Tuesday, August 31, 2010

So I just beat Samorost...

What can I say about Samorost... It was interesting to say the least.  Have I played games like it?  Yes.  Have I beaten games like it?  No.  I was and was not glad that the game was as short as it was, for while it was entertaining to click on everything and try to determine the solution to what minor puzzles there were, there was almost no story for me.  It was just a little dude trying to keep another space rock from colliding with his space rock, and that's not even simplifying it... I suppose that's some sort of story, and it was put together in a very clever way, however I don't think it has amazing replay value since you know exactly what to do once you've taken the 10 minutes it takes to beat it.  Anyway, that's my take on Samorost.  For now though, you should definitely check out, as I've mentioned before, Mystery of Time and Space.  Here's the link, now you have no reason not to try it... other than you may not have read this post.

http://www.albartus.com/motas/

Favorite game of all time? FFVII.


Before I delve into why FFVII is my favorite, I went through a series of phases before I came across that gem. Starting with the Sega Genesis, first game I ever played was Altered Beasts. That game was actually a little scary for me. Then I moved on to playing sports games like Madden-- went through a DDR phase, then finally began the best adventure of my virtual life, Final Fantasy 7. I remember playing it with both of my brothers back when I was about 9 or 10 years old. We would play for hours upon hours. Our dad would call us to eat dinner so we'd shut the TV screen off but leave the Playstation running because we hadn't found a save point for awhile. I honestly don't even know how the storyline goes exactly. I just liked leveling up, exploring the world map, completing side quests, racing Chocobos, and being amazed by the video sequences. Everything about it was memorable.

Besides FF7, I was a pretty avid Starcraft player back then. However, I still haven't touched SCII yet. Metal Gear Solid was a fave back then as well. Currently, I've been addicted to a game called League of Legends, which is basically a remake of DotA. It's tough to quit when you've got friends who play a lot and it's a team-based game. However, my grades already suffered from over-gaming so I'm taking a break from it.

Some of the more classic games that I'm a fan of would include Tetris and Mario Kart. Playing those games on DS wifi after a hard day's work was always a good way to end the night for me. Other than that, I like to play most types of games but personally prefer a good RPG or MMO.

Jay

A Matter of Perspective

In our textbook the author talks about the Perspectivist Approach to be the building blocks on interactive narrative. The Perspectivist Approach helps bridge the gap between foreground and background and context to decision. I was trying to find an exact example in video games that I could reference and speak about.
The first thing that came to mind when thinking of perspective is the thought of first and third person perspective in video games. I think when people think of perspective in video games their mind thinks of perspective of camera angles.
This got me thinking about perspectives and which one is better to tell a story in. Then I thought of the game Metroid: Other M. I think it is important to think about this game because of what the developers are saying about the narrative.
If you are not familiar with Metroid Games take a look here:
The recent games of the Metroid series saw a shift from the 2d perspective to a first person view. The game still centered around Samus being a silent protagonist as you complete missions with her blaster and gain the story from others around her.
This is the most recent game that came out this last week:

The developers moved the game from being first perspective to third person at the same time they were trying to flush out Samus back story. The interesting fact is whether the switch of perspective gives the players a better chance of being interactive with the narrative. Samus gets to speak in this game and we can learn about her past but we no longer control the game through her eyes.
I pose the question on whether perspective of camera angles matters when making a story interactive or not?

REMIX

REMIX CULTURE

Interactive movie by arcade fire

http://thewildernessdowntown.com/
http://www.vodafone.com/flash/receiver/07/articles/pdf/03.pdf

Kiddie Games.

Follow the link & check out my own blog where I'll be posting the assignments for the class.

The Halo Universe



As a big enthusiast for science-fiction games, Halo is the pinnacle of the sci-fi first person shooter. Halo Combat Evolved released for Xbox has been by far my favorite game of all time. The memories that come with this game will last a lifetime. I can't tell you how many times I have crammed 14 or more friends into one room for a LAN party. There is no greater feeling than shooting someone in the face and hearing their expression across the room. I used to call these, "Halo Fests." I'd get the best of friends together for a series of Team Slayer matches, Capture the Flag, custom games and much more. Whenever I hosted these, it was always accompanied by three or four boxes of pizza. Halo was fun, but the story is what consumed me. The main character, Master Chief, a biologically augmented super-soldier (SPARTAN II) militarily trained since age 7 sets out to uncover the mysteries of the artificial ring-world called Halo. The Covenant, an alien race that threatens the human race sets out to uncover the location of Earth by capturing Cortana, the Artificial Intelligence, implanted in Master Chief's helmet. Master Chief then uncovers the secrets of Halo after crash landing on the ring. He knows that the ring is a weapon, a very dangerous one at that. The game's plot is just amazing. Also to mention the soundtrack for the game is the best I've ever heard. The Halo Universe is expansive, with so many different stories. After I read Halo: The Fall of Reach, I was officially consumed. The book was a prequel for the first game and explained a lot of the loose ends and back story behind the Master Chief and how he came to be. Reach was the planet where Master Chief and his fellow Spartan soldiers were trained and augmented until the Covenant destroyed the planet; leaving the Master Chief as the last remaining Spartan II. I hope in the future I could be part of creating a universe revolving around a game. To take part in creating a plot so consuming must be fantastic. Between the books, games, music, graphic novels, comics, "ilovebees," and movies, I feel that the Halo universe is ever-expansive and has transcended from being just a game, to a way of life. Every game has been great one after the other, including the short story from the most recent Halo title, Halo ODST. I can't wait for the latest installment of the Halo universe, Halo Reach. You'll see me in line at the midnight release waiting for my copy of the game in two weeks. I must continue the story. Remember Reach.

Shenmue

I have played and own more games than I really care to admit, so choosing a favorite for me is really an impossible task. However, there are a few games that really jump out in my mind as particularly memorable experiences. The one I want to bring up today is Sega's Shenmue for the Dreamcast.






Shenmue's story is a basic revenge setup, involving a young Japanese guy named Ryo Hazuki seeking justice against the mysterious murderer of his father. The story is decent, but the game really shines in the painstaking attempts it makes to recreate 1980's Japan. The amount of interactivity the game allows is simply amazing. The player can enter just about any shop and talk to just about any NPC, all of whom are voiced (sometimes hilariously poorly in the English version) in order to gain clues about the mysterious man who killed Ryo's father. In fact, the experience can be really overwhelming at first since there is so much to explore and get caught up in. As you spend more time with it though, you feel a sense of belonging and attachment to the little community of Dobuita. I began really caring about all the strange little personalities and events that took place in each character's lives. This makes the otherwise conventional story seem personal and engaging in a way that only a video game has been able to pull off, stressing the difference between "interactive fiction" and "fiction with long pauses of gameplay in between".

Monday, August 30, 2010

Do Interactive Stories Really Exist?

What is a story?
Classically, stories are defined by a unique combination of
  • Setting
  • Plot
  • Conflict
  • Character
  • Point of View, and
  • Theme
Some authors begin with a theme, some with a setting, but at the end there is a unique combination of the above elements.

What is an interactive story?
I would suggest that an interactive story is one where the audience has lasting control over the events in a story. Lasting control would be non-trivial control, control that doesn't always resolve with the same actions taking place no matter what the audience does. Thats because if every decision leads to the same result, then is it really interactive? or just engaging?

But there seems to be a contradiction here. If a story is a specific combination of the elements listed above, and the audience can create a lasting impact on one or more of those elements, then don't we have an entirely new story? So...

Do Interactive Stories Really Exist?
Maybe not. I think there exists interactive realities - but not interactive stories. Think about video games - you aren't watching a story unfold through someone else's eyes, you are placed in a unique reality and told "Go!" There are specific physical features, physical laws, sets of characters you might meet, etc. Each player may have a different experience in this reality so it seems at least more interactive than a movie, but its also not the same story being told to every player.

I think perhaps the best we can do is provide a reality, constrain that reality as best we can for our purposes, and then allow the audience to discover one of our many stories in this reality. However, I do not think we can write a single story and then make it interactive - I think this may be a contradiction in terms.

What Do You Think?
I'm sure plenty of people disagree with my view - feel free to tell me so.

Someone Has to Mention StarCraft 2

I was very surprised at a few of the posts on this subject I read from other classmates. The God of War post certainly piqued my interest, I'll have to look into acquiring those games to try it out. Perhaps the best experiences in the gaming realm are stumbling upon a treasure that you missed out on by hearing about it, and getting to experience it yourself.

That's what I found with the Bioshock series earlier this summer. Great games, if you haven't played them, go find a copy!

But on to my real topic, and passion in the gaming universe: StarCraft. I was a huge fan of the original game. Classified as a Real-Time Strategy game, StarCraft takes place in the Koprulu Sector in the 25th century. Terrans (outcasts of Earth) face off with an eerily ancient Protoss race, and a ravenous alien Zerg swarm.



I grabbed myself a copy when I was in middle school (1999?) and I played it until 2008. That's got to be one of the longest-lived games of all time. In anticipation of the sequel's release in July I launched a community fansite in May 2007 (the day after it was announced) and I've been heavily involved in the community since. If you ever have a question about the game or its basics, I'm your man!

Geeking as it is, I'm even listening to the new soundtrack now! Anyway, StarCraft and StarCraft II have a huge following both in the U.S. and Asia. Korea has 8 cable outlets dedicated to broadcasting original StarCraft (and now StarCraft II) matches.

If you missed it, there was even an on-campus LAN tournament featuring StarCraft II. UF is also offering a class on StarCraft (EME 4020) So keep your eyes peeled!
Playing video games has been one of my main hobbies since I can remember. I consider my taste in games quite refined. For a game to enter my list of favourite games it has to have unique qualities that set it apart from the rest of the crowd.

For the past few months I've been quite addicted to a game called Minecraft. This game is quite different from mainstream games. Minecraft is a sandbox style game. When you start the game, the world is randomly generated and you have only one objective: survival. Since the world is randomly generated, no two people will get the same world. As you explore the world, the game continues to generate. This allows for an infinitely expansive world. There is no story to this game; the only story is the one of your experiences in the world of Minecraft.


 During the day things are peaceful and one can explore, chop down trees, and mine. Once nightfall sets in, that's when the terror begins. During your first day in the world of Minecraft, your main objective is to obtain as many resources as you can in order to build a rudimentary home. This home will protect you during the night from the mobs that come out. There are zombies, skeletons, spiders, and worst of all creepers.


To the right is a picture of two creepers. Creepers are basically walking blocks of TNT. These baddies will start to make a "ssssss..." sound when you get near them or vice versa. At that point you have about two seconds to make your getaway. The creeper will then explode and destroy the area around it. The worst part of this is that they destroy terrain. Being killed is no problem because you can just respawn. Since creepers destroy the world around them they can destroy your creations.



There is nothing worse than spending hours creating a titanic tower and a  creeper coming over and blowing it up. The items can be found again; the player can be respawned. But those hours I spent making my creations cannot be gotten back.


All in all, this game is quite unique and I would say embodies my taste in video games. The unique graphics, while some would say are bad compared to the more realistic style of modern PC or console games, give this game its charm. The expansive and randomly generating landscape guarantees that every time I play Minecraft I will have a unique experience.

My favorite game/s

Hey there everyone, after having read some of the posts before I made this one, it really makes me consider that the video game taste is quite different in everyone. A lot of people would say that shooters are the best kind of video game ever made, I strongly disagree.

My favorite video game ever is the God of War series. It is just absolutely amazing to see how the first one came out and since you start playing the game it throws blood and guts at you. Although there are a few games that make up the series, I will be specifically be mentioning what I consider are the best three of the whole series: God of War, God of War 2, and God of War 3.




















The first game, God of War, really tells the story of a disturbed spartan who, after being tricked by Hades into killing his own family, swears revenge upon him and goes on a quest in order to rip his head. What makes this game really impressive, however, is the fact that it's not a normal game in which you do the most important stuff and you have a lot of cut scenes, but you actually get to participate in all the gore. You make part of the torture, which gets you to play even more. At the end, you end up killing the god Ares, which brings a lot of satisfaction upon yourself after finally taking a break from all the action, but the story is not over, its barely the beginning.













The second game, God of War 2, now takes you upon the quest of Kratos now being the new god of war after killing Ares. What makes this game really exciting is the fact that you get betrayed by the rest of the gods and end up getting murdered and sent to the underworld. Then you are safed by the titan Gaia, and Kratos swears revenge upon Zeus for having betrayed him. What really keeps me hooked to this game is the fact that, even though it is the same mechanics from the previous game, the graphics are way better and you get to experience more gore and bloodshed than before. At the end, when you get to kill Zeus, who by the way does not die, the game does an extremely good job with providing the story with a crucial twist that leaves you wanting to see how the story concludes.













The thid game of the series, and the one that really rocked my world, was God of War 3. Now this game broke many of the obstacles that the previous game had, with astonishing graphics, incredible gameplay that had a lot more interaction than the previous ones, and also that it's the game that finally end Kratos's adventure. The story starts with Kratos, having allied with the titans in the previous game, tries to pull off an attack against Mount Olympus and, after having been knocked down the mountain along with Gaia, is betrayed by the titans, thus finally enfuriating him with the whole world of anciet Greece. He goes on his last adventure, ends up killing almost anyone that steps in his way, and finally concludes by obtaining the power of hope from Pandora's box and finally killing Zeus and Gaia at the same time. The amazing twist on this game is that Kratos ends up sacrificing himself in order to spread the power of hope upon manking, thus ending the rule of the gods for good. This game will keep you on your seat since it introduces different perspectives, including first person and third person, that satisfy you on feeling as if the game was alive.

















This game series is the most amazing thing that I have played in years, and it really competes with other popular game series such as Halo and Forza Motorsports.





My Games

I registered for this class in the middle of last week, so I may or may not receive credit for this post. Regardless, here goes...

I grew up playing a lot of the classic NES games. Starting around age two, my older cousins started including me when they played Super Mario, Donkey Kong, Paperboy, Gauntlet, and others. My cousin John (now age 28) claims that I beat Super Mario Bros. when I was four years old, although I don't remember this myself.



I recently watched the documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. I couldn't help but wonder, If I had kept at Donkey Kong as a young kid could I maybe be the record holder today? Billy Mitchell set the record in 1982 at the age of 17, but in 1990 at the age of four, I was already playing video games at a pro level. Take that Billy Mitchell. I guess it isn't too late. Mitchell continues to hold the record, although it has been beaten a couple times in the past few years forcing him to retake it.
Around the time I was mastering the classics on NES, I received a Sega Genesis from my parents. For the next few years, I was obsessed with Sonic the Hedgehog and Mortal Kombat. In middle school, I added strategy and FPS games to my repertoire. Command and Conquer was introduced to me by some kids who eventually became my best friends. We all acquired N64 systems and began playing Goldeneye and later Perfect Dark religiously.

The advent of the xbox shifted our attention to Halo which replaced Goldeneye and Perfect Dark as our game.

Since then, I have experienced alternating periods of not playing videogames, and obsessive playing. I enjoyed playing Morrowind and Oblivion for a short period, but I just can't seem to get fully immersed in these games. In the past couple years I've gotten into the Call of Duty games, and MW2 is currently my most-played game. I would have to say FPS games are my all-time favorite, but I really enjoy all sorts of games.

Tuesday's Expectations

Hi Everyone

On Tuesday, we will begin to listen to members of the groups ideas [LISTEN TO PITCHES] and weigh in on what we think regarding stories and storytelling. Please do not get too hung up on the technology portion of your projects just yet. Those who are not firmly in a group may petition to jump ship but i still want some balanced groups. Make considerations for group communication and i will explain the meetings/lab/lecture style of this class.

Thanks to everyone who shared their experiences with games so far. You will receive credit for posting. Posting on that topic is now closed for credit. I will make arrangements only if you missed the first week or had trouble logging in otherwise it's a done deal. Remember participation is in class and ONLINE for this class

see you all soon

pp

Friday, August 27, 2010

Educational Games

My parents were big supporters of "constructive play" when I was a child, so nearly all video games we had were of the educational sort. And they were awesome! (and still are, as technology becomes more interactive and children can get more 'hands on' with their virtual play).

I played Mega MathBlaster and spent hours playing the JumpStart series and Read, Write, and Type! with my cousins. Recently, I rediscovered the computer with Read, Write, and Type installed. Wanting to see if it was a useful tool to adults, I tried it out. Even though I already know how to type, I improved my typing speed and used the correct fingers more after less than an hour of game play. It was still really fun. What I learned was that educational games are a great tool to teach all ages, not just developing children. The difficulty is to find a way to combine teaching and important concepts in a way that is engaging, fun, and interactive. Many game and entertainment companies pitch annual challenges to students and amateur game developers to find new ways to create stimulating and productive games.

On a related but slightly different note, puzzle games are still my favorite. As a kid, I solved cardboard ones and rubiks cubes. Now, I try to find challenging ones on the computer. Red Remover is a really cool puzzle game. There are few rules, which get introduced slowly, while the player tries to remove red squares while keeping the green ones. There is some sort of gravity and force algorithm built into the game, so you have to consider that when removing squares.
Check it out below:

http://www.addictinggames.com/redremover.html

Frequently Played Games

When I was younger we had a Sega and N64 but my brothers wouldn't let me play it with them. So I had to sneak into their room to play Mortal Kombat and Sonic the Hedgehog when they weren't home. Since my brothers wouldn't let me used the systems very often I would play Carmen SanDiego, Oregon Trail, and Echo the Dolphin on the computer. Now, I play the Wii a little bit and a lot of Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook. Bejeweled Blitz is a one minute version of the regular Bejeweled game. It has boosts and special gems that blow up and get rid of lines and rows. The game is really stupid but I am really awesome at it, I just got my highest score of 752,000 yesterday...so yea, a useless talent of mine is moving jewels around super fast to score a lot of points in one minute!

Favorite Video games

Playing video games is one of my most favorite hobbies since I was a kid. The first game I played was the original Super Mario Brothers for the original Nintendo. The thing I liked most about this game when I was a kid was the part where I grab the mushroom and crush enemies out of the way. I also liked the colorful levels I played through. I found it cool to grab free coins down under the pipes.

When I was about 7 years old, my parents bought me a Nintendo 64. My favorite games for this platform were Pokemon Stadium, Mario Party 64, Diddy Kong Racing (pictured left), and Mario Kart. I remember the time when I used to compete with my friends and family on who can get the most stars and coins in Mario Party and who can cross the finish line first in Mario kart. Those were the good times!

Today, my favorite games are the Metal Gear Series, White Knight Chronicles, Wild Arms 3, and Resident Evil. They're my favorites because each of them has a significant storyline that moves the player through the game. They also show different cinematic stunts, moves, and tactics on how to pass every level. I remember when I had to diffuse a whole load of bombs on Big Boss Hard in Metal Gear compared to only 5 bombs on Liquid Easy. From each of these games, the gameplay offers a whole lot of challenges in different difficulty levels, and I think that's much cooler than having 50 levels with one difficulty level.

Now White Knight Chronicles isn't like your everyday RPG game. In this case, you can create your own character from premade faces and expressions. In my game, I created myself and other characters. Instead of selecting a list of commands and watching the characters perform the attacks you chose, the gameplay allows you to move your character freehand. Some attacks, like one slash, however, have to wait for 5 seconds before you can attack again. But unlike original RPG games, you can create combos from one hit attacks you use. By then, you can wreak devastating damage to even the largest of the bosses.

Resident Evil 5 is also a favorite because it has a mixture of horror and action in its story. During the gameplay, you have to push a certain button right away to dodge certain attack of enemies and bosses. i like the fact that you have to think fast before you get clobbered by the enemy. Another thing that I like about this game is that it offers a lot of cool extras, such as versus mode online and the mercenaries mode, where you and a local/ online partner work together to defeat as many enemies as you can to get the highest score.

The games I've listed above are just some of my top favorites. I will discuss about my other fav games should you guys ask about them.

My Favorite Video Game: FFX

I'm the opposite of Shell and caitlyn - I didn't actually play a console game until I got to college. Before that, I stuck to free flash games online. Of those, I think my favorite was Amorphous+, a quick, cute little hack-and-slash that's easy to learn but has enough variety to last many a study break.

http://www.kongregate.com/games/innocuousGames/amorphous?acomplete=amorphous


Thanks to kind roommates and dorm community consoles, I've had a chance to play professionally produced games for the past few years. I gave up on shooters - I don't care enough about them to practice on my own, and I always get destroyed in a group setting.
Fighting games like Dead or Alive and Super Smash Brothers are fun, Rock Band and DDR definitely provided many evenings of entertainment, and I haven't had enough experience with platformer or racing games to form an opinion.

My favorite genre is RPGs, or role playing games. I like watching the stories unfold and exploring the game's fantasy world. Of these, my favorite is Final Fantasy X, a turn-based rpg with a richly developed fantasy world, admirable heroine, and an impressive story. Unlike FFXII, the plot and dialogues make me care about the characters and continue the game in order to see what happens to them. Plus, the Square production team did a great job designing Spira! The geography is otherworldly but bright (I can't stand gray "gritty" color schemes), the cutscenes are beautiful, and the culture is compelling.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Past and Present Video Game Habits

Video games have always been a part of my life. When I was 5, my sister and I got a TV and a Super Nintendo. We then invested in many, many video games and were addicted to classics such as Super Mario, Donkey Kong, Yoshi Island, and a personal favorite of mine: Earthbound. We then followed the evolution of gaming and purchased a Nintendo 64 and, once more, loved the classics: 007 Golden Eye, Mario Kart, and Mario Party (among others).

And who didn't play The Sims? That game is the reason I'm pursuing my current major (architecture). I also own The Sims 2 and The Sims 3... You might say I have a bit of an obsession. As of late, I'm into the typical point and shoot game, Halo 3. I'm always told I should play Call of Duty, however, I find Halo much more entertaining, and the bright colors make it easier to see the screen. I don't play the actual storyline, just Live. You can go ahead and tag me in the mindless gamer category.

Little Big Planet

I know everybody has heard of this game but has anybody played it? It is a simple 3D side scroller (like Street Fighter and old NES games) with a character called "Sack boy". Sack boy has to explore levels that are made by online community members, so it is essentially an infinite game. I have never built a level, but the few times I have played it I have gotten nothing but new levels. This is interesting because for one of the first times, a console based player can download and play levels from other members.

Favorite Games?

Wow, everyone plays shooters. I feel really weird right now.

Anyway, I tend to enjoy playing RPGs [especially Japanese RPGs; I don't know, the grimdark, grizzledsoldier archetype isn't my cup of tea for characters] and fighting games. I play RPGs for the story and/or for the characters, and fighting games for the competition and technical skill. Overall, though, my favorite game has to be an RPG called Persona 4.


Forgive the English. It's a Japanese game.

The basic plot of the game is: The main character [who you get to name] is moving into a rural town for a year due to his parents' work. In the very beginning of the game, you view a dream-esque scene where a strange man warns you that you will face a mystery at this new town. He moves in with his uncle, and then starts school. The game starts off slow—you have to wait almost three hours before you can even control your character due to all of the dialogue—and you're slowly introduced to some of the other reoccuring characters. One day, you have a strange dream, and then someone found dead the following day, hanging on an antenna. A few days pass, and another person, someone from your school and the person who had found the body, is also found dead in a similar manner. You and your friends investigate, and you realize that it could possibly be related to a strange television program, the 'Midnight Channel', that only goes on at midnight when it rains. The people who have died have shown up on that channel. Also, you find that you have the ability to enter TVs, and you find a strange world when you enter.

Yes, it sounds very convoluted, but I tend to forgive strangeness [and sometimes poor writing as well] when things have redeeming features, and I feel that this game has those features. I like all of the characters in the game, and I feel that the characters are the driving force of the game. Then again, it's easy to say they're all cliche, comic-relief characters, but it's all up to preference.

The best thing about the game has to be the atmosphere. Everything, from the setting to the interface to the music, gives off a very retro feel, which makes the setting feel much more interesting. The game has a very strong visual style [if you could tell by the opening], and I think that's the strongest thing about the game.

Games I've played

I'm going to admit, I have been known to partake in the shoot 'em up genre of video game.  Possibly my favorite games of all time have been the Mass Effect series and Uncharted 2.  Part of the appeal for me is, yes, the shooting of all the aliens and bad guys and what not, however what put these games ahead of the rest for me really were the storylines.  The Mass Effect games had me so wrapped up because I had never played any game like them.  Literally every decision you make affects the outcome of the game, offering a nearly endless amount of outcomes for the story.  I have also played and enjoyed other types of games (of a non-violent nature).  I think one of the most well put-together games I've ever played online has been Mystery of Time and Space (MOTAS).  It's a puzzle game and at times it really challenges the mind.  Needless to say, it's very creative and not just one of those click as much as possible to escape the room games.  You actually have to think.  Definitely check it out if you have a little free time on your hands as it saves your progress on the computer you play on.  I have never played WOW or Second Life, but I have played several text based MMO's that managed to get people sucked in through the social aspect.  Anyway, I feel as though I have rambled on enough for now.  Until next time...

My Favorite Games

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been playing video games. Growing up with an older brother made playing with baby dolls not an option. Of course, as a kid, the super Nintendo was our gaming system and Mario was my hero. I enjoyed playing super Mario, Mario kart, Tetris, Donkey Kong 1, 2, and 3, and Aladdin. I liked all these games because of the objectives. In most of them the point of the game was to save someone. For example, Mario saves the princess and Aladdin saves the kingdom. However, I liked Tetris because it involves strategy. I liked Mario kart because I like racing and I liked Donkey Kong because the levels were challenging and interesting.
Now, I’m a Halo nerd. As the owner of an Xbox 360, Halo 3 is my favorite game. I enjoy Halo because I like to win, I’m killing robotic people instead of real people, and it’s not extremely graphic. Everyone tells me I should play Call of Duty, but I don’t like how graphic it is when you kill someone. It’s almost too real. I actually don’t own the plain Halo 3, I own Halo ODST. I don’t like it though. Halo ODST’s campaign mode is too boring and dark. You almost have to use a flashlight through the whole thing. My eyesight is bad enough; I can’t stand playing super dark video games. However, the online mode is pretty much the same and that’s what I play. I like talking trash, especially since most guys don’t think I’m very good because I’m a girl. I may not be amazing, but I’ll surprise you.

My favorite game series for a story

Out of all the games that I love to play, those belonging to the Assassin's Creed series are my favorites. The story of these games has many different levels all adding to the main plotline, presented in a beautifully captivating art style. In the game, there are three story lines that pertain to three time periods, modern day, Rennaisance Italy, and the times of the Crusades in the middle east. However, by reading all the unlockable content and finding all these different secrets, one finds that there are many different substories, based on actual events (mostly, with the exception of the story of Adam and Eve) but with a sci fi twist, that add depth to the main stories. Below is the developer diary storyline for the first game

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EN6UFW741y4

and this for the second one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEYAwMUxDnM

Though it is a game involved in killing, its story is deep, rich, and leaves me sad at the end of each playthrough that there is no more to discover, that I must wait for the next installment, due in November.

Games that I play

When asked what type of games that I play one of the first that came to mind is Dragon Age: Origins. It is a fantasy RPG that was made by Bioware. I tend to love Bioware games and this game is no different. Even though it was released in 2009 the game will still find me picking up a controller and playing it.
I have added a video of the trailer for it below.

video

The game is great because of the different origin stories you can play through before playing the main game. It is also filled with many side stories which keep the story interesting and alive. If you have not played Dragon Age yet I would recommend at least one play through (I am on my fifth).

Story Advice from Jim Morris

Above in an interview with SIGGRAPH 2010 keynote speaker Jim Morris, General Manager and Executive Vice President of Production for Pixar Animation Studios. Morris stresses the importance of stories as the backbone of production. Without a great story, the impact of the production is hindered. In addition, he comments on the strengths and limitations of CG. While computers and graphics have lead to tremendous milestones in film and media, Morris points out the importance of real human actors in production and the depth they add in comparison to an entirely CG character.
All in all, this is an interesting interview to consider while beginning the semester projects. Other interviews by user ACMSIGGRAPH are also worth checking out (there are some about the Disney Learning Challenge, an interview with Don Marinelli, and Student Volunteers) in your free time.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Free Autodesk Software for Students

Hey Class. Above is the link to download 13 month free trials of Autodesk software including Maya. The 30-day trials are on the regular Autodesk website, but this way you can keep it longer :)

Welcome to IST FALL 2010

Welcome to Interactive Storytelling FALL 2010.
At Class on thursday we will begin to create our production teams
I heard quite a bit of diversity in our introductions and thought we might start thinking about considering each team comprising of

1- Graduate Student of Ph.D
1- Non Linear Video Editor/EFX
1- Graphics Person
1- Web/Flash Person
1- Writer
1- 3D Artist
1- Generalist

These are some guidelines. Each team does not Every component obviously but i am going to ask that you all brainstorm for a while about this. I want to avoid assigning teams but i will help if need be.

A production team is the group of technical staff who produce a play, television show, recording, or film. Generally the term refers to all individuals responsible for the technical aspects of creating of a particular product, regardless of where in the process their expertize is required, or how long they are involved in the project. For example, in a theatrical performance, the production team includes not only the running crew, but also the producer, designers and director.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

project game

hope everyone's is having a good break. sorry it took awhile but i have uploaded my game. To play the game, you need to download the RTP. Let me know if it doesn't work.

RTP:
http://www.rpgmakerweb.com/download-rtp.html#xp

Game:
http://www.megaupload.com/?d=V4SIG37Z


Also there was a game with rpg maker vx that i played that i thought was really well made. the link is below but you have to download the rtp for rpg maker vx

Lost Heaven:
http://www.filefront.com/13758543/Lost_Heaven_Demo_v.3.rar

RMVX RTP:
http://www.rpgmakerweb.com/download-rtp.html#vx


Other sites with games:
http://www.rpgrevolution.com/
http://www.rpgmakervx.net/index.php?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Queen Caroline's Drawing Room at Kensington Palace Interactive Story

Below are some screen shots of my final project:






Some of the story that would be incorporated into the room:

Above is a cartoon depicting the Inconveniences of a Crowded Drawing Room. This image displayed when a person triggers a sensor by walking past the wall. The image is then projected on the floor. Other similar visuals maybe used as well.

Lord Hervey a constant member of Queen Caroline’s court wrote a memoir of court life, which was published many years later. Historians believe this to be one of the best accounts available to get an understanding of court life when George II reigned. I wanted to have a sensor that when triggered gave an audio reading of an entry of Lord Hervey’s memoir. These would not always be the same, so it would give people a different experience even if they visit the palace multiple times.

I planned on incorporating some videos of popular dances from the era, which I found on: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/dihtml/divideos.html. Parties and balls from that era commonly contained dancing, which was frequently discussed in drawing rooms. In terms of dancing what was normally talked about was someone dancing scandalously close or other topics that caught other attendants interest. I was planning on having screens in the floor that when a person stepped in a particular area they would play music and show the dance steps. This was something that I thought children would be particularly interested in as well as some adults. I had collected several resources in order to be able to get my installation historically correct.

Sounds Effects:
Whisper.wav & Whispering 312595.wav : These two sound files would be implemented through a sensor to give visitors an idea of the kind of whispering gossip one would expect to find in a drawing room. The two of the seats used in my Second Life is 3D model is gossip benches which would be perfect places to implement this sound. In the actual palace it might be good to have these sounds in corners or alcoves.

Horse_and_Carriage.wav : This would be implemented through a sensor near the window. When someone walks into the window’s alcove the sensor would go off. The idea is to emanate the idea of the sounds of the city from that era. Kensington Palace is very close to Hyde Park and Rotten Row. These areas had heavy foot and horse traffic during this time period. They were the places to see and be seen especially for members of high society.

Footsteps.wave : This sound would be implemented so as you walk through the room it sounds like there are footman walking outside the room. This is to help give visitors a sense of what a working palace might sound like. The footsteps are intentionally quiet because a servant’s role was not to try to not be seen or heard.

Challenges of working in Second Life:

Implementing a story in Second Life was a lot more challenging then I originally anticipated. I found it to be very difficult to use. Additionally, because they make frequent changes several help sites did not have advice that worked. I had a lot of problems doing the most basic things in Second Life, which was highly frustrating. I felt that my progress was slowed and sometimes halted due to these issues. Overall, I'm happy that I used Second Life because I feel that I did gain a new skill that I am able to expand upon in the future.

A couple of my favorite research resources I found and used for this project:

This forum is essentially a collection of almost everything you ever wanted to know about royalty. It was very insightful while pointing the direction to many of the other resources I used in my project.

Alexander palace time machine: romanov, russian history and royalty discussion forum. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php#5

For a great account of court life during the reign of George II I highly recommend this book. You should be able to obtain it for free in Google Books in case anyone is interested. In general, Google Books is a great resource for getting older books that maybe out of print or difficult to find.

Lord Hervey, J. (1848). Memoirs of the reign of George the Second from his accession to the death of Queen Caroline. London, UK: John Murray.

Final post

This is the game I was trying to show in class. Please click here: RECYCLING GAME/ CITY OF SEATTLE


I struggled a lot during my first 2-3 weeks grasping the concept behind the interactive storytelling particularly as I have a background in applied linguistics where the meaning of interactivity is quite simple: ask questions get answers :)
On this post, I am sharing what I have learned. Read on if you have some spare time:
Trying to understand the concept of interactive storytelling might require one to dissect the terminology. At first one sees interactivity. On the topic and as a recommandation for course designers that want to incorporate interactivity, VUDAT offers the following definition: "A narrow way to think of interactivity is to focus on the physical action being taken. Far more important than the mechanics of interaction is the experience and motivation of interacting. What action is the learner intending to take when they interact? What action is the learner is thinking in their mind as they click and type? How do those actions enhance learning? Is the learner motivated because the interaction will affect their grade? (extrinsic motivation) Is the learner motivated because they are trying to win a fun game? Or because they want to learn? (both intrinsic motivations)”Interaction won’t exist if it wasn’t for the user. Steuer's definition makes this apparent: “ Interactivity is the extent to which users can participate in modifying the form and content of a mediated environment in real time" (p. 84). To define interactivity, Steuer also referred to the "malleability of a medium's form and content" (p. 85). Other researchers have adopted this approach and defined interactivity as a "characteristic of a medium" (Choi, Miracle, & Biocca, 2001; Lombard & Snyder-Duch, 2001; Roehm & Haugtvedt, 1999).Interactivity cames from the fact that the user is offered the possibility to interact with the story through a medium, be it a boardgame, a dvd, a PC based game etc. In fact, Macias (2003) pointed out that "interactivity is the state or process of communicating, exchanging, obtaining and/or modifying content and/or its form with or through a medium." Amory and Naicker (1999) suggested that most people think that computer games are interactive because they can create the illusion of being immersed in an imaginative virtual world.

My Project

I didn't present today. I had to leave for a final. So I'll give a overview of what my project idea was and what I was able to achieve. My idea was a picture story that occasionally took user input to steer where the story went. I had a few unformed ideas for input using either sound or touch input. Later I learned about different programs that could better achieve this. I settled on pure data and the fiducials after a demonstration in class.

My subject of the project is a plant. Three fiducial ids determined what kind of plant you were. Later in the story you are given another option: to choose how and what you grow depending on the plant. If you were a vine you grew fruit, if you were a redwood
tree you looked more majestic and so on. This all changed how people reacted in the story. You are given a final decision on how to react to a crisis. With the fiducial you were never aware of the choice you were making just the sound it produced. If you consistently chose the fiducial that makes a mellow sound you made compassionate decisions and vice versa.

My largest is difficulty was getting familiar with the new software. There was plenty of excellent help, but I had trouble deciding how I wanted to use Reactivision and pd. I basically got to the point of being able to trigger the images in pd sequentially and reserving bangs for each of the fidicuials.

apparitions



Hey guys, above is a short clip of one of my QC patches. The blog I am working on is here.

Project Speaking

In this class I had a lot of trouble in a couple of different ways, first figuring out what I was going to do then how to do it, I felt like I wanted to try something completely new for my self so I began looking through PD. Not knowing much about PD a lot of my ideas of how to go about creating a story that could be changed based upon key input just weren't in the correct form for pure data. I started thinking about things in too much of a data laser disk kind of format trying to refer to frames for all of the seeking functions no knowing at the time that I didn't even have a way to add audio to my output.

Learning what kind of commands PD will use was the start, then actually finding the names for those was an even harder task. In the end I discovered that i had to handle audio and video as two separate items and construct a patch that would having them running in parallel. Once I was able to figure out the method that I would need to use I could then start searching through the very large community attached with PD to find the objects by name that I only knew by functions. When I got to a point where I was finding functions that were almost what I needed but just a few clicks off from what would really work for my project Pat would always have an object that was the perfect fit. So once I had all of the pieces that I needed i then focused on trying to clean my project up a little bit and make it usable in the future and not a cumbersome item to try and work with.

I worked on making my PD patch in a modular fashion via sub-patches that were self contained choices that just had to be linked together in the the configuration of your story. I also made a sort of quick version that is laid out in a rows and columns out to 10 choices. If you name your video files in the configuration of the first number as the choice number the second number as the sub patch number in that row (counting from left to right) and the last number defining within that sub patch whether it was the first, second, or third choice. so 373 is choice 3 sub patch seven which would be coming off of an aggressive choice in choice 2 and an independent choice in choice 1 and in my movie it would be the independent choice video on that tree. I my entire goal was to make it something that I could use even after this class.

Something that will also allow me to use this more is a quick way to make a lot of different videos in the same sort of setting with different feels. The people you will see in the short demonstration in class are from a program that advertises its self as text-to-movie from www.xtranormal.com they really helped in getting something done in such a short amount of time. I will try to kind of walk through what my patch does during my presentation and it will hopefully make sense. Thank you for all of your help Pat.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

More screenshots

More screenshots from my project. They are of different locations in the game. I haven't gotten as far as I wanted to this week. I'll try to finish as much as I can.







Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Concept Album

I was thinking about what songs seemed to tell a story and I then went to investigate whether the rest of the album happened to be of a similar story. I got lucky and the 1st song that I investigated seemed to be attached to an album of a similar nature. The song I thought of was Mad World, specifically the cover done by Gary Jules that was used as the musical theme for the commercial of the video game Gears of War. The song was originally written by Tear for Fears and the message is pretty much the same but in the Tears for Fears version it seems to accentuate a more frantic darkness as compared to the depressed darkness of Gary Jules' version. The album that I believe to be a concept album is The Hurting by Tears for Fears. All of the songs have to do with isolation and society kind of grinding to a halt in a dysfunctional way. On a side note I musically like Gary's rendition for its balance and laid back tempo.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I need Help, And a PC

I know this is pretty late to be asking, but I need help. I have the fiducial models that I need, but I don't have the software to do it. If I could get together with someone to program my fiducials, that would be great I think I only need 2 or three so I can have a prototype for my game. Thank you. Let me know.

World of Timecraft

World of Warcraft is one of the most successful video games ever made in my opinion. The model of the game is something that had been done by many games before but not on such a large or successful scale. They came along right has computers were really starting to become as useful as they are now. Computers were becoming more integrated into peoples lives and becoming more powerful by the month. The number of people in WoW has created an interesting society of like interested people and Blizzard entertainment is loving every moment of it with each of the over 11 million current players paying them $15 a month. This, way more than covers their sever costs. With the world there are many things to do and when you integrate in the interaction between people the amount of "game" that is available for people is never ending, no defined end and even if you view an end to any part of the game you still want to push your ego upon the others of the game to which you either become well known and famous because you really are that good or more likely you are cut down and sent back to play more much as someone in the real world would be successful or unsuccessful. World of Warcraft is so successful because it mirrors life in a fantasy way with goats and choices to determine where you end up in the end of it all.

World of Warcraft was a well timed, well advertised, well developed, and well supported place for people to spend time interacting with people in a fantasy world with interesting powers and ways to always move forwards in the world. It really gives people a place to have a measure of success no matter what and enjoy it in some capacity as they do it.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Isadora patch

Hey if you guys want to see the patch for Isadora that I showed you all in class for manipulating live sound and video with tracked objects, here is a link to it on my blog : www.voidcastle.blogspot.com
(also if you like my blog, follow it!)

We didn't really get a chance to explore Isadora in class but it is a program geared towards show control, such as queuing live lights, videos and sounds for performance (though it can do many many other things). It is similar to PD or MAX/MSP in that it is a graphical programming interface where you place your "code" spatially and connect interacting elements together by drawing those lines between them. However Isadora is far simpler to use than PD (but not free). Isadora requires zero programming knowledge as all of it's "code" or elements ("actors" as they are called in Isadora) are all presented to you in menus on the left hand side of the work space. You simply drag and drop the "actors" from the menu onto the workspace and connect them appropriately. (The trade off is that you are somewhat more limited as to what you can do in Isadora Vs. PD )

I know its pretty late in the game to be introducing new software ( I wish I had remembered to show this to you guys earlier) but if you are interested here is a link to the website:
http://www.troikatronix.com/isadora.html

You can download an unlimited free demo, but you can't save your work :(. We also have a full copy on the computer in the control room as well as the lab in the CSE.
If you guys think you want to further your interactive stories after class ends, Isadora could be a good thing to look into.
I guarantee that if you download it and follow the first couple of tutorials on the site you will have something "cool" up and running within an hour.
Good luck!
-Garrett