December 11, 2006

Blog Portfolio 3

Project 2 Final (actual date TBA)

Final Exam (actual date TBA)

There is no final exam as such. Instead, students will present their final version of Project 2 during the final exam time slot.

December 07, 2006

Project 2 Website

Draft of a website that presents your project to the world.

Project 2 Workshop

December 05, 2006

Project 2 Beta

Project 2 Workshop

November 30, 2006

Project 2 Workshop

November 28, 2006

Project 2 Workshop

November 21, 2006

Blog Portfolio 2

Ex 5

After I get a clear sense of what we can realistically accomplish in a few weeks, I'll flesh out this assignment. I'm thinking of asking everyone to personalize a room of a certain standard dimension, including a 3D prop that you designed in Blender. I wi

3D Graphics Workshop

November 16, 2006

Blender lessons 13-16

3D Graphics Workshop

November 14, 2006

Blender lessons 11-16

3D Graphics Workshop

November 09, 2006

Creating a room in HL2


Project 2 Proposal

Interactive fiction, arcade game, Flash site, or something else? I would welcome a significant expansion of your CST work, but you may choose any subject -- informative, persuasive, entertaining, or some combination.

Blender lessons 6-10

3D Graphics Workshop

November 07, 2006

Project 1 Final

No class

I'll be attending a conference here at SHU.

Continue reading "No class" »

November 02, 2006

Blender lessons 1-5

I may replace all these Blender lessons with a different set of exercises for a different software package, but for now I'm listing them here.

3D Graphics Workshop

I'm leaving the outline of this unit rather sketchy, as I'd like to wait until I've seen how the class goes, before I can get a realistic sense of what we'll be able to accomplish here.

October 31, 2006

Troubleshoot Half-Life 2 Mod

Troubleshoot Blender 3D

Project 1 Beta

Peer Review

October 29, 2006

6. Assignments

The whole course is based on 1000 points.

If a particular exercise is worth 40 points, and you get 30 on it, you got 75%, or a B.

  • 200 Group Exercises
  • 200 Blog Portfolio
  • 200 Project 1 (CST)
  • 400 Project 2

There is no final exam; however, the final version of Project 3 is to be presented via an informal oral report, during the final exam time slot.

5.4 Texts

In addition to the required texts listed below, readings also include online articles.


There will be other readings, including a PDF document with lessons for Blender. I've been waiting since July for a book on making Half-Life 2 mods. If it's published soon, I may add it to the list of required texts.

5.3 Late Penalties

Just as students in generations past learned to carry spare quills, a pen knife, an extra inkhorn, and spare lamp wicks, using computers requires certain common-sense strategies that are an inseparable part of the course material.

Remember to save often and leave backups on more than one machine (use a USB drive or your student network space); plan your time so you can get your online work done when you can get to the lab where our software is installed, OR choose projects that will permit you do most of your work according to the timeframe and computing resources that fit your schedule.

Getting Credit for Late Work
Most assignments will be submitted in class. During the workshop time, I'll just walk around the room and talk with each of you about the day's work. I'll be happy to help you with last-minute minor troubleshooting, but you shouldn't expect to be able to work on an assignment in class on the day it's due.

All Late Work

Unless I grant you an extension in advance, all other assignments are penalized one letter grade for each day they are late (including Saturdays, but not counting Sundays or holidays when the university does not offer classes).

Special Cases

If your work is completed before midnight on the day it was due, it will only lose a third of a letter grade.

Agenda Items: While this is not a heavy reading class, when I do ask you to read a text, please post on your blog -- at least 24 hours before the class meets -- a brief quotation from the assigned reading. (That post is the "agenda item". You should come to class prepared to talk about your quotation.) By the time class meets, comment on two to four peer agenda items. (In other classes, I have also asked students to bring a 200-word response paper, but I'm not asking for that in this class. You are of course welcome to blog about the readings in more detail, but I am actually more interested in reading your response to the various projects and in-class workshops you'll be doing. These are time-sensitive assignments, so they earn no credit if they are late. (You should still complete any items you missed in order to get full credit for your class portfolio.)

Class Participation: The way to get credit for a missed in-class activity is to contribute substantially to the online discussion. Towards the end of the semester, when there will be fewer readings and more workshops, it will be harder for me to come up with alternate assignments. Still, you may demonstrate your desire to re-engage by posting thoughtful comments on the course website, your peers' websites, and/or your own blog. (To make sure that I see and record credit for this alternative work, please call it to my attention by collecting all the relevant URLs and sending me an e-mail asking me to consider them as part of your class participation grade.)

5.2 Participation

Students are expected to contribute actively to a positive classroom environment, both in person and online.

Common sense and common courtesy dictates that absences, late arrivals and early departures, use of telephones or headphones, lack of preparation, inattentiveness or disruptive behavior will impact your participation grade.

Those who participate above and beyond the call of duty will receive a bonus.

If a student's final grade falls near a borderline, I will consider classroom participation in order to decide whether to bump a grade up, leave it where it is, or bump it down.

5.1 Attendance

Students are expected to attend every class. (See Seton Hill University Catalog, p. 28-29, “Class Attendance” and “Excused Absences”.)

A student’s final grade is lowered by the proportion of unexcused absences. Thus, a student with a final grade of B (75) with a record of 10% unexcused absences would get a C+ (90% of 70 = 67.5).

I am happy to excuse students who have legitimate reasons, but students who miss a class period for any reason are still responsible for the material covered during the absence. An excused absence does not automatically grant an extension for any work collected or assigned that day.

Because a large percentage of your course grade depends on keeping up with the in-class workshops, falling behind can lead to big trouble.

If you are absent from class without a legitimate excuse, on a day when a major assignment is due -- perhaps because you stayed up all night working on a project and are too tired to attend class -- the assignment will be counted an extra day late. (You might as well go to bed without finishing the project, come to class so you don't fall farther behind, and then turn in the assignment the next morning.)

5.1.1. Emergency Absences

Those who miss class due to an unplanned emergency should submit an “Absence Form,” with proper documentation, as soon as possible.
For each class that you miss, download the word processor version of my “Absence Form” (available at After you initiate this contact, we will start working out whether or what kind of assignments would be appropriate. (I ask that you resist the impulse to ask me to e-mail you a summary of what you missed. I welcome the chance to help you get caught up, but please consult the syllabus and a classmate's notes first, and then bring any specific questions to me.) For some classroom activities, such as listening to peer oral presentations, there may be no appropriate make-up assignment. (See 5.2 Participation.)

5.1.2. Scheduled Absences
Those who miss class due to a scheduled activity must plan to complete all make-up assignments before the missed class. This means that you must submit an acceptable “Absence Form” (see above) at least 3 class periods before the missed class.

If there is insufficient time for us to agree upon an acceptable suggestion for making up missed work, or if an approved make-up assignment is late or unsatisfactory, then I may record the absence as unexcused.

5. Course Requirements

The class format is a studio -- a very short studio. While I will devote as much class time as possible to open workshops, you will still have to meet outside of class time in order to complete the assignments. You may wish to invest in a portable USB drive, as the course will ask you to deal with files and programs that consume a lot of storage space.

The course requires regular attendance, participation via in-class and online discussions, and timely completion of group and individual project work. The course is designed so that you will first complete simple assignments in a group setting, then progress to more elaborate individual assignments.

While the first three packages we will use are well-documented and very stable (Inform 7, The Games Factory 2, and Flash 8), the two 3D design tools -- Blender 3D and the Half-Life 2 mod creator -- are more powerful tools that are constantly being updated by a lively community. As such, the documentation for these last tools is not very complete or user friendly. For this reason, the course will also require patience, good communication with the instructor, a willingness to help your peers, and trust in your own ability to work in a challenging but rewarding area.

I will often send out bulk e-mails to the address on file for you in the J-Web system. If you check a different address more regularly, please use SHU's e-mail forwarding service so that you don't miss important updates.

Unless the homework assignment specifically mentions a printout, you should assume that I don't want a hard copy.

4. Course Objectives

You will develop your ability to think critically about the new media artifacts you are likely to encounter online.

At the end of this course, you should be able to work in teams to

  • design and write a simple text-based computer game (interactive fiction)
  • design and create a simple 2D arcade game
  • design and create an informative Flash site
  • design and animate a 3D virtual scene
  • create a custom level (a "mod") for Half-Life 2

In addition, you will work on your own to create two projects on a slightly larger scale. Project 1 will address some issue pertinent to Catholic Social Teaching. Project 2 may be on any theme, serious or otherwise.

No prior knowlege of computer programming is required.

I haven't been working with any of these tools for longer than six months. Inform 7 came out in April, The Games Factory 2 came out in July, and I only got an office computer with Flash 8 on it this past Friday (August 25). You will certainly run into problems that I won't be able to solve right away, or perhaps even at all.

While the class meets from 2-3:15, I will be happy to continue working with you after class if I don't have another commitment (and if nobody else has booked the room).

If you make a technical error on a literary close reading -- perhaps you omit a quotation mark, or you misspell an author's first name -- the result will still be an essay that your instructor can read and evaluate.

If you make a technical error on a computer program -- perhaps you omit a quotation mark, or you push the wrong key, or the development tool is in the wrong mode when you push the key that would otherwise be the right key -- the consequences will likey be far more severe. You won't fry your computer or unleash a virus that will take over the world, but you might end up losing hours or even days worth of work.

  • Get in the habit of saving your work whenever you're about to try something new, so that if you don't like the results you can go back to the previous version.
  • Rather than save over the previous version of your file, save your work under a new name each time.
  • Keep a project log, so that if you return to your project after spending a few days away from it, you remember what you were working on. Make a prioritized list of high priority tasks, middle priority tasks, and things that would be nice if you had the time. I once spent an entire day looking for 3D models of trees that are prettier than the ones that came with Half-Life 2. I mentioned my desire for better trees on my weblog, and from out of the blue a student I had taught four years ago at my previous job left a comment telling me where I could download prettier trees. But before long, I realized I didn't want to work on an outdoor scene anymore, and I scrapped my project to start on a windowless indoor scene. I'm happy to have the trees for when I might need them in the future, but truth be told I wasted a lot of time on what turned out to be a very minor detail.
  • Learn to make one change at a time, and after each change, check to see whether your project still works. If you are working on three different areas at once, and you do something that breaks your project, you'll have a lot of detective work to do. (Sometimes when I run into an error I can't understand, I make another version of the project, and slice and hack away. If I cut a section and the error disappears, then I know that something in the section I just cut was causing the error.)

    3. Course Description

    From the Catalog:

    Direction and support for the development of independent new media projects. Projects might include an online work of journalism such as a photo-documentary with voice-over narrative, a virtual reality illustration or simulation, or a traditional academic research paper examining an issue relevant to new media journalism and published in final form as hypertext.
    While I didn't say so in the official course description, I'd like to think of the traditional research paper as a last-ditch backup, in case things don't work out between you and any of the software packages we'll be using. You've all done research papers before, so let's instead try to focus on the media production tools. I'm very eager to see what you'll be able to do with them.

    2. Instructor

    Dennis G. Jerz (
    403 St. Joseph, Box 461
    jerz @ you-know-where . edu
    Phone: 724-830-1909 (but I'd prefer that you e-mail)

    Office Visits: I usually leave my door open. If you should happen to drop by when my door is closed, please come back later or send me an e-mail.

    Office Hours: 1pm Tue, 1pm Wed, 10am Th, and by appointment. St. Joseph 403.

    Occasionally I step out of my office briefly to run errands during my scheduled office hours. When I do, I usually leave a note on my door. If my light is still on, then I'm probably not far away.

    1. Where and When

    Mon, Wed, Fri 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM A405

    See daily course outline.


    Dennis G. Jerz

    October 28, 2006

    Course Overview

    Welcome to EL 450, "New Media Projects."

    The course website is located at I will update the online syllabus periodically, so the printout I give you is only for your convenience on the first day of classs. The offical version of the syllabus is the online version (though I will notify you in advance of any significant changes).

    Topics for today:

    • Review syllabus.
    • Writing for the internet is first and foremost writing (not coding or design).
    • Computer-mediated writing depends on computers (and computers can be frustrating and demanding).
    • What is print culture?
    • Histrorical context exercise.

    The front page of the blog only shows the main class topic and the main readings scheduled for that day. To get a full list of the lesson plan for any day, click on the date on the calendar.

    October 26, 2006

    Ex 4

    A narrated slide show (Flash Lesson 10) or something else that we agree upon in advance.

    Project 1 Workshop

    Aim to have a working project by now.

    October 24, 2006

    Flash Lessons 8 & 9

    These are complex lessons. If you don't get through them today, complete them as homework.

    Project 1 Workshop

    October 19, 2006

    Flash Lessons 5-7

    We may not get through these during class time. Complete them outside of class.

    Project 1 Proposal

    Based on the skills you have learned so far, how might you create a persuasive game that deals with a Catholic Social Teaching issue?

    Continue reading "Project 1 Proposal" »

    Blog Portfolio 1

    Agenda items for each assigned reading; your development journal, in which you give regular informal updates (with links and screen shots, where appropriate), and offer support and feedback to your peers.

    Ex 3 Revision

    A revision of your arcade game. Two or three complete levels, rooms, stages, etc.

    Project 1 Workshop

    October 12, 2006

    Flash Lessons 3 & 4

    Ex 3 Playtesting

    Offer constructive feedback to your peers; listen to the suggestions your peers offer.

    Ex 3 Draft

    A playable version of your concept, illustrating how the game will become more challenging in later levels.

    The Games Factory 2 Workshop

    Continue working on Ex 3.

    October 10, 2006

    The Games Factory 2 Workshop

    Continue working on Ex 3.

    Flash Lessons 1 & 2

    McAdams, Flash Journalism

    Read one case study from Part III.

    McAdams, Flash Journalism

    Read the introduction and all of Part I.

    Flash Workshop

    October 05, 2006

    Choose Flash Case Studies

    Part III of McAdams has detailed case studies of good Flash journalism. There are six case studies; I'd like to make sure that someone plans to read (and blog about) each case study, and that no more than 2 people share the same case study.

    Continue reading "Choose Flash Case Studies" »

    Troubleshoot Flash

    Let's get everyone set up to work in Flash.

    Concept Peer Review

    The class will offer feedback on the game concepts. Are they realistic? Will they be worth playing?

    Ex 3 Concept

    Form a different team, and bring to class a two-page plan for an arcade game. Consider bat-and-ball, side-scroller, platform jumper, catch-and-avoid, or auto racing games.

    Continue reading "Ex 3 Concept" »

    The Games Factory 2 Workshop

    October 03, 2006

    Side-Scrolling Shooter

    We will work on the tutorial in Chapter 13. Finish the tutorial outside of class.


    Chapter 11

    The Games Factory 2 Workshop

    September 28, 2006

    Bat and Ball Game

    We will spend class time going through the tutorial in Chapter 12. Finish this tutorial outside of class.


    Chapters 5 and 6.

    Continue reading "Darby" »

    The Games Factory 2 Workshop

    September 26, 2006

    Darby, Make Amazing Games in Minutes

    The actual game-making part of this book doesn't start until Chapter 12… but the introductory material is still useful. Read the introduction through chapter 4.

    Ex 2 Final

    The final version of your IF game.

    The Games Factory 2 Workshop

    September 21, 2006

    The Games Factory 2 Troubleshooting

    Let's get everyone set up.

    Continue reading "The Games Factory 2 Troubleshooting" »

    Inform 7 Publication Workshop

    Inform 7 has features that will help you to create a website to house your game. I will also show you how to make your game playable in a web browser.

    Ex 2 Beta Transcripts

    Each team member should ask someone who is not in the class to play their game. Print out a transcript of the beta-tester's session with the game, and note how you can improve the game so that players find it more responsive.

    Inform 7 Workshop

    September 19, 2006

    Ex 2 Revision

    Revise your game so that it responds to the reasonable things your beta-testers tried to do.

    Continue reading "Ex 2 Revision" »

    Inform 7 Workshop

    September 14, 2006

    Ex 2 Draft

    A playable IF game, ready for peer review.

    Continue reading "Ex 2 Draft" »

    Inform 7 Workshop

    September 12, 2006

    Interactive Fiction (TBA)

    You and your partner will choose a game to play. The game you choose should have a tone or setting that is similar to the one you are working on. You might choose a gothic mystery, a light-hearted romance, a sword-and-sorcery spoof, or a puzzlefest.

    Continue reading "Interactive Fiction (TBA)" »

    Inform 7 Workshop

    September 07, 2006

    Jerz, ''Exposition in Interactive Fiction''

    Interactive Fiction (TBA)

    Inform 7 Workshop

    In pairs, work on developing a simple interactive fiction game. You are welcome to build on any of the examples from the book.

    September 05, 2006

    Troubleshoot Inform 7

    Let's get everyone set up so that we can spend all day Thursday working in Inform 7.

    Continue reading "Troubleshoot Inform 7" »

    Jerz, ''Ask the Adventure Dwarf''

    Not yet online.

    Interactive Fiction

    Re-introduction to the genre.

    Ex 1: Response to Koster

    Write a richly linked blog entry, which links to other online material that helps you make the points you want to make about Koster's book.

    Strongbad Email #94


    Finish book.

    Serious Fun

    August 31, 2006


    Up to page 127

    Continue reading "Koster" »

    Fun and Flow

    August 29, 2006

    Half-Life 2 Mod



    The Games Factory 2

    Inform 7


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