Friday, 31 December 2010

FEEDBACK BACK!

Got all the reponses back HAPPY DAYS :D
Will report more tomorrow... time to bring in the new year :D

Thursday, 30 December 2010

FINAL STORYBOARDS

YESSSSSS finished storyboarding... now time for everything else (Final script, interactivity, character designs... like proper ones, TESTING... DEMO WAAAAAA)

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Some testing back and more semi done story boards :D

Wow! work is so tiring! I've been home a while and I've only just started getting back to working on Uni stuff -_- Finished my transcription that's good news for all :D
So other than that I've been working on Faustus story boards, obviously still rough, but probably as good as they'll get in time for hand in. Need to make a working Flash version of a bit of it HOHOHO (I don't know when that will happen but nevermind) In other news I've done all my layout and menu questionaire stuff and sent that off. I've got 3 full ones back... I'm waiting on two halves and another person to actually do the questionaire. I also have a vague idea of what these characters will look like now. I've good drawings of them on pen and paper, but haven't really scanned them in yet. Must also recruit voice actors... and change parts of the script.... Fun fun fun
 

Sunday, 19 December 2010

AND MORE TESTING

Did menu design, layout, content testing today... will hopefully get the results relatively soon

all rough storyboards finished!

One from yesterdays batch which I actually finished today... waaaaa
Some of the angles are subject to change as I've noticed there are a lot of the same ones...

There will of course be a lot of bits inbetween the bits that are on the storyboards, but I just didn't have enough space to put them all in... things like moving from one place to another that will involve less CU and ECU, but I thought it was important to put them in in this context, because it's when dialogue occurs



As you can tell my eyes and hands were quite dead by this point... but at least I finished it today, just as well, I'm at work tomorrow... so I am hopefully going to get some more user testing stuff done tonight that I can send out... :D
BUSY BUSY BUSY!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

improved story boards



Here are some less rough story boards (I'll probably hand in something along with these as they are a little bit short on camera angles and duration of shot and the like) at least the characters are consistent now

Thursday, 16 December 2010

User testing document one done!

I have done Colour scheme, logo and font testing today,... AND did the FED test at ITV and Built a website...(but what it is is a secret) :D

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Long time no see blog....


































Ahhhh I start my placement at ITV tomorrow -_-... I'm a little bit nervous about it but... I'm sure it'll be okay.. in the mean time I'm hoping to finish my storyboards and have some NOT scruffy character designs (I can't make that promise though), I need to start testing stuff with my focus group anyway, so the design stuff may start coming thick and fast...
(Also I've seen a few spelling of Mephs... name so I need to find a way and stick with it)

Sunday, 5 December 2010

The roughest of the rough... no really...

So this is what happens when you go home for the weekend and your computer at home doesn't want to save anything...



I'm a little upset, it was better than this, but no matter... I'll just go over this stuff and make it better! This is the first 6ish pages of the script and obviously, only the key changes are shown here... but when the proper version is up it will make way more sense

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Feedback went well and thinking about storyboards.

I can say that the feedback session I had the other day went pretty well if I'm honest. General ideas were
  • Maybe making the whole structure like a DVD, where you can use the interactive features if you want to, kind of like bonus extras that will help you learn about the characters, so then the balance between interactive and immersive can be realized
  • Making the Scene Menu screen look more like a DVD menu, with thumbnails of what will be featured in the scene. 
  • Maybe re-examine the logo for 'classic rejuvenations' a little bit, think about a variety of texts, fonts, taglines, etc.
  • Maybe make a higher up menu for the entire Faustus thing, except for the scenes that contains things like 'play all' 'setup' and 'scene select' as well as 'extras'
Other than that people really seemed to like the visuals, they said that the whole style was nice, which is a relief.
So I've sent my script off to a friend of mine who has just finished her degree in screen writing (and got a first), she seemed like a good contact to call in this instance.
So I'm now starting the storyboard, which will be really really long, but hopefully, i'll be able to use some of the images again (heres hoping)
And the report went down well. :D

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Wow, productive day today

 I had a post with this on... but I got rid of it as I've tidied up this screen a little bit (and the next one for that matter)
 These need some work, but I wanted to show the interactive elements off a bit better (the other post made it look like a glorified comic... not that I'd mind that) So the bits below are ideas for interactive parts of the narrative, the first one is kind of like an animated tyopgraphic with the characters narrating over the top, so it isn't just drawing.... the 2nd one is a chance to find out more about Faustus if you want to (I was thinking of having it as an optional interactive bit) and the last one is a bit of the dialogue... not sure what to do with that
And then this is some of  the other stuff

Script for Scene 3

So I've done the script for Scene 3, and I'm now planning the interactivity for it. It's going to take some planning
(preview)

Doctor Faustus
Scene 3: Faustus summons Mephistopheles
 

Mephistopheles: (smiling) Oh Faustus… you’re so na├»ve and have quite a shilling on yourself don’t you? My appearance here is an accidental ‘by-product’ of your silly little show you’ve got here, with the pentagrams and the symbols etc… you were causing such a blasphemous racket that I had to see what on earth you were trying to do… I suppose you got this off the internet?

 (now serious) The demons are keen for your soul you know, this stupid display here has pleased the interest of a few demons I know. You’re in real danger of damnation-

Faustus: I’m not frightened of damnation Mephistopheles, what do you take me for? One of those pious morons wandering around this planet? Surely this display proves I don’t care or believe in a god. 

Mephistopheles:You say that, but I sense a lot of doubt in that troubled soul of yours-





Faustus:(troubled) Well… I don’t know how you can say something like that by just looking at me

Mephistopheles: I am a devil Faustus… and one of high standing at that, I can do something like this easily.

Faustus: Well that remains to be seen doesn’t it? For all I know you might not be a devil at all…You could be some lingering ghost or some other spirit-

Mephistopheles: (seems angry at this statement) be careful scholar, you have no idea what you’re going to get yourself into saying fly comments like that. For a learned scholar you are very stupid

Faustus: Well you can prove it to me now when I ask you these questions-

Mephistopheles :(still irate) I suppose it makes sense a scholar would use such a… mundane method… ask away Faustus







(Flicks through one of the books on Faustus floors ‘How to summon a devil’)










(Mephistopheles comes closer to Faustus, peers into his eyes, which causes Faustus to try and back away)

























Sunday, 28 November 2010

Mephistopheles char sheet 1 rough

Wow this one didn't take anywhere near as long (Still rough and all).
So character designs done! I mean there are other characters in it... but the scene I'm going to make won't have anyone else in it, it also means I will only have to recruit two voice actors (thank goodness... I'm sure it will be really hard to find just these two!)
So my Flash workshop was really useful (although a flash air application sounds like a bit of a mare...0_0) Still I'm sure it'll be fine.
So I've nearly finished the script now, if I get that done tonight story boards will start tomorrow... wow...
This is moving along rather quickly isn't it?
(Weirdly enough I quite like Mephastophilis... I don't know why)

Doctor Faustus char sheet 1 rough

Ohhh Faustus you look so crazy in that picture....obviously the finished one won't be like this... again I'm just laying it down so I know it exsists (and I don't do it again in an attempt to procrastinate)

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

PROMO SHOT WIP 2




































A bit less rough, but still needs to be tidied... I think it will do for now.... beautiful patterns!
Right off to make some interactive stuff and draw final character sheet! (and writing script)

PROMO SHOT WIP


































So I've decided on what Mephastophilis and Faustus are going to look like (in fairly short order I might say). I'll ask my focus group when I do their seperate character sheets if there is anything wrong with them (e.g. he looks to young or... he doesn't look evil enough).

Obviously this is only a wip, but it gives an idea of what the promo might look like, it was based on an illustration that I found a while back that inspired me... this is a nod to that... but this is a work in progress the real thing will be better (e.g. Mephastophilis is well and truly invisable on this). I really want to tidy up the colouring style and the lineart (I haven't even really drawn their proper faces in haha) So I know they aren't in modern  clothes. They will be eventually. I just need to figure out what they look like (and what media I'm going to use.,, I have gotten quite partialy to medieval patterns)

I've also decided what scenes I'm considering. These are:

Scene 3: Mephastophilis and Faustus's first meeting
Scene 5: Faustus dilema and making the deal
Scene 7: Faustus and Mephatophilis talk
Scene 7b: Seven deadly sins 


I have some questions for the flash workshop huzzah

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Faustus and useful character stuff



So here are some Faustus heads, now I've got that out of my system I'll draw the acutal character designs and full body shots shortly and some form of promo shot thingy...  (other modules are seriously getting in the way of this right now grrrrrrrrr).
So anyway  I was reading some anaylsis of the characters in the play and it's really interesting, I've also been going through the play looking at which scenes I will consider making for the preview/ artefact and which ones I can safely discard, I will report on that tomorrow.
So short character anaylsis and point: 
 
Faustus  -  The protagonist. Faustus is a brilliant sixteenth-century scholar from Wittenberg, Germany, whose ambition for knowledge, wealth, and worldly might makes him willing to pay the ultimate price—his soul—to Lucifer in exchange for supernatural powers. Faustus’s initial tragic grandeur is diminished by the fact that he never seems completely sure of the decision to forfeit his soul and constantly wavers about whether or not to repent. His ambition is admirable and initially awesome, yet he ultimately lacks a certain inner strength. He is unable to embrace his dark path wholeheartedly but is also unwilling to admit his mistake. 

Mephastophilis  -  A devil whom Faustus summons with his initial magical experiments. Mephastophilis’s motivations are ambiguous: on the one hand, his oft-expressed goal is to catch Faustus’s soul and carry it off to hell; on the other hand, he actively attempts to dissuade Faustus from making a deal with Lucifer by warning him about the horrors of hell. Mephastophilis is ultimately as tragic a figure as Faustus, with his moving, regretful accounts of what the devils have lost in their eternal separation from God and his repeated reflections on the pain that comes with damnation.

Good Angel  -  A spirit that urges Faustus to repent for his pact with Lucifer and return to God. Along with the old man and the bad angel, the good angel represents, in many ways, Faustus’s conscience and divided will between good and evil. 
Evil Angel  -  A spirit that serves as the counterpart to the good angel and provides Faustus with reasons not to repent for sins against God. The evil angel represents the evil half of Faustus’s conscience. 

(taken from "http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/doctorfaustus/") 

It's quite interesting when we look at it like this, because Mephastophilis isn't as evil as he's portrayed on stage. However, Faustus is usually as bumbling and annoying.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to write about when the new version will be set, how the characters are adapted and which scene I will consider taking forward.



(Maybe a picture if I have time 0_0)
I have a flash workshop tomorrow, so it'd be nice if i had something for that but oh well~

Mephistopheles heads






(CLICK FOR BIG VERSION THAT IS READABLE)

So I've started (very early) drawings of mephistopheles... Very early indeed, they are really scruffy and the shading and line art is really rough...
These are a few head shot ideas I've had... I decided that Mephistopheles should probably be quite young... Because alot of his character traits lend themself to him being young, it would be a nice inversion from the original where he sends most of his time as a monk (why would be horribly boring and just not applicable these days... if Faust was a scholar these days, it's unlikely he'd have a monk following him around)... and Faust has to age 24 years throughout the play... it would be interesting to see that Mephistopheles never changes in age and he's forever young.
Obviously these are very rough a proper Mephistopheles will come some enough... the quality will be much higher for the acutal thing, but i think they will be okay for ideas

Monday, 22 November 2010

Work placement and Designing....

So good news I have a placement with ITV for a month! I'm so excited, I can't wait for it (need to learn a lot of code...)
But it will be an awesome experience for me.
Secondly, I finished my report in the end, it was hard work but I got it all done and printed (£40?!)
Thirdly, I heard back from the copyright people and they won't let me do an inspector calls... so it's going to be Doctor Faustus... I'm not too distressed about this... it was what I wanted to do... but acutally having to do it is a little daunting... I'm sure I'll be okay
So I'm going to read Fautus EXTREMELY carefully... and hi-light what scenes I think would be the best to do... as well as establish some themes to bring into the new version I'm going to make.
I'm thinking about modernising it to an extent... it's hard to relate to the old version of it. But I will discuss that in more detail as I read the scenes.
But still I have to get a lot done for next Wed character designs, props, backgrounds, storyboards, interactivity samples... so I better get a scoot on!
I draw sketchy version of what I'm going to CG: (At the moment I'm trying to figure out whether it's modern day or not... of whether Mephtophelsis is a man or not)


(CLICK FOR BIG VERSION)
then after that I've done a rough CG in Painttool SAI

Monday, 15 November 2010

It's been a while... apologises....

Sorry that it has taken me a while to update my blog... I've had an essay and a report to do and been sick on top of that...
But I'm on the rigt side of it now and I can happily give the results to my surveys:

THE MOST POPULAR NARRATIVES WERE....

An Inspector Calls
And....
Doctor Faustus

I think that these two are fairly good... I think Jekyl and Hyde came in third... but I can't confirm that at this moment in time...

I'm quite happy with this (if not a little surprized) I didn't think that people would want to see 'an inspector calls'... but an audience can always surprize you....
So that's all good... I'm trying to get copyright for 'an inspector calls' but if that fails... then it's going to be Faustus...

I have also got all my responses from my focus groups... and they are pretty promising... I'll discuss this in greater detail soon.

In other news I'm going to learn HTML5 and Illustrator in preperation for next semster I'll be at ITV at Christmas so I'm starting nice and early so I'm not stressed when I get back (bearing in mind the deadline for prototypes is the 13th of Jan when I'm not here it makes sense to make a start now...).

Also I'll be heading to the Thought Bubble Sequential Arts Festival at the weekend (which is convientantly in Leeds) and be spending a lot of money on comics as... 'research'...
teehehehehe

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Other places to distribute

So after the people are 'World Book day' being less than helpful (saying that I have to be from a school to get an information pack). I have decided to look at other festivals that I could place my project in... these were some promising ideas.
The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival, at the end of March (Links with BBC4 for this one)
http://www.oxfordliteraryfestival.com/
The Guardian Hay Festival, in late May
http://www.hayfestival.com/portal/belfast.aspx?skinid=1
Edinburgh International Book Festival, in August
http://www.edbookfest.co.uk/
Cheltenham Festival of Literature, in mid October
(This one even has a future fictions section of the site this is promising!)
http://cheltenhamfestivals.com/tag/future-fictions/

So there are places to distribute this! I haven't lost hope of doing it as a 'non-commercial venture just yet!'
I've planned my questions for my focus group tomorrow and have started my report in some style!
Things are going well

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Name and logo for project?



I'm going to start writing my report shortly, therefore I'm trying to come up with  some sort of brand name. I've spent a while trying to think of what words to put in the title, and what I want the title to convey about the product. I want to use the word rejuvenation, because I think it accurately describes what I'm trying to do with this project:
re·ju·ve·nate  tr.v. re·ju·ve·nat·ed, re·ju·ve·nat·ing, re·ju·ve·nates
1. To restore to youthful vigor or appearance; make young again.
2. To restore to an original or new condition: rejuvenate an old sofa.
(taken from "http://www.thefreedictionary.com/rejuvenation")
I'm trying to restore the original stories and make them 'young' again. By bringing them up to date and using a new platform, I'm hoping to give them a new lease of life. 
I'm not 100% happy with this wording, I'm not sure if 'Classic rejuvenation Project' makes sense on it's own and it's due to change.
I might also change the wording of the bottom bit, I don't want people to think the stories were 'dead' which 'bringing old stories back to life' suggest.
 
I want the visual style of the logo to be simple, because as a project, this header would need to cater for lots of different titles, so I want a banner that can be used for every kind of story regardless of genre.
I wanted to go with a san-serif font because it seems more modern and contemporary. I think sometimes people can associate serif fonts with 'classic' 'old' 'authoritative' texts (e.g. Times New Roman being a font designed for 'The Times' newspaper.

I think this is something I'll be working on for a while, but at least its in the back of my mind.
(I now have 30 people who have answered the survey. Good times).

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Feedback from Alt tutor meeting and objectives.

My meeting with my alternative tutor went quite well. He thought that the idea was good and the justification for the product was there. However we both identified the main challenges in this project, most of this information will be found through more indepth research.
  • Finding a place where this product will sit
  • Finding a vehicle to launch it on
  • Defining a niche that the product will appeal to
These problem hi-light some definate food for thought. As much as I would like to make this product appeal to everyone, I'm not sure I can. I mean I don't think that a artefact of this nature will have massive appeal, maybe it would only appeal to people who already use the computer a lot, the general public may not feel inclined to go on there computer and interact with a novel. I will definately need to ask my focus group about this.

This then leads to another key point
  • Will this artefact be part of a campaign with a charity/company/awareness group or will it be a commercial venture?
Clearly this will depend on what my focus group say about how they would the artefact. If enough people said they would use it if they were aware of it, then I would then research into campaigns with a similar theme (e.g. getting people into opera, classical music etc etc) and look at the strategies they use.
If not then I would have to look into the commercial sector and see how things like this are distributed (e.g. look at game selling engines such as Xbox marketplace and steam)

So more research to think about there, but I'll need to speak to my focus group first (and of course formulate some questions for that). 

Monday, 1 November 2010

Survey and Character designs

So I have completed my survey here it is. I have used a snowballing technique where I have sent an email to 25 participants in my address book, all differing ages ranging from 20 to 65, and I have asked each one of those to send it to at least one other person who they know.

Hopefully I will get a reasonable and varied return rate. Failing that I am also distributing it via facebook for a very short period of time. This is a fail safe option. I would prefer to get high numbers, even if the age group is similar. I already have 8 responses (mostly by women and all of the participants have been in their 20's...lets hope I get more varied ones soon.... )

So I am also hoping to get a focus group arranged by the end of this week.

Now to address character and prop design inspiration. I am trying not to get too bogged down with this yet, as I am aware I have a weakness for spending too much time on design in general.
For me personally, it is difficult to be concise in this area.









(Taken from "http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b3/Page_004_%28Faust%2C_1925%29.png/392px-Page_004_%28Faust%2C_1925%29.png")









So here we have an illustration from the 1925 version of Doctor Faust, I love this graphic, but I can appriciate that in a new media interactive version people would want something a little more modern and contemporary... But it might be worth looking at these character designs to inform my designs.

I don't want people to associcate this with 'cartoons' and zaniness, but neither do I want the style to be too realistic... or else I think the freedom for expression will be limited.

I decided therefore to look into illustrations (and by an extension comics) that aren't for children. This panel is taken from a currently popular online comic (soon to be published) comic called "Hanna is not a boy's name".






(Image taken from "http://fc04.deviantart.net/fs71/f/2010/095/d/4/Easier_to_Forget_by_vert_is_ninja.jpg")






(Image taken from "http://hanna.aftertorque.com/comics/2010-04-06-hbnc_112.jpg")














I really like the 'mood' that is created in this comic, the use of colour conveys atmosphere without too much suggestion of a location. I'd like to use colour in this fashion if I can. I also like the panelling in this... it suggests something about the pace. How I would translate this into a new media narrative I'm not entirely sure, but I like the pace. Even though the style is abstract, it isn't particularly 'childish' although, it is unlikely that it will infulence my style of drawing.


(Taken from "http://www.l4d.com/comic/assets/1280/L4dpg01.jpg)









Another example showing that for adults don't necessarily crave realism (the left for dead 4 comic which is a tie in with the new game franchise), but I think there is a sense of 'edginess' in adult graphics, something that isn't present in comics and illustrations for children (not to mention the odd smattering of blood everywhere)

 (Taken from "http://i167.photobucket.com/albums/u122/naniiebim/Illustration%20work/t100330Meths03flatunfinpg27-28.jpg")










I feel that a combination of the drawing styles from above would create something more suitable for adults, obviously due to the stories in question, the style can't be overly cute and fun. It has to be rich and expressive. I feel that something a little more artistic would be quite good in giving these classics a sense of 'character' that is contemporary
 
Now for something a little less cartoon/ comic based and more illustration(ish)
An old college tutor of mine created these graphics (Malcolm Stanbra), I feel that they would really lend themselves to interactive design. 

 




















The next illustration graphic I have here is from an artist on Deviant art known as 'BlueLudeBar' her use of texture is really interesting, although she usually uses them in quite colourful cheerful images, there is a clear 'adult'ness about these designs.

Visual style and inspiration

This is again, another really important consideration in this classic reboot. After looking at a few New Media narratives/ Games/ Other design media. I have come to a number of conclusions about my graphic representation.

My first concern is that I will be unable to use photography in the conventional sense. Some of these classics will use landscapes and places that I will not be able to photograph. With this in mind, I will be possibly gathering photographs and then enhancing them, possibly by drawing places in and making the images look more dated... alternatively I may just redraw the landscapes all together.
















For example I may use an image like this as inspiration and then create the background myself.
(Taken from "http://www.victorianweb.org/technology/railways/41.jpg")

I also realize that I will not really be able to use photographs for many of the characters either as it will be far too difficult to find a 'cast' who will be able to portray the characters effectively. I may use photographs in order to help me re-create certain poses or actions, but it is doubtful that I will use the actual photographs themselves. I am also look at other depictions of the characters in my classic (if any exist)









( Taken from "http://www.aboutwhitby.co.uk/dracula/180px-Draculafaces-small.jpg") As we can see there are a number of different Dracula's here. All seem to suit the different facets of the Dracula character.
I feel that with an illustrative style, the characters representations can be much more expressive and surreal.







(Taken from "http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/castlevania/images/thumb/7/73/Dracula1_small.jpg/300px-Dracula1_small.jpg")








We can see the influence of all the other kind of Dracula's add up to one whole in this design.

With this in mind I also want to try and move away from the 'overly abstract' imagery and navigation you find in a lot of new media narratives.

See http://www.crissxross.net/elit/underbelly.html as an example. I want the user to understand what is going on, even if it is a little more abstract, I want something they can understand rather than a 'figureative' 'deep and meaningful' interface. I want it to convey a reasonably coherent and linear narrative.

That isn't to say that the images will always be within a 'real world' I just want the images on screen to be understandable.

So for 'real world' events as it were (e.g. Mr Smith is in town). I will find a photograph of a town, or draw a town based on an image. 



When trying to communicate character feeling and possible lines of thought, I would like to have backgrounds that are similar to Alicia Buelow's work.




(Taken from "http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2006/02/20/business/businessspecial2/21security.184.jpg")




I think that the use of symbols and texture will really help communicate feelings and thought. Key words may appear at the side, fading in and out, symbols might appear and fade away, similar to this:




In 'the path' dialogue often appears and fades off the screen, this usually helps reveal the narrative.



I will post more about  character and object design soon.

Also going to put the survey up tonight!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Gantt Chart and sample group

CLICK FOR FULL SIZE!!!!!
So I made the first part of my Gantt chart today... and yes... there is a lot of detail (and a lot to do... oh my word... is there a lot to do). However, this is so I realize practically everything I have to do.... Okay... there might be a little bit too much detail, but you know, it's better to be too thorough than not thorough enough... (or at least I think so).
Doing this early has helped my realized that my work placement is definitely going to interfere with one of my deadlines for this module... my time management is going to have to be something amazing to sort all of this stuff out... some of it I don't even know if it's practically possible... but I suppose that's why I'll get my tutor to discuss it with me.

So, I have my alternative tutor meeting tomorrow. I can safely say, having done quite a lot of research into the subject that the classics haven't been brought to life through new media narrative very effectively (and not at all for adults as a leisure activity) so in a way, I have a better claim to create this project than I had when I came up with this project in the first place. This does make competitor research a little difficult. NOT TO MENTION THAT A LOT OF NEW MEDIA NARRATIVES NEED TO BE BOUGHT!
(e.g. http://www.eastgate.com/catalog/Fiction.html)

But luckily... One of the lovely people from 'Dreaming Methods' got back to me the other day... and they were happy for me to speak to them... they seem very nice :D. I hope I get the chance to talk to them again soon (Andy Campbell seemed keen to know about the project... I'm so relieved that there is some outside interest).

Having spoken to a few of the people in the New Media department, they have all been scratching their heads when I've asked if any  positive new media narratives exist that they are aware of (which are good of course)... I'll have to make the first one then :D

 In other news, I have successfully got a sample group! Not only that, but they have all agreed to help me out. A few of them are based in Leeds, which means that doing focus groups will be easy. The others have agreed to help via email, phone skype etc etc. I have now completed my plots and sent them off to be checked, so at least I can start getting feedback for which plot to do soon enough.

I'm reading my last new media narrative theory book... this reminds me that my theory research is coming to an end soon, I need to formalize a lot of research now, having done it for quite a month of it now. It's exciting, but at the same time, it feels like moving a step forward towards the write up... which is a bit scary for me.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Inspiriation- Sound

I was trying to find some good examples of ebooks online and although there are many ebooks to choose from, the website 'spoken ink' seemed the most useful to me. 

It is a website where mainly short stories (some of them classics) are read by famous actors. The idea is to download the content for a small fee and then spread the word about this website by word of mouth (as oppose to buying them on CD or buying stories through I-Tunes). They read shorter stories which are more convenient for downloading. Derek Jacobi in particular, is fantastic in this reading, but many famous actors have contributed to this site reading a variety of stories, from stories to children, to stories for adults.

However, this is a stark reading, no sound effects, no other actors. I only want this kind of reading if I can find someone who can express characters through voice extremely well. The advantage of a reading like this of course is... that I only need one person to do it. This would work with a book like 'War of the Worlds' as it is mainly told from one man's point of view in the first place.

Alternatively....

http://www.dailymotion.com/swf/video/xf58wt
The more traditional version of a 'CD Drama' might be a little easier to manage, it would be easier to communicate character by using different actors, people are less likely to get confused. I think I will have to incorporate some sfx into my new media narrative, it would be impossible to make it truly 'immersive' without it.
Having no sfx would rely far too much on the actor's vocal presence (i.e. I would need someone like Patrick Stewart or Derek Jacobi to read it in order to keep the audience intrigued).

Although they are not massively popular in the UK, the BBC did create some CD drama's for it's Doctor Who franchised before it's revival. The problem with this approach of course is finding enough talented/ convincing voice actors and the spread of people will depend entirely on the story chosen.

My major worry with sound in particular is that the quality will not be good enough for the production, finding good recording equipment is difficult, and an interactive new media narrative really relies on sound as a major contributing factor.

Inspiration- Interaction



I have to confess one of the main inspirations for this new media narrative comes from the 'ceremony of innocence' piece. The playful interface is truly incredible for the time it was made... and the originality of the interaction is spectacular.

I also think that some of the playfulness of this interface is good, also the visual rendering for this interface is beautiful.
http://www.dreamingmethods.com/uploads/dm_archive/objects/html/d_object_175487_100913_thickbox.html

However, I don't think that either of these interfaces are quite explicit enough in their action. When I plan to create the interface, I hope that the characters will be able to give some form of instruction to the user without it detracting from the experience (I don't want them to think 'oh... the character is telling me what to do' I want them to to want do what the character's suggest.)

Although I had another example, I am struggling to find any reference of it. It was a Leonardo Da Vinci game that was designed for the Windows 90/95 pack... I will find more details on this soon... I'm determined. Basically put, it was a puzzle solving game where you were trapped in a maze of rooms and you had to use the drawings of leonardo da vinci to help you escape e.g. the flying machine, the pulley system... etc etc. This was an excellent narrative, which sucessfully made the tasks obvious, without being overly explicit.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Plot synopsises at last!

I have recruited a two of the more difficult members of my target audience today:
55 year old male
45 year old male

I have a few more to get, but they were the 2 age groups I feared I wouldn't be able to get... and luckily, neither of them have a massive interest in new media at all, therefore, it should make for an honest uninformed opinion...

Anyway....

PLOT 1
When a scholar becomes unsatisfied with his daily life and academic achievement, he turns to the dark arts in order to gain the secrets of all knowledge and power. After making a deal with the devil his wish is fulfilled, but will his new found powers bring him the happiness he sought after? and what will become of him once his contract with the devil expires?
PLOT 2
When a jovial family dinner is interrupted by a police inspector who is investigating a working class woman's suicide, we discover that the seemingly respectful family may have more to do with this suicide than even they are aware of. How does this event link with this family? how could they not even be aware of this woman's very existence when they are apparently the cause of her death? 

PLOT 3
A journalist notices green flashes in the sky and missiles on there way to earth, after 10 days, he hears that an astronomer, has claimed that nothing can come from space. However, shortly after this visitors from another world invade a Victorian London in order to use planet earth for their own purposes... and co-habitation is not an option.  
PLOT 4
After a bizarre serendipitous twist of fate, a man is given an eternally youthful appearance, and an image of him ages in his place. As the man commits more sins and transgresses, the image grows twisted and horrific. The man quickly becomes haunted by the horrific image, but can he be saved from his hedonistic lifestyle? What fate lies in store for him?

PLOT 5
After witnessing a horrific act by a truly horrible man, a lawyer is left troubled as one of his most favoured clients has a seemingly close relationship to the persecuted criminal. He worries that his client maybe being manipulated. However, the lawyer slowly uncovers the horrific truth of the mystery to find that his client and the criminal have a shared destiny that they cannot escape from.
 
PLOT 6 
A detective's assistant still has a taste for solving crime, even though the detective he had once worked for has died. Although he is extremely dishearted about his 'partner in crime-solving's' death, he decides to continue with his endevours so that he maybe as good as his partner once was.
He must now rely on his own skills to solve crimes. However, he finds himself reintroduced with a lost friend and the chase is on to solve the latest strange seemingly motiveless murder.

Current stage of progress and about 'the path'



So... after looking into new media narratives.This was one of the more interesting pieces that I found. I found it unusual that this game is in fact on a USB pen that you can order or a download. I think the game itself is fairly niche... it can only be ordered online and is not available in store (for good reason I might add the cover for the game is as disturbing as the content itself), so it would make sense that people who would want to play it, would be willnig to go online to get it. This game definately doesn't have mass appeal, partially because of the disturbing imaginary, because of the delivery platform and because of the style of gameplay and the pacing of the artefact itself.

The art game was developed in 2009 by 'Tale of Tales'. It is called 'The Path'. The principle of the game is simple enough. You are a red riding hood- type girl... who must get to her Grandmother's house. The two instructions that appear onscreen are
'Go Grandmother's house'
'Stay on the Path'

If you sucessfully do get to grandmother's house (by staying on the path and not exploring the surrounding forest very throughly) and do not encounter a 'wolf' along the way...

Then you've failed the game... Yes I know... I don't quite understand it either...

The point of the game is to explore the forest... encounter 'the wolf' and then go the grandmother's house, where you will 'succeed' even if this results in you being killed or traumatised when you get there.

I would argue that this is indeed more of a narrative than a game. There are several 'red riding hoods' to choose from, the game is on a fixed path, although there is a very expansive interactive environment, the only thing you can really do is walk around and interact with objects, and collect 'memories'... there is no strategy required, all actions are pre-determined, regardless of what you do, and it is definately based more around the narrative than the gameplay, the cutscenes are long and a good portion of the game isn't even interactive (Once you get into the Grandmother's house the camera changes to 1st person and you can no longer control the character).

Each one of the girl's narratives represent a point in life (one of the girls 'Robin' is very young and 'Scarlet' is the oldest). Their repsective wolves are metaphors for one thing or another (e.g. alcoholism, smoking, rape), but the game is very abstract, we can take a guess, but there is no explicit narrative.

(We assume that most of the characters have some form of unfortunate encounter with a man.. but not all of them, some are too young for that).

Although I do like the idea of this game i.e. being able to explore the expansive space and a slowly revealing narrative for each girl. I can't help but feel that things often become 'darker and edgier' when they are designed for 'adults' and 'new media'.

A lot of new media narratives, because they are 'for adults' become quite dark and horrible and creepy. I'm sure that some adults wouldn't want that, in fact it may alienate a great deal of the target audience... I can only really see 16- 40 year olds playing this, unless they have a specific interest in new media narratives or folklore.

Another example of this 'darker and edgy' new media content is Dim O Gauble
Again, quite disturbing and unsettling.

Although both a feats in 'art gaming' and 'new media narrative' I still think they assume too much of the adult audience's need to be 'gritty and intense'.

Depending on the narrative that is chosen, my artefact may end up the same way, but only if it's appropriate. I can't create Faustus without a little bit of darkness, but neither does it have to be a traumatic experience for the reader/user.

By the end of today I hope to have finalised my extracts for review and have finished collecting people for my focus group. I have decided to try the target audience quite wide for now and say between 20 and 50 year olds, this may narrow, but that is my target age group for now. (I'm not saying that only this age group who can use it, I just think they are probably the age group most likely too).

Thursday, 14 October 2010

I found the jackpot on rich media and new media narratives,,,,

So, after spending what was my entire morning looking for new media narratives on the internet. I have finally achieved my mission!

Firstly, I found this fantastic article on Web 2.0 Storytelling
http://www.uh.cu/static/documents/RDA/Web%202.0%20Storytelling%20c.pdf
which I am sure will prove extremely useful in the long term (as I'm yet to read the entire thing), but one of the links on this article really stood out for me. It was about a company called 'Dreaming methods'. Dreaming Methods have produced some of the most beautiful and intuative rich media narrative spaces I have ever seen on the internet.
http://www.dreamingmethods.com/uploads/dm_archive/objects/html/d_object_175487_100913_thickbox.html
Here is one as an example called 'Dim O Gauble'. It's about a boy who has bad dreams, which appear to only be shared by his Grandmother.
It is a beautiful piece of work. But I can't help but feel it's really complicated... I only understand part of the narrative myself. But I've had a good look through their sites. All their projects are similar to this. Beautiful, but incomprehensible (well to me anyway).
These are for a niche audience I would say. Probably people who are already in new media narrative circles... which defeats the object of my project.
For another thing, since my narratives are already written, the workload should be somewhat easier, although I'm currently looking at design styles and the like (posts about this coming soon!)

I then tried to search around to see if anyone had revived the classic in this way....
Thankfully not... However, at one point 'penguin books' did an experiment called 'we tell stories'
http://www.wetellstories.co.uk/
in this some classic penguin narratives are given a digital makeover... Another thing I will check out soon, to see how good they are. On a first glance, I wasn't massively impressed, considering they had worked with game designers and the like...creating an lj account is hardly a mighty feat (although once I have view them all I will surely review this comment)

Other than that, I have been reading the first part of 'Computer as theatre'. It does carry some pretty good points along with it. I will write a more detailed blog entry soon. I just needed to get this all down somewhere!

Over and out for now

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Concerning copyright...

The discussion of my research plan went well with my supervisor for my project.

But it's been hi-lighted that I need to move along with this research rather swiftly. Particularly with regards to which narrative I'm going to recreate because I was worried about copyright clearance.... However, after doing some research today I found out that work is copyright free from...

70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the last remaining author of the work dies.
If the author is unknown, copyright will last for 70 years from end of the calendar year in which the work was created, although if it is made available to the public during that time, (by publication, authorised performance, broadcast, exhibition, etc.), then the duration will be 70 years from the end of the year that the work was first made available.


http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/p01_uk_copyright_law

And it's 50 years for music. I'm massively relieved as most of the classics I'm thinking of reviving as it were are over 70 years old.


The list of works I have to whittle down are here:

Faustus
The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Sherlock Holmes (not sure which story yet)
A Portrait of Dorian Gray
Phantom of the Opera
Dracula
Frankenstein
An Inspector Calls
Journey to the Centre of the Earth
The War of the Worlds

The ones that I think would be best suited are the ones written in purple.

Current objectives:
To find out what is currently on the market
To learn more about what users like about narratives
Computer as theatre
Make a decision on which narratives to test with audience

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Research Plan! (Warning heavy and expansive!)



This is nowhere near a final plan for this, but I thought it would be good to just have a very idea of all the things I need to research about. There are so many topics to look at. I have read some books on the subject. I'm hoping to meet up with a lecturer who specialises in New Media narratives tomorrow, hopefully she can point me in the right direction for some of my research. As for the rest... I shall be seeing Helen tomorrow (all being well) to get some advice. Other than that I shall definately asking nearly everyone I know if they know someone who doesn't read very much. I will then need to contact them (I'm not sure about a focus group... or whether I should do interviews. The way I see it, accessibilty and the reasons that people don't read might be very sensitive, I don't think it would be a good idea to have a focu group. But I'll speak to Helen and see what she says

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Hamlet on the Holodeck.....

After my meeting with my supervisor, I thought I would read up on the subject of narrative in order to see what I have to cover, to see how much ground there is. I am planning to write my research plan this weekend (later on today in fact...)
Well after reading just two books, 'Hamlet on the Holodeck' and 'The interactive book'. I have realized that there are so many issues with new media narratives that must be addressed. To name the big two agency and immersion.
Due to the massive field this has opened up. I'm planning on attending a lecture on Monday about theatre and game immersion.

But very basically, I have to consider how immersive the narrative should be. Sometimes if they narrative is too real, people can be disengaged by it's realism, and feel 'wronged'. As if they have received a little more than what they bargained for, they willing suspend their disbelief, because they know it isn't real. With this in mind I want to recreate a fantastical story for the pilot novel, that cannot have any basis in reality. So my audience cannot feel 'betrayed' in any way.

Before  I decided this I thought I would go and watch my housemates play games (they are the closest thing to new media narratives in our house) and see how immersed they became within the narrative.
It was surprising just how immersed they got, regardless of how complicated or simple the plot was. From the boys playing Halo Reach to the girls playing Mario Kart... (one of the two girls has never really played video games in her life it seemed she quite liked winning) they all seemed completely immersed, even though the narrative of Mario Kart is simply 'win the race'.

Despite the fact that we are intelligent academic students, we can be so easily sucked into these narratives. This is probably because of the level of 'agency' a person has in games. They control the destiny of the avatars they are playing as. They are in affect 'puppeteers'. They can control the destiny of their characters, and this is appealing. They can save an imaginary world of Halo from evil, or give Yoshi the cute green dinosaur appreciation he so rightly deserves and get him first place in the race.

This presents me with a problem. In my project, the end of the story is already decided, it is a classic narrative, some people will already know the ending of the narrative, before they have even started. What incentive do they have to play it?

The answer to this.... 'the journey that they will take in order to get to the end'. Or put in another way 'the narrative experience'.

I bought a new game for my PSP on Thursday, it was a prequel to a game I have already played called 'Kingdom Hearts'. 
As a female game player, the 'Kingdom Hearts' franchise marries two franchises I already love, Disney and Square Enix (makers of Final Fantasy) into one game.

The new game is called 'Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep'.
It is a one player game for the most part, this makes it even more immersive than playing with a friend (there is a multiplayer option, but it has nothing to do with the narrative).

I already know what will happen at the end of the game, because I have played the sequels (Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts 2), yet the journey is a mystery to me... just how will this game progress? How will the events of this game connect me to the story of Kingdom Hearts that I already enjoy?
This is the reason I am playing it.

I have already played the game for a good hour, and there has only been about 20 minutes of gameplay. There are so many cutscenes in this game. Again, makes the game immersive, it's almost as if gameplay breaks up the narrative a bit (However, I am at the beginning of the game... I'm sure this will change soon).


So... I have a lot to think about when creating this new media narrative... but here are just a few things I've been thinking about reccently, there will be more to follow.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Thinking about project stuff

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE (*)

Anyway... I met up with my supervisor of my project today. The meeting went well, though I have quite a lot to think about. Aside from research methods and the audience (aside from snowballing, I have to think of an appropriate audience and the right method). I also need to think about how accessible I will make the new media narrative... without it become a cumbersome and involving too much text. Trying to cater for so many accessibility issues will be quite a challenge...

Also, I've been thinking about when I would actually launch this new media project into the world (if it was real). I came to the conclusion that there would be two key periods to advertise the new media narratives I'm planning to make.

http://www.worldbookday.com/index.asp
World book day seems to make sense. There doesn't seem to be that much aimed at adults. A few trailers... and a few sections of books read aloud, but that's really all that there is. I think that they need something a bit more interactive, something more interesting... so I feel that my project would fit in perfectly with this. This event is in March (Despite me thinking it was in November).


http://www.nanowrimo.org/
Another less known writing/ narrative event in the year is 'National Novel Writing Month'. Now I chose this period too because... well I think that people who like to write stories may also enjoying experiencing them in less conventional ways. So I think it could be worth a shot! (This is in November... it's a shame they are so far apart).

So that's todays research done... NOW OFF TO PARTY :D

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Starting project and HTML5

So... Luckily, I'm rather relieved that my project idea was received quite well from the vast majority of people I pitched it to. They could clearly see a gap in the market and thought potentially... it could be quite a good idea.
I'm still not too sure about the delivery though... Part of me is seriously considering building it in HTML5... paritally because it would be future proofed and there is no point in running away from something like that and secondly because... well it has more functionality... and may potentially save a lot of Flash work as well (But I'm not yet certain about that...)
And also whether it will be something like an App... or maybe on the Internet... or even a CD-ROM... I think CD-Roms are kind of going out a bit now... due to the impressive capacity of the Internet... but I do want a rich media product...so we'll have to see about that.
I think I would like to experiment with the interface and how it will work, how it will be used.
SO
I started reading books and plays recently, so then I can decide what narrative I will prototype... Faustus was a great play... I have to confess... I mean... wow... even though it's so old... it could quite easily be brought up to date... I'm not sure about the language... but it has the classic line


Was this the face that launched a thousand ships...

Or at the very least on the TV tropes page...

In other news... I decided to play a new media narrative from a long time ago... called 'Clocktower: The first fear' it was a game for the SNES... but was also a PC game... and my word... it is so frightening...
You would think that a 'click and point' narrative doesn't have the capacity to scare... but this is the very reason why it does...

There is little text and almost no explanation... anyone (over the age of 13 due to scariness) could play it, I mean younger audience could play it... however it is a very distressing game.

but the story is excellently revealed (with over 9 endings... 6 of them blood-curdling). 

I don't know how far I can call it research... but all I can say is that it is so intriguing... that I had to look into it... and it is horrifically frightening.

The commands are simple, walk, examine, use item and run. There is very little dialogue... and to be honest, you don't need the dialogue either. You are trapped in a house and must escape by collecting items and using them at appropriate times, you have no weapons, and the ending you get is determined by the order you complete the tasks. No obvious moral choices... it's purely pot luck

... I think that is it really it being one of the most frightening survival horror games in existence (despite the fact it was made in 1995). Mainly because of the helplessness of your character.

Brilliantly done. Anyway, I'm not going to make a scary survival game, but the dissemination of the narrative is what was worth playing it for...

So soon I will be looking into devices and more rounded ideas.

Ciao

p.s. interview for placement happened today... I'll hear about it soon

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Wow HTML 5 is blowing my mind... but how on earth does it work?

Okay... so I have finally got back to Uni now... good times.... However, HTML 5 is blowing my mind at the moment, not necessarily because of it's amazingness... (which is self evident)... but rather that I have to think about how I am going to make any of my future products... (especially flash)
I have been looking at this site today
http://gorillaz.com/club-room and oh my goodness... it is a thing of beauty... but how on earth does someone make something like  that? I mean it is possible to find out how in flash... but in this HTML 5... I have no idea... and it worries me.
Meanwhile... I am thinking of making an interactive novel... as I have mentioned and thus I'm doing a lot of research around it and what kind of books would be good (I'm thinking Doctor Faustus right now)
I'm sure I'll change my mind again.
But I think that my interface won't be as complicated as that Gorrliaz one... fun it is... but very frustrating... anyway...