowed to play at the same time. One will use black chessman, which refers to democrats; the other will use the white one, representing republicans.

Then the essential idea of this game is to “attack and defense”. Each side needs to grab one chessman in each turn, and put it on the top of each state as they would like. But each player cannot place the chessman randomly, as they should try to build up the pattern in which four of chessmen (the same color) are lined up in a straight path [attack]. Once that pattern is shown, the player can pick up one state from those four to win votes, in the meanwhile, she/he should also take the chessman away for future reuse. As we know, the votes are different, depending on the state’s population, so normally folks will choose the bigger state; however, it is not always the best choice, as you won’t use the state you have won before. Thus, in this game, having a long term strategy is also a required course here. 🙂
When it comes to defense, in order to break the four-in-a-line pattern, the other player needs to destroy it by putting chessman in the line.

There is always an end; we will set up the time before game. When time is up, both of them should stop and sum up the total number of the votes. Who gets more WINS like Obama!

Reading Report 1_Sketching User Experience

November 5, 2008

Reading Report 1 can be downloaded from here

My cartoon work

October 25, 2008

It basically tells a story about my experince of learning Maya last Saturday with Marcella, check it out here 🙂

The “realism” and “formalism” in Game

October 13, 2008

Those days when I played “Need for Speed Carbon”, I kinda having a feeling that EA sports did a great job in utilizing both “realism” and “formalism”, and that really involve the players in the story, thus more engaged in the game.

Check this little video out:

As demonstrated in the video, there are lots of signifiers and signifieds existed. e.g. the depict of actors’ facial expressions, the motions that the lady set up the gun, and the positions that the racers walk to their cars, the amazing rotation of the tire covers… all of which serves to highlight the big picture (theme) – this is a battle on the road.  Moreover, it is somewhat intriguing that filmmaker intendedly make characters look like computer generated ones, (the car racing part should be made through Maya or Cinema 4D), and  they may expect to throw audiences a sharp switch between realism and virtualization when watching it.

When it comes to the shots composition, you can also noticed that the car racing session is interposed by other relatively static clips, but the whole thing does not get slowed down. This is actually not bad idea, for it creates a really nice tension, thus, the audience’s emotion could be “interrupted” and “stimulated” in a good way.

A thinking about Alternative Reality Game

October 7, 2008

It looks like the emerging ARG hightlights the future trend of game design, and I firmly believe that if the game is put in the proper way, it would become a great form of education tool in terms of evoking public awareness of current issues worldwide. 

I do not intend to make my concept bigger, and I do not want to utilize a large scale game to reflect the topic(s) as well as the desired messages. After struggling for a while on the topic, I finally decided to focus on “A world without the tree” or “A world with a limited number of trees”. 

I know you may have some immediate responeses to this too general “inquiry”, yet I am not going to discuss the disasters that are coming, instead, I will talk about what kind of goods in the store will be disappear from the shelves. I have done some research about what products are made from wood, and it turns out that there are thousands of them already existed, which is out of my expectation. (More details please refer to here). 

As you may see, lots of them are pretty common in daily life, however, some are either rare, or hard to recall. Hence, my design is to list 2-3 things of specfic brands at the same time. (The reason why I want to show the brand is based on the advertisement business mode of this game), then the question will be “what will be gone if we do not have enough trees in the world“, following that request, the audience needs to choose one or two of them that are made of wood. 

At the first glance, this game is really simple, yet the fun  lies in the “picking-up” process, especially when audiences see the products they may be familiar with, but without 100% certainty about what it is made up of.  I hope from this little game, public awareness of our environment (or) sustainablity issues will be improved, for it associates tightly with our lives.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License