November 2008 Archives

Almost done!!

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I'm so excited to say that I've almost completed my IF game. Although I haven't included a lot of synonyms yet, the rest of the game--content wise, is pretty good. But, I do have one problem. I included two animals in my game for two puzzels, but as of right now, I can't seem to get them to accept the actions that I need for the puzzels. I need them to take items when I give them to them, and I also need to be able to *take* the one animal to a person for the puzzel. Can anyone help me? I'm really at a loss. The game doesn't even come up as an error or anything, so my coding is okay. The only problem is, for example, when I say "give meat to beast" the game responds with "It doesn't seem interested." The same goes for when I try to take the beast. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated...

 

Other than that, I'm pretty confident in my game. I'm probably going to add a few more items before Beta Release, but otherwise, it's pretty well formulated and easily navigated...

If at first you don't succeed....

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In class on Monday, Alex tested my IF game for me. It's supposed to be a game based on The Sword and the Stone, and although she understood that much, she had some difficulties with my game. So I definately have some adjustments to make, which was expected, because I didn't completely finish it, since it was only the Alpha release.

  • Alex didn't realize that she needed to "listen" to Merlyn in order to obtain the crystal. I chose listen, because I couldn't figure out how to include dialogue, so I figured this would just avoid it all together. Dr. Jerz helped me set the game to automatically "listen" after "examine," so hopefully this won't happen again.

 

  • I also needed to remove the crystal from gameplay after using it the first time to turn the player into a bird. Dr. Jerz also helped me with this. He just set it to only turn into a bird the first time, instead of everytime

 

  • The above was important, because Alex ate the birdseed as she was supposed to in order to turn human again, and then used the crystal again, which caused her to be stuck as a bird instead of a human, which shouldn't have happened.

 

  • Dr. Jerz helped me to set the game so that the player cannot leave a room until he or she completes a goal or has an item in posession. This will help in the future, because Alex had no idea that she needed the crystal in order to turn into a bird. I also set it so that the player cannot leave the barn until he has eaten the birdseed to turn back into a human.

 

  • She also didn't understand why she turned into a bird, which makes me realize that, although the game is based on The Sword and the Stone, not everyone will understand, so I need to add some more background information

 

  • I forgot to mention that London is north of the castle, so Alex had no clue as to where she needed to go after she already explored all of the other rooms. I had to give her a hint in order for her to go to london.

 

  • Lastly, I need to develop the story more so that the player has a legitimate reason to visit the graveyard other than the fact that it is a room in the game. I will expand in London with a story of Kay forgetting his sword back at the castle before the tournament.


On the brightside, Alex said that the game seemed pretty easy to navigate in. I just need to clarify a few things. I plan to include a few more objects and a more concrete storyline to make the game more interesting. On the whole, I can really see the importance of usability testing, especially because I seem to miss stupid mistakes, because it is my own game...

How's everyone else doing?

King Arthur Lives Again--my IF game progress

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I've always been a fan of videogames, and even though Interactive Fiction isn't as complex as Fable 2, I can't help but be interested in creating my own adventure game.

One of the games that inspired me to create this game was Voices of Spoonriver (I couldn't find the webpage that I used before to play the game, but I will update this blog once I find it.), based on Edgar Lee Master's book Spoon River Anthology.

Photopia also inspires me. I acknowledge that my game will not be nearly as detailed as Photopia, but I like some of the aspects of this game a lot--especially how the game jumps from location to location abruptly. I wouldn't want to do exactly that, but I think it will come in handy due to my involvement with Merlyn in the story.

 I've chosen to model my IF game after T.H. White's The Sword and the Stone. In my IF game, I plan to focus primarily on Arthur's education under the guidance of Merlyn, with the end of the game involving Arthur pulling Excalibur from the stone.

My game will be full of richly detailed descriptions and some dialogue with Merlyn.

Depending on how complex I can make the story, I might include a sub-plot involving King Pellinore, the king who is cursed to pursue a creature forever in a cursed forest.

So far, I've started writing a brief plot overview, and I have an idea in my head of how many rooms I will include in the game. I do have a few concerns that I fear might lead to obstacles:

  • Dialogue with Merlyn
  • Transforming Arthur into a bird and then back into a human
  • preventing users from skipping Arthur's education and heading straight for London to take the sword from the stone

Other than these few problems, I don't think I should have too much trouble creating this IF game. I guess the test will be whether or not I can time manage, because I guarentee this is going to be a rather time-consuming project.

Everyone else has so awesome projects too!

Users are the jelly to designers' peanut butter

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So portfolio time has rolled around yet again, and I've learned a lot more this time. Not only did I learn about a new type of videogame known as Interactive Fiction, but more importantly, I learned a lot about myself as a web user. In Steve Krug's book, Don't Make Me Think!, he talked a lot about the average user (which doesn't actually exist), explaining that it is the web designers' responsibility to provide all necessities for a user. Later in the book, Krug explains the importance of organization on a website. But, like I keep saying Over and Over again, Everyone could do themselves a favor and read that book. The biggest thing I learned from this section would be the aspect of teamwork for any website--teamwork between web designers and the general public. Without each other, neither will be satisfied. Usability testing can do no harm, only good.

 

Coverage: The majority of my blog entries included direct quotes from our assigned texts and a trackback to the course website.

Job-o-rama? Krug Intro-CH3

"There's No Place Like Home" Krug CH4-6 (doesn't have a trackback)

Pulldown menus...my worst nightmare (no trackback)

Got Sanity?

Hidden Information Can Cause Complications Krug9-11

TMI...Krug Ch.12

"I'm Not as Dumb as you think I am"

Avoid Wikipedia Like the Plague

Wikipedia Policy and Pillars

 

Timliness: Although I have yet to publish a blog entry a full 24 hours before class, I'm getting pretty close, and gave my peers more time to respond to a few of my blog entries.

"There's No Place Like Home" Krug CH4-6

Got Sanity?

TMI..Krug CH. 12

I'm Not as Dumb as You Think I am

I'm thinking too much...Krug Review

 

Interaction: I started off pretty strong at the start of this section with leaving comments on my peers blogs, and then eased up a little as the section wore on. However, I picked up the slack again towards the end.

I participated in a good conversation on Jed's blog entry, Thank You Steve

I commented on Aja's blog entries, Rocket Surgery  and Why Can't They Leave Us Alone?

I also left a comment on Christina's entries, Usability Stupidity and Feral Parrots and Other Birds

And, on Alex's Am I going mad, or did the word "think" escape your lips?

And, I left a brief comment on Shellie's blog, Yay! Change!

 

Depth: In a few of my blog entries, I went into more detail than I did in others.

There's No Place Like Home

Got Sanity?

Hidden Information Can Cause Complications

I'm not as dumb as you think I am

Avoid Wikipedia Like the Plague

I'm Thinking Too Much

 

Discussion: Part of the reason that I had more comments this time around probably had something to do with my timliness.

There's No Place Like Home 

Hidden Information Can Cause Complications

TMI...Krug Ch. 12

Avoid Wikipedia Like the Plague

 

 

Wanna see the other Portfolios?

 

I'm thinking too much...Krug review

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Although Don't Make Me Think! by Steve Krug did touch on some of the same issues covered in Crawford Kilian's Writing for the Web 3.0, I still enjoyed Krug's book, because he went more in-depth concerning not only how to write for the web, but also how to present information on the web.

While reading this book, I found that I was unknowingly doing a lot of the stuff mentioned in his book. And, now that I'm aware of my actions, I do it even more. Krug stresses the importance of thinking so that our useers do not have to. According to Krug, users see a small fragment of what is actually on the page, and as soon as they become frustrated, which can happen rather quickly on a *busy* web page, they hit that imfamous *back* button and search elsewhere in cyberspace.

Krug uses multiple examples of existing websites to prove his points in the book. Surprisingly, most of his information remains evident today, even though the book was published eight years ago. He frequently uses Amazon as a reference, and judging by Amazon's popularity to this day, Krug's idea of what works really does work.

I stand by what I said before. All students could benefit from reading this book, not only because they never know where their careers might lead them in the online world, but also because while in college, knowing what to look for on a website (especially a college website for grad school?) is much more time efficient.

My final thought is: It's been 8 years since Krug came out with the first edition of his book, and by now, you'd think that more corporations would be paying attention to what he has to say. Sure, he might not be the most well-known author in the world of Corporate America, but surely some of the new technical writers out there recognize his name. Having said that, why don't more websites have usability testing, or an obvious place on their pages where users can leave feedback about a website.

This book has helped me to see what works and what fails miserable. Unfortunately, my ability to identify those problems isn't going to recitfy most, if any of them, so part of me feels like, unless I "grow up" to be a writer for a website (I would much rather realize my dreams as a big-shot magazine editor living the life in NYC), I don't think this book is going to get me much farther than it already has. Sure, I'll keep in mind what he said about removing useless & excess words, but besides that, what can I do to contribute to the growing community of bad websites?

Back to the future...

Wikipedia Policy and Pillars

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1. Wikipedia works by building consensus

2. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia.

3. Respect other contributors.

4. Respect copyrights.

5. Avoid bias.

6. Include only verifiable information.

 

So after reading the policy section of Wikipedia, I have to say that most of these are just no-brainers. I really don't have much to say about this, because Wikipedia kinda said it all when they said that you don't have to read it if you don't want to...I mean, shouldn't you HAVE to read it in order make changes on the site.

Oh, and one last comment about this section. I did Kinda like the fact that anyone can edit this policy. That really strengthens their idea of the encyclopedia being one giant democracy, but at the same time, couldn't anyone just make the rules insanely strict? I know people would catch it right away (there's always a guy out there who's obsessed with not breaking the rules), but what happens if you're the one person who reads the false rules? What then?

On to the Five Pillars:

 Respect your fellow Wikipedians even when you may not agree with them.

On a side note, I love the sound of "Wikipedians." It's just so cool. But anyway, as for this section of the reading, I found particular interest in the section about proper conduct.

Remind yourself that these are people with whom you are dealing. They have feelings and probably have other people in the world who love them. Try to treat others with dignity. The world is a big place, with different cultures and conventions. Do not use jargon that others might not understand. Use acronyms carefully and clarify if there is the possibility of any doubt.

So I admit that I didn't see this assigned reading until after I did my editing for homework. So, I have a few insights as well. Instead of correcting my addition to the Sailor Moon page, whoever edited me, just deleted my addition all-together. So much for being respectful.

 

As far as I'm concerned, Wikipedia should attempt to require people to read these sections when they create an account, because although my added information wasn't the most specific of data, it was pretty accurate, so why delete it completely? Okay, maybe I'm a little bitter, but can you blame me? I guess Sailor Moon fans feel they are above proper conduct...

What does EL236 have to say?

Avoid Wikipedia like the Plague

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[in class]

I decided to check out the Grey's Anatomy page on wikipedia, because it's my favorite tv show, and I'm not lying when I say that I could watch seasons 1-3 over and over again...anyway, when I went to edit the page, I was surprised to see it was in the a form of code, so I decided to just change one thing to start out: I changed Erica Hahn's status as "Former Head of Cardiothoracic Surgery" to just "Head of Cardiothoracic Surgery." To my surprise, I didn't need to make a log in ID. Did this happen to anyone else? Regardless, I moused over the "create an Account" and a flag showed up saying "You are encouraged to log in; however, it is not mandatory," so I created an account anyway.

Seton Hill--Wikipedia

I was a little disappointed about the Wikipedia website for SHU. It lacked any detailed information, and the only section that I actually wanted to contribute to was blocked, or something, so I couldn't fix the typos that I found. However, the page did offer a little more background information than I expected, which was nice, because it solved a few questions that I had about the school. On the whole, I think that people would be smarter to visit the actual Seton Hill Website, but at least the wikipedia site offers a little background information and list of offered majors.

St. Vincent--WIkipedia

As much as I was disappointed in the Wikipedia website for SHU, St. Vincent's was even worse. The site offered very little information about the college itself, only mentioning a little background information and a few traditions. It didn't even list any of the offered majors like the SHU page did.

When I compare the two sites, both have strenghts and weaknesses.

Strengths:

Seton Hill's site features a list of majors as well as a list of the athletics offered.

St. Vincent offers some press moments to show the school's rising fame(ish), such as President Bush's appearance for Commencment in 2007.

Weaknesses:

Seton Hill's site really doesn't go very in-depth. This is rather disencouraging for prospective students, because students look for schools that have lots of activities going on.

St. Vincent made no mention of its strengths as a college. It doesn't talk about what majors (under-grad or grad) are offered.

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Homework:

For this section of the assignment, I decided to make substantial changes to the Grey's Anatomy and Sailor Moon pages. I chose Grey's because of my reasons listed above--I love the show and have most of the episodes memorized. I chose the Sailor Moon page, because she was my favorite cartoon growing up as a child. I would watch the episodes religiously after school (at Aquinas Academy, a private Catholic school), and my mom bought me books and other merchandise pertaining to the show. Call me a geek, a nerd, a little kid. I don't care. Even though Sailor Moon is a silly kid's show, I would probably still watch it if it was still aired on television....wow, I am a geek...anyway...

Grey's Anatomy:

I edited the section concerning Season 5. I added a few details about what has been going on thus far in the season. 

I added:

So far this season, Meridith and Derek haven't hit many rough patches. Meredith stumbles across her dead mother's diaries. Callie and Erica have a fling; however, Callie has a hard time adjusting to life as a lesbian. She "cheats" on Erica in the on-call room with Mark Sloan. During the episode, Rise Up, Izzie has a minor melt-down when she begins to see Denny everywhere, after meeting the man whose heart she stole in order to save Denny during season 3. When Erica learns of Izzie's actions, she insists that everyone should punish, and plans to report not only Izzie, but the hospital as well, angering not only Cheif Webber but Callie as well.

Sailor Moon:

For this section, I added information to the Anime section. I added some brief information about season 1 to the section: 

During the first season of the show, Serena spends half of the season meeting the rest of her team, through various episodes, which eventually lead to the first climactic episode, where the Serena and Darrien reveal their super-selves to each other in a tower where both are in serious danger. The crystals that Tuxedo Mask, the Sailor Scouts and the Negaverse combine into the Imperial Silver Crystal, and Sailor Moon is identified as the chosen one, Princess Serena. From here, Darrien and Serena are reunited as lovers from a previous world, on the moon, where Serena was princess and Darrien was prince of Earth. By the end of the season, Serena faces the queen of the Negaverse, Queen Beryl presumably by herself, but defeats Beryl with the help of her sailor scouts (Mercury, Mars, Jupiter & Venus). Alas, the episode ends with the girls forgetting that they were ever super heroes, and unfortunately, they forget their friendships as well...but not for long. Season 2 revives the superheroes, and by season 3, Serena is joined unknowingly by her future daughter, Rini, who eventually grows up due to Dark Magic, and almost calls for the end of the world. Three movies were also produced in english. Two of the movies included Rini, although Rini's part was more minor in one than the other. The first movie involved Darrien's childhood friend, who was actually a plant alien. The second concerned Luna's desire to be human and feel love. This "episode" included an Ice Queen, and in the final movie, Sailor Moon rescues children, including Rini from a deathly dreamland.

 

I admit that in this section, I was a little rusty with all of the names and plots for the show, so I assumed that the Wikipedia community would correct my mistakes. I decided to let the site sit for an hour, while I did some other homework. When I returned, I checked out both sites again.

I visited the Sailor Moon site first, and clicked the bookmark labled Anime. Lo and behold, my entire entry has vanished. Go figure. Now granted, my addition to the page was not on a scholarly level, but I don't think it was really THAT horrible, but I guess that other Sailor Moon addicts out there disagreed. Guess I'm not as much of a geek as I'd guessed.

So, as I wandered back to the Grey's page, I wondered if I would see similar results. Wrong again. Apparently Grey's Anatomy fans aren't as crazy about content as Sailor Moon fans, because if anyone did happen across my addition to Season 5, they didn't even notice that I spelled "Meridith" wrong once, and then spelled "Meredith" right a few words later. Go figure.

Now for my reflection...I've learned a lot about using Wikipedia  from this exercise. While I had reservations about using the site prior to this experience, I now realize that while this site can be useful for certain information (especially Media), it isn't as useful in the real world (especially college). I stand by what I said in my last blog entry: Wikipedia can offer some great sources to draw information from--but one of those sources isn't Wikipedia. If you're that lazy, you deserve to be fed incorrect information. I see the value in using the site for quick references, but I don't understand how anyone could use such a website to formulate a Research paper, as I know students try time and again to do. 

As far as I'm concerned, everyone who is doing scholarly or academic work should avoid wikipedia like the plague.

"I'm not as dumb as you think I am"

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"I use Wikipedia all the time for my research--but I certainly wouldn't cite it."

--Is Wikipedia Becoming a Respectable Academic Source?

Unfortunately, this is not the first time I've heard that comment. I had a few friends who used Wikipedia all through high school religiously. One of my best friends told me that he would look up wikipedia and just cite the information as something from one of the sources the Wikipedia article cited. I personally try to stay away from WIkipedia at all costs. Even when I'm just looking up something for fun, I would rather spend a little extra time googling than resort to WIkipedia.

So far Wikipedia has been cited 52 times in 2008. I can't get over that statistic. Every teacher I've had has always told us that wikipedia is not a viable source, and that's obviously true. So I disagree with this article when it says that Wikipedia might be usable for an academic source. I would be too afraid to ever use Wikipedia, especially because, as the article states, it is not always the most reliable site.

The four criticisms only heighten my opinion that WIkipedia will never be an academic source. Using even a normal encyclopedia is looked down upon in college. The constant revisions make it hard for anyone to cite information too--because you never know what is true or false. Sure we could spend extra time fact-checking, but if you ask me, that kinda defeats the purpose of using a quick site like Wikipedia in the first place. Expanding on this, because anyone can change the site, we might have a hard time knowing what to believe. Sometimes it's kind of obvious, like when my friend changed the wikipedia page on George Bush to include insults towards Bush. That didn't last on the page for very long, but the point is, it did show up on the page. The page has since been locked due to ongoing vandalism. Without that constant peer review, how can we expect to find validity in the website at all?

Chase thought Wikipedia was a joke site and he made the edit to amuse a colleague.

--Seigenthaler libeller unmasked- thought it was a joke

This quote only makes me want to visit Wikipedia even less.If people are honestly mixing it up with false sites like Uncyclopeia, something is obviously wrong. I googled the site just for "kicks and giggles," as my golf coach always says, and I may be wrong here, but I think it's actually a sub-division of the wiki-enterprise, so it's no wonder Chase made the error.

While this article makes good clame that it is in part the fault of readers who believe some of these false statements, it's still partially wikipedia's fault for not paying closer attention to important sites. It's a great idea to allow others to update information--unfortunately, it's hard to keep up with all of the bad changes along with the new. Maybe Wikipedia is just ahead of its time. We need to get better control of a page like this before we make it mainstream--oops, looks like it's too late for that...

Oh and in case you didn't know...the quote in my title is from Rocky...haha, I got the inspiration, because Rocky III was on the tv while I was writing my blogs. Guilty as charged for multitasking...

EL236 has some thoughts too

TMI...Krug CH.12

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You click "Subscribe" and a form appears. It looks longer than you expected, and you quickly discover why. For no good reason, you're being asked to provide your mailing address. And your phone number. And your occupation Suddenly, quick task has become a project.

I found these emails very useful and easy to relate to. For example, I can't begin to describe how many times I've started to subscribe for email updates, and changed my mind because I don't want to give out my phone number. Actually, sometimes, I just in a false address and phone number...they'll never know. I've come across this at Staples as well. As a cashier, we're encouraged to sign people up for our Rewards program. I can't tell you how many people don't want to sign up just because they have to fill out a form, and especially because they have to include their phone number. It's just unnecessary. Staples claims we need the phone number to look up the card when they forget it, but I'm sure they could think of another method...

So now we've come to an end with our book. Although some of the chapters were a bit repetitive, I'm glad Dr. Jerz assigned it, because it's offered so many insights to building websites. Now, when I visit a website that I'm unfamiliar with, I pay more attention to its Usability. Really, this book should be given to more than just EL236 students, because everyone could benefit from the knowledge of this book, especially while doing research or visiting college websites.

The other EL236 students have some thoughts too...

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