Take Design Feedback from Non-Designers

Tiny Tactics: How to Take Design Feedback from Non-Designers

There’s no shortage of great articles about how to give and receive design critiques. But what I’ve learned over the years is that most of your design critiques will be with teammates outside of your design team — those surely not versed in design theory and technique.

Instead designers spend most iterations based on feedback from users, technical teammates, and stakeholders. Handling this feedback is much different than that from your designers.

In fact, how you handle this feedback is much more important to your career than how you handle design critiques.

Informative and humbling.

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The Laddie Wha Lived

The Independent: The Scots version of Harry Potter is the 80th translation of the book and it’s incredible

In the translation, Hufflepuff has become ‘Hechlepech’ while Ravenclaw is now ‘Corbieclook.’ The sport of Quidditch is now Bizzumbaw, a “bizzum” is a broom and a ball is now “baw.”

It’s also worth noting that Albus Dumbledore, who has been renamed Dumbiedykes, is still one of the few characters brave enough to call Voldemort (ooh we said it) by his name – but in the Scots book, it’s safer to call him You-Ken-Wha.

Harry Potter, of course, has a strong connection to Scotland – author J.K. Rowling wrote the books in cafes around Edinburgh.

Be sure to visit the link for pictures of the translation.

From this day forward, I am House Corbieclook.

Reinventing Zelda

Polygon: Ken Levine on Zelda and the Terrifying Need to Demolish the Old to Make Way For the New

Nobody’s fully comfortable with seeing their children taken by new hands, shaped and altered into ways we maybe never intended. Why do they need to be changed, anyway? Aren’t they perfect the way they are?!

The urge to return to old successes is powerful. But the things we make can become the tombs we bury ourselves in.

How do you overcome the fear that changing a masterpiece can curdle its magic? And the worse fear, deeper down: What if the new people find ways to make it better?

That’s the fear of obsolescence. And that fear makes us rigid. And rigidity is the enemy of invention. While there is a world where they changed Zelda and eliminated or added something that upset the alchemical balance of the series, I’m happy to report we don’t live in it.

I love the Zelda series, but it’s a fair criticism that Nintendo has been in bit of a rut with the franchise. Every 2D Zelda has been a variation of A Link to the Past, and every 3D entry has been templated on Ocarina of Time. Some entries like Phantom Hourglass moved the mark a bit, but Breath of the Wild is the first truly unique Zelda game in decades.

All the more interesting is the fact that they didn’t really have to break the mold. A solid traditional Zelda game would have still been financially successful. Nintendo took a risk, and it paid off. That said, I would like to see the next entry return to its roots a bit with more expansive dungeons and the return of some classic items.

The Themes of Star Wars

The New Yorker: A Field Guide to the Musical Leitmotifs of “Star Wars”

The film-music scholar Frank Lehman, an assistant professor at Tufts University, works fast: within a day of the opening of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” he had updated his “Complete Catalogue of the Motivic Material in ‘Star Wars,’ Episodes I-VIII,” which can be found online. The catalogue now includes fifty-five distinct leitmotifs—thematic ideas that point toward characters, objects, ideas, and relationships—and forty-three so-called incidental motifs, which, Lehman says, “do not meet criteria for proper leitmotifs” but nonetheless possess dramatic significance. Such beloved tunes as “The Force,” “Han and Leia,” and the dastardly “Imperial March” are here, along with more esoteric items like “Planetary Descent Figure,” “Ominous Neighbor Figure,” and “Apocalyptic Repeated Minor Triads.”

All this refers, of course, to the eight scores that John Williams has composed for the “Star Wars” cycle, with a ninth in the works. In decades past, it was fashionable for self-styled serious music types to look down on Williams, but the “Star Wars” corpus has increasingly attracted scholarly scrutiny: Lehman’s catalogue will be published in “John Williams: Music for Films, Television, and the Concert Stage,” a volume forthcoming from the Centro Studi Opera Omnia Luigi Boccherini. This attention has come about not only because of the mythic weight that George Lucas’s space operas have acquired in the contemporary imagination; the music is also superbly crafted and rewards close analysis. Williams’s latest score is one the most compelling in his forty-year “Star Wars” career: Rian Johnson’s film complicates and enriches the familiar template, and Williams responds with intricate, ambiguous variations on his canon of themes.

The thematic material found in the Star Wars movies is truly encyclopedic, and it always impresses me how consistent Williams is in his use of leitmotif. There are vanishingly few instances where a major theme plays and it doesn’t directly fit with the characters and events on the screen. Case in point: as recognizable and powerful as “The Imperial March” is, Williams uses it sparingly in the prequel trilogy and the new trilogy for the simple reason that the Empire as we know it exists only in the original movies.

How Star Wars Was Saved in the Edit

This fantastic video essay describes how the Star Wars editing team made changes, both small and large, that added up to a better movie. The video isn’t so much about how George Lucas was wrong in some regards; he certainly had to sign off on all of these edits. Rather, it’s about how a good film is a team effort and that the final vision is more than any one person.

“Snape Is Suspishous.”

Mashable: This 9-Year-Old Girl Is Reading “Harry Potter” For The First Time, And She’s Writing Down All Her Questions

“In class, her teacher is trying to get them to wonder and question as they read. Sometimes the teacher has said to write things down,” Eschmann told BuzzFeed. “She decided to take this questioning very seriously and had a bundle of little pieces of white paper.”

We’ve read the first four Harry Potter books with our daughter now, and it’s fun to see what a similar journey this little girl has taken. As an adult, it’s pretty easy to see plot holes and inconsistencies, but to the child in all of us, this series is simply magical.

Why Do We Always Give Fantasy Races the Same Voices?

Atlas Obscura: Why Do Dwarves Sound Scottish and Elves Sound Like Royalty?

Throughout The Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the reams of related histories Tolkien wrote about Middle Earth, he established whole societies, histories, and languages for a handful of races that still inform how they are depicted today. Elves are ancient, beautiful, and have pointy ears; dwarves are short, tough, and love to use axes; orcs are filthy brutes who live for destruction.

Of course the original readers couldn’t hear what Tolkien’s creatures sounded like, but the intense focus he placed on developing their languages gave people a pretty good idea. “Tolkien was a philologist,” says Olsen.“This is what he did. He studied language and the history of language and the changing of language over time.”

Tolkien would create languages first, then write cultures and histories to speak them, often taking inspiration from the sound of an existing language. In the case of the ever-present Elvish languages in his works, Tolkien took inspiration from Finnish and Welsh. As the race of men and hobbits got their language from the elves in Tolkien’s universe, their language was portrayed as similarly Euro-centric in flavor.

Fascinating.

Remembering Shirley Walker

Polygon: Batman: The Animated Series owes half its charm to one unsung composer

Shirley Walker was the first American woman to be the sole composer on a major studio release. And in a profession dominated by men, she often found work assisting other film composers with her skills as a conductor and orchestrator. She was a frequent contributor to John Carpenter’s films, and often collaborated with Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman, on A League of Their Own, Scrooged, Dick Tracy and, of course, 1989’s Batman.

But it was her work on another Elfman project, 1990’s The Flash TV show, that brought her to the attention of Batman: The Animated Series’ co-creator Bruce Timm. Still, she was initially reluctant to come on to the production.

My introduction to Shirley Walker was through Batman. I’m glad to see her getting the credit she deserves. I’m also always partial to composers who can orchestrate and conduct their own works.