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Final Project Presentation-EL 236

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As I began the exit classes for my degrees here at Seton Hill University this fall, I reflected on my life thusfar. Italy kept coming to mind. Many of my childhood summers were spent in Tuscan mountain towns. Memories of those summers are some of my most treasured.

In order to meet the new media components of this class (which included web design), I decided to create an interactive memoir, complete with pictures from those summers. All of the pictures were taken before the digital camera existed.

Each page leads to more stories through keyword links. There is no navigation bar, but there is a purpose for that: I hope that you get lost in the world of the Italian Riviera. Lose yourself in the natural splendor, while reading about my childhood escapades in the Italian hills.

If you wish to backtrack, don't fret: the first word on each page is a link back to the previous one.

What I really have to say about the class and the project in general was written in my last portfolio. I worked ahead. That blog includes all my changes.


So, here it is and begin your journey through Tuscany...


Its' done. It's done. It's done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've gotten some pretty useful information out of Beta testing. Even opening up my project in Internet Explorer on a smaller screen revealed a set of (minor) problems to render. The following is s list of everything that I changed on the project (copy and pasted from my post-mortem Beat report):

  • italicize the picture captions

  • upload additional pictures found in family photo album over Thanksgiving break

  • downsize spread-out pictures (groups of three) so they fit three across on smaller browser (mine is 17 inches)

  • use the “target=" blank"” command for links to pages not created by me

  • reformat pages to correctly display in alternatives browsers (again, this is an issue because I designed the whole thing through Firefox on my 17 in screened laptop)

  • add the missing > to the end of the picture tags, which will correct the paragraph/font issue

The formatting issue were unknown to me because I have such a wide screened laptop. However, when viewing my pages on the school computer on IE, the format was all screwy. Pictures were squashed into totem pole formations when they should have been even row of three and words overlapped each other (as well as went off-screen). I reformatted the pages to display correctly in IE (this had no different in the Firefox version).

I added the "target="blank"" command so that the pages not created by me were displayed in an additional window (I didn't want the user to get taken away from my project). In addition, I also italicized the picture captions (they had blended into the regular text before italicization).

Anyway, here it is, and I welcome any additional suggestions. Currently, I have no plans to change anything else, but I'm open to new ideas.



Snape responses

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Snape’s response to insult map:

Why, you arrogant, disrespectful little brat! You’ve got some nerve…Insolence towards a professor is a punishable offense.

Choose from a set of three excuses:

1)      I found the map in the library, sir. I was on my way to bring it to Mr. Filch. I heard Peeves tormenting him down the hallway before you “appeared”.

 

2)      I….I….I can’t control what the map says, sir. I didn’t create it. Fred and George gave it to me. I think they purchased it from Zonko’s.

 

3)      (holding back snickers) Lighten up, professor.

Snape’s responses to your excuses:

Response 1:

“Sure you were....Potter, you should well remember that I have a near-constant store of Veritaserum and can reveal the truth whenever I wish. Rest assured, if you’re lying to me, I’ll know it.” Snape storms off, still clutching the map.

Now Snape is in the dungeons

Response 2:

“I know your penchant for causing trouble, Potter, as does nearly the entire Wizarding world. Take your purse and head back to your quarters immediately. If I catch you wandering the corridors this late again, the consequences could be dire. And I’m not referring to what I might do to you. These are dangerous times we live in…Keep your wits about you and stay out of where you don’t belong….which is a lot of places.”

Ominously, Snape walks slowly down the hallway. Now you are more suspicious than ever.

Now Snape is in the dungeons.

Response 3:

“I DO NOT NEED TO LIGHTEN UP!!!WHY DOES EVERYONE TELL ME THAT!!Just because I’m pale, dress all in black, constantly look pissed off, have a tortured past, listen to crappy bleeding heart pseudo-punk music, wear my greasy hair down in front of my face, and like the dark does NOT mean I’m emo!!!!

 

Snape suddenly clutches his head in agony. ‘80 points from Gryffindor!’ he shouts as he abruptly turns from you and walks off towards the dungeons. You can hear him humming “Screaming Infidelities” softly under his breath.

Now Snape is in the dungeons.

 

 

 

 

“What’s his deal?” says a nearby picture of a man with a twirly mustache and cane.

After all responses:

Your mind is spinning as you gather your thoughts about your encounter with Snape. Why was he so defensive? What happened to his forehead? Had Snape been up to no good or attacked? And what was up with that look on his face when he mentioned your mother? You decide to find Hermione and Ron and discuss.

To the north is the portal to the Gryffindor common room.

 

 

 

 

Final plan

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Snape’s office

Descriptions of various sinister looking items.

Discover a picture of Lily in the desk-which is locked.

In the room there is a vial containing swirling red wispy smoke. Hermione and Ron wonder what it is.

Harry thinks it bears a resemblance to pensieve thoughts. The only penseive you know of is in Dumbledore’s office.

Dumbledore’s office:

(there is a puzzle to get inside)

Have portraits of the various professors talk to you.

The penseive is locked in a cabinet. Ask one of the portraits who to open it.-opens with a phoenix song.

Fawks flies in (he remains at the portrait of his master). He sings-the cabinet opens.

You dump the red smoke into the Penseive-and various excerpts from “the prince’s tale” play before you.

Afterwords, Harry is horrified. Hermione and Ron have responses as well.

End game.

 

IF exercise code

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"Deathly Hallows-the right way" by Daniella Choynowski

 

include Basic Screen Effects by Emily Short.

 

When play begins, say "It is the beginning of 7th year. You, Ron and Hermione, though still continuing their search for the Horcruxes, have decided to return to Hogwarts. Severus Snape has been appointed Headmaster of Hogwarts . No one but you, Draco, and the rest that were on top of the tower that one night know about Snape’s connection to Dumbledore’s death. When you heard that he was appointed headmaster, you insisted that the group return to keep a watchful eye on him. Surely he must be up to something.  It is the beginning of term. You, against Hermione and Ron’s advice, have gone to patrol the hall, only to discover Hermione's concealing beaded hand bag lying on the ground. You are heading back towards the common room to return it."

 

 The 7th floor hallway of Hogwarts is a room. The description is "you are heading towards the Gryffindor common room. It is 1’clock in the morning. Barely-lit torches and suits of armour line the stone walls. You hear distant sounds. Nothing seems out of the ordinary, yet an uneasy feeling seems to grip your stomach."

 

instead of listening when the player is in the 7th floor hallway, say "[one of]It's just Mrs.Norris's claws.[or]It's just Peeves making Filch's life a living hell.[or] you hear whispers through the walls.[at random]"

 

The player carries Hermione's concealing beaded handbag.

 

The handbag is a closed openable container. Understand "bag" or "purse" as the handbag.

 

In the handbag are the invisibility cloak, your wand, and the Maurader's Map.

 

The description of the cloak is "It is very old, yet has no signs of wear and tear. The cloak is an ancient family heirloom passed down to you by you late father. It has saved your life many times, AND HAS GOTTEN YOU OUT OF CONFRONTATIONS. The cloak is one-of-a-kind. Wasn't there mention of a special invisibility cloak in 'The Tales of Beetle the Bard?'"

 

The description of the Maurader's Map is "This map was created by your father James, your godfather Sirius, and his friends Lupin and Peter. It not only shows all entrances and exits out of the castle, but can tell you where all people in the castle are, whether they be invisible, ghost, animagi, or human."

 

The description of the wand is "It is an 11' Holly wand that contains a phoenix feather. It's brother wand belongs to the Dark Lord. When the two wands come in contact, they become extremely powerful. The Dark Lord believes your wand posesses some special power, and will stop at nothing to get yours. Keep an eye on it."

 

Snape is a man. Snape is in the dungeons.

 

the description of Snape is "Snape has greasy black hair and a long black cloak that seems to encompass his whole body. There is a large, bloody, painful-looking cut across his forehead."

 

 

 

 

Instead of taking something that is in the handbag for the first time:

            say "Before you can open it, Snape appears.

 

 

Potter, what are you doing roaming the castle after curfew? Surely you know that these are dangerous times we live in. You wouldn’t want your mother’s sacrifice to be in vain, now would you?

 

";

wait for any key;

say "At the mention of your mother, a peculiar look appears on Snape’s face, a mix of agony and longing.  You remember that during a previous incident two years ago during Occlumency training, you saw Snape call your mother a 'mudblood', the most offensive word in the wizarding world. If he had hated your mother so much, then what was that look for? You decide to discusss this question later with Hermione.

 

";

wait for any key;

say "'Well Potter, I'm waiting.'";

            now Snape is in the 7th floor hallway.

 

Instead of taking something in the presence of Snape, say "His gaze freezes your nerves. You cannot move."

 

[snape conversation]

 

Table of Topics and Responses

topic     response

"cloak"  "it's sparkly, leftover from my days as a lounge singer"      

 

instead of asking snape about "cut/forehead":

say "a defensive look spreads across Snape's face. 'The contents of one of my potions cabinets fell on top of me. Don't let me catch you wnaderin the halls again. Next time, I will not be so kind.' Snape runs off towards the dungeons, his black cape billowing impressively behind him. ";

Now Snape is in the dungeons.

 

instead of asking snape about "hair":

say "Snape gets defensive. 'It is a scalp condition. I've tried everything: mouse, gel, pomade, even Afrosheen. 50 points from Gryffindor for your cheekiness.' Snape scowls towards the lower levels. You see him check his hair out in one of the hallway mirrors and sigh.";

Now Snape is in the dungeons.

 

Instead of asking Snape about something:

            repeat through Table of Topics and Responses

            begin;

                        if the topic understood includes topic entry

                        begin;

                                    say "[response entry][paragraph break]";

                                    rule succeeds;

                        end if;

            end repeat;

say "That is irrelevant. You should keep your nose out of other people's buisness. The consequences MAY.BE.DIRE!!!125 points from Gryffindor."

 

Instead of doing something with the map in the presence of Snape: say "the purse unexpectantly clammers to the floor and the Maurader's Map falls out before Snape.[paragraph break]";

say "Snape snatches up the map, points his wand at the object and yells 'Aparecium!' He carefully opens the map, on which tiny lettering has appeared: ";

wait for any key;

say "[paragraph break]'Messrs Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs can't believe that Snivellus is still as slimy and greasy-looking as ever and probably hasn't washed his hair since his 7th year at Hogwarts.'[paragraph break]";

wait for any key;

say "Snape responds: 'Why, you arrogant, disrespectful little brat! You’ve got some nerve…Insolence towards a professor is a punishable offense.'[paragraph break]

You stand wide-eyed with shock. You'd better come up with a good excuse.[paragraph break]";

say "Three options occur to you. You can tell Snape about finding the map, you can tell Snape about Fred and George, or you can tell Snape to lighten up."

 

Instead of telling Snape about "map/the map/finding the map":

            say "You say 'I found the map in the library, sir. I was on my way to bring it to Mr. Filch. I heard Peeves tormenting him down the hallway.";

wait for any key;

say "Sure you were....Potter, you should well remember that I have a near-constant store of Veritaserum and can reveal the truth whenever I wish. Rest assured, if you’re lying to me, I’ll know it.' Snape storms off still clutching the map.";

Now Snape is in the dungeons.

 

Instead of telling Snape about "Fred and George":

            say "'I….I….I can’t control what the map says, sir. I didn’t create it. Fred and George gave it to me. I think they purchased it from Zonko’s.'";

wait for any key;

say "'I know your penchant for causing trouble, Potter, as does nearly the entire Wizarding world. Take your purse and head back to your quarters immediately. If I catch you wandering the corridors this late again, the consequences could be dire. And I’m not referring to what I might do to you. These are dangerous times we live in…Keep your wits about you and stay out of where you don’t belong…which is a lot of places.' Ominously, Snape walks slowly down the hallway. Now you are more suspicious than ever.";

Now Snape is in the dungeons.

 

Instead of answering Snape that "lighten up":

            say "(holding back snickers) 'Lighten up, professor.'";

wait for any key;

say "'I DO NOT NEED TO LIGHTEN UP!!!WHY DOES EVERYONE TELL ME THAT!!Just because I’m pale, dress all in black, constantly look pissed off, have a tortured past, listen to crappy bleeding heart pseudo-punk music, wear my greasy hair down in front of my face, and like the dark does NOT mean I’m emo!!!!'[paragraph break]

Snape suddenly clutches his head in agony. ‘80 points from Gryffindor!’ he shouts as he abruptly turns from you and walks off towards the dungeons. You can hear him humming 'Screaming Infidelities' softly under his breath.";

Now Snape is in the dungeons;

now the player is in the Ending Chamber.

 

The Ending Chamber is a room.

Instead of looking in the ending chamber:

            say "Your mind is spinning as you gather your thoughts about your encounter with Snape. Why was he so defensive? What happened to his forehead? Had Snape been up to no good or attacked? And what was up with that look on his face when he mentioned your mother? You decide to find Hermione and Ron and discuss.";

            end the game in victory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The author's statement:

I began this idea back in September: to re-create Deathly Hallows and end it the way I wished it had. Ideally, I would have had Harry and Snape become "friends" at the end and defeat Voldemort together. However, considering the size of the actual novel and given the fact that the scene with Harry and Snape in the hallway took a good month to code, I decided to end the "story" with Harry finding out Snape's thoughts before the final battle with Voldemort and not after Snape was murdered. Snape was always my favorite character. I'm happy where it ended, and I don't believe I'll be revisiting this project.

It was fun. Inform 7 was the program I grew to understand the best (not that it wasn't challenging). To keep my sanity intact a few months more, I decided to choose a project that allowed me to slightly flex my creative writing muscles.

I didn't tear my hair out, nor did it go prematurely grey like I thought it would when we started Blender3D back in August.

The game was only inspired by Deathly Hallows: I own no characters and offer much love and credit to J.K. Rowling.


Course Objectives:

1. Examine a wide range of genres, styles and cultural literatures.
5. Write and speak in a wide range of formats appropriate to major emphasis... 
6. Speak and write about issues in the discipline and how they interact with the culture at large.
7. Articulate the ongoing relation between personal habits of reading and writing and the evolving study of English.
8. Produce a professional portfolio that demonstrates an awareness of and engagement with vital issues in an appropriate professional field relating to new media journalism.


I definately feel that this project (and this course) met goal #1 the best. We learned three very different and very challening programs this semester. Though the only practical application I see is of Flash, all were worthwhile in that they taught us the thinking skills needed to learn complex programs in general. Again, as I've said in previous blogs, I will be leaving the world of electronica come May 2010 (a year and a half away?!). But, for those of us going into New Media, you've been prepped for the real world. I shall be spending my life in books, scripts, theaters, and courtrooms, and hopefully some of what I learned in EL 405 will aid me. If not, I've proved I'm intelligent enough to master (almost) several complex computer programs.

As for the engagment with and awareness of vital issues, I think that objective is best applied to our first Flash cartoons (mine dealt with the Obama protest and involved two lipstick-covered pigs) and the narrated slideshow.

So know I know why Potter Puppet Pals switched to traditional puppets. Flash takes forever and a day to create something. So much for creating the next internet cartoon sensation.


Related resources:

Since I took this class out of sequences, the best resource I can recommend is EL 236: Writing for the Internet. There is an entire unit on Inform 7. Chances are you will take this class your freshman or sophmore year. Considering I missed the first half of my freshman year due to being stuck in another major, I had to take both EL 236 and EL 405 at the same time. Not to be arrogant, but I flew through EL 236's inform unit because I had already been writing games for over a month prior in El 405. So save your games, exercises, and tutorials/quizes. You will use those skills again.

There is no textbook to accompany Inform 7: it's already included in the program. The best resource is practice: trial and error will teach you much.

In case you are interested in any additional help, here are some supplemental electronic materials:

Some Observations on Using Inform 7-IF author Emily Short offers some tips on programming/writing

Write a Text Adventure-how to get started

Natural Language Game Programming-an article by Liza Daly on the operation of the Inform 7 system and coding guide.


Project Log: includes blogs from the beginning of the semester when the game started out as just an exercise

Inform Screencast and Weekly Reflection

Snape Responses-outline of what I want to happen down one of the three paths that lead to the end of one scene. This path splits into three sub-paths.

Beta Test day-beta testing for the exercise, not the project

IF Revision-in which I implement changes based on the first Beta test

IF exercise code-the source code for the section of the game that was just an exercise

Final Plan-an early storyline/actiosn sketches of the rest of the game (the project portion)

IF Game Progress Report: EL 405-I continue to add rooms and interactions with objects

EL 405 Alpha Test-ideas I came up with to improve the game based on observation of another player

Finished....sort of-where I finish roughly coding the game through the end and include my notes from the two Beat testers

update on Beta testing over break-Changes: EL 405-in which I try and implement most of those changes

And so finally, the game is finished. Hallelujah.


Tuesday, December 2nd: I was able to recode the section on telling Fawks please to accept "please" as the command instead of the specific phrase "Fawks, please", which the players I tested were not able to guess.

 In addition, I also recoded the section on "insert vial into pensieve"-neither player had been able to come up with this phrase. Instead, I coded the game to accept "dump vial in/into pensieve", "place vial in/into pensieve", and "drop vial in/into pensieve".

My main concern was to have these two actions in the game proceed smoothly enough to not infuriate the player (of the creator). The game is challenging, I think, but it's not unplayable. I had a feeling I had made sections too difficult, and testing confirmed that feeling.

Developer's Commentary Screencast:

part 1: source code explanation-


part 2: brief game demonstration




Here it is:


EL 405 Alpha Test-I forgot to report

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Wow, can't believe I forgot this.

Jeremy tested my game, only to get stuck at one of the sections where you have to have a conversation with Snape. I realized that I have to not make things so specific. Making a game challenging and pissing players off are two different things.

Then Jeremy continued until a point where even I couldn't even remember how to advance the game. I've been working on this thing for close to two months now, and my brain is getting tired.

So instead of testing two people, I ended up taking over and spending the remainder of class recoding all the problems I saw. It's interesting how observing one person's use of a game can give you ideas. I added humor, as well as tasks that are not difficult to figure out as long as the player READS THE TEXT!!!

At this point, I only had the scene in Dumbledore's office to code, which was fraught with coding difficulty. Cabinets are unlocks with songs, and the player has to talk to a picture.

Update on Beta testing over break-Changes:EL 405

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I tried implementing the changes suggested by my two Beta testers, which where my sister and my friend Brandi, neither of whom had ever played an IF game before.

I added more directions to the changing descriptions of the rooms so the player would get a better bearing of where they were in the game. I also bolded the directions.

The part where the player has to summom Fawks the phoenix was difficult in that the phrase the player has to type is very specific. I tried implementing the "understand "" as ..." code, but it didn't work. So for the sake of tomorrow, the correct phrase is given word for word in the parapgraph following Dumbledore's response.

Also, trying to use the same command for another section-the penseive scene, does not work either:

[understand "dump vial into penseive" or "place vial in penseive" as insert vial into penseive]
I'm keeping it in brackets for notetaking's sake

 These are little tweaking problems

Finalmente

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Endgame

And so we've reached the end of EL 236. In thinking back and reflecting on what we've done the entire semester, I can safely say this is one of the few classes in this major that I've actually had fun in. Although, whenever I seemed to say the "f" word this semester, something horribly UNFUN would be assigned. I'll admit: I got really sick of those little quizzes about Html and Inform 7 programming. The two books we read, Don't Make Me Think and Writing for the Web, were beyond tedium. They were so repetitive that I would space out during reading. I found myself writing basically the same blog reactions over and over again. Yes, usability testing is very valuable, but if I had to read one more chapter about it, I'd probably puke (figuratively).

This is the first semester in which I've been able to apply the concepts I've learned in other journalism classes to each other. Throughout this course, I've mainly drawn from CA 100 (Communication Theory and Technology) and EL 336 (which was on oral, manuscript, and digital culture). Because I squeezed this major into half the time people usually take to create it, I had to take classes out of sequence. EL 336 was difficult because I was reading all about hypertext and interactive fiction without a clue about what they were or how they worked (and more importantly, what the value was of learning about the two mediums).It all makes sense now.

I must admit, I really didn't understand the value of Inform 7. I see no direct real-world applications for learning how to program an IF game, but I suppose that learning a complex program is sort of a warm-up for the real world. I understand many of the graduates from this program go into computer and technology fields. Since I'm not going to be working in New Media after graduation (it's law school and  Broadway for me), I've had a hard time seeing the relevance of much of the subject material. But I have to remember that I'm an exception to the rule and remind myself what kind of students the NMJ program is geared towards.

Am I a Html programmer? A Blogger? A Flash designer? A sound editor? No.

But I know how to do all of these things, and do them well. If life was spent learning only things we were interested in, no one would graduate college.

Above all, I am a writer, an actress, and a singer.

I'm a sometimes guitarist. I'm a comedienne. I'm a lover of everything that is Wilde, Meyers, Rowling, Hugo, Cabot, and Green.

I'm a litigator. I'm a philosopher. I'll probably be an expatriot someday.

That is who I am.


I'm also neurotic. I'm anal-retentive. I make things harder for myself than they have to be. I push myself too hard. I care way too much about my grades and what they say about me. I sometimes measure intelligence by GPA. I sometimes care too much what people think of me. I set my goals too high, but reach them eventually (driving myself up the wall in the process).

That is also who I am.

I have a year and a half left at Seton Hill. I don't have many classes within this major left. From here on out, I'm finishing up this degree, taking the rest of my core Theater classes, and filling in the spaces with the two gen ed classes I need. I only have one more class that I have to blog in-Media Lab, sometime senior year. I've written some 214 blog entries in the past year and a half.

This is the end my friends, and I offer you the following words of wisdom based on my observations these past 2 1/2 years (2 of which where spent as a journalism major):

1) Whatever you are learning is NOT B.S., regardless of whether you will use it in your future. Everything in this world has value.

2) Clear hours long blocks to work. Saturdays are golden.

3) Not doing your work and half-assing assignments is not going to spite the teacher. Learn the material. Complete a kick-ass project-that is your "so there."

4) Be respectful. Regardless of your personal feelings towards the course,  the professors have earned their degrees and therefore deserve your respect.

5) You do not know more than the teacher. Pay attention and don't be apathetic. Apathy gets you nowhere. 

6) You do not have to love everything, but love at least part of what you do. I hate New Media-but we have to use it. Society has to adapt to technology. I love writing. That is why I am a journalism major.

7) stop and smell the roses, the bushes, the trees, and even the grass and leaves. Don't let life pass you by.


 

And finally we had freedom. Sweet, sweet freedom to create our own project using what we had spent the first two and a half months learning. 

Rejoice greatly, for you've weathered the fires of hell. (excuse the dramatic license).

Now here's the actual portfolio:

The progress: from term project proposal to finished product

Sorry for the lateness

Progress Blog the Second

Alpha Report

Progress Blog the Third

E Finito-EL 236 Project nearly done

The Hopefully Last blog Relating to my Term Project Besides the Portfolio

The Finished Project:

My Italy

Helpfulness-I offered constructive criticism and suggestions to my peers

Jed:

My part is finished

Bomb Squad Progress

Alpha Test

Jessie:

King Arthur Lives Again-My IF Game Progress


Christina:

Hypertext Fiction Report

Alpha Report

Kevin:

You can't take everything

Andy:

Getting There

Denamarie:

Getting There


And there it is. Finalmente.

Grazia a dio.