December 12, 2006

(Another) Final Portfolio: I Actually Kinda Like This Stuff

Initially, my NMP entries were full of gripes and misunderstandings. From Interactive Fiction, which I have become ridiculously interested in, to Hammer, with a slew of software in between, my mind has been tested. My patience skills have been tested. My learning skills have been tested.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed learning about new software; but that doesn't mean I have to like it. I just think that maybe I would have been able to get into it more and appreciate it if we had less to learn about and more time to learn it was still a good experience though.

Throughout it all, I feel as though I have come out more accomplished and knowledgeable. And I've become obsessed with Interactive Fiction. Oh, well.

So, here it is. There aren't really many entries, none focusing on readings (since there were none), just project related updates and software reflections...and some business about comments....

Hammer-Time. Unlike my first experience with the other software programs, (with the exception of Flash), I actually enjoyed my Hammer experience.

Student Tested, Dr. Jerz Approved. I expanded my CST project into project 2. I had reached a progress point, and then, after I had made sure all of my scenes worked, and my character transition worked, I got Chris to beta test my game.

Zombies, Shotguns, Seagulls, and Pigeons, Oh My!. Hammer-Time the second was even better than the first! I got to add alien zombies (whose heads fly off after you shoot them), seagulls, pigeons (both birds purely by choice), a shotgun (also by choice), and of course some shotgun ammo so I could shoot the seagulls and pigeons. I mean, so I could defend myself from the zombies....

Commenting was rather sparse on the homefront this time..I guess it was in lieu of all the projects and senior years we've got going on...either way, I managed to throw in a few comments on the blogs...I did comment on people's work to them in person though. This was usually done in class, or in another class that I shared with that person. Alas, here are some written ones...

I agreed with Karissa about Hammer and the lighthearted step it put in my day. Experimenting with Hammer made me laugh out loud at myself...something that has become rare as of late.....

Again, I commented on Karissa's blog, again, it was about Hammer. I expressed my love for all things that fly (or waddle) within my oriental rug covered walls, and the great joy that was brought to me in shooting them...(er, saving them from the zombies....those poor little things...)

And, sad as it is, Academia has dominated my life. Thus, I have no "wild, Lori-rific" blog entries with which to amuse all of you. Slews of them will come shortly, I'm sure. It's all about having the extra few minutes to sit down and put them into Moveable Type.

Posted by Lori Rupert at 1:59 PM | Comments (0)

Zombies, Shotguns, Seagulls, and Pigeons, Oh My!

As I, and several of my classmates, stated before, Hammer Editor was almost a treat as compared to the rest of the semester. It seemed that we all enjoyed our first experience with Hammer and the delightfulness that was generated by being able to make a room, AND walk around in it. At the end of the first session, my room was awesome. Okay, crazy. But awesome. The one wall was a window, a window of walls, if you will, and the rest, including the ceiling, were patterned like an oriental rug. The floor was "corrugated iron" as Dr. Jerz called it. For the second session, we got to add objects. I had way too much fun with this:

A work in progress:


Complete with:


Check out my window of walls (left) and the zombies. Isn't the oriental-rug patterned wall fun, too?


And just for the hell of it, SEAGULLS! (And pigeons, complete with shotguns and ammo specifically so I could shoot the seagulls and pigeons....)

The last week of class was: Hammer-Time! EXCELLENT!

Posted by Lori Rupert at 1:58 PM | Comments (0)

December 7, 2006

CST Beta Testing: A Little Detailed Developement

For our last project in EL405, we had the liberty to produce a project of any medium and subject matter. At this point, I was being bombarded by Interactive Fiction to the extent that I got ridiculously interested in it. Due to this, and the fact that I wanted to produce a finished product, I decided to extend project 1 and continue it for project 2. After I had reached a point of progress, I had Stormy beta test my game one day in class. To my surprise, she tried to interact with several small objects (a toothbrush, toothpaste) that I had included as part of a description. Of course, my game was still in the revision state, but it was good to see where I had to add stuff in order to either allow the player to interact or not interact with the objects. Stormy's interest in the small objects helped me to fine tune my game and it ended up helping me to be able to interact with the player more. I had to decide whether or not to let the player interact or if I wanted to get rid of the objects. I felt that they were necessary as part of the description, but knowing the player would interact with them, I made them obsolete. Instead of being able to take either of the objects, I have something happen. I made the actions trigger events in the game that I think make it a little bit more interactive for the player.

After I had taken Stormy's beta testing into account, I continued to work on my CST project, incorporating self-beta testing and fixing things as I went. I remember one day coming across some objects that I hadn't yet made interactive and thinking to myself about how I had to fix it. Well, I never got to that small detail. Later in the semester, I had Chris beta test my game in class. I wanted Chris to do it because I feel that he is very knowledgable about Inform 7. He tried to interact with the objects that I had forgotten to fix, which was a good thing because it put the thought back in my head to change them. Again, as I did the first time with Stormy's beta, I made the objects obsolete. They are there, but when the player tries to interact with them, I instead have the game interact with the player. Chris also helped me with some of my coding. There was an action I wanted to have in there, but I couldn't figure out how to get it to work, and Chris helped me to solve my problem.

Even though I beta test my own games, I am still relieved when someone else is willing to play. There are things that they are going to try to do that I wouldn't have ever thought of typing. It is good for a fresh pair of eyes to view my work, especially when those eyes belong to a person with different thoughts and levels of knowledge than myself. I feel that each time that I worked on my game, it developed a little bit. Each hour or two spent working with the coding was usually spent adding a small amount of coding and then detailing the crap out of it to provide the utmost level of interaction and understandability possible.

The beta testing aided the developmental process of my game and also aided in my own developing knowledge of the software. Even though I was initially anti-Interactive Fiction, after repeated exposure, I have come to truly enjoy working with it. I have also come to enjoy troubleshooting and solving error messages; this segment of enjoyment expands to a ridiculous extent. I am truly tickled by fighting with Inform 7 to get coding that works. As the semester progressed, I solved my own problems and spent time helping classmates solve theirs; it was a great feeling to finally understand the software, especially to an extent where I could help others understand it better.

Posted by Lori Rupert at 12:06 AM | Comments (0)

December 6, 2006

(Finally) a Little Beta Testing

Attempting to find willing and not-so-busy participants to beta test my EL236 project was a little difficult at this time of year. It was also a difficult task due to the fact that I was trying to fix something pretty major on my game. I was having staircase troubles, which I actually got working on my own, but am contemplating using the coding Dr. Jerz gave me. I did however, discover some useful information about my game and some things I needed to add (interaction wise) through the help of some anonymous particpants, and also under the test of my own fingers.

I am just now really realizing that I did it, but I tended to beta test my games myself. I guess everyone does really, just in simply trying to verify that the coding is working properly. I would play my games though after adding a chunk of coding and would usually end up fiddling with the coding and retesting. I was pleased to learn that I was using old skills (analyzation) as well as new skills.

Of course, a few other pairs of eyes can always catch something I am missing. I found that both of my testers, college students my age, one male, one female, enjoyed playing my IF game. They were a little stunned by the mere simplicity of it, much as I was myself. A little frustration was found because of the limited access to the staircase, which is why I think I may use the code from Dr. Jerz. My code does work, but one must "go up" or "go down"; those are the only codes the game understands. Type anything else and it will give you a message saying it only recognizes "go up" or "go down". You can also use a direction, rather than an actual command, such as "climb" or "ascend"; North and South work, but what I was aiming for, the "climb" or "ascend" don't work with the coding I have in there now. I try to do object names and descriptions right after I use them in a description, so that way I know they are accounted for. Therefore, this didn't present too much of a problem. I don't think the testers could really see the point of my game yet because it wasn't finished, and I want the end to hit the reader like a sack of IF flavored potatoes. There is the end. I will be posting the coding soon after I troubleshoot some small things and fix some descriptions. I am an English major, always editing. It's kind of addicting, really...

...another thing that I seem to have become drawn to is troubleshooting. I really got into IF this time. I became obsessed with reading the documentation and looking at the index in order to solve my own problems. I even helped several of my peers: Rachel, Gabby, Paul and Cherie.

Helping them with their games also acts as a from of beta testing to me. I learn what troubles they are having and solve them, which sometimes makes it easier to solve my own problems. Also, there are times that Cherie has helped me with some of my coding, which is great, considering this is her first IF experience.

I have collected a handleful of helpful and useful knowledge relating to IF in general, and my personal game.
And...I really, really enjoying it this time. My IF skills have developed, along with myself.
I'd say the second round of IF was much better than the first, for so many reasons.

Posted by Lori Rupert at 11:49 PM | Comments (0)

December 4, 2006

Too Big for Toys R' Us: A Showcase of Development and Progress

Remember that song? "I don't wanna grow up, I'm a Toys R' Us Kid", with all the cute kids playing with the excellent toys we never had when we were little? Yeah, I kinda feel like one of them right now. Karissa put it perfectly on Progress of Our Lives, the new hit television show starring none other than the heroine herself: Miss Karissa J. Kilgore. Miss Kilgore states, "I'm finally seeing it, I'm finally seeing myself change. Wow."

I can see myself changing as well. I feel like one of those cute kids, just wanting to enjoy the simplicities of life; I feel like it were would be better if it were easier like in junior high, where the worst thing in the world was not being able to stay out after dark on a summer night, or to ride the bus home with a friend on a Friday after school. I feel suffocated, and trapped, in the center of a whirlwind known as Life. I feel like I'm sinking, and nothing motivates me anymore. There is so much in front of me, and I know how to do it, I can see it, but I'm too scared to reach out and grab the opportunity to learn. Finally, I begin to want to learn again. I push past the roadblock and out into a fresher world. Through this period, this is where I could see myself changing. And now, I am seeing it everyday, in all of the things I do, especially in my school work.

True to its name, the first half of EL236 was learning how to write...for the internet.

As writers, we are simultaenously Communications professionals. The audience of the internet must become ours; in order to obtain authorship within this medium, we must train ourselves to produce work that is of the utmost satisfaction. The audience depends on us to fulfill their desires, interests and needs. However, prior to developing any informational material for this audience, we need to first understand the way they think; Only then will we be able to predict their reactions and determine the best way to grab their attention.

Shifting modes a little, we become researchers; we study the members of our audience, their affiliates, and the formats that they are already pleased with. As researchers, we need to figure out what our audience wants, which may be a little, or alot.

An important thing to remember as we begin to build our material is to provide navigational clues and explanations for those who may be visiting our online writing site for the first time. Our goal is to charm these first timers, having enough of an effect on them that they continously come back for more. A finished product is usually more like a final draft; before calling it quits, the material must be tested in order to determine its effectiveness and quality of usability.

Posted by Lori Rupert at 11:28 PM | Comments (1)

A Not so Scary Piece of Gaming Software

Dr. Jerz has been working for quite awhile now to get the HalfLife 2 and Hammer software to work in our wonderous lab of a classroom. Viewing his difficulties, I began to get scared. Or rather, I never got the chance to feel relieved. While terror had been a familiar feeling to me throughout NMP and the introduction into several new software programs I had never encountered, I managed to become comfortable and actually decent at some of the software. (Don't get too excited, I just mean Flash, Inform 7, and now, I guess I could include Hammer) I expected the same feelings to occur with Hammer that had occured with the others: I'm doing this a hell of alot more slowly than everyone else (or so I felt) and it's difficult and I won't be able to do it...insecure yes, but as I said, it was often gotten over after working with the software numerous times. However, with Hammer, much like Karissa, I was actually having (gasp!) fun! Right from the beginning! I even left a comment on her blog stating so! Hammer and it's tutorials were so easy to follow and they actually made sense. Chris and I were having a great time. Or, at least I was. Sorry if you weren't Chris, but I hope you were at least amused by me. I was having a great time making my ceiling (and walls) oriental rug-covered. My floor was some sort of...well, Dr. Jerz described it as corrugated iron, and my ceiling and walls were covered with an oriental patterned carpet. Dr. Jerz mentioned beaded curtains, lamps and couches and how I would probably have chosen those things were they available...he was right...anyways, I was having fun, not becoming frustrated, and actually managed to work through the tutorials with little frustration or confusion.

Posted by Lori Rupert at 8:44 PM | Comments (0)