Posts by Bhooshan

Bhooshan is a Senior UX consultant with more than 12 years of experience in representing global brands within cross-cultural teams in many countries. He is customer-centric using design-thinking skills to reproduce outcomes which are tailor-made for companies. When working with his clients he follows a goal of creating an experience that is delightful, engaging and memorable.

Notes On Apple’s New ‘Mothership’ Campus

This is an insightful cover article on Apple’s new headquarters by Steven Levy (@stevenlevy) from the WIRED magazine. The campus was Steve Jobs’ dream and his finest design creation which has transformed into a futuristic architectural marvel today (and fondly identified as the ‘Ring’). Some quick notes from the write-up below.

  • The new campus was built according to Steve Jobs’ vision, he idealized California and based many of his ideas on his favorite features of the Bay Area in his youth. Jobs wanted to create a new campus ‘where the border between nature and building would be blurred’.
  • Steve Jobs dedicated a large amount of his last two years of life in the design of the building, where he would swoop down on the details he demanded and the meetings would often last 5-6 hours!

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A Report from TECHSPO Toronto 2017

I was at the TECHSPO 2017 Toronto yesterday at the Toronto Marriott Downtown Eaton Centre Hotel, having registered back in December 2016 this was an event highly recommended by an acquaintance to find out the local technology landscape.

I was anticipating a high-energy congregation of tech enthusiasts with several booths as is expected of large trade shows and expos, however, I was left disappointed at the thin crowd and fewer tech companies being represented at today’s event, while I guess my timing went awry because most of the exhibitors were at lunch break! Moreover, I’m glad I attended because there was a lot to discover about digital marketing and VR/AR from the companies (out of 13 that were represented) I was able to interact.

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My Decade on Twitter

It was exactly a decade ago on this day in 2007 that I published my first ‘tweet’, without the slightest clue as to what I was signing up for except that it was known as a ‘microblogging’ website because it allowed you to publish your thoughts in 140 characters in comparison to a standard blog post. I soon realised, this platform called ‘Twitter’ challenged my creative limits to produce noteworthy but short-lived content in a shorter span of time. It had an informal design set up yet a distinctive personality, but most importantly it brought me closer to like-minded individuals from around the globe. They were known as ‘followers’ whom I ‘followed’ and virtually befriended, some of whom I was lucky to have personally met while in India. Speaking of creativity, an enthused generation of users also developed an inane vocabulary to describe activities with passion such as coming up with terms like ‘twitterverse’ (twitter+universe), ‘tweeple’ (other Twitter users), or ‘tweetups’ (meetups of Twitter users). Back then it didn’t feel that way, but Twitter spurred the imagination of a silent generation to come out fearlessly & communicate and it diminished cultural and geographical distances to unite egalitarian forces.

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Elon Musk, Games, and The Last of Us

I somehow stumbled upon this Y Combinator interview of Elon Musk – actually a clipping, on YouTube – I’d seen the full interview but this video reveals his deep interest in gaming. After stating his recommendation ‘Overwatch’ & applauding the gaming studio Blizzard for their titles he quickly turns to the interviewee (Sam Altman) and asks what his recommendations are, and he says “The Last of Us” (TLOU). It struck me right there that Elon could see his prophecy of human extinction being proved through this amazing gaming experience.

In his presentation at the Astronautical Congress in 2016 he laid out a plan to “Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species” and colonizing Mars to avoid the danger of becoming extinct due to some unforeseeable incident. Without revealing much, TLOU presents a similar scenario in which human species is infected by a mysterious virus and a chaotic sequence follows which brutally resembles a doomsday apocalypse.

If there’s one person who’d really appreciate a script such as ‘The Last of Us’ it’s definitely Elon Musk.

Firewatch – My Year Ends On A Good Note!

Firewatch - game banner

It feels slightly awkward, that as I bid goodbye to 2016 I’m taking a journey back into the 80s! Taking a peek through that magical decade, the MTV revolution had forced itself on a 24/7 TV, Hollywood was reinventing itself with sci-fi movies such as ‘E.T.’ and ‘Back To The Future’ series, the VCRs, audio cassettes, boomboxes, had stepped into our homes as the next generation technology and also redefining a long-term alliance between entertainment, youth and pop culture. On the other side, gaming, as it were, became a growing alternative to TV & movie entertainment with titles like Super Mario Bros, Tetris, Donkey Kong, which are today regarded as cult classics. Needless to say, whichever part of the world you were born, you weren’t immune from the razzmatazz of the tech and culture boom in the 80s. Let me come back to 2016 now.

The game which has summoned my inert nostalgia is called Firewatch by Campo Santo, a brilliant indie genre par excellence, of course, set in the 80s, and so reminiscent of that awesome decade. I had read positive reviews on Firewatch so when it became available on the PSN season sale for CAD12.99 I decided to pick it! The other point of writing this post is because I felt this game hasn’t really been discussed a lot, while we continue to endorse some bigger titles this one deserves its rightful place too. (If you are inclined, Firewatch has a Reddit community too.)

The Game (No spoilers, I promise!)
Firewatch is a short, and an enjoyable affair. It could have been a biographical account of some hiker which came alive on screen as an adventure. The best, and perhaps the most vivid characteristic of Firewatch is that it contains no fierce-looking villains, long & stretched boss fights which you need to finish off before progressing the story or even treasure hunts, some qualities which today’s gamers have come to endorse. Basically, a nice break from the complexity of hardcore gaming. It’s a simple story set in the wilderness of the Wyoming jungles in the summer of 1989 (oh, the 80s!) where you play Henry, a volunteer managing a lookout and exploring the vast green landscapes through some help from your colleague (or boss) Delilah, and through a walky-talky which is the prime object of interaction, you seek and sort out the mysteries of this adventurous journey. I’d be honest to say that once I started to play I couldn’t keep the controller down for 5 hours. There are supply caches, and rugged mountain terrains to be explored and mysteries to be unearthed and to dwell upon. The artistic landscapes are rendered from artworks by Olly Moss, (Jane Ng, lead environmental artist at Campo Santo, was tasked with translating Moss’ work into 3D environments while maintaining his stylized artistic vision) making it more interesting & subtle than the peculiar computer-generated graphics, which merges with the storyline so casually. Having said that, I’m wondering how CGI graphics would make a difference if the game was to have a sequel and a much aggressive storyline. (thinking about the jungles from Uncharted 4)

I have shared screenshots of some landscapes which I found interesting and there are more screen grabs at this IMGUR gallery with spoiler alert!

Firewatch

Looking at the graphics this game definitely deserves a VR experience in addition to new plots, and in the absence of a ‘boss fight’ making the climax more intriguing and dramatic.

The Experience
As a hiker, I personally believe that Firewatch is a hiking simulator, if not a substitute for the actual walking undoubtedly, but it’s a great concept to experience nature from the comforts of your home. Also, with the Free Roam mode, the experience comes closer to being on an actual hiking trail. A pro tip – don’t forget to take your axe and flashlight before you leave your cabin if you decide to just roam around. As it happened with me, once the sun sets your visibility becomes next to zero and your map would be virtually impossible to read out in the open dark woods. If you come across a blocked path you’re on your own in the dark with no Delilah to help you in the Free Roam mode. Coming back to the gameplay, the mystery surrounding the forest does build up and keeps you nailed to your seat but the ending lacks a punch and my expectation was completely dashed. For a short 2-5 hour gameplay story, I believe the narrative ended too soon and offered very little solace to my inquisitive mind. There are definitely high expectations from the sequel if the studio has plans for it.

The soundtrack of Firewatch is very evocative of the 80s pop genre. You cannot but listen intently to the “Push Play” song being played on a boombox at the Jonesy Lake (check screen capture above) where two drunk teens are skinny dipping on Day 2, even as you’re in the midst of the game. It sent me on a wild searching spree on Google actually believing that an 80s band called ‘Cheap Talk’ scored the music for the track. There’s a mystery surrounding the track too which is posted by Owen S Good in his insightful article. Least to say it’s a reverberating, melodious track, reminding you just how amazing the 80s’ pop music scene was. Have a listen!

In The End
If you are looking to just have an easy time playing a game on a lazy afternoon (or night, whatever), or maybe if you’re a beginner in gaming and not feeling too motivated to compete with villains, then Firewatch is the title for you. It’s a journey of its characters in the frontline wilderness conveying a story through their personal experiences. If you’re a trophy hunter it’s an easy one but there’s no Platinum trophy to win, which is a bummer. It’s enjoyable also because you wouldn’t have to hunt the Internet to complete a level and all the accessories come as part of your walkthrough in the game. Firewatch is like a book which you can’t put down, that you not only visualize through the minds of the characters but also experience because, in the end, it’s a game. I’m glad, it gave the perfect ending to my 2016 gaming life!


Game Details:
Title: Firewatch
Developer: Campo Santo
Platform: PC, PS4, Linux, Windows, OS X, Xbox One
Reviewed On: PS4
Publisher: Panic