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Beta Release Report: Making Changes to HTML/CSS

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Learning From Volunteer's
The main idea that I learned from my volunteers, was that I need to stop talking about what I'm going to do with my website and just do it.  The problem was that when the volunteers were looking at my HTML, I would start saying something like "Oh, I will finish that later," or "Yes, I planned on adding that soon."  Finally, my first volunteer said, "Well why aren't you adding it then?"  I completely agree that I need to suck it up and make the changes to my HTML no matter how much I'm afraid to get rid of the original look because that was the reason why I wasn't changing things.  I have my navigation bar at the top, but I still have the original navigation in the body of the homepage.  I have been keeping it there in case something went wrong with the navigation bar, but I think it's time that I take everything in the body of the homepage out so I can really get a feel for what my homepage is going to look like.

You can see in this image my homepage with a user using the messed up links.  The black and white fuzzy coloring is wrong and for some reason adding the code for these buttons messed with my style.css and made my homepage black and white instead of the green I had.  As you can see, the mouse pointer over one of the links turns the link into a green button, which IS what it's supposed to do, but the rest was not worth the hassle.

In this picture, you can see some of the other pages I have worked on, like the VIDEO page.  This page has the navigation bar that I originally made when I came back to HTML and I think this is what I need to bring back to the home page, unless I can figure something else out.

This photo shows the code for the buttons I wanted that didn't work out very well.  This code messes everything up unfortunately.

Changes I Have Already Made
  • Some changes I had already made involved changing my home page navigation bar to buttons that looked appropriate for the iPad, but then the coding was just not working to get it looking right, so then I had to change it back to the original navigation bar.

  • I cleaned up many of the links that did not have the style sheet attached, or the ones that had nothing written in them thus far.
Further Changes To Make
  • The most important thing I have to do is add my resume.  I think it is highly important that my resume be apart of this HTML, especially on the home page for any future employers to see.

  • The next important thing would be adding writing samples.  I got this idea from a student in my class, and I think it makes complete sense to add a section titled "Writing Samples" and add my work for people to see and for my own benefit.

  • The last change I would try an attempt would be working on the buttons again for the navigation bar.  I think it would be great to make these buttons iPad appropriate, but I fear it will take up a lot of time to get the code working since it just ended up being confusing the recent time I tried.
If I Had More Time
  • If I had more time, the first thing I would do is add "sub links" to some of the links in my navigation bar.  I think it would organize the navigation through my website in a more refined manner.

  • The next thing I would do if I had more time is work out a new way to get the iPad-looking buttons.  I might have to search the internet to find helpful codes (I have already done this but apparently I need to dig deeper).  I really wanted my buttons to have that cool looking affect but I don't think its going to happen by Dec 8, especially if I don't want it to mess with my code or my style sheet.
Here is a look into my HTML work, portfolio's, and video:

Term Project: HTML/CSS

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While working on the three different projects throughout the term in EL405, I have chosen HTML/CSS to test my abilities for the rest of this term.

My goal is to get up a website that can be treated as a resume for future employers.  I want the employers to know that this isn't some website I told someone else to make for me: It is a website that I designed and coded and maintained, so I want the website to have a feel for my personal taste's and interests but also with a professional flare.

By Thursday, I plan on having the ultimate sketch of the way I want my website to look and then specific details on what codes I will be working on to make my website look the way I want it to.

By next Tuesday I will hopefully have done the major work for the main page of my website which will include a better display of links and better organization.

I am confident that I can put links in my website and use the coding that I have used before (just more extensively).  I am not sure what I could specifically need a refresher on, but I will probably ask questions about new things that I want to accomplish that I just haven't tried before, however I won't know that until I write everything out that I plan on accomplishing.

Revised Midterm Portfolio

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This is the blogging Midterm Portfolio of Megan Seigh.  This revised Portfolio contains the contents of 3 screencasts from projects worked on throughout the semester during EL405 (Media Projects).

Scratch, the second time around, proved to be much more easier and efficient then the first few weeks.  I found that after working through Inform 7 and Html, I was able to come back to Scratch with a certain amount of experience and ease.  I didn't get frustrated with the coding and I was able to fix and work with Scratch in double the time that I could when I first began it.

YouTube video of Scratch Screencast

I learned more from the user testing this time around, because I realized sometimes the user doesn't know that there is anything wrong, especially if they have never seen the program before.  My tester had never seen Scratch before, so I don't think she noticed the problem at the end.  User testing is important, but it is also important for you, the creator, to constantly be on the look out for what you can do better and what you can fix.  I noticed the problem at the end and didn't mention it to her; instead, I fixed the problem, which you can see in the video above.

You can take a look at my past Scratch portfolio's here:

Inform 7 was also a lot easier when working with it for the second time.  Going over my game again, I noticed that there was not much more I wanted to do with it, but I was able to spend some time adding another level to the game.  I worked with Inform 7 two years ago and I did enjoy it, but for some reason I have enjoyed it more during this class.  I think the reason is for the amount of time I got to work on the project without being disturbed.  It was harder in a 50 minute class to think about what I wanted to do and actually attempt it, and try to work through it before the class ended.  During this 3 hour class, I am able to spend quality time with my game without forgetting what I am doing or not having time to fix problems and then having to start over during the next class.

This user testing was helpful, because it was with someone who understands Inform 7.  Through this testing, I was able to gain perseepctive that sometimes my directions aren't always helpful, and that there is always room for more storyline.  Such as more violence; because who doesn't want that in a text adventure game?

Play My Inform 7 Game!--Updated TITANIC Inform 7

You can take a look at my Inform 7 Portfolio's here:

There was not much time to go back to my HTML/CSS project for a second time, however, I do not see this as a big problem right now, since I am choosing to work on this project for the remainder of this semester.  I had also worked with HTML two years ago and I can say that it came so much easier while working on it for this EL405.  I know the reason for this is not only the small amounts of time we had to work during the other class, but also the book we had to use to get through.  With HTML, a step-by-step process is tedious and time-consuming with not a lot of results being shown for it by the end of a class period.  I guess this is just another benefit of being in a smaller class that is concentrated in 3 hours at a time.

With my user testing, I was able to see that the video's I had on my web page do not come up on the iPad because the iPad does not support that type of video.  This is good to know but also unfortunate, though I'm not sure if I will keep the videos on there or not.  However, the rest of the application worked, and I was able to go back and add another section that I meant to add a few weeks ago, which was already set up and ready to be posted.

You can take a look at my HTML/CSS Portfolio's here:

HTML Unit Portfolio

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This having been the second time around that I have used HTML/CSS, I thought that it was a much quicker approach then the first time.  When I learned it in Writing for the Internet two years ago, I felt like we spent a lot more time reading about it and learning about it step by step.  However, in EL405 I felt like I was kind of thrown into the unit and had to figure things out as I went.  I am actually not saying that it was a bad thing, because I happen to know what I am doing now better then I did two years ago.

I approached my website knowing that it was going to be a portfolio about me.  There were many other subject areas I could cover, but I thought it would be most interesting if I continued to work on my own portfolio, and it would be beneficial for me to do so.  So, I took the sample document that Dr. Jerz sent to the class and I used it as the base for my own personal website.

The idea of this project was to not only make a website, but to make it so it can be viewed in an iPad or iPod format.  I think this is great knowledge for any career after college because the future is moving towards iPads and small digital devices like that.  It wasn't hard to read and figure out the codes that allow the text to be more easily viewed on an iPad but I'm sure I left out some things and I have a lot more to learn.

In the small amount of time we have had to work on HTML, I have not been able to create everything I have wanted on my website.  I know that we will go back to it, but a website is a big ordeal, so for now I am just proud that it is a working website that is viewable on the iPad.  I am also proud of some of the troubleshooting I did for myself.  Sometimes it is very beneficial just to look online and search for the codes you want or the look you want.  I am also proud of the scrolling word marquee I have across the top of my webpage.  I thought it looked cool and I was happy I found it.

There are some links that are not working yet, but that is because I haven't had time to create the web pages for them yet.  That's okay, because that is one of the things I want to do when we come back to HTML/CSS and possibly even further if I come back to it for my final project.  Besides the links, I will probably work more on the format.  I love the color's so far because it screams me, but I think I could liven the page up with more going on.  Not a cluttered look, just a more fuller look.  Overall, I am excited that I got as far as I did and that it was possible for me to create.

Midterm Portfolio

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The EL405 class has been fully concentrated on three units up until the midpoint of the semester.  

My midterm portfolio is arranged to display what I have been working on for the past two months and what I have learned along the way.  This class is about engaging with a project and facing the difficult situations during the creation process, it is not necessarily about the complexity of the project itself.

1.  Scratch

Scratch turned out to be a fun and interesting project for me.  At first, it looked like a children's game or something that I would understand very quickly.  However, Scratch ended up being a lot more complex than I imagined, but not impossible to understand.  I can now say that I have successfully completed a Scratch interactive story game.  I am mostly proud of it because I drew all of my own characters and backgrounds and I developed my own coding.  I felt like I had achieved an entertaining game.  More than that, I know if I had more time I would be able to create an even better game and expand the codes (through trial and error) to give a more adventurous experience for the user.

To help further look into Scratch and the project I created, here are two games that helped me develop my ideas.

1.  A Close Shave - This game helped me because I thought it was adorable and it held my attention for a surprisingly longer time than I thought it would.
2.  Space hunter - This was just another one I chose to play and had no real affect to my game except for it was a "game" and not a "narrative" like a lot of the other Scratch projects.

This game I developed is a way to interact with a computer generated story.  There are no mind boggling trivia questions or areas of difficulty.  It is simply a game to satisfy a user and maybe get them thinking about a game of their own.  The story is friendly and the scenery is exotic and unexpected.  Henry is a puppy that just want to grow up and explore the world (and even further).

Scratch Unit Blog Entries
My Scratch Game PUPPY!

Inform 7
Inform 7 was a familiar but refreshing experience for my second time using it.  I developed a game that I was interested in and could keep working on if I wanted to go back to it.  Text games interest me more now than they have in the past because I know how to work them better.  I am most proud of the codes that I found myself in the documentation pages of the Inform 7 project manuel.  I tweaked codes so they would fit my game and they worked.  If something didn't work then I tried a different way around the issue until I could make it work.  I think that is the most important lesson I have learned through any of these units.  The point is to keep trying and learn from your mistakes, not to immediately know everything and create picture perfect material.

Tp help further look into Inform 7 and the project I created, here are three games that helped me develop my ideas.

1.  Shade- We looked at this game together in class and I thought the concept was interesting.  I had no idea there was going to be so much more than just trying to find the tickets.  It was exciting but frustrating, although I think most IF games have to be.  
2.  Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy - At first, there wasn't much description.  But I liked how it played like the actual story.  This is where I got the idea to think of a a real event that has happened.  I know this story isn't real, but it based off of a real book.
3.  Broken Legs - I thought this game was hilarious.  I wanted to play a game where you had to be the villain but it was actually kind of tough.  You want to get to the stage and take anyone down who gets in your way.  Obviously I had to laugh at it instead of being repulsed by it.  This game gave me the idea that I would have the player choose to help others or fend for themselves and see what happens.

The genre I chose to do for my game is adventure; obviously.  To me, an adventure game is the most exciting type of IF game.  The setting is in the bottom steerage floor of the Titanic.  You heard me correctly: The Titanic.  The object of the game is to make it out of the bottom floor and up to a lifeboat before the Titanic sinks.
 My Inform 7 Project Titanic
Inform 7 Unit Blogs Entries

This is another unit that is familiar to me, however, I felt like this second time around went more quickly than the first time I used it.  That being said, I also found it easier to use.  Perhaps this is because I am older and wiser, or perhaps it is just because I am paying closer attention to how I am creating my website.

I looked at Dr. Jerz's example website and started to base mine off of the code from that.  Thus far, I have been tweaking the color and links and pictures to make it more my own style.  This website is a portfolio of the work I can do and more information about myself.

The hardest part for me is searching for the codes to use and making the very precise changes that need to be changed for the code to actually work.  It is tedious and difficult but I also understand where it is going and I know I can get there.  I am learning along the way, and sometimes it is worth it to just Google what I need and come up with an answer.  After all, that is why Google exists.

What I am most looking forward to with the HTML/CSS unit is being able to show my family how I have a website that is can be adapted for the iPad and iPod.  I think this unit is entirely useful for any career because these Web Apps are the future.

HTML/CSS Unit Blog Entries

These were three very different units, but similar to the way they made me think and problem solve.  I would want my future employer to see that I have created a project from start to finish.  It might not be the best project in the world and it definitely might need tweaking, but it is something that works and can be useful.  I learned a lot about myself and how I handle situations when I do not know what to do.  There were times I asked my professor, other times I asked a fellow student, and more often than not I found the answers I was looking for by just searching for them.  I am prepared for a career that involves problem solving because I am able to face the challenge.

Rewind: Back To Inform 7

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I actually never thought I would be returning to Inform 7 anytime soon.  However, in EL405 I am understanding that experience really is most important.  

The setting of my game is strictly on a boat and the tone is adventure.  Is it morbid?  Well, maybe a little...but the choice is up to you!  I was hoping people would be drawn into this game because it is something familiar. Everyone knows (hopefully knows) the story of Titanic, so they can probably start to picture what the game might be like.  I like to play games having to do with books or movies that I already know, so I wanted to go ahead with that approach.  

Some of the factors that influenced my choice were the games that I had mentioned in an earlier blog.  These games, such as Shade, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and Broken Legs, influenced how I would invent my game to starting off as a familiar story to the player.  It also led me to put my player in the position to make a choice based on morals.  After I looked at the Broken Legs game and saw the difficulties of being the villain, it interested me enough to put that into my own game.  

The opening of my IF game, already states where the person is and what they have to do.  To better explain, the person is supposed to retrieve a key to get out of the room they are in, so that means the player is informed of their first task.  The opening screen also mentions their overall objective (to get out of the ship and onto a life boat), so the player knows what they are aiming for the rest of the game.  What I enjoyed about the opening is that it does not specifically say that the boat is the Titanic.  The player has to look at their inventory and examen their boarding ticket to find out that they are third class on the Titanic.  I think this affects the tone of the game and it challenges the player.  If the player does not examen the ticket then there is a risk of the game not having as much affect on them...but I'm not worried about that.  

As for creating the game, there were many different codes I tried to look up in the guide.  Most of them were tricky or impossible to find, or waste my time trying to find.  However, I came across fitting some codes to work in my game.  One of the codes I am proud of finding is the very first one I did on my own:  Creating another character in the story.  I didn't want the player to feel completely alone on the ship and I wanted the chance for them to interact and make "difficult" decisions involving another character.  I looked up the codes but I couldn't use the exact code that was in the guide so I had to make it work for my game and it did!  I was proud of myself, because I didn't actually think it would work, but my goodness was I excited was I clicked GO and the broken clock did NOT appear!  That was a good day.  

During the middle of my game, the player gets to find a life vest (very important) and hopefully find the staircase that will lead them up to the deck.  They are rewarded on the deck as long as they have their life vest.  However, they are also rewarded right before that, if they give their life vest away (tricky, I know).  

There are two endings in my game but one can occur earlier than the other one.  I always intended the story to play out in this fashion but I wondered how I could get it to work through codes.  For a while it was almost hard for me to even begin to think of codes to start with to try and get the outcome of the game that I wanted.  However, Dr. Jerz helped me step by step to come up with some codes that helped my ending.  And it worked!  The ending (both of them) happen exactly how I want them to happen so I am very happy with that accomplishment.  

While creating my game, I would give credit to the Inform 7 documentation guide that helped me get through some tough coding.  Dr. Jerz helped me out with codes as well as Kiley Fisher.  I didn't get any codes from other games (though maybe that would have been helpful).  

Usability Testing  

1.  Roommate who was willing to take the test because she loves Titanic.  She went through the game and thought that the first section was a lot more difficult then the middle and end.  I had not intentionally made it that way, but I started to make the game with less obstacles purely so I could just finish it.  If I had the time to go back then I would certainly make it more challenging later on.  She did get through the rest of the game and kept the life jacket for herself, so she lived!  And she thought it was a great start to the game.  

2.  My second tester was a guy friend from home.  He had never played an IF game so I had to give him that little sheet that comes with the terms and phrases.  This game took forever for him to play, mostly because he could not get past the first part of the game.  After this and the first user test I realized that I did make that first part a little too difficult.  I should have put something like that in the middle or more near the end.  However, I did help him along and then he got through the rest but he did want to talk more to the other character that I put in the story.  He was disappointed that I had another person in the game but he couldn't talk to her.  So that is another thing I would do if I had more time.  He ended up keeping the life vest for himself too (selfish people) so he was also alive in the end of the game.  

3.  My third user test was female and I kind of begged her to do it when she was just planning a short visit.  However, it was funny and she enjoyed the game because she had never tried a text adventure game before, which is why she needed the little cheat sheet as well.  The first part of the game was hard again, and she was the only person who gave the life vest away to the other character!  But then when she died she wasn't too happy about it...  

I did learn a lot from the user testing.  Mostly because I got to see people's reactions, which were mostly funny and they were always smiling.  I learned what I need to fix and what I should enhance if I were to work on this game more intensely.  I am excited at the prospect of it because I think it would be an even better game!  But I still don't know if this is the project I will choose for my final.  We will just have to wait and see.  

Let's Talk Adventure Shall We?

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As the class starts to look at Inform 7, it is beneficial to get an idea for the games we want to create by looking at other IF games.  The first one I looked at was Shade.  We looked at this game together in class and I thought the concept was interesting.  I had no idea there was going to be so much more than just trying to find the tickets.  It was exciting but frustrating, although I think most IF games have to be.  The second game I looked at was Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy.  At first, there wasn't much description.  But I liked how it played like the actual story.  This is where I got the idea to think of a a real event that has happened.  I know this story isn't real, but it based off of a real book.  The third game I looked at was Broken Legs.  I thought it was hilarious.  I wanted to play a game where you had to be the villain but it was actually kind of tough!  You want to get to the stage and take anyone down who gets in your way or DO anything it takes.  I obviously had to laugh at it instead of being repulsed by it.  This game gave me the idea that I would have the player choose to help others or fend for themselves and see what happens!

The genre I chose to do for my game is adventure; obviously.  To me, an adventure game is the most exciting type of IF game.  The setting is in the bottom steerage floor of the Titanic.  You heard me correctly: The Titanic.  The object of the game is to make it out of the bottom floor and up to a lifeboat before the Titanic sinks.

The PC is the person playing, there won't be a concrete character with a name and life story.  When the person says "Inventory" or "Examine Me" they will find that the only thing they are carrying is their Titanic boarding tickets and possibly some money (which won't do them any good).

Some of those concrete actions my PC will do is find the key to unlock the room they are trapped in.  Search the floor's for an extra life-vest.  Make the decision to save others that they will find, or to keep going on their own.  Break down a gate to get to the staircase.

The opening will go something life this:

"It has not been the greatest of evenings.  You had just gotten ready for bed, and you chose to read a little before you went to sleep when you felt a disturbing jolt.  People started screaming on your floor, but before you could wonder what was happening you looked out the window and noticed the boat stopped moving.  Now, a stream of water is flowing in under the door and you can't seem to locate the key you used to lock yourself in."

PC: Look

"Your room is not the neatest of rooms.  You kept your bed clean and without wrinkles but that is the only thing not covered in grime.  This isn't completely your fault; a third-class ticket gets you this kind of room.  You have a closet and a dresser in the corner as well as a desk!  If you can call that a desk.  The door is before you, but without the key it is kind of a mute point.  Near your bed is a small round window where you can see the water starting to cover.  Yikes."

The player will figure out what to do when they continue to move through the tasks given to them.  The game will always remind them of what they have to do next whether it be swim through a flooded room, find the nearest staircase, or steel some clothes to make them look first class.  The game will get harder when after each tack is complete there will be a harder task.  I could make finding the key a lot more difficult, but since it is the first thing they need to do, I'll make it go more smoothly.  The player will be rewarded by getting to higher ground and having more items to help them reach the deck.

At first, I thought about the multiple endings, but when you're on the Titanic, it is pretty much concretely a win/lose situation.  So, the player will either make it to a life boat or go down with the ship...(I hope that's not too morbid).

If I don't have enough time, then I would get out a level and make getting to the deck a faster approach.  If there is more time than I would work on each level and make it seem impossible for the player to get out before the rooms get flooded.

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