Reading Response #5

Chapter 5: “Interface Design” + Interlude


Annie Nguyen


Music 256A


Programmability, and Fun Design


From Chapter 5 and the Interlude:


Principle 5.8: “Programmability is a curse

Principle I.1: “Funny is often better than serious


Interestingly, I think I experienced Principle 5.8 in practice quite frequently throughout the past Audio Visualizer project. With tools such as Chuck and Unity in my hands, I constantly wondered about what features or add-ons I could include next to fill out my visualizer. Just as Perry and Ge discuss in the interlude, there is the danger of adding too much to a design when faced with the seemingly vast potential of programmability. This also doesn’t mention the bandwidth that a person might have in actually implementing it, which is another aspect. I found myself spending additional hours trying to implement meshes and volumetric fog for the project, but each presented their own difficulties. In the end, I had to step back and evaluate whether or not they were really necessary for the final story that I wanted to create. The solution to my mesh problem was about utilizing what I already had. I decided to use waveform history to create the waves to my scene, paired with a flat plane for the sea. The slightly lighter waveforms created the peaks of the waves, achieving a more minimal and clean effect. In that case, it was about re-programming what I already had into something else. With the volumetric fog, it was a more simple case. The requirements to add it put the rest of my project at risk due to necessary rendering pipeline upgrades for the effects. Rather than risking that, I scaled back to particle effects, which created a different effect. The difference was not necessarily bad in this case! It added a new layer of interpretability to my visualizer. Some saw it as fog, others saw it as petals, but what mattered is that the overall mood was conveyed. It was a good lesson in being okay with keeping things relatively simple, as well as with not having complete control over every fine detail. It’s all a process!


Principle I.1 is something that I want to incorporate moving forward, particularly in this upcoming sequencer project. While I am satisfied with what I made before, I found that projects with some sense of humor stuck with me the most. I’ve personally found that hearing laughter (in a delightful sense, not a sarcastic/mocking sense) is one of the most rewarding things when designing some experience or product for a project. A humorous moment stays with me for a long time, and makes me laugh when I think back to it. I’d imagine that there are more people out there who share the same experience, and it is incredibly rewarding to think that some small, funny project can make someone smile even after the moment has long passed. While my initial idea for the sequencer involves some sort of “battle system” to get new sounds added, I am certainly keeping my mind open to unexpected ideas!