Today has been literally the busiest I have ever been. I have been literally coding all day. I have been working very closely along side our designer Laura. We have been implementing the last of her fantastic designs to the program. As you know, programming throughs up numerous errors and problems which are not ideal at this stage but I have to say Im really happy with where we are. I have the program home with me tonight and I will be putting some of the final touches to it and Laura has got 3 pages out of the folder which she needs to implement the last of the Audio. We plan to meet early in the morning and just insert those files back into the folder and that means it should be complete. Of course there are areas that will need tidied up but I have no doubt that it will get completed without any problems.
Today I had a number of great results. Firstly I have got the Keypresses working in the program but im slightly worried about the “G” keypress because for some reason it just isn’t reliable enough. I have went through the code of it with a fine tooth come and couldn’t find the problem. I also got the score counter working out to the leaderboard but in the end I just wasn’t happy with the way it was displaying. It would keep deleting the previous player and it just wouldn’t store the variable that was in the code. As a group we just decoded that we would implement our own team names into the 7 slides and leave on of the boxes on the leaderboard free for the player. We just thought it was inevitable that we had a leaderboard in the program either way. I spoke to the programming lecturer Ken and he said it was a huge undertaken to put a leaderboard in to the program and that it was something that was very awkward. So i made the decision that I simply didn’t have the time to focus on one thing, no matter how important it was because if I did the program wouldnt be finished. I also changed the time on the clock throughout all of the files. We put it originally at 30 seconds but after user testing we discovered that it was to short so we decided to up it to 45 seconds which gives the user that bit of extra time.
The last few days have been really hectic from my point of view. I have been coding the program and as of from today Iv had a lot of success. I have the team name running throughout the program. I achieved this by setting up a “Global Variable” which basically lets you open up one action script file and put variables into it and it will work for several different SWF files. This was all new to me because I hadn’t really worked a whole lot with global variables. We had worked with them on a minor scale last semester but this was a whole new level for me. Thankfully it has worked out really well for me and I have also done a lot of research online which has helped me hugely. I also got the scores to run throughout the program. We originally wanted to have a 10, 20 and 30 score for easy, medium and hard but we just simply didn’t have the time to get that completed. I wanted to have something finished ion the scoring area because we were in danger of having nothing until today. I will most definitely work on a back up file to see if I can implement our original plan to have easy=10points, medium=20points and hard=30points. At least now that I haves something to put on to our leader board. I also have got the “when A is pressed” go to the next round. I have to say, lecturer Derek Flood has been a huge help to me because he has really guided me to getting these problems working the way that I wanted.
Next up is getting the final score uploaded onto our leader board. That will be tough but i really expect to completely get that finished tomorrow. I am not sure how it is going to work but I really am confident of it working. I have done loads of research and I think the global variable is going to be vital for me to get this done.
Below is the name which is empty at the moment but if you go to the Intro page and type your name in it will go throughout.
Below is the score been controlled with the Global Variable.
Below is the code for the users name been controlled by the Global Variable.
This is the code that lets you press the “A” key to give you points if you get it right and to go to the next round.
The last few days have been really disappointing from the scoreboard point of view. We cant seem to get the score to across a number of different SWF files. I have got the score counter working on the first round but I cant get the score to carry on to the second round and third round and so on. I have emailed our programming lecturer, Ken Sloane, who specialises in Flash and actionscript but have got no reply. I also got our supervisor to email him twice just so we can arrange a meeting to see if he can point us in the right direction. Laura and I put most of today into working with certain elements that we thought might be of some benefit to us and maybe might have got the score counter working through the different SWFs but unfortunately it wouldn’t work for us. This is a really crucial part of our project and getting the whole scoring system up and running. We will need to make some headway with it tomorrow and hopefully if Ken is in he will give us a few minutes of his time and point us in the right direction.
So this week has been really successful. As it stand all thats left from the programming side of things is the actual leaderboard and to get it up and working the way that we wanted. I have been trying to get in contact with the programming lecturer Ken, but im having little success. I really need him to point me in the right direction on how we get the final score counter out and on to the leaderboard. Iv spent a fair few hours working on this and I have the score counter up and running so im hoping its only a matter of getting the final score counter shipped out on to the leaderboard. I think other than that, we are in a really good place. Laura is doing brilliant work on getting the website up and running. The website looks really cool and I have no doubt the end product will be excellent. Neil is finishing the last piece of Audio of and Conor is installing the buttons for the score counter and when they are pressed the scores will tally up and increase when the user gets a word correct. All in all I think we are in a good place. Over the next 6 days we will be just trying to add any little extras that we think might add to the experience for the user and of course trying to get this leaderboard up and running.
Today was a really successful day for me. I spent the entire day getting all the pages linked up together and getting the random word generator working on them all, which did take a fair bit of time because there was different problems with “Instance Names” and so that there wasn’t any added duplicate functions. I had to add extra little pieces of code so that the program wouldn’t crash. Next up for me is just getting each ofd the SWF files laid out in terms of getting the correct files working together. This is very straightforward and shouldn’t take a lot of time. The code is already in the program so its just a matter of changing different pieces of the code to match our navigations sheet. Conor also has the buttons working for the user to skip pieces of the the program if the get the correct answer so we just have to wire them buttons up to a little bit of code so that when the button is pressed it will take the user to another part of the program.
Over the last number of days I have been working on the Doodleblocks program and trying to get all the categories linked together. I have got the “Cinema” and “Phrases” categories link and I plan to get as much done this week as possible. I hope to get the program totally finished by the end of the week and then all that will need to be done by the FIS exhibition is just to add in the words to the random generator. That will be a bit time consuming but I think if we all take a categories each we should get it done within a day. I think the final thing that needs to be polished of is the scoreboard. I plan to meet our programming lecturer on Wednesday and see if he can help me with the transporting of the score to the actual scoreboard. I know we will need to use global variables to store the actual final score so I am very confident that we will achieve this.
This week we had our last WIP presentation. We had got in early on the Tuesday morning just to fine tune everything and make sure that all of our technologies were working exactly how we wanted them. As I said in previous posts, I made the station where the camera will sit for the touchscreen, but I put the shelf into it to high so that was the first mistake. Although, its only a matter of just lowering the shelf for the camera to sit on so that its output is bigger along the glass which the touch screen will work on. Unfortunately when we went into the actual WIP we didn’t get enough time to set up and that led to a bit of a disaster because hard drives began to fail, computers began to freeze and we literally hadn’t got all of our work to show them at that specific time because everything was either on the hard drive or the computer. Thankfully in the end we got everything up and working and I think after a bit of a dodgy start, I think we did a great job in recovering the presentation. I think all of the lecturers were pretty impressed. After the presentation we met our supervisor Glenn and he gave us some feedback in terms of the improvements that could make, which we were delighted to hear because in my opinion everything can always be improved. One of the things that we were asked to maybe consider was the fact do we actually need to make our own touch screen because Conor has his own touch screen and the program runs perfectly on it but our argument was that we want to test ourselves and gather as many points as possible and we think we can do that if we make our own home-made touch screen. Other areas that we need to look at is making sure we have user tested the program lots and lots of times just to get the users feedback on it. One thing that they were really impressed with was the animation that Laura made in terms of each category. For example she has curtains opening across the screen for the Cinema category and I have to say she has done a fantastic job with it. She also has little animations for each of the phrases completed and I think they look really brilliant. We now have exams coming up but we have designated ourselves individual jobs over the next week to get done. I have to now focus on the program and get all the categories linked up and just fine tune the program. I also plan to look at finishing the scoreboard.
Over the last 3-4 days I have been getting the touchscreen stand built and set up and it was actually more work than I originally anticipated. I enjoyed doing it though because I have an interest in carpentry and building so I genuinely enjoyed making it. The most difficult thing was getting the correct type of legs for the stand because the most important thing is that the stand is nice and stable and dosent move at all when the user is going to be working on it. I originally had left it without any legs and basically it was just flat on the ground but it was wobbling and just want standing the way I wanted it. I also then tried a little frame that i made from waste timer and put it around the edges but it wasn’t the most reliable. In the end i got the adjustable legs that can go up and down and that might be useful if it is the wrong height for the user, because we can adjust the legs to go up or down to suit them. I think that also looks professional as well. The next thing that I had to be aware of was the height at which the shelf would sit at, because we wanted to make sure the web cam would pick up the users finger movements, so that might well have to be adjusted later on. We also plan to paint the stand the same colour as Lauras designs, so that it basically has continuity throughout. I have the glass here and ready to stick on the top of the stand, but I think we will wait just to make sure that it is working and everything so that if there are any minor adjustments to be made, they can be made.
Yesterday Conor and I dedicated the day to Doodleblocks just to get certain aspects of the program working and to basically get it laid out exactly like we wanted. One thing that we learned was that oranisation is key and we had to do a workflow chart to help us out as to where each page was going to link to. This was a really big help to us and helped us a great deal. This showed me personally what the actual reason was for having workflow charts in major projects and the benefits that it holds to be organised. Previously I think we just used workflow charts in other projects because we were asked to, and didn’t really know the point in the them but this exercise has really showing me wh they are needed. I can see why huge projects might need them because they would be dealing with hundreds of pages. We also had another huge break through in our programming class because we as a group weren’t happy with the colour palette and we felt it would be to awkward for the user to click on the drop down arrow and choose a colour, so we felt we could have each colour displayed in a square and they user would just have to tip the colour like a paint brush with the interactive white board. It gives us our own feel to Doodleblocks and I think it looks a lot more professional as well because the options are now there for the user without any problems. Below is just a screenshot of the little colour options we have for the users and beside it is the code that makes this work.
As I spoke about in my last blog, we have decided to leave the Kinect to one side because we feel as a group that we have exhausted every avenue available to us in terms of getting it working with Doodleblocks the way that we wanted. We began working on trying to get our own homemade touchscreen working which we have had some success with. Neil, Conor and myself spent 3-4 hours trying to get our own touchscreen prototype working on our laptops but we were running into some problems. We felt that we had tried everything that was possible to get it working and in the end felt that maybe it was the Kinect that was affecting the whole thing from working, because in all the tutorials that we had studied and looked at, they were all using a web cam. So Conor was the only on that had a web cam at home and thankfully with a few minor adjustments he got it working with out any problems. One thing we must be wary of though is the lighting because it is very specific with how much light it needs to actually work. Fair play to Conor though it was great to actually get that part of the project working. Next I will make our own home made stand/box so that we can set the camera in and then have a little stand where the user can touch the screen, which will be glass, and they can then take control of the box. I plan to make this out of wood and then paint it the Doodleblocks colour which is purple.
So what is next? Over the weekend I plan to work on the actual Doodleblocks program and get it all linked up and ready to make minor adjustments or even add certain aspects to the program that we were thinking about 3 weeks ago. I also have to focus on getting the scoreboard working because again that is going to be an important part of the Doodleblocks experience.