For one of the kiosks in the museum, user’s would move kinetic sand around on a table and change the height of certain regions; creating a miniature terrain. Changing the height of certain regions caused the color projected on that region to change. The taller a region was, the warmer the colors would become; red being the maximum. This kiosk intended to communicate that changes in elevation can cause other variables of an environment to change. It communicated this by changing the color of the terrain if the height was a certain difference between two points (Example: “The green terrain zone I have is 3 inches below this higher region, so I will make this higher region yellow”). Strong elements of interaction included the sand itself. The reason for this was the fact that the sand was not normal sand you’d find on a beach, but instead kinetic sand. This type of sand is able to keep its shape much easier and be more easy to form and mold into various shapes. Using kinetic sand instead of normal sand allows for users to form the terrain in any way they like without having to worry about it turning into an instant “mudslide” situation. By physically interacting with the exhibit, you were shown different colors on your terrain based on their “altitude”. The higher you built, the warmer the colors projected on the sand were. This kiosk was an interaction-game-like due to the fact that interacting with physical sand on the table rewarded you with a different mix of colors being projected onto the table. Interaction could be improved at this kiosk by aligning the projector to the correct angle so that the colors for the altitude are not offset. Upon interacting with the kiosk I found that the edges were off by about an inch, which makes a big difference when showing changes in elevation. The interaction could be expanded by including a water system that would create waterways, lakes and rivers in the lower altitude regions; perhaps from table surface up to a quarter of an inch.
Another kiosk I interacted with involved taking hold of a handle with a looped piece of steel on the end and making it from one side of the maze to the other without touching the steel loop to the bar in which it’s contained. To interact with the exhibit, I had to hold the handle piece in one hand and slowly move the handle along the path. Slow movements were needed in order to not touch the handle to the maze line and cause a game over. The exhibit was communicating that patience and taking your time with a task can help you succeed more efficiently. It communicates this by having an intricate path in order to make it near impossible to complete the maze successfully going at a fast rate. The strongest elements of the interaction was the buzzer that would go off if the wand touched the maze line piece. This result of having the two pieces touch acted as a negative reinforcement and made the player want to try harder to further avoid causing the buzzer to go off. This exhibit was interaction game-like due to the fact that there was a result to touching the maze line as well as reaching the other end of the maze. Touching the line as stated above set off an annoying buzzer, but making it to the end resulted in trumpets sounding off victory. The interaction could have been improved by having a system which allows users to change the size of the loop that was on the handle. This would allow players to increase or decrease their difficulty as they please and offer more variables for competition against their friends such as “Who can make it to the end the quickest with loop number one?” As for making the communication as to stay away from the swirly maze line, they could have painted the maze line red. That way the user would associate the color red with danger either before or after they cause the buzzer to go off the first time. The interactive design of this piece could have been expanded with this piece by creating a longer and more elaborate maze experence; perhaps one that went all away around the table.
The character on the top half of the sheet above is the player’s character; a dark entity with disproportionate body measurements and other features to make the player feel a sense of unease. Since the character does not have a mouth or detailed eyes (eyes are white dots in a hollowed out area), the two appendages on the top of the head act as a way of describing the characters mood without needing much detail from facial expressions. A mixture of these appendages and body language are what will convey the character’s current mood to the player.
The character on the bottom half of the character sheet above is the player’s enemy; an angel. Since the player’s dark entity character’s idea of a dream is filled with gore, violence and other acts of malice behavior, a nightmare is filled with joy, laughter, fun and any thing of purity. What better pure item to be subjected to in your nightmare than an angel. These angels will be generated all around the level with AI only driving them to move to random points throughout the map without colliding with each other. Since they are pure and want nothing to do with the dark entity, they will not intentionally come near you. BUT if the dark entity (player) should cross their path, their pureness will rub off onto you and result in a game over.
The level in which the player interacts is a basic landscape with a flat floor surrounded by high rising mounds along the edges to contain them and clouds flying up above. The angel enemies will be in three different sections along the level; each increasing the population density as the player gets closer to their goal. The angels will not be able to climb up onto the mounds along the edges nor will the player. This means the angels will have a tighter area to travel in resulting in quicker movements that are closer to the player; increasing the difficulty.
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell. Probably one of the most addictive games I’ve ever played. The idea of enemies lurking around every corner but having the ability to become one with the shadows and bypass or take them out without raising alarms leads to some intense and memorable moments. In the recent additions to the series, holding the sprint button down while simultaneously holding the melee attack button causes the character I am in control of to take out enemies in whatever direction he is running in with one smooth transition from one execution to another. The effect of starting a combination of take-downs is instantaneous with the action of pressing and holding the two buttons in sequence; as long as there are enough enemies in the area to allow for take-down combos. Simple actions such as taking an enemy out from behind cover without being spotted by nearby enemies rewards the player with hit markers which allow for a smooth sequence of pin point accuracy shots to be taken with your sidearm in sequence quickly and efficiently. More complex actions such as taking out enough enemies in sequence as stated above, you are awarded a bonus on your final score based on how many enemies were taken out in sequence, if you raised any alarms by getting spotted by someone in another area and are at later points in the game rewarded upgrades at a discount price. The levels of the game are designed in a way that challenges the player to take more stealthy approaches to reach the objective. At first you can easily run and gun your way through or play “ghost” and take out enemies from cover, slowly making your way through undetected without raising alarms. But as the game progresses, levels require that you use stealth more in order to make it through the level without being caught (which at this point means immediate game over; restarting the level) or dying. Along with this higher need for stealth, the game does become progressively more difficult as the population density of enemies increases, more high-tech weapons become available to the protagonists, building layouts become more elaborate and a plethora of other changes. The player does receive a bit more assistance from the main character’s team that are communicating from an area off the battle ground. Hints are not quite “in your face” but are more frequent and can assist the player in what decision they believe would be best to complete the level.
A game that frustrates me beyond belief is QWOP; an online sports game in which the player must control a track runner’s legs to help him cross the finish line. I interact with the game by using the Q, W, O and P keys on my keyboard. The runner’s thighs are controlled with the Q and W keys whereas the calves are controlled with the O and P keys. It seems as though a 2D flash game involving something as simple as running would be easy with only four keys required but frustrating is an understatement. The controls immediately impact the outcome of your game with no latency. Pressing down on one of the four keys causes the character on screen to bend their leg by the thighs or calves; allowing the character to “run”. The change in the runner’s legs is instantaneous and changes much quicker than what most people can naturally adapt to for making the next move. What frustrates me about the experience is that even though it is extremely difficult to even get past the 2m mark, there is something about the game that makes you want to stay and continue to become frustrated as you attempt over and over to reach the finish line or beat your record. The constant requirement for interaction from the moment you make the first leg movement results in your focus to be snapped back and forth; from frustration for failing AGAIN to trying to focus and beat your score. This loop could go on forever with the player getting more and more frustrated with each attempt, but that addictive quality of “I almost had it” or “I NEED to beat my record” keep you going on the frustration inducing path. The game increases in difficulty the further you go. The reason for this is at some point you may need to react quicker to the character’s leg positions to keep them upright and continue onward. It also becomes more difficult the further you progress because if you go to a new record point (let’s say your record is 55m and you’re now at 79m) and fall… you have to start back at 0; not your previous record. The player is led through this increase by the sheer desire of wanting to beat their high score or even a friends. It’s like going to a casino and playing the slot machine every time you get “close” to winning, but in this case, sitting at your computer longer trying to get a 2D avatar with messed up legs to win a race.
Over the course of my three years at Alfred, my skills have majorly improved when it comes to working with 3D mediums and the skillsets that require. Last semester I learned more about the functionality of the animation tools in Maya. I worked with these tools over winter break and became more comfortable with them as well as learned how to truly use them to my advantage. At the beginning of this semester my animation skills were not that great. I understood how to operate the animation system: setting keyframes, messing with the graph editor, etc; but not much on how to create dynamic and believable animations. One of the aspects I feel I have improved upon this semester is timing. In the beginning many aspects of my animations were stop and go and had a very shifting “flow” to them. Another aspect I feel I improved on was anticipation. Much like timing, I would not have a smooth flow from one pose to another. My anticipation would be either too short or not communicated well enough. Towards the end of the semester I improved my skill with this element; most noticeable in my final animation with the Peacock-Flytrap animation. I struggled with expressing emotions through faces; often getting a mixture of two emotions or having one come across as another. This is one of the largest aspects of animation that I need to improve on.
Update #1: Concept Check-In (4/29/18)
UPDATED AS OF 5/9/18
Art is something that for years has been able to inspire people, make them think and in some cases relate to them on a level that would come to one as a major surprise. One of the greatest aspects of art, whether it be a small piece painted on a canvas, performance art, a photograph, video, or any other type, is that it has the ability to communicate a large number of messages all from within the one location in which it exists. Every day, the human mind is able to connect a large quantity of various pieces of information without the person having to even think about wanting to save that information for later. This could be almost anything the user experiences, whether it be something the person hears, sees, smells, feels or even tastes. Every second without even realizing it, our brains are taking in incredible masses of information, interpreting the information, and then finally storing it in our subconscious. This entire process of obtaining information and sending it to the brain for interpretation and storage occurs in less than a single second and is all executed successfully without us having to think about doing so or even realizing that the information we are constantly collecting is even in our presence. What makes this Net Art piece a work of art is its ability to cause the user to subconsciously store the words in a special sequence that no one else may store them as; whether it be the sequence of words in order or perhaps even a specific connection caused by a previous experience that the viewer remembers. The viewer’s mind will make these connections as the large dictionary of various words are being presented to them within a time frame less than a second; even though the single word is only visible on the user’s screen for a little less than two seconds. The user’s eyes will become aware that a new word has appeared on screen and save that word in the back of the user’s mind; in many cases causing the viewer to believe they have forgotten the word, that it is not that important to them, or in some cases not realized what the word in itself was. While the user may stick to believing this, their mind will still have that connection stored somewhere; floating around and waiting to be triggered or brought back up to their current thought by being experienced to a certain event or hearing a certain phrase. Sometime in the future while the viewer is simply going about their daily life, an event may occur and cause a slight flashback moment of viewing this piece, because their subconscious thought process will create a special connection to the series of words that they were subjected to while viewing the piece; even after a long period after seeing the piece. This “fortune cookie” effect is what makes this piece a work of art: it has the strong ability to make a surprising connection to the user’s future that has not yet even occurred.
Update #2: Site link (5/8/18)
UPDATE ON 4/11/18 :Research
For my site revision I’ve chosen to redesign the website for a music shop not too far from my hometown; Speno Music. Below are screen shots of the following in descending order: home page, about page and photo “gallery”.
For aspects of the site that are working well, the header content is done well. The navigation bar is static and is not in a different location for each page. The image of guitars below the navigation bar is also static and does not change size, shape, color or position on each page. For improvements, there are many. The entire site is composed of various font tags with styling done in the HTML itself; very little at that. The image layout on the home page has no sense of direction but rather seems to have random elements “splattered” on the page (contact form to the left with image of store front sitting next to bottom right corner). The photo gallery is composed of a single image with a dull, static text overlay reading “Store Photo’s” in the top right corner. This text distracts from the single image and does not add anything to the experience. On the “About” page, there are incomplete descriptions about employee’s as well as the company itself with filler text reading “Include a brief biography. List their years of experience and education. Or describe how this person helps meet the needs of your customers”; incomplete and unprofessional. There are also stock photo fills in place of where an employee’s face should be. One of the main aspects about Speno’s Music that makes it such a great place is their commitment to the community and everyone that has a passion for music. Although the store was founded in 2006, Mike Speno’s (current owner) family has been assisting in providing great service for a variety of instruments and artists ever since 1951. They bring this point up on multiple pages, communicating the reason they do what they do is driven by other’s passion for music. Unlike corporate companies like Guitar Center, they have the ability to be flexible with pricing and aren’t afraid to make deals on equipment and offer cheap services, because in the end what they care about is making sure that music is accessible to all; not how large of a price tag they can put on an item. This communication could easily be improved by developing a stronger structured about page with more information and well formatted and developed sentence structure; making the person want to read about the company’s history. The audience being targeted by this site is that of musical artists or people who have a passion for music. Other organizations that are targeting this audience more effectively are mostly corporate companies such as Guitar Center and Musicians Friend. Their websites are much better structured and offer a more interactive experience while searching for a product they have in stock or even just finding a store location
One of the main pieces I plan to use on Speno’s redesign is having a message center right on the home page at the top. This allows users to be immediately informed of the deals you have going on. Everyone loves saving money so by peaking the user’s interest on what deals you have, you are quickly and efficiently pulling them into your business. I also plan on using organized drop-down menus to allow for a cleaner experience when it comes to finding the product a user may be looking for. At the moment, Speno currently displays stock images of guitars on their header that are most likely not even at the store and a single image from about two years ago of some guitars hanging on the wall; nothing new and nothing updated to keep user’s accurately informed.
UPDATE 2: REVISION DRAFT LINK 4/16/18
UPDATE 3: ADOBE XD DRAFT REVISION 4/19/18
UPDATE 3: HTML PRODUCTION LINK 4/24/18