28 Apr

Creative Design Lab: Contextual design week 5

Today, I presented my project and received feedback on my location-based game.

Overall, the response was positive, but there was some confusion as to where the starting point was.

I had assumed that when the user goes to the park, as there is only one entrance, the tasks have to be completed in order. Although, I have overlooked that the user could become confused, miss sections out or just get lost. I adjusted my game according to this feedback. I added a quest (the only quest that comes up in the beginning) that directs the user to the meeting place. After the meeting place plaque is viewed, the next quest to collect ten pieces of treasure appears.

 

quest beginning

It was simple things like this that really made the presentation and testing worthwhile.

I also added a logo and splash page photo to my game, to help make it stand out from others in the list. I decided to use the coin image I’ve used throughout the game for consistency and to highlight the fact that it is a treasure hunt game.

AbbottsWoodGame

In terms of the characters and storyline, the feedback was encouraging and I think that children would enjoy playing the game as much as I have enjoyed creating it.

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10 Apr

Making a portfolio website

I have been working on a new portfolio site to show my work and some of the skills I have learnt over the last six months.

With a good working knowledge of HTML5, CSS3 and JQuery, as well as an eye for design, amazing things can be made. Here is a collection of helpful blog posts, tutorials and code that can help make your website a little bit fantastic.

1. MEDIA QUERIES – CSS TRICKS

Responsive is key. We all need to be doing it. I spend a massive amount of my web browsing time on a smartphone. One train journey makes it apparent that phones and tablets are a huge portion of web traffic. Even on this blog, my analytics show that 27.76% of site views have been on a mobile or tablet.

analytics mobile usage

Basically, too much to ignore. So my portfolio site uses media queries to set up a specific mobile site (and less drastic changes for tablet) found here at CSS-Tricks.

Ashley Nye responsive design

2. JQUERY PLUGINS – UNHEAP

Everybody could use a bit of JQuery, not to rely on, but to enhance. It’s a very quick, easy way to make your website do cool stuff. And grab a load of cool at Unheap.

3. PRINCIPLES TO CODE BY – SMASHING MAGAZINE

This is a great little article on keeping it clean by Chris Coyier. Ok, so there is no rulebook (as much as I wish there was) but there are certain things you can do to make your code cleaner, more beautiful and crucially easier to read and edit. This is a must, in a world where time is money.

This can also help satisfy the perfectionist in you. Everybody wins.

4. BROWSER SUPPORT TABLES – CAN I USE

Can I use…? Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if the answer was always yes. Sadly, though, that is not the case. Worst case scenario is (and rather foolishly, but we’ve all done it…) after painstakingly perfecting your site on one browser, you nervously open it in another to find it looks like someone with a grudge against you hacked your server.

Save time and energy checking browser compatibility before you code.

5. VALIDATE, VALIDATE, VALIDATE – W3C VALIDATION

For HTML and for CSS, it is extremely important to make sure there are no errors in your code, and periodic checks will save lots of time later on. Mistakes are made by everyone, so whether you are a beginner or expert, validating code is crucial.

6. WHAT IS POSSIBLE WITH JAVASCRIPT

This isn’t really helping you to make a portfolio site, but it is inspiring. If you want a little motivation, take a look at this blog post on develop-a-website.com that showcases some amazing JavaScript experiments. So you’re not about to install a sheet of tearable cloth on your portfolio, but it’s still worth taking a look.

I’m impressed enough to say, I’m going to learn to be a better coder.

Tearable cloth

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07 Apr

Creative Design Lab: Contextual design week 4

I have spent this week putting together the narrative game.

The plot goes as follows:

1. User goes to the meeting point, which opens the first quest, along with a quest to collect ten pieces of treasure.

2. User must walk along the path to find the tall trees.

3. When the user has found the trees, a character pops up.

4. The character is a pine cone called Betty, who asks for help. She wants to find her friend Peter. She says she will give you a reward as a thank you for helping.

5. The user then can talk to Peter, then again to Betty who gives you a piece of treasure as a reward.

6. Further along the trail, there are some flowers. There is some treasure amongst them.

The game continues along this theme of helping creatures/collecting treasure. The aim is to get the user to feel compelled to complete the game, and in doing so walk along the trail, as well as looking and interacting with nature.

Editing the ARIS game online.

Editing the ARIS game online.

I found using the online editor very easy to use. It’s possible to get a game up and running in a very short amount of time.

I edited the notes I made on the map to make sure my game followed the correct path, and linked to the location of objects (using the GPS on my smartphone – see week 2).InventoryScreenshot

The treasure collected goes into the users inventory.

It was really important to test the game as I was creating it. Testing the prototype highlighted issues with the gameplay and various loopholes. One important one was I realised that after finding Peter, the user could talk to Betty and collect the treasure from her an infinite number of times, thus completing the game. I went back into the editor, and created a requirement that meant the treasure could only be collected from her once. Each piece of treasure had to have this requirement, allowing each player to collect the treasure only once, but allowing an infinite number of players.

There are a lot of elements that I added to the game as I discovered what was possible with ARIS. For example, I added a piece of treasure that only popped up when the user followed the instructions to find and take a picture of an insect and upload it to the the map. I added this piece of treasure to the map with a requirement that the user has to have ‘created a note with an image near’ the location. The only downside with this is the image could be of anything… it would be good if there could be some sort of recognition for specific items. At the moment, there is quite a lot of responsibility placed on the user to play the game correctly.

PeterScreenshot

I tested the game using the ‘quick travel’ feature, which allows the user to cheat the location aspect.

The game could be expanded to have different levels, longer paths and different areas of the park. As this is the first game I’ve created using ARIS, most of this project has been about ideas generation and learning the boundaries of the technology.

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