Planning ahead for the final


I've decided that I would like to create an interactive fiction (IF) game that functions like the (in)famous IF game Annoyotron.

Annoyotron is simple in that it frustrates new players to no end by an inability to win. At least it makes them crazy until they realize that the only way to "win" the game is to remove themselves from the game. In other words, the only way to succeed and end the game is to kill oneself. In my game, I hope to plan out numerous ways in which my player can "off" themselves. Some methods may use objects within the game's simple layout and others may be elaborate.

I intend to have the layout and basic coding done for Thursday. Hopefully, I will also begin working on the code that tells a player when they've died and ask them if they wish to restart the game.

By Tuesday I plan to be creating numerous and hilarious ways in which a player can permanently remove themselves from the game...before starting over that is.

My technical skills at using Inform 7 and my knowledge of how to create the proper code for my game make me feel confident that I can accomplish my goals. However, I think I may need a refresher course in how to actually kill a player because I haven't done that in a game that I've created thus far.

Well, now you know what it is that I'm up to. How about taking a look at what my peers are planning to make?

Coding away the hours

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HTML is the basis for every webpage, piece of text, and omnipotent App that surrounds the world around us. So it might be helpful if one knew how to interpret and manipulate that data, don't you think? Well, that's what I have learned to do in my New Media Projects class.

For a class project I was assigned the task of coding a website that would work on the iPad and an iPod Touch. The end result is an online professional website that I can show potential employers. Of course, there is always more data that I could add, bits of code to be added or tweaked, but those are details that I can add later on.

If you take a look at the linked video I've provided below, you'll be able to view a video I made featuring my website in the form of pictures captured on my iPad. The video shows several screen shots showing a progression through my website and how I altered my code to the final end result.

Original website video

You can also view my website directly below.

If you'd like to see my other two class projects, they are at Scritch Scratch towards progress and I'm here to Inform you...

Walking the leadership path

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Have you ever wondered how a job might look easy at first glance, but turns out to be a bit more than you can chew? And then you think "What do I do now?" Well, if you're worried about your ability to lead, I strongly suggest that you take a look at Shelby Coffey's "Best Practices: The Art of Leadership in News Organizations."

The wisdom and insights within these online pages have supplied me with leadership experience on which to base my decisions in leading Seton Hill University's student newspaper, the Setonian. But the most relevant point made in Coffey's last remaining pages focused on balancing one's personal time against the time that is required to guide a news organization.

It seems to me that finding a line between my personal time and my professional leadership time is always tricky and kind of hard to pin down. Being an undergraduate student, my time schedule is constantly changing pace and direction. However, I somehow manage to make everything fit when it comes down to it, and that's what matters. At the end of the day,if I'm no more crazy than I was when I woke up, my day's been pretty good. Nevertheless, I very much value the advice of the editors and managers presented by Coffey. Don't underestimate just how much a piece of good advice will serve you in the future, even if it's not in a leadership position reference specifically.

I'm here to Inform you...

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Well, it seems that my scheduled class time with Inform 7 is about to wrap up, but I am entertaining thoughts of using Inform 7 to showcase my final project for New Media Projects. Nevertheless, I can honestly say that I love to create worlds and stories as interactive fiction (IF) in Inform.

For my first attempt at a professional IF game is "Awakening" and I designed it to be user friendly to those who are new or have never before played IF games. Below is a screencast video of a user playing my game who has never played IF before.

Screencast 1

After watching the above screencast, I welcome you to watch the video below, another screencast, that is of a player facing the final version of my game with some IF experience under their belt. I did add a few additional details to my final version, but I'm not going to spoil the surprises.

Screencast 2

The two most important concepts that the above screencasts have taught me that you can never fully predict what a player will type into your game, and that you can never have too much detail in your game. Having synonyms and as much detail as you can will give your game a liveliness to it that will wow players. If I had more time, I would most definitely put more detail into my game.

Since I have come to the end of IF, I know that I have realized a few key concepts: I love to write stories no matter what form they may take; I have a passion for teaching others what I know (as learned by helping my classmates with their IF projects); and that I most certainly have a special place in my heart for IF. To many IF seems like an outmoded method of playing games, but to me it has become a perfect tool for literary abandon.

If you'd like to take a look at my other projects, you can view screencasts of them at Scritch Scratch towards progress and Coding away the hours

You can also play through my finished game by clicking on the link below.


Scritch scratch towards progress

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Well, after much deliberation, frustration, and a significant loss of mental stability, my Scratch project is complete! It is not as great or expansive as I had first hoped, but it does accomplish its goal: to give you a bit of fun (or perfect procrastination excuse).

If you have not read my past blogs about my project or don't remember what they say, my project features altered photos of Lego Batman characters and arranges them in different patterns on different levels in a pong game. My official title on Scratch's website is "Final-Final Version - Batman Pong."

I had planned at the start of this project to manipulate the game by the use of a timer. However, this greatly complicated my game to the point where bugs kept cropping up and my blood pressure level was mounting. All the same though, this game did test my patience and drive for perfection. Never have I so frustrated with a project that failed my expectations, both of myself and my computer skills. Using Scratch certainly taught me valuable lessons in ingenuity (in my attempts to fix the hellacious program bugs) as well as in recognizing the limits of a computer program and the limits that I, myself possess.

Below are some links to screencasts of users playing my game and their reactions to it. I recorded these videos on my MacBook using Apple's QuickTime Player's "New Screen Recording" function.

The screencast below features a friend of mine playing my homemade Scratch game. She had never played any Scratch game before and had never seen my game's code before either.

The second features another friend of mine who had sampled my game in an earlier version. (A fair warning though, there are a few moments of questionable language in this clip, but not till closer to the end.) Both of these screencasts gave me excellent feedback on how to improve my game as well as giving me honest reactions to how players reacted when playing my game. The two most important concepts that I think I need now would be an opening screen that provides players with a quick explanation of how to play, and to fiddle around with the timer or variable ability to make the screens change levels automatically.

As I look forward to closing Scratch for the last time this semester, I do have to give the program some credit. Yes, I did learn a new use for my ingenuity and a healthy respect for the limits that computers and their programs present to coders. However, I did not give up on my game. I did have to re-work significant parts of it, but I found my drive for perseverance and followed it to the conclusion of my game. That being written, I am not sad to see Scratch go, only the possibilities that I was unable to achieve with it.

Nevertheless, I strongly encourage you to take a look at what my peers have made for their various projects, Scratch included, in our New Media Projects class.

If you'd care to look into the other two projects that I've done, you can find descriptions of them at I'm here to Inform you... and Coding away the hours

Covering the good, the bad, and everything in between

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Hello and welcome to the Electronic Media Big Top featuring Maddie Gillespie's creations of Scratch, Inform 7, and HTML. Some of these projects might appear to be freaks, expansive stories that never end, or even a rascally website that shows preferential treatment to Macs over Windows operating systems. But whatever however each of my projects might first appear to you, give them a chance by taking a closer look at their respective blogs below.

Note: All of the screencasts that you can view on the blogs linked to this one were made on a MacBook Pro's QuickTime application and are screencasts of my class projects.

Scritch Scratch towards progress

I'm here to Inform you...

Coding away the hours

After you've perused my projects and blogs provided above, take a look at my peers projects.

Biased towards the future?

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Robert J. Haiman's Best Practices for Newspaper Journalists section titled "Newspapers are unfair when: They allow editorial bias in news stories" addressed a key point in both news organizations and life. No matter how hard you try or how much you do, someone, somewhere will find fault with what you've done. And the same is true for journalists, although this is by no means encouraging you to think that journalists never slip up and allow some personal interest to color their work. Nevertheless, my favorite and most touching quote within this section is below:

"Newspapers will never be able to completely rid themselves of complaints about bias. Some readers so strongly disagree with editorial policy that nothing the most scrupulously fair news department does will be enough. Other complaints come from people who do not want a fair and balanced news report, but one that advocates their point of view. As long as newspapers exercise a public-service obligation to expose corruption, incompetence and injustice so the public can take remedial action, they will find critics among people who like things just the way they are."

Shelby Coffey III's Best Practices: The Art of Leadership in News Organizations section about "Learning" featured a quote by Steve Isenberg that really struck me. "Our journalism schools are not connected with schools of management, schools of health, schools of environment, schools of business or schools of law. Yet they’re within these universities." As soon as I read this, I felt a sense of pride in my choice of attending Seton Hill University's New Media Journalism program. Not only has this program provided me with the basic tactics of journalism, but it is a program that provides students with the knowledge of today's technology and how that technology will play a part in the future.

Coffey later addresses the future of news organizations in our world of ever-advancing technology in his section "Future of News." My favorite quote from this section was said by Tim McGuire. "The news cycle is our artificial creation. We’re the only ones who believe in a 24- hour newspaper cycle. It is our little fairy tale. The news cycle is now immediate. It is a half hour or less. The world is moving and breaking around us. That says a lot about how we have to position our newspaper, why we do have to be sophisticated, thoughtful and full of explanation and full of relevance of how this matters to you."

I think that this quote reflects journalists' "perfection" in the news field, as well as the realistic view that we need to work with what we have while hoping to be more caught up with things tomorrow. Today's news is racing over airwaves, zipping its way through cables, and inundating reporters and the public alike. Our main priority is to keep reporting the news to the public with as little bias as possible without becoming like the technology that will continue to serve our journalistic endeavors.

Take a look at what my peers have to say on these issues.

Looking back through the looking glass

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This blog is to show you the progress that I have made in my New Media Projects class concerning the first three units of the class. These units covered the coding program Scratch, the interactive fiction program Inform 7, and website coding respectively.

If you take a look at the Scratch homepage, then you'll quickly see that Scratch is designed for children (or adults new to learning code). Personally, I liked aspects of Scratch in that you can make your own game with funny characters and a crazy storyline. However, I felt limited as well. My Scratch project involved my attempt to create a Lego Batman pong game. If you're interested in my game and want to see some of the games that I used for inspiration, then check out my Wrapping up with Scratch blog entry. If you'd like to try and play my sad attempt of making a complicated game, then get your mouse ready and click. And if you really want to see what gave me a hard time, then check out my Glitches are Funsuckers blog entry. Then again, you can also check out my entry of Scratching away at coding that shows my initial reactions and tribulations of coding in Scratch.

The next unit, and my personal favorite, was the Inform 7 unit. Creating my own story with Inform 7 gave me the freedom that I was missing in Scratch. However, Inform 7 is much more complicated than Scratch. But I feel that it was rewarding. If you'd like to check out a few game reviews of interactive fiction that I wrote and see what inspired my own game elements, then click on my Hello my story...that's all code blog entry. My thoughts and original plans for my interactive fiction game are on my Tap your fingers for a new game blog entry.

Care to check out the interactive fiction game that I made for my second unit project in your web browser? Then simply click on Awakening.

And finally, for the third unit project, I created a website to showcase my own online resume. As of right now, this resume is not as complete as I would like, but I plan to rapidly improve it for future employers to look at for my near search for an internship. If you'd like to read a bit more about my website, then see my blog titled A resume for the internet savvy ages.

But what does all of this mean? It means that I hope that if any of my potential employers find their way to this blog, that they will see my ability to organize information while at the same time being creative. I hope that they will understand my skills at learning new concepts and my eagerness to couple my creativity with new programs. But most of all, I hope from my website and what I have written on my blogs that they will recognize my drive to improve upon all things.

Interested in what my classmates did for their projects? Then click over to the webpage containing links to their portfolios and have a look see.

A resume for the internet savvy ages

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The third unit for my New Media Projects class involved coding a website from the source code up. This allowed my peers and I to gain an intricate, inside look at the basic code that we work with everyday on laptops, desktops, tablet computers, and more...and give us a new sense of appreciation for programs that simply make a simple webpage and slap it up on the internet. However, now we have the skills to make our labors of internet savvy radically stand out from those pages created by those simple webpage-creator programs.

My website, Maddie's Online Resume, showcases exactly what it is meant to: my resume and related job skills. My website shows employers my educational background, my previous work history, references, skills related to either my education or work, as well as how to best get in contact with me. And it even gives them the chance to meet me first with a short biography.

My website is not nearly complete, because I fully intend to use this online resume for as long as I can. I feel that it has the potential to be a significant tool to use in advertising myself to future employers.

If you'd like to check out the websites that my classmates have made, then check out them out here.

Creativity is Diversity & vice versa

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Accurately representing one's readership population can be difficult, but throw in the act of perpetually seeking new ideas for said population, and an editor's job is never done. In Robert Haiman's "Best Practices for Newspaper Journalists" section titled "Newspapers are unfair when: The lack diversity" addresses how the public views news organizations policies on forming a diverse staff.

A few of the lines that jumped out at me include: "Acknowledge that there are diverse opinions in minority communities, what some have called the, "diversity of diversity," and embrace this fact in all of your actions on behalf of diversity. Beyond race and gender, keep in mind that economic class diversity also broadens a newsroom's perspective." To me this quote reinforces the fact that you can't please everyone, no matter what you do, who you hire, what you write, etc. However, you can always seek to be the best at what you do. And to do this, creativity is most likely required in some form.

In Shelby Coffey's "Best Practices: The Art of Leadership in News Organizations," there are two sections devoted to the topic of Innovation. Continuously trying to "stay ahead of the curve" and hook reader's interest is not an easy mission. It takes a well spring of creativity, and like I wrote above, not every creative angle that you try will please the masses all at once.

Concerning his organization's creative attempts, Jack Fuller said, "It wasn't like anybody had a grand design. As in most experiences, a lot of [the ideas] didn't work, or they worked briefly and then they flashed out." But that doesn't mean that his organization stopped trying, because then they would be entirely behind in the game. Mark Whitaker said, "At Newsweek, we call it throwing spaghetti against the wall. You throw the spaghetti against the wall and you see whether it sticks. You get reader feedback." Finding out what the majority of the public is interested in shows that something works, although there's no guarantee for how long that interest will last.

Coffey also had another section titled "September 11" that covered leader's quotes regarding the practice of news on September 11, 2001. Out of all of the responses, I am inspired by Steve Isenberg's the most: "Shame on any organization that does not see this as a moment in which its deepest institutional purposes and obligations must be fully honored, and I don't just mean news organizations. This is a moment of honor as well as corporate citizenship, and if you don't rise to it now, then when the hell will you rise to it?"

Most everyone has a deep, personal memory of where they were when the September 11th attacks took place, and through what media they learned of it. My eighth grade gym class had been cancelled as every class was suspended, leaving the entire school absent of sound as our eyes were glued to the small TV screens within each room. I don't think that us kids really understood what was happening, but the news reporters seemed to be on the front lines of whatever strange world we had woken up in that day. I believe that the level of seriousness coupled with the obvious emotion apparent in each journalist and TV news anchor made that day's events real. I wasn't in NY when it happened; the closest thing I'd seen to what was happening were special effects in movies. But the reporter's reactions made them real. I knew that these people weren't acting like they were afraid, they really were, even as they did their best to report on what they were seeing. That day was when many reporters rose to their moment of honor, but leaders realize that such moments can be great or small. And whatever the size of the event, leaders should strive to live up to that honor.

If you'd like to read what my classmates are saying on these subjects, just click.

Recent Comments

  • Chelsea Oliver: Oh, Maddie. Well, I'm glad at least you gave us read more
  • Shellie Polly: Maddie, you've got a lot of guts to pull out read more
  • Aja Hannah: I like your simplicity of storyline, but multiple endings. It's read more
  • Dennis G. Jerz: Looks great, Maddie. Note that "You awake" will be printed read more
  • Megan Seigh: Lovely! Yes, I too loved watching everyone's creative presentations because read more
  • Tiffany Gilbert: Nice summary of your work. And I wanted to tell read more
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