Midterm Portfolio

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Introduction

The purpose of this portfolio is to get a behind the scenes look at what into making my game in Scratch, Inform 7, and website in HTML / CSS as well as my influences and difficulties I had to overcome.

Units

Scratch

For the Scratch unit of this class we could either make an interactive story or a game. I chose to go with a game. After looking at some example projects that other users had created on the Scratch website, I thought about making a Pong-like game. Further browsing on the website revealed a lot of games that took Pong as inspiration so I decided to change my plans. I remembered using a similar software in grade school that was advertised in one of those Troll or Scholastic book order forms. Doing a bit of research now I found out that EB Worlds, another 2D game/story creation software, was released in October of 2002. Wow. Eight years is a very long time, but yet it left a lasting impression on me. So much so that one of the sample games packaged with it was a tank battling game. My idea for a Scratch game was found.

Since the tank game included in EB Worlds was already a complete, finished game, all one had to do was load it up and play it to have a good time. As I stared at the almost blank screen of Scratch (the Scratch cat mascot thing always staring at the ground) I realized just how much work would be needed to get even the basic action of shooting up and running.

There were a lot of things to consider. What would the tanks look like? What would the level look like? Are there objects in the level that the tanks can interact with and destroy? How is movement defined? Does each tank's turret move in the same direction as the tank is facing? How is hit detection determined? What happens if one tank runs into the other tank? If a tank is shot, what happens? Are there winning screens, menus, rewards, music, sound effects, credits? I was in for a lot of hard work.

First I decided on an overall look for the game. Not being an artist, the low tech look fit perfectly. Each tank had its on color as well. The level was made so that tank bullets would not extend past the border. In addition I created a few blocks as barriers for the tanks to navigate around.

Next, came controls for both tanks. Since I was making a two player game I needed to have separate controls for each player. Ultimately I decided to have the standard arrow keys for one player and the pc gaming equivalent too -- W, A, S, and D.

Shooting and tank/bullet hit detection came next. For each tank I created a unique bullet that would start on whatever location the tank was currently positioned and travel in a straight line until it hit either a wall, barrier, or tank. Conditions were set so that if encountering another tank, a message would appear telling the players who won.

I then added a menu screen with instructions after doing some user testing. Overall I am happy with the game I managed to create. The graphics work, but the gameplay is what really matters. Grab a friend and try it out at the link below.

Play Tanks! my game in Scratch.


Inform 7

Our second unit focused on interactive fiction. We were asked to create a game in the program called Inform 7. Previously I had worked with Inform 7 in the Video Game Culture & Theory class so this was a chance to review what I had learned before.

Before we began working on our own projects the class had a chance to try some published works of interactive fiction. While it was interesting to see what others were able to create I ultimately drew my inspiration from movies and games.

My interactive fiction tells the story of someone who needs to escape to ground level from an apartment building. They are considered a wanted criminal and so are chased by police forces. While originally designed to have a variety of floors to explore while making the journey to the bottom, I had to cut back due to time constraints and adding in extra details.

When I set out to create my game I first drew a map of the locations that I wanted to be able to explore. The first thing I coded in Inform 7 was all the rooms, making sure that everything was in the right direction in relation to one another. Next I added in windows and doors. Then came the hard part of adding descriptions for everything. Most of my time was spent on this task.

Populating most of the rooms with objects was my next priority. Because my game was about escape, which meant running away, I tried not to add too many objects that would cause the player to stop and examine them.

Random events, descriptions and scenes are what I'm most proud of. If a player is in a certain location for too long, certain events will happen. In addition, if a player enters a location for a first or any time after, a random description will be displayed. I did this to give the sense of a living world where everything is constantly in motion, like the player should be. Try it out below.

Play my interactive fiction titled Ground Level.


HTML / CSS

Our third and final unit was on HTML and CSS, or Hyper-Text Markup Language and Cascading Style Sheets. We could make anything we wanted as long as it had enough content to fill a few linked pages. I chose to go with a portfolio.

Having never used HTML or CSS at anytime in the past, this unit, unlike Inform 7, was completely new. I had seen HTML before but never actually went about creating anything. Additionally, Dr. Jerz wanted us to make a site that looked good on an iPad.

At first it was difficult understanding what code made what change to the page, but I quickly grasped the basics. After some prototypes I had a basic outline of what I wanted to complete. In the two weeks that we had available to complete our project I managed to complete all my goals. Take a look at the link below.

Explore my website.


Conclusion

After completing these three units, I have managed to set specific goals, work at a scheduled pace, change plans when needed, understand graphical-oriented programming, and learn an entire new programming language. This shows that I can adapt to the problems at hand and set about solving them in a variety of ways.

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