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tech tantra thursday
   - behind the cosmic curtain with Bill Eberle

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for thursday may 19, 2011

Cosmic Encounter® Online at Facebook     tech tantra illustration


Challenge Question 1
 - Where does the dynamic text for Cosmic Encounter® Online live?
   (and how do we get it to the Flash client/browser for each player?)


Our Cosmic Design database helped us keep everything organized as we thought about and solved one challenging question after another in our quest to create both a good game design and a good user interface design for Cosmic Encounter® Online. What kept us going was . . .

cosmic design database schema imagining a time when anyone who loved Cosmic Encounter® would be able to play Cosmic with anyone else, anywhere in the world, anytime, day or night.

Our thinking about what we needed to createour online game design — and our design of the database to keep track of our thinking and our design decisions went hand in hand. They sort of “grew up” and gradually became more and more useful together — the database was one of our thinking tools.

Click on the diagram, enlarge it and scroll around if you'd like to see all of the important tables and relationships we used in our design process for Cosmic Encounter® Online.

Re: using a database as part of the design process,

Since the game has ever expanding features, which interact in millions of combinations, the design database changes “herding cats” to herding cats that at least pay attention! . . . As the chief beneficiary of using . . . custom database systems to cradle and organize our unique designs, I can say that none of them could have been done without these creative and comprehensive approaches. — Peter Olotka

Peter and I have created design databases for a number of projects, including Cosmic Encounter® Online, good to grow!  for the Association of Children's Museums and WeatherQuest for the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa Florida. In all of our design work which uses a database as part of the design process, including Cosmic Encounter®, we manage and generate content which is used in the final product from the information in the database. (E.g. Challenge Question 1 above.)

Challenge Question 2
 - How many different “contexts” for user information did we have to manage
   to create our Cosmic Encounter® Online game user interface?
   Hint: Alien Info (Name, Power, Power Description, History) is one
            and then there's time organized by . . .

Explore. Scroll around in the database diagram and go into a game at the same time and look closely at what's there. Watch what happens and think about how the game does what it does. Look at both the game components and the sequence of game events and also at the database tables and relationships and see what kinds of connections, questions, and ideas occur.

If the idea of using a database as part of the design process for an educational or entertainment product is interesting to you, you might like to read more and also read the rest of what Peter had to say about using design databases in our work as designers.


I look forward to talking more about all of this with any Cosmic Encounter® fans who are interested.

Thanks. — Bill Eberle (for Cosmic)

PS. Credits: our design database was created in various versions of Microsoft Access®. Access® is a great database tool for quickly designing and deploying useful databases.


Cosmic Encounter® Online at Facebook     tech tantra illustration




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