Jerz: New Media Projects (EL405)


29 August 2006

Course Overview

Welcome to EL 450, "New Media Projects."

The course website is located at http://blogs.setonhill.edu/DennisJerz/EL405. 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.


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Inform 7

Inform 7 is a free software suite (available for Mac or Windows) for the creation of interactive fiction games. The software comes with an integrated manual, and I have created some instructional tools that should help us get started quickly.


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The Games Factory 2

The Games Factory 2 is an inexpensive commercial product for developing arcade-style games. SHU has purchased a site license for this software. A demo also comes with the somewhat optimistically named book Make Amazing Games in Minutes (which is on the reading list).


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Flash

Flash, formerly known as Macromedia Flash but recently purchased and rebranded by Adobe, is a powerful multimedia tool that mostly gets a bad name because it is used for annoying advertisements and unnecessary bells and whistles. As Peter Parker says, "With great power comes great responsibility." We'll learn a little about both. Flash is covered in the book Flash Journalism. If you already have Flash or you prefer to use the Mac version, you are welcome to do your work in an alternate environment.


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Blender 3D

Blender is a free, open-source, and mind-blowingly powerful 3D graphics tool. Some of the best Blender documentation is in the form of a community-authored wiki, though most of that is written for people who already know their way around a computer. My own initial experiences with Blender were halting and frustrating, until I found James Chronsiter's excellent Blender Basics, 2nd Ed. Some of the exercises in that book won't be very relevant to what I'm hoping to teach in this course, but it's still the best, most careful introduction I've seen. Blender is updated on a regular basis, so already some of the screen captures don't match up with what you'll see in the program, but we'll make do.

Blender is free, and available for a wide variety of computer systems.

There are plenty of Blender tutorials out there, if your'e looking for more intense instruction in a specific area.


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Half-Life 2 Mod

Half-Life 2 is a first person-shooter game that is popular within the modding community. A "mod" is a "modification" to a commercial game, typically involving the creation of new levels of game play. Half-Life 2 comes with a free, and very powerful 3D world creation toolset. I'm eager to see just what a class of very bright English majors can do with these powerful multimedia tools.


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