OMG………..we’re so close to the end!

The last few days have been long, 9 to 9 in college; fatigue is being fended off by sugary drinks and sweets, good times!

The last few days have been filled with tension, frayed feelings and great work. It makes for a good work environment. I am extremely proud of the group over these long days; they have really shown that their dedication is alive and well!

I have been pouring my blood, sweat and (metaphorical) tears into getting the art room made up and cleaned and ready for the unveiling of the awesomeness DoodleBlocks. Between painting, drilling, sweeping and mopping I am really happy with how the room has cleaned up. There is still plenty of cleaning to be done. Laura and I got our prints sorted today and Laura’s work has yet again far exceeded my expectations. We will be putting these posters up tomorrow and I will be getting the rest of the room sorted and looking sharp. One of the biggest tasks I have been concentrating on over the last couple of days was to get the interactive pen working with the projectors, this took a fair bit of time but I am really glad to say that I got it working, and working really well! The software that I managed to get is really high-tech and works great. The users will have really great control over the pointer as they are drawing and creating the images. I am really glad that we are able to use this tech in our project.

Today I conducted some user testing using the big pen and the words that we got. The people that took part in the game had really great fun and there were many laughs had. This is really gratifying to see people having such fun with the bare bones of the project. I have no problem saying that DoodleBlocks will be hard to beat on the day. The user interaction that will be involved will really help us stand out from the other fantastic projects being presented.

Tomorrow is the “show and tell” day and I am really excited to see the reaction from the lectures and to see them having fun using our project?

Conor and Paul have really been pushing the programming over the last while; it is really great to see it coming together! Their efforts have been really great and they are really great at getting the whole thing done!

I have gotten some really great feedback from the audio lecture about the audio I have created for the whole thing. I am delighted with this as I have put a lot of effort into getting everything to sound like it all fits in with the project.

Over all this experience has been one filled with good times. We as a group have really worked well together and it was a really joy to be a part of the whole process. This may well be the last blog post I put up here so, I guess this is goodbye! 🙂

The final push

With the finish line in site for us we have entered the last couple of weeks. The pressure is on to get everything up and running by no later than Thursday as we have a “show and tell” to present on Friday. Friday will be the day when everything gets set up and the lectures go around and look things over.

From an audio stand point I am feeling really confident with the work I have produced thus far. I have about an hour’s work left and I will have fulfilled my role as sound engineer. I sat with an audio lecturer today and we talked for a while about the last element that I have to produce and he gave me some really great pointers and really helped me figure out and transcribe what I had in my head. There is nothing worse than staring at a blank canvas with an idea in your head.

There however are issues with some elements of the project that have yet to be completed and some issues that arose that have until now been unforeseen. I spent time creating audio files that were to be played as the user goes through the options screens, but I only realised that with the multiple .SWF files that have been created for the project the audio will not flow how I would like it. This is something that I will need to consider when finishing up my section of audio. As I am sure the other group members will blog about the leader board element has yet to be implemented into the project alone with other elements. The lecturer Ken has not been available to offer any assistance over the last few days. This has really slowed the progress of these sections.

I have said to the group that if we have not made any progress on this front by Wednesday evening that we will have to just scrap the leader board and think of something else to do. One option that could potentially work is to simply have a board with markers so the players could write down their accumulated score to be displayed. This is by no means an ideal option but I would rather have something in place then nothing at all. This is one option in many that I am sure we could collectively come up it and implement.

All this being said I am still very happy with the progress and work that everyone is producing and implementing. With only 5 days or so left to work on the file we will be pressed for time but I am sure that when it comes down to it DoodleBlocks shall be the project we have imagined and what we will show for the Fis show we will be able to stand by and be proud of!

not to long now

Over the last couple of weeks we have all been working to try and get everything finished up and sorted out for the Fis exhibition that is happening in about a week’s time. I have been closing out the audio for the project and am really happy with some of the stuff that I have both digitally created and composed on the guitar. I have spent a lot of time in the audio lab getting this work done and I feel very proud of it. This coming Friday we have a show and tell thing to do, this is where we essentially set everything up and have it all ready for the following week (fis). The lectures will be going around each of the groups and getting a final walk through of each of the projects. While I am fully confident that everything will be up and running there are still some elements of the project that both need starting and finishing up. I still have to create the audio for the countdown timer. Conor is finishing up the keyboard and Paul is to start the leader board. Laura has to finish her little animations for each of the screens.

I think this coming week we will all be staying in late and pushing through to get everything finished and up and running.

One thing that has changed though is the use of the track pad and wii remotes. There was progress being made with these but like the Kinect this progress was not yielding the results that we were looking for. It could have been used but with lots of bugs and it was turning into a very laggy thing to use. We were told that the college has interactive white boards connected to the projectors in the labs. We have been assured that by using this we would not be losing any marks for our overall project. We have been told by a few lectures that the technology is there to be used so we should feel free to use it.  This is the same for the track pad, there were no advancements being made with this and again we were told that by using Conor’s touch screen computer that we will be ok.

As mentioned above the main focus now is getting the programming up and running, the buttons and the leader board all talking to each other. We still need to also consider the space we have been allocated in the college to display our project. During next week we will be having plenty of group meetings so we will be putting this topic on the agenda.

Post Demo

Yesterday we had our Demo presentation; although we all thought it could have gone better we were really happy with the result that we got from the lectures. We had everything set up running fine and dandy in the room before we were to start then…..disaster, I dropped Laura’s hard drive, and when we got into the room it wouldn’t register of her laptop and just when we thought all hope was lost she managed to get it working on a computer and we were able to show the most up to date version of our project. As mentioned in the other blogs from myself and the group we changed the technology that we are using for our project, this required some setting up on our part. Due to the timeline of the presentations we were unable to get into the room to set everything up on time. Fair play to the lectures they gave us a bit of time and even though the timer was started while the group still set up I decided it would be best to start talking and doing my part of the presentation. It was up to me to introduce the project to the lectures and tell them who we are and what Doodleblocks is all about. I then set about talking about the fact that we changed from using the old technology to what we are using now. I noticed that the group were still setting up so I tried to be calm and collected and go slow to give them an extra minute to set up. Even though things went off to a rocky start when everything was up and running we began to shine as we usually do, this is evident from our result.

After our Demo we then had a supervisor meeting with Glenn, it was then that he told us out result and told us a few of the comments made from the group of lectures. This was all very good constructive criticism that we gladly took on board. There were also some suggestions as to some of the problems we may face in the future. Some suggestions were to use the Conor’s touch screen computer as the interface and another was to use a gyroscope mouse. I wouldn’t be to familiar with the gyroscope mouse but with a little bit of research maybe it might be something that we can possibly use for our project. There was also another suggestion that we mount the Wii remote behind a plane of Perspex and let the user then use the other side as a canvas of some sort. I like this idea I must say, give the impression you are drawing on paper, not really.

update, pre WIP

The last little while has been very productive for us as a group. Because of the changes that we have made within our project we have been really trying to get everything on the right path. This coming Tuesday is our next group project mile stone. We have a second WIP (work in progress) presentation. I am feeling confident about this presentation as I know the work we have all put in has been really great! Conor and Paul have been really pushing the programming along nicely and the new updates to the interface and interactivity have been updated really well. Laura has been working so much to get her vision of DoodleBlocks onto the screen! We will have some good work to show and we will also be able to have some of the lectures that attend be able to use the product, all be it on a very limited basis. None the less we will be able to WOW them just like we did the last time.

In relation to my role as project manager there have been a few issues that will have to bring up at our next group meeting. I have found that the group has been falling away from each other over the last little while. I know we have lots of other projects to hand in and deadlines approaching but I can’t help notice some feeling of frustration. I may be imagining things but I feel it is something that I need to address. There would be nothing worse than to find out that some in the group is not having fun!

Over the last week I have discussed with Laura the animations that we want to include in our project. We chose some sounds that we feel would fit and I went about creating and putting together these sounds. Thankfully Freesound.org was able to help, I had to get the lion and monkey sounds from this site as I had no other option. All in all I think the sounds turned out very well, a little bit of clean up and they will be fine and dandy. Another thing that happened with the audio was the voice for the instructional video got recorded. This was something that I kept putting off as I wanted to wait till I found a voice that would suit the role.  We were also unsure of how much would have to be changed in the game. When we had all the issues sorted I felt happy enough to move forward and so I did. As like last time I made the recordings in the sound proof room in college as to eliminate any outside interference. I then took the recordings and ran them through Adobe Audition to clean them up and add some minor effects to them. I am very happy with the end result of these audio files. I then passed them off to Conor and he put the files into the new animation that he has created.  Just to reiterate the reason we had to rerecord these files was because of the changes that were made in the game, i.e losing the Kinect we couldn’t use the same audio telling people to do something that didn’t happen anymore.

One thing that we will be pushing during our WIP presentation will be way we changed from using the Kinect to what we are doing now. This has to be documented as much as possible from both out point of view and those of the lectures grading us.

Below are some screen shots of the audio editing process that I went through.

some screen shot of my work flow editing the audio
some screen shot of my work flow editing the audio

screen1 screen2 screen3 screen4 screen5

So long Xbox Kinect

Well it has been a very interesting week for us in the Doodleblock camp. We returned after the Easter all fired up to get everything rolling and then……set back. As Monday progressed it started to become abundantly clear that our dance with the Kinect was coming to an end. As much as we wanted to get the Kinect working without project, it was not turning out the way we wanted it to. As much as we tried to get everything connected the two Flash files didn’t want to talk to each other at all. On a Monday we have our programming class and even the lecturer, who is Mr. Flash, was stumped. I am sure it can be done but all the examples of it working how we would like it to work were all done by people that would have been programming for years and years. We truly exhausted all the possibilities that were available to us and it just became clear that the technological skill required was just a touch outside our reach. But being the awesome group that we are we looked at it as only a set back and not the end of the world. We always knew that this might happen so we had backup plans and it is a combination of these backup plans that we will be moving forward with. Thankfully not everything will have to be redone. All of Laura’s fantastic graphics and designs can be kept and the mouse driven prototype can be kept, it is things like the audio “voice over/host” and the “how to play” animation that will have to be redone. In fairness though, this is not too much work for us, because we are great.

So the new way of Doodleblocks is all the same it is just the technology that has changed. We will now be creating a track pad for the users to use to take them through the menus at the start and when it comes to the drawings we will be creating an interactive whiteboard. I will post the videos of the two best examples that we found. By now utilising these technologies we almost feel relieved as it will give us a much greater scope to add all the little extras that we want to add. Because of the difficulty of the original Flash file (the Kinect one) it would have been hard for us to add all the little things but now we are a lot freer to create and WOW with our great work and skills.

In other news I put together the documentation that is required for the Fis exhibition. This document covers everything that we need for the layout and set up of the physical space of our project in June.

I have also been working on new adaptations and versions of the Doodleblocks theme and working on music that can be played during the game play and instructional video. These are proving harder then I originally thought but I will get it all finished up without issue.

Fresh start

Tomorrow is the return to college after the Easter break. There is much to do and time is flying by. I think the next couple of months will be filled with some late nights in college and some brain storming to get everything finished and ironed to a fine line. As always i have every confidence in the group and everything will be fine and dandy.

Over the couple of weeks off I have been thinking about the audio mainly. This week (the week of the 13th) I am positive everything will be finished up and out of the way so it can be put into the project by the next couple of weeks. I will be booking the sound proof room for Friday to record the jingle again. Although the equipment I have here in my house is very good it can’t help pick up background interference. By recording it again it will give it a more professional finish and will help fit it in with everything.

One of the major things that will have to be finished this week is the plan for Fis. We were given a talk before the Easter and I will be getting onto that and sorting out everything required for this element of the project today.

Over the last couple of weeks had given me some time to think of the extra bells and whistles that will be added to Doodleblocks to help us stand out from the basic Pictionary design. Some of the things that we have been looking at, different shapes, maybe making these buttons for the user to select or have them random. One idea that we all like is to have different backgrounds for each of the sections, for example we could have a movie screen design that the users would draw on for the cinema section, etc. This would feed nicely into more audio that would have to be created, film roll sounds and so on. Another addition that we are thinking about is adding different brushes; we haven’t figured out if these will be random or selectable. We are more inclined to make them random as we feel making them selectable would us up to much time and the random element adds extra excitement and randomness. Another random element that we are looking into will be random colours, like the random brushes this will add extra excitement for the user.

Over all these upcoming few weeks will be full steam ahead for Doodblocks.

update

The Easter break is here and we have all split up and returned home. But the Doodleblocks are still tumbling around in our heads. Since our last supervisor meeting and last class we have divided up some work for each of us to do over the time off. For our PR class we have been given the task of coming up with a PR campaign for our project. I have said that over the break I would look into this project and make a start on it. Before the break we also had a talk from the lecturer hat is organising the Carrols building for the exhibitions. I have also said that I would take charge of this and get the required documents written up and have them ready to be handed in when we return back to college.  On the last day before the Easter we all had a look at the art room and decided that this room would be the best for our project as we need a fair bit of space for the people playing to be able to run around and interact with the Doodle station. The requirements for the lecturer are just too but on paper what and where we need things for the Fis exhibition in June. All of this is reminding me of how close to the end of college we are. The finish line is approaching fast.

I am so glad to see the determination from the rest of the group not fade and they are as committed as they were on day one! I know I have said this many times but I am super glad to be working with them and they are all doing really great work.

As far as the audio for the project this is coming along nicely, being away from the college and Pro-tools is a challenge but I am writing music on the guitar that I think will suit the project nicely. After the WIP I had a lot to think about in relation to the music that I want to present during the game play. Fun, light and high quality are what I am aiming for. When college resumes I will be setting about recording these and getting the rest of the audio recorded and edited ASAP.

Post WIP

Well, the work in progress presentation (WIP) has been and gone. There is not much I can personally say that the others haven’t already. I think we really did a fantastic job at presenting our idea and how far along in the process we are. I think everyone was impressed with the work we showed them and they seemed interested in knowing more. During the week we as a group had done some run throughs of how the presentation was going to go. I knew that I wanted it to be split up into different section because as it stands our project is in two bits. The Kinect and the interface, I think we really showed both of these elements we really well.

The first thing we talked about was the mouse driven walk through of the interactive experience, these had incorporated Laura’s fantastic designs and Pauls code. The run through of this went off without a problem.

The next element that we showed was a working prototype of the Kinect working. This turned out to be great because one of the lectures actually used it and it really showed off the work that we have put into getting it working! We are, all of us great!

We finished up the WIP with a projection of the future, in this we covered where we are going next. The main points of the future projections are to get the mouse driven walkthrough and the Kinect working together. Once that is running to our high slandered we will then be able to tweak all the little bits of the installation to make it the best of show at Fis 2015.

I know I have said this many times in past blog posts but the group I am in are super. I am so glad that I working with them. I had an expectation of how the WIP would go and they preformed far beyond those expectations.

In relation to my role as audio guy I still have work to do, creation of the countdown timers and some other bits and bobs. I made some good progress with regards to this over the weekend and have no reservations about getting this work finished and perfected. The lectures seemed to like the funky theme that I created so that something! :p