Finito

Well its finally coming to an end. Doodleblocks is coming to its final week in Dundalk Institute of Technology and it has been a truly wonderful experience for all (i hope). This week was a very top heavy week for us all, we all had a ridiculous amount of work to do, it seemed that some aspects of the project could have been started earlier but thankfully we will definitely get it all finished for the lecturers and their grades tomorrow.

we have tweaked and changed a few aspect of the project. Paul feels he doesnt have enough time to successfully implement the leaderboard so we are going to have to drop it, its a pity but its the only way to get the project done in time. There were some things that i have been working on today and this week, i edited the animation to remove some parts regarding the old technologies and i created several novelty sized stationary items to decorate the room and they look great. Early this week i successfully managed to get the code working so that if the A key is pressed it moves onto the next round. This was vital because the makey makey is coded up to the a key and as a result the program runs smooth! next is to code it to the s key to move on if the word is not guessed, (the red button). Its up to Paul now to put this code that i wrote into all the files that laura has been animating so tirelessly on over the past week!

This is probably the last blog post that I make in contribution, over all im extremely proud of Neil, Paul and Laura and the work we as NCLP Designs have accomplished. we overcame many setbacks and hinderences but we will have a great project on the day and i cant wait to show it off! I feel its a great representation of the work that we have all done throughout the year!

Programming Map

The names of the files will be these:

(including the numbers so its easy to order them)

1_intro

(the intro file will have buttons linking to the next 5 .swf files)
2_animal1
3_cinema1
4_music1
5_sport1
6_phrases1

(from here once a difficulty is chosen it will load one of these files)

7_animal1easy
8_animal1medium
9_animal1hard
10_cinema1easy
11_cinema1medium
12_cinema1hard
13_music1easy
14_music1medium
15_music1hard
16_sport1easy
17_sport1medium
18_sport1hard
19_phrases1easy
20_phrases1medium
21_phrases1hard

(all of these files will load the draw1 file)

22_draw1

(draw1 will load the second round)

23_round2

(round 2 will load the next files)

24_animal2
25_cinema2
26_music2
27_sport2
28_phrases2

(these will load the next files)

29_animal2easy
30_animal2medium
31_animal2hard
32_cinema2easy
33_cinema2medium
34_cinema2hard
35_music2easy
36_music2medium
37_music2hard
38_sport2easy
39_sport2medium
40_sport2hard
41_phrases2easy
42_phrases2medium
43_phrases2hard

(these load the next draw file)

44_draw2

(Draw 2 will load the final round)

45_finalround

(this repeats the process over again)

Monday monday

Its Monday. Felt the need to stress that. As it stands we have roughly 2 weeks until its show time! As of right this very moment I have completed the tasks that I set out to do over the weekend. Last week our buttons arrived! Here is a photo of one of them in action.

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It wasnt an easy task but I managed to get these hooked up with use of a makey makey to my computer so that once they are pressed they act as the letter a and w keys. This is extremely important as over the next few days Paul will be adding in code to the program so that once these letters are pressed a new word will be generated. Thankfully this works well. By acting these buttons as a key press it means the user will have a far more enjoyable experience rather than clicking on the screen. Here are some photographs of the makey makey setup that will all be housed in the new doodlestation that is pending fabrication.

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Also I managed to fix the audio issues with the animation! I Stripped it and synched it up using final cut, guess that second year editing module paid off. Here is a link to the video!

IMAG0457

New Updates

As it stands I am feeling extremely optimistic about the project. I have fine tuned and finished the animation, and I managed to get the button working as we need it. All that is needed for the project is to take Laura’s new animations and add them to the program that Paul is working on. Once they are all integrated my buttons, animations and technologies will be implemented and the project will be complete.

Kieran gave us an interesting idea in regards to using a gyroscopic mouse which is a nice concept. Ive experimented with this on ym computer and it is proving pretty difficulty, so using the wiimote is the most logical and probable step forward.  I will experiment with distances however Kieran mentioned that the whiteboards in the college are already interactive and there are remotes that can use it so I might look into using them if they make the program run smoother and will improve the experience. Exams next week so they must take priority!

This weeks workload!

This week was probably one of my most work heavy weeks on doodleblocks to date! Due to changing our technology we had to incorporate the doodleblocks experience into what we now have. Earlier in the week and on friday of the previosu week I booked out a projector and began working on the interactive whiteboard. This proved to be a huge success as I managed to get it working roughly. So between now and the next WIP I have to work out the distance that optimises the experience. The camera has about a 45 degree scope so it will be a simple matter of adjusting the height and distance so that the camera can read the projection.

In terms of programming I decided to help Paul out and take over for a bit, to give him a rest. I decided to physically break down the project into smaller files which was painstaking and arduous but in the end it works much smoother. By writing down what files i needed it was easier to see the final project and thankfully it works well! The program runs smoothly and navigates to each file. Over the next week Paul will add the last few bells and whistles to this version that I made to add global variables to store team names and scores for the leaderboard. We also have to add animations to each category that Laura has been tirelessly working on and they look really fantastic.

Neil recorded the voice over for the animation so I could work on it over the weekend. I am about 2/3 of the way through, and in my opinion this animation is a lot better than the last one. Since doodleblocks has taken on a more colorful aesthetic through our research i completely changed the visual style of the animation while still keeping to our theme. Picture and a copy of the animation will be posted soon, but at the moment it will be a surprise for all those at the WIP!

Interactive Projection

Yesterday I booked out a projector from the college equipment shop and I began testing the interactive whiteboard Wii software that we discovered. Installing the software took some time and I needed to use Lauras laptop as mine only had HDMI ports and no bluetooth. Eventually myself and Laura got things set up and running and thankfully the software works. Unfortunately the IR LED being emitted from the remote control was constantly blinking and because if this it was difficult to get a read on the screen. so over this weekend I will experiment by making and IR light that stays on constantly when the button is pressed so the software can get a better read of things.

In term of the animation I am going to have to leave it til a later date. Unfortunately we were not able to get a voice actor for this friday so I am going to wait until i get the audio clips before starting the animation. I am fully confident that it is a weekend’s work so theres no panic, I can focus on the interactive projection for now.

Making the IR led should not be a difficult task however I will search for a remote control that has a constant light so we can experiment with the software over the next couple of weeks to make the project all the better!

The Interactive Box

Yesterday Paul, Neil and myself took a look at the interactive box tutorial that we found on line. We went to Neils house to to try it on his computer but to no joy. Part of this problem that I believe was down to using the xbox kinect as a webcam. Im presuming there may have been some issues with drivers due to the xbox having 2 cameras inside it. After about an hour of messing around with it we decided that ultimately it wasnt going to work to what we wanted so I decided to try it at home.

I rang my uncle and picked up a webcam that he has, my webcam is fixed into my pc so I was unable to pull it out to use. I installed all the software and built a temporary box for the thing to work. After another hour or so I managed to get it working! Granted there were some issues with the construct, mainly large holes in the box and the paper being too thick but the important this is it work. Over the weekend I will build a stronger box that the webcam can be placed in and I will use a photo frame and grease proof paper to make the lighting work to our benefit.

Prototype Testing!

This morning I sat down with another member of the class and tested the program that i have been working on. This was useful as i got some good criticism. All in all the tester thought it was a very good program and fun to play. Here are some photos of the piece in action. As you can see here the team name enter section works perfectly, the program recognises the characters being entered and displays them on the next screen

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Here is a photo of the random word generator in action. Along with this is a photo of the general layout of the drawing screen. At the moment this interacts with a mouse click so we will have to change it to working with the new technology that we adapt.

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Some feedback I received from the testing this morning was:

Positives:

  • Good amount of words
  • Good amount of Difficulties
  • Colour is a good idea
  • Drawing with pen on screen will be better than a pen and paper
  • Line thickness is very helpful

Negatives:

  • Too many colours – too many choices
  • Timer was hard to see
  • More time

This is all good feedback as most of these early problems will be fixed by the time the program is fully finished. I fully intend to change the colour pallet as this is the default one set by flash. We also intend to have a count down timer being played as the drawing is taking place, adding a level of pressure to players and it will get louder as time runs out, so the player knows just what is going on!

Contingency Plan

Over the 2 weeks off I wasnt able to get the xBox Kinect to be able to do just exactly what we wanted. Linking the files that we were working on also bombed and even the programming lecturer Ken wasn’t able to help, and god knows if he couldn’t understand it what hope had we so we collectively decided to initiate plan b. What exactly that is we are still not 100% sure. We have ultimately decided to keep going ahead with the programming. I took over from Paul for a while to give hime a break as I am sure his head is fried too with the kinect. At the moment I am still extremely confident that we will pull this out of the bag, as the way i see it now we have to get the program working fully on a computer, and we then need to discover a new form of interaction. A touch screen of some kind seems to be the most logical compromise.

Today I began programming the file. One of the most common issues with flash files working correctly is the problem with file sizes. If a flash file is too big it can refuse to work in the way it is designed. I believe I have come up with a rather clever way of solving this issue by breaking this project into 7 parts. The first part is where players must enter their team name that will be displayed through out the experience. I have successfully made this and have working input texts that saves teams names which I am pretty happy about. Next week we will begin adding more difficulties and words to the existing program that i have made. Part 2 will be the drawing file, I managed to be able to extend the boundaries of the original drawing box so that it can work smoothly and more can be drawn on stage. Parts 4, 5 and 6, will be the same program as parts 1 and 2 to avoid the file getting too congested and part 7 will take the players to the leader board.

As it stands I have this completed with the basics done. Now it is just a simple case of linking more onto these files and having global variables in place to register scores and team names. In terms of technology we are planning to utilize and interactive white board which replaces the pen and paper aspect of pictionary with a greater experience. We are also planning on making a form of input to the program, namely an large touch surface that will act as a glorified track pad, again a small aesthetic change that will add to the user experience. It is disheartening that the kinect wont work to our idea but I feel that with this now have greater scope to add bells and whistles to the progect and to make it a more enjoyable experience.

Easter Developments

Over the Easter break I have been doing some work on the physical side of the project. I have completed the construction of the doodlestation so it is a simple matter of decorating it for June, a task that all of the group will participate in adding our own unique touches to it. I also managed to convert the doodle file itself onto my touch screen computer, this wasn’t a big deal there were only slight issues with formatting and installing fonts, which was easily sorted. Personally i feel that it looks far better on a touch screen, it eliminates the use of a keyboard and mouse which I feel adds to the experience. As far as the kinect goes I haven’t been having much joy. I have found many tutorials online regarding how to make it communicate with flash but the general consensus is that flash is a dead software that many people done even consider it when choosing a programming style. However, I still have a few routes left to explore so I intend to crack on with that right now!