Who'd Ever Think it? Such a Squalid Little Ending...-EL 405 Final Project Blog

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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:

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