November 24, 2006

Buttons work, scores--not so much.

My project is coming together nicely. The interactivity of the pages is coming together, and I think I am going to stump a few readers/players with where I've hidden buttons throughout my presentation.

However, there are a few flies in my nice gooey vat of Flash molasses.

The scoring is kind of screwed up. Though Stephan was nice enough to show me a few things in code (and came up with his own code on the spot), the score will not add up from frame to frame. Instead, the frames add one, but cannot "think" like a game by not adding another point when someone goes to another frame again or go in a different order than the way the elements of CST are listed in my buttons column.

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My goal, now that I have everything looking all right, is to work on the coding issues I'm having with the scoring. One thing that I haven't spent much time on this semester is coding things. I've gotten a lot of help from other people (which is great), but I want to dig in and find out for myself what coding craziness is all about--again. Oh, the days of learning HTML...

I'm also thinking about how I can make the chart below act a little more like an interactive document than a chart. I may have, over the pope's names, their photo come up or something.

project2a2.jpg

It all sounds like fun, but I want to make sure that I have enough time to do the really important things, such as the scoring element, that will really drive my finished presentation.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:01 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 18, 2006

What I do when I'm not blogging

When I think back to my freshman year at SHU, I recall talking about blogging at length at lunch with my newfound friends, some of which still blog regularly.

The blogging trend at SHU has gone in and out several times. Sometimes I feel like I don't have a feel for the SHU blogs any more, but I have a lot going on outside the blogosphere.

I'm graduating in December for those who do not know. I just bought my cap and gown the other day. I'm taking the GRE for graduate school admittance next Friday. I am applying to New York University and Syracuse University for next year's admission.

This is a moment of turning in my life, and sometimes I am scared out of my mind, and others, so excited about the changes that are about to occur. My life is in the midst of metanoia. What an awful blessing.

So, when I'm not blogging, I'm living. It's an odd state. Sometimes I want to curl up with a good book, but there's living to do, and I'm the only one that can do it.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:16 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Piecing together the projects

It's time to bring everything together once again, to reflect, to ruminate, to revel--to enjoy alliteration in excess. Or rather, to talk about progress...The long road has not ended yet, but here's another leg of the New Media Projects journey.

Project 1: Catholic Social Teaching Envisioned

  • This was my first proposal for taking on the concept of Catholic Social Teaching. Though I'd originally envisioned a game, Flash eventually took me down the journalism route instead.

  • This entry discusses my new direction for my presentation in its infancy. It eventally became a larger project than I'd initially planned, but that is the beauty of Flash.

  • In this exploratory entry, I discuss the limitations of interactivity that I'd faced in creating my first project in the class. I'd discovered that it the nature of my project did not lend itself to a movie-like experience or strictly a game, but rather, as I later found, a game and informative experience.

  • After dealing with the form of my Flash presentation, I dealt with the question of sound in my Flash document. I did not want to increase file size incredibly, but I wanted to have some sound. I eventually made the buttons make a clicking noise and I am looking for a choral sound for the first scene, but all is remedied here.

Project 2: CST making an impression

  • For the second half of the semester, I decided to expand upon my first project on Catholic Social Teaching. In addition to learning Flash, I also was learning about the concept of my project. I just let the content do the talking. What was goig to be just "part" of my presentation: interactivity, turned out to be one of the driving factors behind it. I decided to make a game element to the general informational aspect of the game. Essentially my presentation has two threads: the informative and the game.

  • This was my call for help. I figured out the problem by creating two buttons: one for the movie clip for it to blink, and one for the invisibility. The invisible aspect was essential, so I wasn't wasting my time. However, I did learn from that experience not to get caught up on one thing, but to look for assistance online, rather than spend hours trying to do it by searching in the program.

  • My project 1 is now online. Part of the reason for the glitches I experience is because of the switch between Flash MX and the version we have in our class. The files can convert to the newer version, but the newer version cannot go back into the older version I have at home. The older version has been more user-friendly to me, particularly with the normal and expert mode options that are not avaible in the newer Flash. However, when I was ready to upload the file onto Moveable Type, the html file didn't show until I tried to upload it in the Moveable Type interface. Heartstopping, yes, insurmountable, no.

  • In addition to creating an interactive presentation aspect to my scenes, I also wanted to create an interactive chart about Catholic Social Teaching. Though I am still developing the ideas, the chart looks fabulous in the same brown, buttercream and white colors that appear in the final scene of my presentation. It is, as of now, the final link in the "discerning reader's" search in the game.

Making the connection: Blogging for the Common Good a.k.a Xenoblogging

  • Comment Primo: In this blog, I questioned Mike Rubino on the target audience of his game.

  • Comment grande: In this blog by Mike Rubino, I commented about my experience of playing his game.

  • Comment informative: In response to Evan's frustration with Moveable Type, I offered my two cents which will hopefully help him in dealing with Flash documents online. I referenced the Flash Journalism book and tried to offer some guidance on the two versions of Flash.

  • Link gracious: In addition to my own take on Evan's problem concerning uploading a Flash document to Moveable Type, I also suggested that he take Stephan's advice and just search for a tutorial on the subject. Stephan seems to believe in the tutorials, so maybe it is a better route, that even I will take when I hit a brick wall o' Flash.

Wildcard:

Charting new territory

In my rush for rocking interactivity, I decided to ad a chart to my Flash presentation. The chart, which I will cite from a book I read during my freshman year, has all of the original Catholic Social Teaching documents, their origins and what they address specifically concerning the CST canon.

However, I am not sure how I am going to make it interactive. I think I will make the Latin names links to the original documents online and the English translations links to the presentations within the Flash presentation.

This is one of the hidden parts of my presentation. It is on the last scene, and I want it to be the sort of capstone thing that the most "discerning reader" will find.

My intent is to make the boxes count themselves and when the reader finds all of them, on the final screen a message comes up about their level of CST awareness. Like: "You are almost there--keep looking" (if the reader finds almost all of them) or "You don't really know what you are talking about yet" (if only one thing was found).

The aim is to leave feedback about the presentation, but I want to know how aware they were about CST when they sent it. Through the game, I want to have their score listed in the feedback box, so I will know how much they interacted with the game's hidden content.

We'll see. There's much to do.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 14, 2006

Half way to "all that"

My New Media Projects project is separated into two parts. This is the first section of the project: the uninteractive version (or you can download the file), and the interactive version is forthcoming in the next few weeks. Today I made the first steps toward invisibility (of buttons). It's going to rock if I have anything to say about it, which it will, because I'm getting a God complex with this thing.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:10 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 13, 2006

Interactivity stinking up the Flash

I am ready to give up on buttons with movie clip/button qualities. I don't think I am doing it right at all. My Flash presentation 2 is going to be interesting and uninteractive if I don't get it together soon...

I want a button to glow, and it has, but I also want it to, when clicked, to show a message. I've tried...but it will do one or the other, not both. I've tried, I really I have...so much interactivity to do, so little time...

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:44 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

November 10, 2006

Interactivity: Mission 2

My mission is to make a website-looking Flash document into an interactive piece of sweetness.

I have decided to try a few things with the expansion of this project. I am going to make a Catholic Social Teaching treasure hunt through my presentation. The premise of my presentation is to be both an informed reader of the articles and the Catholic Social Teaching quotes throughout the presentation. However, being an informed reader through the presentation is not easy. I plan to hide the quotes and additional information in the photos that fill the background of each scene. The start of the presentation will have a glowing area, as suggested by Dr. Jerz and Stephan, that the reader can chose to click or not.

After clicking the button, a message will appear to start the hunt. If the reader does not click on this, on the conclusion scene, a message will appear saying that the reader is not informed and cannot make a sound judgment. However, I am not sure how I am going to link them all together so that a "score" of sorts will remember how many of the quotes/facts were found.

My guess is I'm going to really delve into Action script. Joy. I have a feeling some of this will help.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:53 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 6, 2006

A sound debate

This weekend I worked like mad on my Flash project for New Media Projects. I have a total of ten scenes with background photos, articles, buttons and title banners. Okay, so you're probably thinking my presentation looks busy. I'm working on that. I'm also working on sound.

The issue with my project is that it is going to actually be used for the Setonian post-New Media Projects. That means, for the sake of copyright laws, I have to get permission to use any sound. Because I have been working hard on this, I haven't looked around for free sound websites (if they exist), and I was wondering if anyone knew a place where I could get some (preferably Catholic) choral music. I'm open to a lot of other sound, too, but I want it to work with what I've got.

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If I'm being realistic about this, I have two options if sound doesn't pan out. I could post it online without the sound, which is very nice and it decreases the file size; or, I could put sound in it and not post it online. That would really suck, though, because I've used Setonian resources and articles for it--and the newspaper should benefit from that work.

Everything is going well, though. I have scroll bars working, enough layers to make an onion proud and I finally discovered how to make the looping stop in the first scene. I've also devised a plan for interactivity of sorts. I'm going to hide the quotes from CST documents in the frames, and they have to find the button. When the button is found, a screen will pop up, saying something (additional information, feeback form ?).

I'll put it this way: I'm on better footing. I'm not afraid of losing everything. I'm hopeful. Almost happy...

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:34 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 1, 2006

Moving along

I'm not Catholic, but the universals of Catholic Social Teaching (CST) sit well with me, and I'm sure they sit well with lots of other people personally, but what about acting those principles in a real world setting--a university setting--where many faith stances and ideas merge?

Well, that is what I am talking about in my Flash project for New Media Projects. The idea is that I am compiling a bunch of Setonian stories that address Catholic Social Teaching, and post beside them exerpts from the original Church documents, which profess CST.

I am currently working on the introduction screen, its links, and getting started on the next scenes of the individual stories. I took a journalistic stance in this project, which means I'll be working hard on not only getting the information together, but also getting it into a package that is attractive for users.

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Another thing is still bothering me, though. I'm not sure how I want to make the project interactive. Some of my classmates have things blowing up and people dying, but my project is a serious look at Catholicism, and I don't think I want someone killing the Pope and nuns or something. I thought about doing a "hot corners" thing, like on a Mac, where additional information would pop up about the photos that are in the background and possibly statistics about Catholicism at SHU. I also thought about putting hot spots throughout the background images that people could find if they moused over the entire shot. Incentives of some kind could pop up and the user could become a player who attempts to find the "truth" about Catholicism at SHU.

I think the most difficult thing right now is finding the time to really lay aside for this project. My other classes are filled with crazy papers and projects, and in the back of my mind is a graduation portfolio and my GRE test. Maybe I just won't sleep...

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