project director: Simon Yuill
original drawings: Chad McCail
development team:
Ricardo Creemers
Stefan Gartner
Eleonora Oreggia
Simon Yuill
sound design: Mark Vernon


supported by ...

All content is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, unless otherwise stated.

[module 1] demoville
Amsterdam and Rotterdam (the Netherlands)
January 2004 - April 2004


During the development of the prototype, two workshops were held with students of the Media Design MA at the Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam. In the first workshop, Simon Yuill presented a talk on the spring_alpha project and some of the wider issues informing it, followed by a hands-on exploration of software design practices. The second workshop took this further, applying the practices of workshop 1 to the creation of some possible characters within the game. The process of social enquiry and speculation underpinning "spring_alpha" becomes evident through such an activity.

Workshop 1: 17th March 2004


Software planning

Participants selected extracts from the Spring story, or topics of thie rown choosing, and analysed the relations between characters and events within these through use of software design diagrams (based on the Unified Modelling Language system).

Workshop 2: 13th April 2004

Chad explaining "Spring"


Discussing game characters

Plotting character interactions

The workshop started with Chad discussing the story and ideas behind the original Spring story, and how these relate to issues such as the "free schooling" developed by A.S. Neil. The participants then created a set of three characters representing occupants of the housing scheme, developing character profiles for them and exploring how they would respond to the themes of the story.

Priscella character notes

Adolf character notes

Karl character notes

Three characters were created: Priscilla, Adolf and Karl.


Priscilla is a teenager, in her final years at school. She is smart but rebellious, and is very aware of political and ecological issues. She lives with her mother, Celeste. Celeste works in the local supermarket. They have a very open, friendly relationship. Priscilla's father died in an industrial accident when she was young. He worked in the local arms factory and during his time there had been involved in organising a strike by the workers - the thought that his death might be linked to this hangs over her family. Her grandfather lives in the same housing scheme. He is an old-fashioned socialist, is very proud and has a strong belief in self-education. Priscella is very close to him and visits him regularly. Together, they have been influential in the creation of the community allotments.

She can be stubborn and impulsive. Although smart, she does not do so well at school due to this, and has few friends her own age. She has a boyfriend, called Kevin, who is several years older than her and no longer at school. He is unemployed and rides a motorcycle. They hang out togther at lunchtime and after school. Kevin is a bit lazy and doesn't really appreciate her. Priscella is still impressed by his good looks and 'coolness' however, and does not stand up to him as much as she could.

Her main hobbies are writing poetry, playing football and playing chess with her grandfather. She listens to gangsta rap.


Adolf is 19 years old and lives at home with his parents who spoil him. At school he caused a lot of trouble and left at the age of 16 with few qualifications. After a few years of being unemployed he came to regret this and so joined the policeforce, thinking that this would gain him some respect. He does not have good self-esteem and is very nervous of other people's opinions of him.

In his spare time he does body building, plays video games and watches television. He does not have a girlfriend, or many close friends. Now that he is in the police he has started to get to know more people, and enjoys drinking with his workmates.

He has no strong ambitions in life. He is trying to save money for a motorbike but keeps spending it.


Karl is 31 years old and works in the arms factory as a line manager. He is married to Anne-Marie, who is 27 and works in the slaughterhouse. They have two children, a son who is 7 and a 5 year old daughter. Originally they married because of the first child rather than through intention, however, their relationship has grown during the marriage. They have a dog, and in the lunchbreaks and evenings Karl takes it for walks by the railway track. He is a train entusiast and likes to watch the trains. At home, he is building amodel railway. He also enjoys football, but more as a spectator than a player.

He is embittered with his job as he has received less promotion during the 15 years than he feels he deserves, as he works hard. There is talk of the revolt amongst the other factory workers but Karl is ambivalent about it. Anne-Marie thinks he should not join as she is worried that he may loose his job and this may have a bad effect on the children. His main ambition is to enable his children to have a better life and he still feels thast his work is the way to achieve this. He is sympathetic to the people around him, however, and is beginning to think that maybe the revolt is justified.

Events diagram (sketch)

Interaction diagram (sketch)

The events in a typical day for each of the characters were plotted out using UML diagrams, showing how they interact with one another and the locations within the game.

Interaction diagram

Events diagram

Character actions mapped to time and location

Character movements within gameworld

The responses of each character to the events of the story were explored. How would they react? How would they become involved? Would this change them as a person? For exmaple, it was clear that Priscilla would join the revolt, but what about Adolf? Even though he was in the police, he might finally join as he realised that he was losing the respect of the people he lived amongst. Alterntaively, the state might offer him some kind of incentive, such as a promotion or better housing, to keep his loyalty.