Interactive Review 2

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.


Eternal Play and Frustrations

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.

Self Critique

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.

Gallery Write Up #1: Interactive Design

Many people involved with the computer science and Digital Media and Animation major are hearing more about the Unity game engine; a free game engine for indie and professional developers. Much like other programs, it can be over whelming to learn a new program. To help solve this issue for the basics, a Unity seminar was held in SET 440 at 7PM. The event was hosted by Stephon Barrett with Michael Girard, Maria Frascella and myself assisting when needed. All participants were asked to install the newest version of Unity before the seminar began so they could all dive right in.

The topic of the seminar was a variety of sub-topics that had to do with the basics of using Unity. The first topic covered was the basics of the UI layout. This included the View settings so that people could select their favorite UI layout. This would allow people to find a format to use the software in which they are most comfortable.  After learning a bit about the Unity layout and getting everything organized, we then moved onto the basics of creating shapes such as cubes and spheres. Everyone was then taught how to create materials to apply to the shapes. Stephon then instructed everyone on how to create a script to allow the cube to be parented to the camera and allow the camera to move based on the user’s mouse input. Once all of these processes had been covered, Stephon allowed everyone to mess around and try to modify the content we had created to learn how to make changes to our games and learn the software.

Some of the main points that really grabbed my attention had a lot to do with how important organization is. When making a video game or any other type of media for that matter, you’re going to have quite a few files to manage. It is very important to keep these files organized so that not only you remember where they are, but also for any teammates involved to easily find the files they need in an efficient and organized manner. If a person using the program were to just dump all of the files into one folder, others as well as themselves would be able to find the file they were looking for without a headache and in some cases depending on the project, compiling errors. Organization is important with any project and Stephon was able to communicate the importance of this method to everyone. For a Unity project, if you make a material, put it in a folder with other materials. Scripts? Put them in a scripts folder. This applies to everything: keep organized and avoid unnecessary headaches.

I can apply the various things I learned today at the Unity seminar to my work in DMA and this course individually. The most important thing to apply to ALL of my work is one that I am always careful to employ to the best of my ability; organization. Without organization, projects can easily fall apart. Pieces can get lost, ruined and in some cases, you may even forget to create something you need to have for your project because your directory or workplace is so cluttered you think to yourself “that’s not something I’d forget”; and then end up forgetting. Another important piece I have taken away from this seminar to apply to my future projects as well as this course is to double check your resources. What I mean by that is to go over any code you may be working on to check its sustainability and whether or not there are errors. Letting errors stack up can cause other methods to not function correctly and lead to quickly creating more problems.

Skeleton Project

Final image:


Reference Image:


Megi7. “National Geographic Covers.” Barnorama. Barnorama, 28 Sept. 2012. Web. 05 Apr. 2017.

This image relates to DMA due to the fact that it shows a great use of value and contrast through the use of the dark shadows and the woman religious robes. Direction is also used in the skeleton of the woman for it is at a somewhat diagonal angle and naturally draws the attention of the viewers eye. As an artist I decided to use charcoal for my medium due to the intensity of the dark shadows. If I were to use pencils, I wouldn’t have been able to make such intensely dark shadows on the girl and woman’s robe. I grew as an artist by learning to properly shade using charcoal. Before this project I was not that good at shading with pretty much any medium that I used. But for this project I took time to study the image and try to match the shading more accurately while maintaining as high of a level of detail as possible. I am very happy with how this image came out and believe it is one of my best pieces so far this year.