Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab
Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

Final Project

Throughout the semester, I’ve developed a more comprehensive attitude to making all-encompassing projects. My biggest issue throughout the course of the semester was focusing on making sure that each individual facet of the project was planned perfectly before setting out to make anything. The concept of iteration instills the idea that we should just make something we want to make. Then make it again. And again. And again. I had trouble grasping this concept because I didn’t like the idea of starting a full-scale project on something that I wasn’t perfectly proficient in. I have a bad habit of being too detail-oriented to the point that the full project doesn’t come together because I don’t give myself enough time to try several approaches and variations. So while I aim to create a perfect project on the first try, that’s never really possible, and I should focus more on learning along the way.

I have developed this skill of willingness to fail several times before the final product portrays what I intend it to, and that is a powerful ability to develop. Picking up this skill has also helped me in my time management abilities. If I want to make a project once, I can cut it pretty close to the point of presentation and still output something to present. And doing this leads me to underestimate the scope of my task much of the time. If I commit to making a project more than once, I must start earlier, and that leads to a cleaner, more cohesive final product. After seriously flubbing up some of the earlier projects, I took more time to try different techniques for each of the projects over time, and I was more satisfied with the outcomes and learned a more effective way to pursue any project I planned to make.

For my final project, I set out to design a board game. The rules for the board game are attached as a separate document. The in-process and final images will be attached at a later time.

My first learning goal was to quickly adapt to a totally new skill quickly enough to make a cohesive project with the principles of that skill. The skill, in this case, was game design. My concrete goal was to write a rulebase for the game and be able to craft the board. I initially fell into the trap of attempting to craft a perfect game in one shot, but over time, I was able to catch myself and start by writing up a rough draft and working from there. I don’t have much board game experience, and I was attempting to make a game of my own without reading up on other board games in an attempt to make mine somewhat unique. The idea started off as a territorial survival game between prey and predator, but after some writing and rewriting, it became the final rendition of a game between a spider and a human, with flies scattered throughout the board in random motion. One aspect that surprised me was that I had discovered new additions to the game simply by crafting the physical product. Creating the board and the pieces lead me to be more aware of the semantics of the game and the confusions that may arise for somebody reading the rulebook, while also allowing me to construct more interesting game mechanics. What helped a lot was writing my entire rulebook and having people who are familiar with board games critique and suggest game mechanics. Overall, I’d say I achieved this particular goal.

Another learning goal was for me to create a cohesive project involving several distinct parts and molding the parts together successfully. My project involved the rulebook and the physical manifestation of the game I had designed. I had to create a board with hexagonal slots for the pieces to travel, pieces to represent each of the players of the game, pieces to represent each of the obstacles of the game, and a randomizer for the motion of the flies. As far as what I was able to complete, I do believe everything fit together quite nicely. I was able to etch together a full board for the game as well as the pieces for the flies that fit in. These objects matched the game rulebook well enough to be useful and I am proud that I was able to make the abstract idea of the board game as well as craft the physical pieces involved in the game. In that regard, I do feel that I’ve achieved this goal.

My final goal was to create a completed, playable board game that I would be proud to call my own. Throughout the semester, I had procrastinated and over idealized what my final product would be and tend to fall short of expectations. I intended for this project to be totally complete in at least its basic form by the time of presentation. Unfortunately, I did not recognize how diverse the tasklist was to craft a game until it was too late. I do feel that my product fell short at the point of project submission. However, I do not want this deadline to stop me from continuing the project on my own time during the summer. I did not achieve this learning goal as of now, but I would like to in the near future.

I personally have learned very much from this course. I had a lot of fun trying out the different projects and the ability to be very creative with my work. I do not consider myself a maker, because I personally see making “things” more as a means to an end rather than enjoying the inter-related steps along the way. I also feel that I enjoy learning abstract concepts more than I do making things. I can see myself making something that would be personally meaningful to me, but I do not generally set out to make projects just for the sake of it. In another way, I would consider myself a maker in that if I do have something in mind that I want, I do not shy away from taking the first steps to making it myself. In this class, I had trouble becoming enthusiastic about any of the individual projects on their own, but once I had an idea in mind, that idea would light a passion in me to set out to make that idea happen. The hands-on nature of this course definitely helped me by showing that much of these projects are very accessible when you have the right help, which we certainly did, and I very much appreciated that. As of now, I do not consider myself a maker, but that is something that might change over time, and this class was a good stepping stone for that.

 

Survival Handbook

 

UPDATE: I’ve added photos of my project below

Above: a small prototype for the board layout

 

Above: a 3D printed fly piece

 

Above: the die to be used by the human player to kill flies

 

The top layer for the board

 

The assembled board

 

The assembled board with pieces in place

 

Neopixels I soldered for the electronic spinwheel

 

The simple push button circuit I wired for the spinwheel