PHASEgaming

Jason Pook's Games Design Blog


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Design Process- Research

Recently we have been tasked to make our own design process so that we can check which each piece of work we create that we are following our own design process or skipping steps, it also allows us to evaluate how we are working at the moment to make some tweaks and adapt it to the most effective workflow for our own work.

First I did some research on design processes to give me an idea on roughly the general pattern of a creatives process.

The easiest place to start was with my tutors, as professionals there design process has been tried and tested many times to be fine tuned to what worked best for them.

 

Paul here has has subdivided his process into 4 sections based on percentage to outline where the majority of work should go which is the early stages of brief, research and concept. It has a modern sharp look to it, i particularity like the circle getting bigger as the process gets further on to indicate progress, almost like a loading bar.

 

 

 

This is my tutor Gareth Sleightholme’s design process. This is a very visual style design process using arrows and using colour to highlight key areas. As you can see this is a scan of his paper pad which would now be ready to enter the next step of Photoshop if he wanted to but there is no need as your personal design process should be something you understand and as long as you can follow it each time you have a working design process.

Then from Gareth’s blog i followed this link to Domanic Li’s design process another tutor here, so clearly it is widely regarded as a thing each creative should have and follow to increase quality of work. This process is extremely helpful as it outlines each area in a detailed ranged way so that it can apply to many areas of art and design.

Other examples i collected are just different examples and ways of design to explain a design process.

This design process is from Dezigngeek. I like this design as its quite visual and with the rocket its as if you must take all these steps as you would checking a rocket before blast off. Simple but the visual aid from the pictures make it more attracting.

This design process briefly shows the steps to take but rather focuses on your certainty on your project, the scribbles indicate you are up in the air with ideas and have nothing pinned down but if you complete the steps you gain more clarity in your work. I really like how this has been portrayed as this indicates if you go straight to the final product your missing something and may run into issues due to lack of a followed design process.

 

Then finally this is a design process gamified which ties into our gamification work, but nice visuals and a cartoon style to it could teach younger people to implement a design process into their work at a earlier stage or at least consider what theirs might be. Regardless of that it is still relatable to adults as they annotate certain things with teacher/client so its applicable to all people. This has much more steps than most design processes i have seen but some are generally slotted into one overall category like “design” for sketches, concepts, iterations etc.

Now i have to create my own which will apply to my work no matter 5 minutes or 5 weeks, client or personal. A design process should be adaptable to the time deadline set to produce the best outcome of work.


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Client Project- Session 15

Following on from last weeks session we asked the group inidvidually what area of work they would like to be in for the rest of the cleint project. As explained last session this is purely to try maximise workflow getting people to work in the area they want to go into industry with for the majority with other areas on the side. This group session really felt like we had all clicked and finally collaborated to try maximise the potential of the project.

Here is what we came up with:

hierachy2

3d team is myself, Viktor, Brad and Rinalds with myself as leader.

Art team is James (wolfy), Barrie and Abbie with James as leader.

Engine team is Phil, David and Steve with Phil as leader.

Steve, Viktor and Brad was absent for this session so as leaders we placed them into the teams that we felt they are most effective in and want to do in future.

We then sat down and discussed the plan of action (POA abbreviated) for each of the teams and how we would collaborate between teams. For my 3D team we set a target of a street a week, this maybe rather high expectations but until we test if we can meet this deadline we wont know also placing this deadline will push us as a team to focus and improved speed of work. I personally think a week is a good target dependent on the skill and difficulty of the buildings but 2 weeks should be the limit if we are to push on.

The art team we all sat down including myself and Phil as we are overall team leaders to have final decisions on work. We discussed the art team and their collaboration with the engine team, there priority is to upskill in texturing and uv mapping to work with the 3d buildings handed over. Then to produce basic, slightly visual and then some high quality (public viewed) concepts. The engine team just need the basic concepts where its simple boxes labelled car or building etc with some annotations of angles and maybe movement mechanics. This will assist them with the engine block out and add to our design work rather than first decision of put that there it will do. James is inevitably leader of the art team and will have to pass on some skills to his co workers to produce quality for this process. Im sure more has been added to this plan of action i believe the production of atlas mapping has been worked on over the day.

Then the engine team currently has HUD to work on, additional blueprints that could be implemented for interactivity (e.g. ladder climb) and then the rest is working on the block out with relies on the 3d and art team to collaborate with them. I think we have formulated a effective team workflow with a good balance to it for everyone to have equal input. Hopefully this goes as well as we plan it to as this goes towards credit for our professionalism and industry practice marks.

For today we borrowed Phil and David from the engine team as currently they have little to do and 3D is a priority so loaning them to 3D was a way of showing we are all team players if needs we interchangable team positions to accelerate the process will occur.

As 3D team leader i tasked my group to Trinity House Lane, myself and rinalds picked 3 buildings and Phil and David picked 1. Leaving a few for Viktor and Brad when they return, the lists are up on Basecamp and they are yet to claim buildings and i havent seen them so hopefully they are in tuesday to catch up. Currently i am working on weatherspoons up to Bob carvers they are my 3 buildings all connected so should be no issues.

Throughout the day teams sat with their teams worked together and it just felt like we had missed a trick not doing this from the start, lots of peer to peer learning and group/team critique will come from this our communication has definately improved and has been underlined as key for this to succeed. On a final note we have decided to implement the Oculus Rift into our project which will hopefully attract alot of attention when we finally display to the public.


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Gamification- Research and My Ideas

Last week i was absent from the session in which Paul delivered a brief for gamification. The brief is the gamificate something that hasn’t been gamified before, we have to research ideas on gamification in everyday life to see if it has been done before then try come up with an individual idea to make a game from. If it has been done before or the overarching theme (example working) has been over done then it will be denied by Paul and we will have to find another idea.

With missing the session I have also missed any videos or examples that was shown in session. Therefore im going to research into gamification myself to get up to speed.

What is gamification:

The application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service: ‘gamification is exciting because it promises to make the hard stuff in life fun’ – Oxford dictionary definition

That being the definition the key in that would be the example quote

“Gamification is exciting because it promises to make the hard stuff in life fun”

This should immediately spring loads of ideas to mind as surely everything can be gamified in some way or other. One example of this I found was a game called HabitRPG this game basically makes your life a game in order to create habits, it rewards you for meeting targets and punishes you for missing them. The idea is to form working habits so that could be do the ironing at 8pm every Tuesday, you can set this in a to-do which if you meet it a reward can be redeemed using in game coin to have say 1hour of video games.

Layout of HabitRPG on laptop and phone

Layout of HabitRPG on laptop and phone

This is a fairly simple idea but with rewards and graphs showing you your productivity progress it gives purpose to those boring household chores. Something similar to this targeted at children is the app ChoreMonster its a childs version and when they meet the chores they get a ticket to the monster carnival to earn random monsters to help them on their journey. Simple things like this really help people engage in what they are doing as it gives purpose, especially for children it adds fun to the dreaded clear your toys away as they get rewarded for it.

ChoreMonster multiple levels, design, layout, platforms.

ChoreMonster multiple levels, design, layout, platforms.

This was what i intended to do on first thought before research was a chore game so that when you ticked off chores done in a day you gained points to earn relax time, but as it has been clearly done for adults and children this can be ruled out as my tutor will most likely deny it.

My other idea I had was a waste/recycling game where if I made sure i partitioned recycling and rubbish waste i would be rewarded and shown a healthier planet. This could be a good app where you swipe the food on the screen into either the blue recycle bin or the green waste bin. It would make people more aware of what goes in which bin and reward them for it by maybe showing a field if you do wrong trees are lost as less recycling is done but if recycle more trees are saved.

With a bit of research I found out this is also done, not in the same style at what i was thinking but on a more global scale and has been running for a while called Recycle Bank and here is a article on it at mashable. Here is a video on it showing some really inspiring stuff to bring a wider community together to benefit the planet and reward them for it:

This may have been done in a professional manner but as a little mini game/app im sure i should be able to proceed with this idea. I was thinking due to the tutors and cleaners constantly mentioning about tidying up in the studio a cartoon style game where you need to clear the studio of litter as fast as possible but swiping the litter into the bin. This would be good on the app store as currently i haven’t found anything of the sort.

The best idea i felt I had though was a walking to work or shopping or anything you need to be at, the idea you set your track using a  map of your area and then you are time trialed to get there as fast as you can walking. This then would be saved into a leaderboard of times to compete with yourself and colleagues, when loading up you could choose previous tracks done named appropriately by yourself so try beat your last time or friends time. This would then give you points dependent on speed, beating others, beating your own time, arriving early to work and so on. The funny side of it I would like implemented but its unrealistic due to technical restraints would be walking down a road your phone connects to another if headphones are connected to ask another person to race on a set track, this would then show the other persons statistics, win ratio, average speed etc. It would look rather odd seeing two people busting a gut to out walk another from McDonald’s to city hall but it gamifies your standard journey. I know that walking races are an actual sport and profession for trained professionals but applied in a daily life journey I don’t believe has been done. How I would go about this i have no idea as of yet but if accepted i would have to research into custom tracks on a map that are timed and tracked by your phones location sort of like a sat nav in a car.

So these are my ideas I can propose there are many other things i have considered but dont feel them to be as strong as ones mentioned, but if none are accepted i can possibly fall back on other ideas. I think the key is to apply gamification to something that is boring, something you dont like to do so that it gives it a goal at the end of it. There are plenty of day to day life tasks that this can be applied to such as brushing your teeth for 2 minutes twice a day or more.

Once doing some research and actually thinking about it alot of things are now gamified in some shape or form, WordPress tracks your statistics and has little achievements for amount of blog posts, Snapchat has a points system dependent on your use, Tesco’s has club card points for purchasing products as do most shops on and offline now. The list goes on some seem dull but in many ways life is a game and everything is permitted to be made a game. Finding that unique idea though is the harder task in this.


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Client Project- Session 14

Recently we all had our hand ins at the beginning of January, this was a mock deadline for us set to give us a halfway tutorial point from our tutors to give feedback on our work so far. Last blog of mine for client was some final tweaks to my hand in like improved textures. I managed to hand in on time and made sure that the engine was functional with Phil for all the learning objectives in the interactive environments module as well as peoples work handed to us to go in engine.

Moving on from that during the assessment period myself and Phil as team leaders discussed how we can try a new way of keeping everyone engaged in the project with faster work rate, this was because towards the end of the semester people was saying they didn’t enjoy doing for example 3D or a specific area of 3D like buildings. This gave an idea of a industry style pipeline to be implemented, this means that the group would be given a chance to partition into groups (maybe people they don’t normally work with) to work in smaller mini teams showing collaboration in their given specific areas. For example one person may think after this course they want to be a concept artist, so we would allocate that person to the art team. This would mean they focus mainly on the art side of work so concepts, public visuals (logos etc.) and texturing. Despite this it would not give them total immunity to 3D and other work as it is needed from everyone just they will have less of it than the 3D team.

Now this may not work and may take some adapting for people to get their own design process to adapt to the pipeline but if we can pull it off it shows we can work collaboratively as a team using industry practice which would surely add to our marks for professionalism. There may be areas that work and area that don’t so we can hopefully tailor the process to maximise our workflow. I’m thinking the pipeline as in handing your model to someone else to texture to get it back as its not fully optimised may cause some issues but im hoping the mini teams will definitely work, to start getting people to work with other people that like the same area of work and they will hopefully teach each other techniques for speed.

All that being said I called a group meeting to discuss this semester and last semester, how we did and how we are going to move forward. This was sort of a reiteration of Gareth and Paul’s meeting about us being way behind schedule and alot not being up to scratch. Nothing was targeted at any individual just a general grilling for everyone trying to hammer in that we need to pull together to finish this project. Mainly we need more work but we need speed with that, peoples speed of work is what could cost us so whether some extra tutorials or peer help would benefit the group wide up-skilling. To try implement that we are going to set deadlines, so a deadline will be set per piece and if the person does not meet the deadline then the work shall be taken off them for someone else to do, then its only yourself you are letting down the work is getting done just less and less by the people who don’t put in the time.

A few things was highlighted about re addressing our hand in work like texturing, texture quality, and optimising models. This was obvious from the hand in it needed to be higher quality but i just pointed out again.

I then moved onto the Hellblade development diary that i found, i did a blog post on this and put it on basecamp for the group to see. Unfortunately a few missed this notification so i did a little session where we watched the video as a group and then i took us through the features of collaboration, team work, design process, and adapting to your working environment. All of these we are going to try implement into our work as described above with the pipeline. The other thing was to do a development diary of our own, currently we have 2 development videos but we believe the style of the video Hellblade did was much more descriptive and professional that the process we have been taking.

We have now decided to implement the Oculus Rift into our project which when implemented into the project should attract as much attention as the last years Paragon project which had alot of views assisted by trying the rift. This is an exciting feature for us as virtual reality headsets seem to be edging into next generation gaming especially with Sony Ps4’s upcoming Project Morpheus.

This concluded this weeks client project meeting, we left giving everyone a week to figure out what they want to do in this project. But it was cleared up that they should not focus so much on what for the client project but a deeper thought into what they want to do after the course.

Then the remainder of the buildings was put into “to-do’s” on basecamp for people to claim and complete, this is just for grabs until next week when the 3D team will take priority over buildings.


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Development Diary- Hellblade

HellBlade_Teaser_Screenshot_05

I was just checking up on latest game progression and news on my phone when i came across a game in production called Hellblade. In this brief article was a video attached which showed some amazing work for such a small team showing me personally some of the skillets required for industry, and how broad knowledge can help a pipeline massively.

This game is also being made in Unreal Engine 4, the engine we are using for both our client and my self initiated work. The part what amazed me was the blueprint scripting for naturalistic blends of assets in environments which are a combination of photographs and textures to create high detail that of which matches what you’d expect in a AAA game and allowed multiple duplication’s of the same asset to be used without breaking immersion being unnatural.

“We’re not  competing on scale, therefore you have to compete on being different. Hellblade has to be unique, something you wouldn’t be getting in a big budget AAA experience.”

Here is the video:

This gave an insight into how to work in small teams to accomplish big things, the ability to adapt workflow habits to enhance production and collaboration, and ways in unreal engine we have not yet experimented with to create amazing aesthetics.

To my surprise this was the 8th part of a development diary from developers Ninja Theory according to Loadthegame it the best look at the game so far.

They go on to speak about character development in enemies and how simple adjustments in software with slight alterations in textures can create an array of different characters quickly and efficiently. The use of silhouettes to prototype different shapes and deformations of the body allowed a character designer to modify the base character add assets like helmets to create what appears to be a completely different design. A very clever pipeline is being created here are Ninja Theory despite the small team as quoted above they are achieving alot more than expected not on a AAA budget.

The idea of time distortion and using perspectives in both combat and world to create visuals and illusion (illinx) was one that could give them the edge using a different idea to compete with the AAA budget they dont have with a small team.

This gives hope to us who may want to go into indie developing as with alot of work and research that we can achieve high quality AAA standard work with just 1 artist like they have done.

The idea of the development diary id like to implement into my own work for my self initiated, with a development diary it shows my unique way of a design process which can be used or changed to create a solid process of producing work. It also gives proof that my work is not a one off and actual thought has gone into the work I produce.

Id like to thank Ninja Theory for this video as its a great example to people like myself as a Games Design student on how to work in a industry pipeline, create multiple iterations of work, design and develop work from start to finish and delve into new ways of working. I will now watch there other development diaries to see what I have missed.


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Client Project- Christmas and Session 13

At the end of the previous session we discussed what we would be doing over the christmas period running up to hand in. Using Basecamp we set priorities in the form of to-dos some specified to individuals for example myself i had to blueprint pawn possession, or general to-dos for everybody like finish all building textures. This was made very clear before the holiday and the use of basecamp and communication was mentioned prior to that aswell as vital over the holiday period. This was evident due to basecamps tracking of log ins half the group didnt use the program at all and few used it regulary, this picked up when reminded but it should be a habit by now to be keeping well involved with all the work making sure your not missing one bit. That being said we reiterated it on return hoping for a collective group to be working professionally using the likes of basecamp on a regular basis.

Over the holiday period most had to admit little had been done or more could have been done, I myself know i did do work but could have done more if I had only special occasions off. Despite that I have managed to texture 5 of my 6 buildings after finishing the parliament street building model with the last texture in progress , my blogs are current in the client. Since return I have modelled an interior for the classic mini, blueprinted Pawn possession (with assisstance from Phil for the exiting of the vehicle which took a while and 2 heads to figure out), and most recently to much joy I have managed to correctly rig, weight paint, animate and blueprint my mini to be driveable in engine. I will now elaborate on my process for each of these with images.

As far as textures go most i have already uploaded so ill just show the most recent, which is a model im also yet to show.

 

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This is a building down parliament street, I chose it as I know modelling is one of my strong points so I felt a more difficult looking building would be better tasked to myself. I had some issues along the way despite that the making of the bottom half was the hardest part with the extruded sandy parts needing different sizes each time and to bend around the window. I am very pleased with my final product of the model and doing such a detailed building in 2781 polys when a high detail building was originally tasked at 20000, shows im getting better at modularity and having an eye for optimising my model.

parliament_textureThe texture i was very pleased with, I used simple planar mapping for most of the unwrap then just a few cases of needing to grab verticies to not have stretches around stiched corners and then just scaling so that the checker pattern created nice neat squares across each area. The changes i will make to this will be the bottom section, the stone part was a basic tileable stone texture that I have hand painted it to make it look like bricks, but after some digging a stone texture like that of the original building was found so its just needs applying. There is a slight issue with the bricks on the left window they skew a bit I wasnt sure on why this was at the time so i continued with the unwrap and when I textured it I forgot about that being left. This needs patching up once I find out why its done this but shouldnt be too much hassle hopefully. Next is to apply normal maps to my buildings to create more realistic textures.

Moving on I modelled an interior for my classic mini using my own reference and just reference from classic mini online stores for accuracy.

With this interior modelled we can now have the in car view for the classic mini not only for people walking past to see a interior but for the pawn possession feature we can drive this in first person view. Im really happy with my end result for the interior all that is left for the car now is to be textured. Im not sure ill have time for this before hand in but certainly will be a definate for the end product.

Now to have all this used to its max I was tasked with the pawn possession feature for interactivity which would be done in blueprints. This is a slight alteration of my initial idea early on of a racing game due to the figure of 8 on the map but i wanted to be involved especially when they are my vehicles in the project. Being fairly efficient in blueprints this was a task i felt confident in completing using the help of online tutorials and ue4 answer hub. Now this was the case i had it all working then realised that we need to get out once we are in. This was proving more difficult as the player would spawn back at player start instead of outside the car. Also spawing the player inside the car in view for 3rd person example purposes made 2 collisions collide and send everything absolutely mental.

With the addition help from Phil it took us most of the day but we finally figured out how to get them in and out of the car. After celebrating we then realised we can get out and in at anytime from anywhere. Simple fix of a radius overlap on collision enabling the key press to enter, then the exit the player could just bail tuck and roll at anytime like GTA. We didnt want this so again took time to work out how to calculate it to only be exitable when throttle is less than 1. This was completed by the end of the day and we now have a working pawn possession in our project to add to interactivity.

But to make this our own personal touch rather than Unreal Engine 4’s preset sedan vehicle in our game which didnt match the 60s theme at all, I was then challenged with the unknown area of rigging a vehicle for it to then work in Ue4 with our pawn possession. Im going to be straight I did this process over and over so many times due to issues with bones, not weight painting it right, UE4 claiming un-weighted bones, wrong hierachy for the bones. And that was just 3DSMax issues, when i got all the max issues resolved I put it in UE4 for animation blueprints not to fire, car controls not to work, the car to have everything set up and stay stationary, physics assets not correctly set up, the sedan to be clashing with the custom vehicle blueprints and setting up the front and back wheel blueprints wrong having all wheels rotating manicly. It was a laugh but i can now say ive done it that many times through trail and error the process has been memorised and hopefully mastered for future use. It was such a relief to see car wheels spinning after hours of stress and frustration on why it all was going wrong for me. Persistance got me there and now im proud to have the vehicle able to be possessed and driveable. Additional animation will need to be taken into consideration due to the interior view like the steering wheel with hands, gear changes, dials etc but for now it works to a standard im pleased with for a rookie in the rigging area.

Here are some screenshots of the process in 3dsMax:

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Then moving into UE4:

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Despite this lengthy process it was well worth me sticking to it, not only for end product for the client but this will also help me in my self initiated racing game.

On reflection im pleased with the work that I have done but would have liked more done over the holidays to have a larger amount of especially assets to hand in. Due to the complexity of cars its not a botch quick job it takes time and with focusing on them in client and self initiated i think i need a break to rapidly produce smaller assets for the project.

As for the hand in, Myself and Phil will be making the modular road system again due to some slight measurement miscalculations and then texturing that ready for hand in. Hopefully we will have a collective textured section of our project which is the primary target. We already covered the interactivity side with a treasure hunt, involving pick ups, inventory system, gate and key system, driveable car (pawn possession), throwable object projectiles, and then a basic HUD with minimap and inventory system. My contribution to this was the pawn possession due to my main skillsets being in modelling and Phil taking the lead on the blueprints side of things.

Hopefully everybody does manage to get everything tasked on basecamp done within prioritising so buildings modelled and textured the priority then all the rest being added bonus. I look forward to our feedback as i know we should be alot further ahead and hopefully the group steps up to really get the best out of our client piece for the final product.

EDIT: I have now resolve the brick skewing issue it was a mistake on my behalf aligning some verticies horizontally that shouldnt have been, really simple fix thankfully.

texture fix


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Client Project- Session 12

With the semester coming to a close we really needed to enforce what had to be done while we are away over Christmas, Assets had already been given out as a start but today Paul asked us to present to him where we are at in the project and where we are going with it.

Luckily myself and Phil had already done a video on this exact topic last thursday as a update design process video for the public to see on facebook or youtube. In this video we quickly review the previous video which was around 2 months previous making this video well overdue. Nevertheless a in depth explaination of our work would hopefully get everyone else up to speed with where we are and where we want to be in the near future.

Apologies once again for videoing on my mobile as we forgot to pick up some screencapture software then adding audio. Despite that we covered buildings, textures, modular road system, interactivity, life, vehicles, blueprints, assets, controller usability and then our next steps.

Despite having this we did not use it to present to Paul as its poor presenting if we just sit there with a video running, due to our contributions in the project we asked the rest of the group to take the speech towards Paul make sure they was all up to speed with the project then we fill the gaps if anything was missed. After all this was done Paul evidently told us what we knew that we wasnt as far as we should be, and reinforced the deadline that we had already set for buildings that people have to be modelled, textured and handed in. Hopefully with the tutors backing people will listen and stick to this deadline as most been set so far havent been met by all.

With all the being said everyone began tackling on with work for the final push on our last week, people who had been absent came and retrieved assets that was left. Myself I watched a few more tutorials on uv unwrapping and texturing as despite being confident in that area i wanted to push on to add to my knowledge for a better end product on my work.

Following these tutorials I learnt a few new tricks of the trade like using a checker pattern with numbers and letters on whilst unwrapping so that you can see distortion but also you can identify uv’s that are the wrong way or flipped far easier than the preset blank checker pattern. Other useful tools was the align vertexes in vertical or horizontal so that if you was to overlap UV’s you could make sure they was perfectly matched using these quick tools rather than playing with snapping and scale for too long.

texture

Heres a quick image of what i meant, so my van is built in 1 half then symmetry modifiered to create the other half for perfect proportions and also saving alot of time. This means that the uvs of both side panels will be the same so by unwrapping them both individually using planar map in the Y axis fitted and centred i could copy them UV’s, select the other side and paste the UV’s to give it the exact shape, but just to be sure you can use them buttons to align all the vertexes. Thats just an example another would be my pounland building with the pillars i did this process for them.

Now its the holidays and im going to do a seperate blog post on our use of communication that we need over not just the christmas period but the project for professionalism using methods such as facebook groups, fleep, basecamp (our provided and assessed way) etc.