Smoothing Out the Final Designs and Program

It is now the final week of work for us to get everything working perfectly for our project. On Friday each of the individual areas such as the programming, designs and audio will be due up on disks. We will also have our ‘Show and Tell’ presentation where we demonstrate our full working project to the lecturers this coming Friday. We have all been putting in really long hours and a lot of hard work to ensure we get the project up to the highest standard. My job for the last few days has been to go through the program and implement the audio, implement the final animations which then have to be synced to the audio and to change the timer animation so it is ten seconds per round. Unfortunately, I have had to rearrange the layers and frames for the current Flash files that we have to make sure that everything runs correctly from level to level, which has been consuming most of my time. Each time a frame is moved the animations go out of sync with the correct pages so it has taken a lot of time to arrange each layer properly. As we all need to work off the one program at the point it is becoming trickier as each of us have contributions to get the program working as a whole. We are working with code across over fifty Flash files so our workload is becoming massive. Paul is doing a lot of work in the programming area while trying to sort the leader board so it will remember scores across all of these files, which he will discuss in his blogs. This will later need to be implemented into the program that I am working on.

As for my progress in this area over the last few days I have gotten it 95% complete. Tomorrow, I will only have another four small animations to create and then sync to the audio and then the animation will be complete. Here are some video links of the Animals and Sports rounds to show the progress. As you can hear in the video there are some issues with how the audio ambience sounds loop in both rounds so I have flagged this with our Audio Technician, Neil. It will have to be fixed up either through code or else by extending the actual mp3 file. The only other audio that needs to be added to these particular files is the ten second timer for when the timer graphic appears.

My jobs for the next couple days will be to finalise the last few animations, finalise and host our website (to include a leader board that we can edit manually), create the stickers that will lead people to our project and to get everything printed off such as our posters and flyers etc. With a lot of hard work it is all achievable. At the moment I am a bit anxious about hosting the site as I have done research but since no-one in the group has any experience I am afraid it could get tricky. As I know a couple groups have created websites I am going to ask which websites they found the best to use to host the site or possibly if I get a chance to speak to our Web Development lecturer as she could point me in the right direction.

In other news we now have an Instagram page up and running as part of our PR which can be seen here > https://instagram.com/doodleblocks15/. I will be taking some photos over the coming days of our installation, more user testing and hopefully even some of the lecturers testing out our project at Fis to add it to our up and coming website gallery.

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Group Meeting and Work Plan

Today, we had a meeting to sit down as a group and discuss our progress and what else has to be finished in the next two weeks. We are getting so close to the end now and since all exams are finally completed and our projects for all other modules are handed up we now are able to solely focus on our group project and making it the best we possibly can. For our audio we are very nearly near completion with only a few sounds such as the timer and some sound effects to be finalised. In terms of the design we have the five animation screens ready to be implemented into Flash and the website is also near completion we just need to add the link to the leaderboard once it has been created in Flash. This week Neil and Conor have volunteered to paint the boards on Thursday which is a great step forward in seeing our project up and running. We will be setting our project up fully next week in the art room for full user testing to ensure that the words we have chosen are suitable for each difficulty and that everything works when the full installation is setup. We also will need to create our jumbo pencil that will house our tool that will allow the users to draw onscreen. In terms of the programming we have been having some difficulties with getting the leaderboard to register and add the players score between all files which is something that we will have to put a lot of work into to figure it out. As Paul will discuss in his blogs we have been trying to locate our programming lecturer to make progress in this area. As I will have my design jobs complete by later this week I will be assisting in the programming area to help getting the leader board up and running as much as I can. One of the main objectives for us is to make sure we have everything setup well in advance so we can invite people in to use the installation. We figure this is key to making sure everyone has a fun, user-friendly experience while playing DoodleBlocks so we can work on making our final improvements based on this feedback.

Themes and Website Progress

These past couple of weeks have been very busy between trying to find time to study and to get other modules assignments finished up. Thankfully our last exam was today and I have just one more other assignment to go! I have been trying my best to keep working at our major project as we still have a good bit of work to do mainly caused from the setback of changing our technology. Below is the animals theme which I have implemented into our main program and I am just beginning to animate. As discussed in earlier blogs we will have animations playing after the user selects their difficulty. In this round the elephant will wave his trunk and make a sound. We will also have the giraffe shake his head and the trees will rustle as animal sounds play.Animals

In terms of other design work going on at the moment I am still progressing with the website and creating it through Dreamweaver. I am finding it as a good learning experience as I really wanted to refresh my memory and improve my skills in web development. It is a very time consuming process as I keep changing things around that I am not 100% happy with. I would like to get the website up to a professional quality in the end and I don’t feel like it’s at that level yet. Another aspect of the website that we will have to work on is the gallery. I have a placeholder in for the images in the form of a light box gallery and I hope to take some photographs of people testing out DoodleBlocks to put into it. Another possibility is that when we have the lecturers test our project we can get some photos and add them in later. I have found a really good tutorial which is something I am considering using in developing the website as it will look a lot more professional and I can import css from the Dreamweaver file I have been working on all along. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxphj0U5BGc&list=LLnrN1E-qBpYbpXuvwDz9vtA&index=1

Progress with Themes and PR Campaign

For the past few weeks as well as working on developing our project we have also been creating a PR Campaign for our project for our Public Relations module. Although it is not necessary to put  all of the plans into action for the module we as a group really want to carry through on some of our ideas to promote our project. We have designed a poster, business card and a flyer as our promotional items – here is the final look:

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As another aspect we had to create a press release which required a small square logo. As our main logo is very wide I created a new square logo that ties into the rest of our aesthetics by using our DoodleBlocks fonts and colours. 1

Here are two of our theme animation designs. We have the cinema round and the phrases round complete at the moment and the next round that I have started to animate is the Sports category.

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Demo Presentation and Future Plans

The last few weeks have been building up to today for our ‘demo’ presentation. As mentioned before we had setbacks with the Kinect and unfortunately had to change our technology very recently. Since then, we have all put in a strong effort to try and make sure that we would reach the high standard we want to be at for our demo. Everyone has been working very hard as due to our change of technology we also had to almost fully change other aspects of the project such as the audio and animation video, that were previously completed. It has definitely been a stressful time, but I think that we have all coped very well after our decision to progress and not waste time, when it was very unlikely we could get the Kinect working before the exhibition. So far our back up plan of the interactive screen and touch pad are progressing very well. Conor has also re-done the animation video, which looks even better than our previous one now that colour has been implemented. As for the audio that Neil had to redo he has found a perfect replacement for our voice-over audio, which is now complete, and is making great progress on our animation sounds. Thankfully, the issue with the Kinect did not affect our actual program or graphics so Conor, Paul and myself have been able to continue on developing these aspects.

As for the presentation today it went better than I had thought after we got of to a shaky start – technology seemed to be failing us left, right and center! Between computer screens freezing, a hard drive crashing and an issue with the led sensor we definitely had our fair share of problems. Thankfully, we handled it well. We communicated our work and progress of our project to the lecturers efficiently who seems impressed by much of the project. After speaking to Glenn afterwards he informed us that the main issue the lecturers are anxious about is glitches. This means that we will just have to work very hard over the coming weeks to ensure that we smooth the possibility of these out and user test to ensure everything will run perfectly at the exhibition. We still have a lot of work ahead of us but thankfully after next week our two exams will be over and we will have even more time to put into making our project the best it can possibly be. After our presentation we had a short meeting to discuss our individual contributions for next Tuesday. With regards to the design work, I hope to have all five animations completed and perfected by next week. This will be a challenge as we have two 50% weighting major projects due this weekend as well as exam revision but I feel I will have made great progress with the designs by achieving this.

Preparation For Demo

As part of our preparation for the presentation next week I have been working on getting our website up and running and also on developing the five themed animations for the categories. Unfortunately, there has been a small issue with getting our website hosted on-line. I have been creating our website design through CSS, using Dream Weaver to implement graphics I created earlier. From initial research I thought that WordPress would take the CSS formatting and create our website to look as it would in Dream Weaver. Since then when I tried to start implementing the format into WordPress I have found that it will only accept this as part of the ‘Premium’ package which costs a hundred euro, which we definitely don’t have! I am continuing to build a Dream Weaver site but we will need to find a different way to host it, and hopefully on the cheap side! I will be doing more research into this but it means we wont have our full site up and running by the Demo as I had hoped. What I have done is created a free promotional site as a temporary to promote our project while the Dream Weaver site is in developments. Here is the link: www.doodleblocks.wordpress.com.

I have also been working on the animations to have them installed in our program to show the lecturers on Tuesday. I hope to have at least three implemented as this will enable the user to get a better idea of the three rounds they get to play. I hope to have the Idioms, Cinema and Sports round animations completed to show an example of the style of animation. Neil has also been working on audio for these animations which I will be importing into the Flash program to add a nice feature to tie in with the aesthetics. As a group we have also been working on our ‘format’ of our presentation. We want to have a flow to our project and a clear direction so we have been working on the main points to discuss to show our progress and developments.

DoodleBlocks Website

For part of our project we want to have a website that will have a number of functions. We want to use it to promote our site but it will also be a method of feedback for the users, a gallery of doodles, and (hopefully) serve as a way to view the leader board on-line. We have began to develop the site by using Dream Weaver. Paul has passed on a website template to myself which I have been using to implement the DoodleBlocks website graphics and buttons that I created previously. Here is a look at how it has been progressing:

For the website we will also need to take some photos that can be used that show people using DoodleBlocks and possibly even add a gallery of doodles created by the players to get people interested and guessing even just from looking at the website! We hope to have six pages all together which will be:

  1. Home – Main introduction.
  2. About Us – About our group and our team as individuals.
  3. Fis Exhibition – About Fis, What it is, How to find us at the exhibition.
  4. Gallery – Images of the project development, People playing and having fun, and a selection of people’s doodles from when the are playing each round.
  5. Leader Board – An updated version of the leader board from the program
  6. Contact – Details on how to contact our team and us as individuals.

My aim for next week is to have the website complete and hosted by the presentation next Tuesday to show to the lecturers, but some aspects will not be finalised such as the leader board and gallery.I also have been user testing some of my design work for the themed areas to Marcos in class, as well as to my group and other students. I have received good feedback so I will be starting to work on the animation for these themed areas now that I have a strong seal of approval.

The Category Themes Drawings

One of the main new ideas that will improve the doodle blocks user experience is to add a themed animation for each of the five categories (Music, Sport, Phrases, Cinema and Animals). As the designer it has been my role to come up with a design concept for these to progress our aesthetic appearance while the rest of the group is focusing on developing our new technology. I have tried to come up with a nice design that will suit our ‘doodle’ aesthetic so I think keeping the drawings cartoon-ish in style will help tie all the designs together. We are hoping to add colour as when the user is given the controls to draw, they will be given a selection of basic colors to choose from. Below are our concepts for each theme and some (very) rough drawings!

For the ‘Cinema’ round we hope to have a curtain drawn back to reveal a screen for the animation.  After the user has selected their level a timer will countdown from 5 similar to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8o0dYPfN-PM. We want to fully incorporate audio to each animation so an example of the sounds we want to use for this category would be the curtains pulling back, the countdown timer noise, film reel ticking over, and a shush when the difficultly level has been chosen. Neil, as audio technician, will be discussing the audio for these animations in more detail in his blogs.

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In the ‘Phrases’ round we would like to have it styled as if it were a black and white doodle illustration on paper. We are going to create small doodles of different phrases such as ‘When pigs fly’ or ‘Adding fuel to the fire’ to show what kind of phrases are likely to show up. We will be animating several of the doodles such as making the pig fly off the screen for ‘When pigs fly’ when the difficulty level is selected.

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We have decided that for the ‘Sports’ round there will be a goal and crowd as the background. When the user chooses one of the particular levels (Easy, Medium or Hard) the ball will be kicked in the direction of the difficulty button placement within the goal. The crowd will cheer as the goal is scored and then the level will begin.

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For the ‘Music’ round we will be creating a outdoor concert stage with large speakers and lighting. We want to have a crowd in the foreground. Once again when the difficulty is selected the animation will play – We will have typical concert sounds such as the crowd cheering and an amp. What we hope to create for the animation is that the lights will twist and shine out towards the audience or ‘user’ and the next level will begin.img028

For the final round which is ‘Animals’ we are creating a background which will appear to be the outside of a zoo. There will be a large black iron gate and trees overgrowing. Above the trees we will see an elephants trunk, a giraffes ears and possibly a monkeys tail etc. When the difficulty is chosen the animals will move and the relevant animal noise will play. My next job will now be to start implementing these ideas and designing the images in Illustrator before they are imported to Flash.

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Eighth Group Meeting and Design Feedback

After our decision to change from using the Kinect this week we had a chance to discuss this matter with Glenn at our supervisor meeting. He was very understanding as he knows how much time has been put into trying to make it work and that we have discussed our problem with people experienced using the Kinect to no avail. His advise was to make sure that when it comes to the demo presentation to ensure that we communicate effectively how we had to change Kinect after exhausting all areas in terms of research. We spoke about our new idea which is the interactive screen and touch pad and discussed the pros and cons such as how it gives us more artistic freedom to add ‘extra features’ that we hope to incorporate. An issue Glenn pointed out is that we need to ensure we justify our use of technology and also to ensure that we digitize the pen enough. These are aspects that we will need to keep in mind while creating the technology.

This week I also got some design feedback from Marcos in class of our poster, website concepts and the business card that I have been working on over the Easter. He was happy with the over all design and gave me some ideas such as possibly to include a bit more information as to show our project is about drawing on the business card. I think this would be a great idea but I want to wait until next week to begin to implement this, as our technology idea is only fresh so I would like to be more certain of our idea first. My next step now is to begin drawing up concepts for a themed animation for each of the five categories within the program. We feel that this will make it a more immersive experience and add an appealing feature for the user. I will post up the concept drawings once they are finalised.

Change of Technology

Since our WIP presentations Paul and Conor have been working hard to try and make the Kinect function within Flash, as we have both files working but just not together. For our WIP we had the drawing application working separately using the Kinect but since then we have been unable to get it to open within Flash. After spending many hours researching, testing and asking people with alot of experience with the Kinect, we have been unable to find a solution to the problem. As yesterday was our first day back after Easter we got a chance to speak to Ken, our programming lecturer, in our workshop class. We explained how we have been having issues getting everything working together even after countless hours spent researching it and he was able to take a look at it. After giving us some suggestions that may fix the problem we tested them out over the next few hours. Unfortunately, these suggestions made no difference to the program and Ken was unsure of how else our problem could be solved apart from this. He suggested since we had already put so much time into making it work to no avail that we should think of a backup plan. Originally, our plan was to spend up until Friday continuing to work on the Kinect, but after a group discussion we felt that it would be wasted time and our efforts would be best put into our new idea. At the moment we have discussed going down a route we considered previously which is to use an interactive screen for the drawing aspect and to create a touch pad for the user interaction on the screen.

It is a bit disheartening having to change technology so far into the project but so much time as been spent researching and every effort has been put in, but it seems to be beyond the capabilities of third year students and even some of those who are much more experienced than us! We will now need to stay focused and ensure that we put the hours in to work on getting our new technology plans into action very soon.