Simulation about the Waste Composting Process

Designed and developed (using HTML/CSS/JS) a digital simulation about the home waste composting process.

Summary

Class

Principles of Interaction Design

Assignment

Design and develop a working prototype of an interactive simulation (Individual project)

Learning Outcomes

  • Learned how to design and analyze simulations
  • Learned how design affects the emotional quality of the experience

Process

Comparative Analysis

Analysed multiple simulations to understand simulation design mechanics

Since I hadn’t designed simulations before, I analyzed and compared multiple simulations including Third World Farmer, Climate Challenge, Ayiti, and Stop Disasters using the theoretical concepts taught in class. The comparison exercise helped me see the underlying design patterns and think about ideas for my own simulation project.


Chose a topic for the simulation design assignment: Home Waste Composting

I chose this topic because I had personal experience of doing it, hence had subject matter knowledge about the process. It suited well for simulation design since it is a complex turn-based process with multiple variables, variables can be manipulated independently in different ways, those manipulations can lead to different outcomes, and constraints can be put on those manipulations to allow for trade-offs.


Comparative Analysis

Searched for other simulations about waste composting

I searched online to find if there were any other simulations about the same topic. I found three: Compost4Fun (no longer available), Media piece from Keep America Beautiful, and Aerobin. I compared these with what I was intending to design.


IDEATION

Created an initial concept based on inspiration I got from other simulations

My first idea was to build a waste composting manager game where the user would need to continue composting the waste generated each week and take care of the compost piles by maintaining optimum moisture and air content. The constraints would be money (limited money to buy supplies) and space (limited bins to compost). These constraints would force the user to optimise the process of composting.

The feedback I got after presenting this idea that there were too many variables and I needed to scope it down to match the time constraints of the class. Also, money was not the most suitable motivator for this environmentally conscious activity.


Interactive Prototype + testing

Developed, tested, and iteratively evolved the prototype in HTML/CSS/JS

So I simplified and scoped down the gameplay. The goal, now, was to balance the moisture content of the compost pile, and the constraints were limited bin capacity and limited waste that can be left not composted. The updated flow is given below:

I wireframed the prototype as sketches and developed it in HTML/CSS/JS. See this version of the prototype.

I tested this with 4 students in the class and also got feedback from the professor. I learned that gameplay felt too long, there was no purpose to separate waste photos, and visual feedback for some actions was unclear. For the next iteration, I reduced the number of turns from 12 to 8, surfaced more information about the waste and designed clear visual feedback for user actions.See this version of the prototype.

Those decisions were tested and validated by another round of testing with 4 other students.