I thought this game was pretty cool. You win the game by touching as many words in the paragraph as possible. Give it a try!!
It’s been a great semester in Elit
I thought this game was pretty cool. You win the game by touching as many words in the paragraph as possible. Give it a try!!
It’s been a great semester in Elit
My final project was made in Twine. The interactive fiction piece is called Secrets. There are three different secrets you can explore and the user controls the decision the character needs to make at the end of each one. The goal is to choose the path that gives you the key to success. I was able to change colors for different things and add significance to the text. I was also able to add images this time. After searching the web, I also found a code that would replace the original html file in Twine and this allowed me to use the return button instead of having to write “go back to “here” etc. The Story statistics are 31,455 characters, 4,968 words, 95 passages, and 93 links. I posted the link below if anyone would like to check it out. Have a great summer and congradulations class of 2012!
Your Government Needs You is my dystopian interactive fiction. It focuses on an unnamed protagonist and reveals the unpleasant reality of his life through clues from his belongings and his perspective on the world around him. I hope you enjoy it if you play it, and message me if there are any errors and they will be fixed as soon as possible.
Have a great summer, E-Lit Class of 2012!
RPGs were long considered by many to be best handled by Japanese developers like Square Enix, Level 5, and Game Freak. Square Enix’s Final Fantasy titles have all sold over one million copies, some of them having sold more than four million, like Final Fantasy VII which has pushed ten million copies to date. Game Freak is responsible for developing the highest-grossing RPG series Pokemon, which by 2011 had been purchased over two-hundred fifteen million times. The continued success of games released by these and other developers is a testament to the staying power of genre themes with which people are not willing to part. Character customization, the ability to level-up those characters with the allotment of experience points, side quests, and a grand storyline (often involving a female cat-humanoid) are all few a components that comprise the familiar JRPG.
Western RPGs are taking massive leaps forward, however. Whereas JRPGs have the tendency to be completely linear, meaning the player is told where to go the entire way through the game, WRPGs have become traditionally open-world, meaning the player has the option to explore the vast reaches of the games, making their own respective decision to follow the main quest-line, complete side-quests, or simply just eliminate the game’s population of wildlife. Bethesda Game Studios is one western developer that is largely responsible for the rise in popularity of these games. They have released massive titles like the Elder Scrolls I-V, as well as Fallout 3 and its expansion, Fallout New Vegas. These games, like many JRPGs, allow the player to allot skill points to various attributes and abilities that they wish their character to have, often allowing for a character which is very powerful in its field of expertise. I can hardly do these games justice in simply describing them as games where you “allot skill points,” though. There are simply so many routes the player can take their character both in terms of their abilities and where they want their character to go. The scope is simply huge in games like Fallout and the Elder Scrolls, as well as in Bioware’s Mass Effect series, which, similar to Fallout 3, allows the player to determine the general morality of their character.
In my opinion, character customization has been handled more efficiently by western developers, because they give the player such a wide range of abilities to choose from that by the game’s end, the player can feel accomplished in having created a truly unique avatar. Despite this opinion, it cannot be understated how well some JRPGs pull off telling a story which perhaps could only be told in a linear setting, where the game itself leads the player through the story. In some ways, the difference between JRPs and WRPGs is like the difference between movies and games as a whole. Movies, like JRPGs, progress exactly the way the director intends them. The story is displayed without an ounce of the audience’s input and movies are largely successful because of it. Story-telling is in our DNA, and we soak up other people’s ideas like sponges. Video games, like WRPGs, are the marked difference in that they allow the audience to actually immerse themselves in the story. Instead of simply showing the plot, video games give the player an exploratory view, and one that perhaps leaves them more invested with the characters.
In many ways, I appreciate these genres for their differences between each other. JRPGs and WRPGs are so unlike that they can barely be said to be in the same genre. It also has to be noted that these two categories contain numerous subcategories like tactical RPGs, action RPGs, and the gigantic massive-multiplayer online RPGs, each with their own good and bad attributes. There are moments in these games that, at least for me, define my experience with video games and these moments seem to be directly tied to the genre they were produced in. The ascension out of the vault into the desolate landscape of Fallout 3 was unbelievable. The initial glare of the sun in the player’s eyes, followed by endless hours of post-apocalyptic gameplay left me astonished. Similarly, I will never forget how moved I was when I learned the fate of Yuna in Final Fantasy X, and how the main character reacted to her ill-fated purpose. The xenophobic tendencies of the Japanese seem to impress upon game developers that they do not need to change certain JRPG archetypes, but that is only true to a certain extent. Much in the way that western developers have taken ques from Japanese developers and then improved upon them, so also do Japanese developers need to capitalize on the attributes which have made WRPGs so successful.
Gravitation is one of the games that we played in class, but I didn’t give it much thought until I attended a student’s presentation on the source code as a text of literature that can be read for meaning. The creator, Jason Rohrer, released a statement indicating his reasoning behind creating Gravitation: “I needed to make a game about this process that I was going through. About success, and creative leaps, and mania, and mood cycles, and the aftermath.”
This was fascinating to me. The game plays like a simple one, but there’s layers to it that I never considered until this presentation. The presentation was a fascinating one, delving into the different layers the create a game, everything from the code itself to the tools we use to play it, to the audio-visual components we refer to as the “game.” But that’s not all the game is.
Gravitation is not just a cute, pixellated game of ball and stars and ice cubes. It’s an autobiographical tale; but we wouldn’t know that unless we engaged more thoroughly with the creator. I’m sure that we could draw our own interpretations without ever looking at the author’s original (and very much stated) intent. When I first played the game, I thought that the blonde avatar was a girl who left the boy avatar brokenheartedly after he ignored her for too long; the author reveals to those who seek out the information that the blonde character is the author’s own son Mez, who simply sneaks away from his father, presumably to entertain himself elsewhere.
The widening and closing view of the screen is another interesting point; the further the author gets from that which gives him joy (his family) the smaller his world seems to become. However, spending time with his child elevates his mood (following a complex mathematical set of rules, that were presented quite nicely by the student but which blew right over my head; English major for the win?) to the point that his head catches on fire and he rockets skyward. As someone who goes through my own manic and depressive states, knowing this tidbit about the game, revealed by the source code and the author himself, make the game so much more impactful when I play through it. (Is impactful a word? Well, it is now.)
I completely understand and empathise with the character who finds himself in a perplexing time of creativity but also sadness. He writes, “all of these life-changing events, hitting me at once, elevated my mood to the point of near mania, and I drank deeply of the conglomerate experience.” As we go through these confusing times, cloistering, suffocating sadness and wild throes of delight both attempt to sweep us off our feet. This game is a delightful, condensed portrait of not just the author, but sort of the world at large. And it’s all done in 8-bit. Kudos.
Found this neat flash game that made a pick-of-the-day on Newgrounds called Pretentious Game.
The title is artfully deceptive and a little bit more is at work than one at first notices. Check it out!
With an emphasis placed throughout the semester in class on the computer, the digital as a viable medium, I couldn’t help but start creating an online resume.
Seeing as how I hope to go to grad school for media studies, an online resume is particularly appropriate for me, but with computers becoming more and more assimilated with everyday life by the year, I would advocate that everyone make one if the means are available.
Aside from it just being good to show potential employers/grad schools/etc. that you are familiar enough with computers to successfully create an online resume and make it look good, an online resume gives you an avenue to expand upon the usual “1-page” limit with photos, more information, and a portfolio.
Since most all of us are now “google-able,” it also helps to have a resume that will pop up via searches. That way, aside from all of the pictures of you drinking, toking up, doing stupid things, of the posts you make of message boards saying stupid things, etc., (this is said half-jokingly, I know that there are good things too) it gives people a chance to see more than the thumbprint that you’ve left along your “surf.”
Here is the resume that I have been working on for a majority of the semester.
The picture, while exemplifying my personality, is probably not “professional” enough for a resume, and is thus acting as a placeholder for the moment.
However, similarly to a copy resume, I’ve chosen to keep the layout relatively simple (and with wordpress, which if you haven’t messed with yet, you should (seriously, go create an account on UMW Blogs ).
As you can see, the online resume also allows you to add links to other pages of yours, such as twitter or linkedIn, you can even put up a twitter feed to let visitors know what you have most recently been up to (probably not a good idea if you are going to tweet about lunch. The retweet there from a friend of mine is a good example of what not to post. I retweeted it because I thought it was funny.
I guess this picture explains the humor of social media pretty well.
It’s also probably a good idea to put a .doc/x or PDF version/copy version of your resume up online for people to download and print off for themselves. There are always a few people that prefer printed copies, but if they ask for one you can send them to the site to print it and get them to look anyways! (tricky!)
Hopefully this post will convince some of you to get started on an online resume. It can only help you.
And heck, if you have any suggestions for mine, I’d love to hear them.
Looking at “I Wish I Were the Moon” in class reminded me of a game I ran across some time ago, “(I Fell in Love With) The Majesty of Colors” by Gregory Weir. The two works are very similar on a visual level, with flat, colorful art composed of simple pixel sprites, and they both have multiple endings, which carries the implication that the player’s goal is to find as many as possible. “The Majesty of Colors” does contain more gameplay elements than “I Wish I Were the Moon” (which I am not even sure should be classified as a game), though, and has a more explicitly presented narrative: instead of being left to infer the relationships between the man, the woman, and the moon, the player is given fairly straightforward text explaining the controllable character’s thoughts.
The controllable character is a huge sea monster, being dreamed of by an unseen human character. This dreamer narrates the player-driven events, but is never shown, while the sea monster is. Although this creates an additional distance between the player and the controllable character, it also allows for narration that explains the sea monster’s perspective while also knowing the names of human concepts.
I’m not sure that the narration is necessary at all, though; since the written text presents the sea monster’s feelings as largely ambivalent, it might be as (or more) effective to let the player imagine what goes on in the monster’s mind. The sea monster is an interesting character, I think, because of all its ambivalence – demonstrated by the fact that the player decides whether its interactions with humans are friendly or hostile – and the question of its motives might be more compelling if its actions spoke for themselves, instead of being described by the human dreamer.
Despite my uncertainty about the game’s need to have a written narrative, I like “The Majesty of Colors” enough that I’ve recommended it to friends. The graphics are charming, and there’s an interesting contrast between those simple, bright graphics and the horror elements of the narrative itself, but the premise in particular stands out to me as creative and holds my attention. Depending on the player’s choices, the sea monster can be a traditionally destructive one or a guardian of seafarers, but the moral element of these choices is provided by the dreamer and the player; the monster is just exploring a new world, one with shining light and beautiful colors.
In July, I became one of the first million Betta users to gain access to Pottermore, a website meant to promote and host the e-book copies of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, but I held off from reviewing it until it departed Betta mode and became accessible to the public, which was about a week ago.
Appearance-wise, I very much appreciate Pottermore: it is sleek and easy to navigate, while maintaining the whimsical, enchanted, and old-world sort of charm that has made the story of Harry Potter so beloved. While there are occasionally glitches the cause the site to run slow, the overall animation usually runs quite well, with the signs at the top of the page swinging whenever scrolled over, the mail owl blinking and shifting at random, and various points on the story maps lighting up.
All of this aside, though, one is not able to appreciate such things until one begins the interactive journey of “becoming” a wizard or witch. Upon registration (which was quite cumbersome at first for my friends, with verification e-mails arriving very late or not at all), the player is given several pre-made screen name options, all of which are compiled from vocabulary from the Harry Potter novels. For example, my screen name is SickleRook110, with Sickle being a part of the wizarding world’s currency and a rook being a piece in chess. While it is a bit annoying that players can’t design their own names, it hardly detracts from the experience.
Once the player registers, his or her name is placed right above Harry Potter’s in a book that keeps record of soon-to-be students, and the journey through the first book begins. Each chapter from the first novel is divided into three or so parts and has been made interactive, with the story being told through pop-up-like animations, sounds, and an explorable atmosphere. Pieces of the environment can be triggered to move, items can be collected, and, most importantly, previously unknown information can be unlocked regarding characters, settings, creatures, etc.
A main complaint that I harbor towards the interactive space of the game/narrative, is the fact that the first three or so chapters are fairly dull, with fairly limited playability (i.e. few collectible items, little movement, etc.) and I was at first disinterested in continuing. Also, while some of the items are useful (money and textbooks, for example), many, once collected, are useless so far on Pottermore — what, truly, is the purpose of being able to collect a chipped tea cup? and why can’t items, such as the dragon egg and golden snitch, do anything once collected? You can send things as gifts, but, once received, the items go back to having no clear purpose.
However, the interactive work becomes increasingly more fun and interesting as it progresses, despite these issues. For example, the player is able to go to Diagon Alley (the wizard shopping center of London) in order to purchase school books, potion ingredients, and even pets (which will later be the image on the player’s user icon).
At the end of shopping, the player must take a quiz (which I was pleased to find was quite brief and had images, rather than just being a fill-in-the-bubble sort of test) in order to receive a wand and continue on in the reading/game.
Once sorted, the player receives a welcome message that details his or her House’s history and the traits that are commonly shared by its members, and is now able to explore the site in more depth. A points system also becomes available to the player, who can brew potions, compete in duels, and explore the chapters in order to garner points and help their House towards winning the House Cup.
Brewing potions, which turns out to be a bit complicated/frustrating at times, requires that the player explore chapters or spend Galleons in order to find/purchase ingredients, and then follow often rigid instructions in order to create various potions.
While the concept of making potions is a fun way to turn a piece of the literature into an interactive game, I have several issues with it. For one, some ingredients are often difficult to move around the screen without spilling and glitches are rampant throughout. Even more aggravating is the fact that, once the player has followed the steps, he or she must wait anywhere from 30-50 minutes in order to complete his or her potion. The fact that players are expected to remember that they even have something happening on Pottermore an hour after the fact is just bewildering to me. Also, though brewing potions garners House points, the potions, like other items, are not usable once created.
Another incredibly awkward feature of the game and site is spell casting. The player must hit certain keys at precise times in order to generate some sort of spell, when it seems like moving the mouse in a certain manner or remembering words would be far more practical. Nevertheless, this is required in the story in order to proceed, and I eventually got used to it.
Still, the effort is worth it, because, as the story unfolds, the animation becomes more and more wonderfully drawn:
The player must navigate the confusing swarm of keys in order to locate the correct one.
Unfortunately, once the reader finishes exploring the first novel, there is little left to do. None of the other books have been made available to explore yet, and there are only six potions to brew and a few dozen spells to practice. As far as communicating with other members goes, it’s fairly limited: private messages cannot be sent and there is no proper forum, so communication is limited to posting short comments on the Common Room page or Great Hall page. As of right now, Pottermore is hardly a community.
However, overall, despite some detracting variables and faults, the Pottermore site is definitely worth a visit, at least to determine one’s House and see some of the animations, and will certainly continue to grow once more interactive books are made available and (hopefully) communication is expanded.
Vanitas, by Tale of Tales, presents a very different interpretation of a cabinet of wonders than My Body — a Wunderkammer. Vanitas creates a virtual cabinet of wonders, actual boxes full of an ever-changing sequence of three objects. The outside of the box changes and contains the only lines of text in the game, lines from famous poems and the Bible like:
Vanitas has twelve stages, each one including a new object. These objects include feathers, a coin, a cherry — there are at least twenty different objects. The game seems aimless at first, you just throw objects around and then load three more, but then there start to be living creatures. There are lady bugs, snails, and a fish out of water. The fish comes toward the end where the idea of death is becoming more and more prevalent. You get to watch the fish desperately flail around until you close the box, while listening to the sounds of it hitting the sides of the box. That’s the point where the game takes on significance. In the later stages, objects are broken- the stick with the flowers sheds all its petals, the lady bug stops moving, the glass vial is broken in half. There are bones now and the music is more noticeable, haunting cello. Vanitas becomes less of an idle time-killer, and more of a visual interpretation of Memento mori.
The simplicity makes it easy to appreciate and allows for more interpretation. There is no narrative, just a progression. And, unlike My Body — a Wunderkammer, you are never permitted to see the full picture.
I played the web version of Vanitas, which is free, but there is also an android and iphone app. It’s simple, but enjoyable and very beautifully done — it uses Unity 3D. It’s worth checking out.
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