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Creativity Module: Reflection Summary

Creativity Module: Reflection Summary

This module was very interesting to do. I chose the gaming module–which ended up being what I expected: making games. I love playing games so I wanted to attempt creating a small game. Since the modules spanned a duration of 2 weeks, and since they took place on our own time, I didn’t have much free time between class, work, rowing, and other homework assignments to truly invest in my project.

My game idea was to create a telephone game using colors and a line of birds. The birds would each alter the message and the player would have to remember what the original message was and repeat it. Then, after the player was successful more birds would join the line of birds and make each level more difficult. In the end, my product did not represent this idea.

What took me the longest was finding software to start using. I tried using Construct 2 but I felt like the interface was difficult to grasp on my own. After trying other software and not finding any easy ones to learn, I returned to software I used in high school called Scratch. It’s an easy software to make browser games within the site. The code is written by dragging different blocks into a workspace to build a program. Coding Sprites and events are super easy. The only real drawback I had with Scratch was taking my method of coding and translating it into the Scratch coding language. I have experience coding in Java and some Python, so I understand the principles of coding. Scratch feels like learning a new language to me, and I find it much more difficult. I don’t know if having more or less coding experience is good for learning Scratch because I found Scratch confusing in terminology when I first learned to code, and now I find Scratch frustrating in creativity. Scratch has a load of creative potential for users, yet I often found myself struggling to find and format the coding blocks to fit my needs.

Because of my struggle with Scratch and the short time limit, my final product did not end up being like my original idea. Instead of a fully-fledged game, I ended up with a prototype for a mechanic. I learned from the readings that prototypes are part of the building process of a game (it’s not all made in one go) and that each prototype is playtested and receives feedback for the developer to use to better improve a mechanic or the game as a whole. My prototype focuses on recognizing the correct order of colors, receiving the player’s input, and telling them if they are correct or not. It took me way longer than I first thought it would to write this algorithm, so I have yet to add a way for it to reset or repeat the pattern but the game is “playable” in a sense. The player can copy the bird’s pattern and receive feedback if they were correct or not. It’s by no means a game, but it’s a game prototype. This is a game idea I’ve had written down for a long time so I’m definitely going to further expand and develop this project into something more fully formed in the future.

Despite the setbacks and lack of a game as a product, I really enjoyed learning more about the game making process through reading the articles and resources available on the module’s webpage. I learned why games take such a long window of time to develop the concept, polish the UI and mechanics, and ensure a quality player experience. I will definitely continue working on this project and hopefully, turn into a product for my portfolio or a hobby. This was the only time I’ve ever been able to receive guided instruction on making a game so I was super excited to do this module, and I’m very happy with the knowledge and experience I’ve gained from participating in it.

The link to my game can be found here, feel free to check it out and leave a comment on some feedback on my progress so far!

Creativity Module: Update

Creativity Module: Update

The deadline for the first module of DGST101 is coming up and I’m low-key panicking, to be honest. I’ve finally settled on a platform called Scratch which is a 2-D -easy-to-learn, browser software used to make games and other interactive experiences. I know a lot of kids learn to code using it, and I’ve personally used it in high school when making computer games in my programming class.

My game idea is a Pattern-matching game mixed with the game Telephone. The primary objective for the user is to match their response with the original pattern. My spin on it is that as the pattern progresses down the line that the people who said something might move around or the pattern will shift in an unconventional way (such as changing hues or switching to a filtered tone).

This concept will be a challenge to incorporate into Scratch because I haven’t learned how to create randomness and assign variables that can be overwritten in Scratch. I can code it fine, being a comp sci major, but getting it to work on a more code-restricted software like Scratch is proving difficult. The project is due in 3 days, so over the course of the weekend, I’ll be really putting my nose to the grindstone. As of right now, I currently have the UI of the game as well as some beginning interactions set up.

Looking back on my progress I think finding a platform that I could quickly test my central mechanic may have been a better idea upfront versus trying to make my game look nice. I’ve noticed that all (if not most) of the game-making software that the module offers focus on creating the interface first and then adding events. I don’t know if that’s the proper way to go about making games or not. I’m used to coding the central or base mechanics and building up from there, eventually translating it into a visible medium, so I’m not familiar with the process that goes into making a proper video game. I also feel like 2 weeks to create an original game, especially for someone who is not familar with game making or code, will struggle to create a finished or acceptable product by the deadline. Even games that can be play-tested in 10 to 15 minutes take a while to conceptualize, prototype, and polish.

The main thing I’ve had to do for this module is to accept that my final product won’t be my finished version. It won’t be exactly how I want it to be. I keep reminding myself it’s only a prototype of a concept that I can revise and edit later on in my personal time.

Creativity Module: Selection | Gaming

Creativity Module: Selection | Gaming

I’ve been looking forward to doing the modules since the very first day. Many of the options for the creativity section stand out to me and I am eager to learn and work with the tools and material within each one. However, we can only work on one (unless we finish early). I knew right away I wanted to do the gaming module. (or interactive fiction if no one else wants to do gaming)

I love video games and my career goal is to work in the gaming industry so this module is perfect for me to learn in a structured manner about the video game industry and about what goes into making a game. Since I’m a Comp Sci major I have some experience coding simple game mechanics and text-based adventures, but I haven’t yet been able to take one of my ideas and turn it into a fully-fledged product (even a simple flash game would be cool). For the career positions I’m leaning towards, it’s important to have a portfolio of works coupled with experience working with a team to be considered a competitive candidate. I feel like being able to use my list of game ideas and learn how to turn those ideas into the real deal will help strengthen my portfolio and also provide a new avenue for me to explore and improve my works in the future.

Ignoring the career aspect of my reasoning, I simply enjoy gaming. The very first game I remember playing was the 3D Pinball Space Cadet game on my father’s laptop. Since then I’ve played flash games, MMOs, MOBAs, platformers, mobile games, RPGs, FPS, tabletop, and simulation games. Currently, I mainly play games such as Dead by Daylight (an all-time fav.), The Sims 4, Depth, Monster Prom, Life is Strange, Rainbow Six Siege, Oxygen not Included, Overwatch, and Rocket League. Fusion Fall was the very first MMORPG I ever played until it shut down. (I discovered a team of programmers and FusionFall fans who recovered the game and rebuilt it, as well as began developing their own spin on the game) The gaming community is a tight-knit group (even with some bad apples) who share a love of games. Each genre has its own community hub, and each individual game has its own smaller community. It’s a wonderful web of shared experiences and adventures that people across continents can experience together.

I’m a firm believer that a game is a piece of art that is meant to create a unique experience for their audience (the player). Whether that experience is meant as a moral, an emotion, a behavior, or memory. Games vary a ton. There are action-packed games like Rainbow Six Siege or Call of Duty, and there are games like Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley. There are even games that tackle incredibly serious topics such as loss, anxiety, disease, and fear. One of my favorite games that illustrate the journey of a family coping with their youngest child having cancer, is called That Dragon, Cancer. It is a story-driven game that is — for the most part — an observational experience. The player witnesses metaphorical imagery listens to voice dialogue of the family and gets to know the child as he battles cancer. Even with little combat or opportunities for the player to change the course of the game, the areas and mechanics in which the player can interact with the game create an emotional impact and experience that stays with the user even after the game is over.

For example, in That Dragon, Cancer there is an area of the game where the family is in the hospital and there are cards throughout the entire level that the player can open and read. All of the letters were written by real people to their real family members who have either lost or won their battles with cancer. Even though the interaction is a simple click to open, the events that occur after opening the card (reading the letter) creates a memory within the player that invokes an emotional response, connecting them with the experience.

Other story games accomplish this effect with more interaction, but still manage to delve into difficult life situations. In Life is Strange, the player controls a character named Max. The game is a typical “Your choices affect the story and character relationships so choose wisely” but the twist is that Max has the ability to turn back time. This mechanic allows the player to test out every branch of the storyline until they settle on the one they want to pursue. Max’s supernatural ability also allows her to change the events outside of dialogue as well, often having her use time rewind to save a friend or to cause something to happen. There are many difficult decisions Max faces within the game that reflect the struggles of social relationships and how to help those you care about without causing unexpected events down the line.

I know this is a ton of reading, thank you for making it this far. I could go on all day about a single game or a sub-genre and how I believe it makes a good or bad experience. If any of these games interest you, I highly recommend checking them out (the first episode of Life is Strange is free). Thank you for reading. ☺

And if there end up not being enough people who are interested in doing the gaming module I’d like to try out the interactive fiction module, to help better my storytelling skills using mainly text.

Hello World!

Hello World!

Hello World! My name is Kuri Benitez and I’m a computer science major from the University of Mary Washington. I have a passion for games and creating new things. My goal in this class is to better understand the methods of digital media and design and how I can incorporate these ideas into a productive digital workspace.

This domain is a subdomain of my main website (www.kbenite2.com). Dr.Whalen’s advice on using a subdomain versus a tag for classes was brilliant and much easier to set up than I anticipated. Customizing this domain, I have grown to love the design on this subdomain more than the design on my main blog. I created my main UMW domain during my freshman year without much guidance. After my first class of Digital Studies 101, I realized how I had done the discouraged method of naming a domain. Nonetheless, I am proud of my website. I wish I had thought to create a subdomain for that class at first because now it’s much harder to separate my DS106 work from my personal work on the site. If I have the time, I plan to move my ds106 work onto a subdomain. Or at least better organize my current posts on my main page.

When creating this subdomain, I wanted to add my Slack for classmates to communicate with me easier. Slack is the main means of communication in DGST101 and therefore is important to share amongst peers, I believe. I also plugged my personal Instagram in case anyone wanted to befriend me. I chose Instagram because it’s the social platform I use the most to connect with people I know well and sometimes not so well. My other social media I hold closer to the chest.

The main thing I knew I wanted on this site was the front page to be highlighted content. I have yet to find a means to create a front page that continuously updates with recent posts like the posts page (I tried making the posts page my home page and it won’t let me). As an alternative, I put a fake posts page that I will have to manually update with links to posts. It’s definitely more work and I may not keep it but I liked the idea of having my current progress and projects front and center.

For other things on the site such as the sidebar and search bar and pages I wanted to keep it simple and as intuitive as possible. On my main page, it got very confusing and cluttered as I began posting more content. I’ve started to learn from past designs on my main domain to better design my subdomains. I really like the colors, for example, that I used in this subdomain. My main blog is a lot of green and feels sort of childish whereas this subdomain feels more sleek and professional. I wanted to keep the search bar in an easy-to-find-location and I wanted to keep the page count low to start. I only have this one post right now so I didn’t see an urgent need to have multiple pages on the menu bar. The “Jams” on the sidebar I added for a little fun and to feature my sound design and audio design projects from the past and future.

I’m very excited to learn and interact more within this class as the semester goes on. I hope that it will continue to be a fun and interesting experience for me.

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