Making Games and Being Inspired by Miro

Pana intro

Please click link to a short film about Pana’s Labyrinth

A little while ago I made my own game, it was the first time I had ever programmed anything, and I found I really enjoyed it!  Above is a little film I made so show a bit about how the game works.  I made my game in Unity 3D, I have never programmed before, but I found something new and logical that I have a keen interest in. The initial inspiration for the game came  from a choice of famous paintings, I was drawn to, ‘The Escape Ladder’, 1940, by Joan Miró. The main reasons being: Miro creates some fantastic characters in his paintings, (the stylisation is so ahead of it’s time and I love his paintings), they also have a naive macabre atmosphere, and finally it reminded me of,’Horace and The Spiders,’ one of my favorite Spectrum games!! I used to enjoy stomping on the webs, (I have to say here that I actually like spiders, they are the good guys, it was just very satisfying having a good old computery stomp on their webs)!

MIRO-Escape-Ladder

So I had a painting I really liked, characters and spiders I really liked, so I thought how do I make a game out of this?  Then my tutor suggested it could be a game involving ladders….!  And suddenly the game idea just clicked. I could have a game involving spiders and ladders……in a dark labyrinth!  I also decided to make a game that I would enjoy, something with puzzles, platform activity and funny characters! The game is named after my dog and one of my favourite director’s films. The game is called Pana’s Labyrinth. My dog is called Pana after the Inuit God who cares for the souls of the underworld.  One of my favourite films by Guillermo del Toro is Pan’s Labyrinth.  I chose to mix the two, so the game is about a guardian of an underworld labyrinth who has managed to lose some of his souls in his very own personal labyrinth. This probably comes from years of addiction to Sonic the Hedgehog followed by complete adulation of Ratchet and Clank.  So after many years of playing games, I was actually exploring how they are made and also putting this into practice and this I found fascinating.

Screenshot from Pana's Labyrinth
Screenshot from Pana’s Labyrinth

My son’s verdict on the game was, ‘it needs at least two velociraptors and zombies, it’s missing zombies!’ So that is my next mission, to explore putting in some enemies with AI, (artificial intelligence).  This will be a great deal more challenging than what I have done so far and take a great deal more programming.  However the AI side of games really intrigues me as I have been studying Machinima, (films made within games).

Machinima makers use the AI within the game to get other non player game characters and also other game elements etc to react to them, so that they are in fact using the AI to make action happen within the film.  Paradise Decay recently sent me a link to a fascinating video which shows how he makes the AI work for him in Minecraft.  He also shows other aspects of the gameplay which make it possible for him to make movies within Minecraft. There some really good camera tricks especially to get the Millennium Falcon into hyperspace!

It also shows the complex effort and time that Machinima makers put into their films. It is particularly fascinating for me as I come from a much more standard approach to making animated films.  I use programs such as Maya to create models and animation then After Effects etc for post production.  I have to say that some Machinima makers use a lot of ingenuity to get the shots and acting they require for their films.  I will enjoy observing and researching into the film genre of Machinima and it’s developments in the future as game design begins to evolve further.

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iCollab Map and Hilbre Island Video

I must admit I had forgotten to go and comment on the students work on the iCollab map.  But now I’m glad I did as it cheered me up, it’s been kind of an odd day today with one thing and another.  I clicked on Mr David Renton’s sunscreen 2013 and got to add my own little bit of Hilbre Island wisdom, which in turn reminded me of a little film I made ages ago and have forgotten to upload! More of that later, I clicked through the students and must admit as I was tired tonight, I only clicked on students with website links. However I found an intriguing game on Edward Mc Evoy’s site, an interesting interactive animation so I have asked about the programming side as I am prone to liking things like that!  I also found a really nice piece of animation that is so lovely and really cleverly made, made me laugh as well, Dino Boy by Adrian Fielding. Which brings me back to the piece of Hilbre Island wisdom!

We were asked a while ago to make a mobile phone video.  Hilbre Isand is a bird sanctuary off the coast of the Wirral, it’s quite a walk at low tide but well worth it.  It’s not about the work I’m doing at the moment but somewhere I take a long walk to if I want to think about a project or just simply to clear my head!  It’s the place you can go to wave at seals, so that’s what I put on David Renton’s Sunscreen 2013!  I was trying to think about what to make a mobile phone video about and I was generally looking at all the photos on my phone.  I then realised I have a complete walk to Hilbre Island, taken at different times of the year!  I put them all together in a video.  I love to watch the changing seasons as the walk progresses towards the island, it even features my Mum, dog and little boy!  To walk to Hilbre Island you have to wait until the tide is out, you then walk to Little Eye which is the first Island in the video, then Middle Eye and then onto Hilbre.  It’s one of my favourite places to walk to and stunning at all different times of the year.  Hopefully my phone has managed to capture some of the essence of the walk.  My little boy loves the walk as there are caves and rock pools along the way.  The walk ends at the old lifeboat station on Hilbre and the vague grey blobs at the end are actually seals heads poking out of the water!!  I’ll find a better photograph someone else has taken of the Hilbre seals!

Wildlife 2010 885

(lovely photo not taken by me but by a Hilbre enthusiast, however it is a Hilbre seal!)

I made a Minecraft Machinima! It needs Major Tweaks!

Minecraft Dragon

Today I finished my first draft of a Minecraft Machinima music video. The music, (and full copyright), is by my brother Mr Scorsey and is based on a film he had watched at the time, hence the huge Minecraft dragon head, and why its called Dragontastic!  I did this as part of my research to find out how film making works in Minecraft, the technicalities and complications compared to making a film using traditional animation software such as Maya.

My Survey is still open as I am going to carry on this research for my dissertation so if you are a Minecraft Machinima maker you can fill in the below survey:

https://qtrial.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_bqGLdsntr2FvdhX

My computer is as usual going slow, so unfortunately a few glitches that shouldn’t have been in the video came about, and yes it does need a lot of tweaking, and also the screen capture does lag a bit!!!! It’s definitely harder in some ways for Machinima makers to create their films and they must have an amazing degree of patience. (I would have had a new computer by now which might have helped the process, but the process of getting a Career Development loan in this day and digital age has certainly not caught up with the games or film industry, I shall not go on about this further here or I might succumb to unprofessional language)!  Anyway here is a first draft of my film with initial ideas, I used my brother’s avatar who gets, ‘Minecrafted,’ and trapped in a night club in the nose of the dragon, (I will do a fly through later to the nightclub):

However I just thought I would publish a draft of the concept for the purposes of the research.  I will be making lots of amendments to future versions including trying mods, shaders and texture packs out, and also doing a lot more with post production.

I am currently and in the future continuing to research Machinima, (Machine and Cinema), the art of making films from games. Which after studying and researching I now I think is not so much a hybrid but a whole new genre or way of interacting and creating film.  I have scientific studies to back this statement up!  I am very interested in finding out the future, technology, applications, possibilities and purposes of Machinima.

I have even found they are making Minecraft Machinima films about education and opera, and that makes me happy:

http://www.icat.vt.edu/funding/operacraft

Machinima, Minecraft and Infinate Creativity

I’ve been doing research and writing about Minecraft and Machinima. For all those who don’t know about either, Minecraft is a brilliant game which I have been blogging about, if you want to find out more about it go here: Minecraft Homepage.  Machinima is the art of making films using games. Machinima film makers use a game as a medium to make a film, it’s different from animated films as the, ‘actors,’ are real people controlling their avatars within the game and they are filmed in, so it’s more like standard film making containing real human actors as it’s ‘live,’ action. I have become fascinated by this realm of film making, and mainly because I became very intrigued with the game Minecraft.  My son and his friends all love it and play it, I tried to resist it, but in the end I couldn’t and now I am a fully fledged fan!  For anyone interested in Minecraft, Movies and Machinima you can still fill in this survey:

Minecraft and Machinima Survey

So I have been doing some practiced based research, I have made my own skin and one for my son, and the other day I made a server for us so that we could play on the computers as well as the Xbox.  I did this because I want to make my own Machinima, but also so I can understand the technicalities of film making within this game. However I have to say here I have been having major problems getting the 1.7.4 server running on my PC, however I set it up on my brothers borrowed Mac with no problems!  It’s not as simple as many games to set up Multiplayer, however there are loads of great tutorials on YouTube that will show you how on PC and Mac.  And I have to say I like that aspect of the game. It makes you think and learn, even if only to set up your own server! It’s open source and has I have said before and it means people can develop their own ‘mods’ for it.  ‘Mods,’ being modifications so if a person has a good knowledge of Java, they can add to the game anything they like, (I covered this in my last blog post for more detailed info on Java and Java script etc).

When I first realised I would have to write a scientific paper I must admit I inwardly groaned. I am not a great writer, I love to make things, I love to create 3D models, I love to create anything amusing and silly. So this part of the course I thought I was going to find hard, however I’ve been watching a lot of Minecraft Machinima lately and I’ve really been enjoying all the diverse creativity and the different genre of films. I have found my niche in researching and it’s given me new inspiration! Because I am studying animation, the Machininma side of Minecraft naturally appealed to me.  I want to find out why it is so popular with fellow Minecrafters as well. For me the appeal is the ease of building structures to make a film set, (and also the lighting, this side is always a tricky one in eg Maya or 3DMax). However the thing that impresses me most about Minecraft Machinima is the diverse creativity. I was trying to pinpoint why I liked the game and the Machinimas so much, and then I realised why. The game once bought requires no more financial input. There is a huge friendly community that will help with anything. The films, (Machinimas), are made by fans of the game and fans of films. The Machinma’s are not made for any profit. They are made for other causes and mainly because the game players are fans of a certain film or they just want to be creative and they love to share their creativity.  Also the nature of this creativity is not stifled by clients or monetary gains and therefore knows no bounds.  This is what I have found I fundamentally enjoy about these Machinimas, they are open-ended in creativity much like the game. Everything is infinite!

I drafted this a while ago,  and my Machinima is now nearly ready however enjoy the below.  These are some of my favourite Machinimas I have found so far, there are more I really also like and I will post in due course:

Paradise Decay makes some amazing Star Wars Minecraft Machinima and his movie sets have the wow facter:

A Festive one a bit late!  Mrs Claus Machinima, by Spitfire25565 love all the snowmen, the background is great and the video made me laugh.

This channel makes the most amazing sets to put their film themed roller coasters I think the creativity and timing in these films are brilliant, they are from Nuropsych1:

Sometimes I Get to Draw Cartoons Again!

When I was at school I loved nothing more than doodling cartoons of my friends and our exploits all over any spare piece of paper I could find!  Sometimes I forget how much I do enjoy illustration and drawing, generally because I am mostly working in 3D programs etc.  However I do always try to include graphic and illustrative elements to any new project I am working on.

Recently I was asked to design a cover for a Kindle book for an anthology of short stories.  It was a remote online collaboration between myself and four writing students, one of whom is a very good friend of mine. We have kept in touch over the years and through the internet we have also worked on some projects that have been very interesting and also fun to work on!

flashmobfixed

The book cover I have worked on is by The Flash Mob, it’s a collection of short stories that are,”Quirky, chilling and funny, this collection offers something for everyone with its mix of Sci-Fi, Horror, fantasy and dark humour.”  So I have to say I really enjoyed them, and I had the privilege of reading them before I designed the book cover!  I incorporated elements and overtones of the stories into the authors, ‘cartoon characters,’ for the cover.  The Flash Mob is available on Amazon, a good read to get rid of the post-Christmas blues if you have them or if not it’s a great read anyway.

If you are interested in The Flash Mob, these are two blogs I follow by the writers: Cathy White, (for lots of funny/quirky humour and The American Psycho business card poem), and also Lisa Richardson – Blog of the Dead – Sophie, (a must for all zombie fans like myself, the book cover is a great design in itself as well)!

For all those who like to get out and about and do some mad thing called exercise everyday in January I recommend Janathon, or since this is a bit late maybe this years Juneathon.  I did the design for the banner on the website and all the participant logos so have absolved myself of the guilt of not making it through an, ‘athon,’ yet!!  (oh and yes I do know that the snowmen’s scarves are blowing in different directions, I needed to keep out the cold with a bit of wine during the production of the banner……..)!!

Janathon Final

Life is a Remix? (with Star Wars and Minecraft)

I actually had the below film at the end of this post, and then I thought, no it should be watched first as it’s an amazing new Minecraft movie and one of my favourite films. (also far better than my ramblings), it’s from Paradisedecay:

 

During watching, ‘Everything is a Remix,’ it occurred to me that everything we do in life is a remix of everything that has come before, this is something I have never really consciously thought about before, just something I have accepted and maybe even conceived at the back of my mind.

,’

Whether it’s music, film or even teaching our children, we always try to strive to copy and improve on what has been done before?  I however cannot really say improved or better as there are many things from the creative past that are brilliant and always will be, maybe the term should be evolved?  The ability to evolve and remix in these creative fields gives us new genres and inspiration, new ways of looking into things so that they are constantly changing and exciting to us.  The re-telling of an old story/song in a contemporary format is nothing new, and so history has shown us we are fascinated by stories from the past whether fact or fiction and many modern stories/films are taken from ideas from the past eg, the film, My Own Private Idaho takes ideas from Shakespeare‘s Henry IV.   I particularly enjoyed the part of, ‘Everything is a Remix,’ where it depicted George Lucas’s inspirations for Star Wars, it just shows how much historical observation and prior film knowledge from so many disparate sources can create a remixed story into a great film, (well it always will be a great film to me, others can decide for themselves).  Also there have been through the 20th and 21st Century, remakes/remixes of films eg King Kong, Dracula, Dawn of the Dead etc.  These are enjoyed/not enjoyed, compared and discussed by the generations who watched them first and generations who have never seen them before.  It reminds me of the way stories were told in ancient times and passed through the generations, (by mouth and by books), are we not just passing these stories through history the same way we always have, but through modern technology and remixing, so those in the future can also enjoy them, change them and be inspired by them also?

“Copy, transform and combine”: That is the analogy of this short film, it makes the claim that this is what we have fundamentally done since a single cellular organism, our natural order as it were.  However the the final part of, ‘Everything is a Remix,’ challenges the alleged natural order and targets the problems between stealing ideas and then suppressing creativity through the law and focuses on Copyright and Plagarism.  The film talks about the theory that, we are quite happy to copy things, but unhappy when things are being copied/taken from us.  Which is very true, however it seems to be when they are within our own lifetime!  Which brings me to Led Zeppellin, it seems now that only through modern technology and communications people have begun to see what they may or may not have done.  So should we be thinking, (which is probably biased as they are one of my favourite bands),  how many music lovers, musicians and otherwise would have missed out on Led Zeppelin’s musical inspirations, observations and influences if this band had not copied, transformed and combined their music?

However what happens when someone actually designs something unique and then intentionally says go ahead “,Copy, transform and combine,” add anything you can think of to what I have created and have a lot of fun in the process?  Well it gives you…….’Minecraft.’  This is what the creator of Minecraft Swedish programmer Markus “Notch” Persson did.  See Minecraft History.  He made the game open source so that people could create their own elements to it which are called, ‘Mods,’ if you know Java you can make whatever you like and add it to your game.  But learning Java is a large learning curve in itself.  So therefore many, ‘mod,’ creators have their ready made mods for Minecrafters to put into their games.  A lot of these and links to these can be found on the Minecraft Forum.  There are also tools such as Scriptcraft, which uses Javascript to to make your own mods and there are also guides such as Mods/Creating Mods to tell you the best way to go about it without learning Java and using Javascript!  I’ve never really gone into Java but I have learnt some Javascript as I made a game in Unity3D.  So I might have a go at my own mod sometime soon!

To carry on the Minecraft story, the theory is this move to open source meant that it made the game hugely more popular, Alex Leavitt a PHD Student has an excellent video on his website that discusses this much better than I ever could, Alex Leavitt/Minecraft.  It also talks about the way the huge Minecraft community has developed because also there were no instructions to play the game.  So people made videos to help one another, joined forums and discussed the game etc.  I have found so far it’s a huge friendly community.  And the more I find out about this game and it’s community the more I like, you don’t have to buy anything to further yourself in it, everyone shares everything freely with one another.  My next move is to make my own personalised, ‘Skin.’  For non Mincrafters, you literally can make your own skin and be whoever you want to be eg, Darth Vader,  Kermit the Frog it’s up to your imagination.  I really like going onto websites and finding out what skins have already been made!

Anyway following the theme of everything is a remix I have recently found some really interesting Minecraft movies.  Here is a remix of one of my all time favourite movies, I think the attention to detail and the organisation to be able to get this working in Minecraft is amazing, it comes from Paradisedecay who also has a brilliant YouTube channel.

Minecraft – Star Wars – A New Hope

Collaboration and Augmented Reality with (Cocktails) and Wikitude

Drink Image3

Above is the promotion image for my map in Wikitude, scroll down to the bottom of this blog if you would like further information on it, (without having to read my collaboration insights and ramblings…)!

When I first worked in the Interior Design industry, all we had for document, information sharing and collaborative tools were email and FTP server sites, (the latter being controlled by the IT department within our company, we were lucky enough to afford and have a really good IT department who kept things running in those days).  We worked on international projects, passing documents back and forth to the FTP servers, (which could sometimes be a tad glitchy, a bit like a grainy version of a 1980’s episode of Neighbours compared to HDTV today)!  There were no handy messages popping up in the corner of the screen to say, ‘hello this document has been updated,’ etc, we had to regularly check our email……which was also rather slower then too, and well mobile phones were just phones, even text messages were a novelty!  It is unbelievable how far the internet has changed in such a short time since then, especially leaps forward for collaborative tools.  Today if we want to work collaboratively and share large files using FTP type sites, all we have to think is, ‘I’ll just send that by Dropbox,’ or similar without even giving the process a second thought.  Dropbox is easy to download, it’s free up to a certain amount of storage and nice easy and simple to use and does not require an in house IT department to run it!  This technology is now available literally at our fingertips for personal or business use!  It’s also very affordable for small businesses that require large amounts of storage too.  The internet now has some brilliant collaborative tools which means we can now share a wealth of information in many different ways on different electronic devices, for business, for pleasure in fact anything that we can possibly think of!  As a result ways of working have changed, remote working is now more possible and faster than ever.  However it also applies to information exchange and communication whether it is in the same building or continents apart. Remembering what it used to be like is a tonic to any hesitation I have had to exploring these current collaborative ways of working!

Tools for sharing information that we as a group, have been exploring recently include: Google Docs, Google Hangouts, Twitter, shared Google Maps and applications such as Wikitude.

An Interior Design project I worked on last year is an example of how we are using and integrating collaborative technologies. The last project I worked on, I worked with my colleague from a remote location.  My colleague, who was based in London shared project documents with me using Dropbox, (this article explains how to use Dropbox as a collaborative tool and positives and negatives, How to Use Dropbox as a Killer Collaborative Work Tool).  We also used Skype as a main communication tool, (as well as the, ‘old,’ mobile phone for quick chats, we used our mobile phones mainly to check email, Skype, Dropbox)! For this project, we were working on large specification documents, (which have to be produced generally for interior design projects), and were using Dropbox to share project files.  However it meant that we could not work on the document at the same time otherwise it would cause conflicts between the files.  It would have been invaluable if we could have done this, (due to time constraints and the large amounts of information we needed to input).  How I wish I had begun to explore Google Docs sooner, it would have been the perfect additional technology to work on this sort of project.  If we had used a mix of Google Docs for all the technical specification information and Dropbox for all the large file presentations and visuals, (made in professional graphic programs), together with Skype and mobile phone Apps this would have been a more dynamic mix. The Google Docs session that we worked on in the lecture wasn’t successful as we all were having fun with it and there were too many people creating changes to keep control of the information!  However when the document has a particular purpose amongst a small work team of 2 or 3, the outlook  and focus of the user changes, especially when the document has to be produced for a paying client! So I must say that I am now a fully fledged fan of Google Docs and if I ever work on another Interior Design project remotely or not, I shall certainly be using them.

Phone applications are also radically changing the way we can collaborate and share information, I have recently experienced exploring Wikitude.  At first I wasn’t too sure about it, the whole thing was slightly unnerving, when I researched I found an article such as this: Twin towers rise again in slightly creepy-feeling use of augmented reality.  Also I felt it had a foreboding of Orwell’s 1984!  I was not alone in having these thoughts I found a blog: The Fallen Mighty, that echoes some of the thoughts going through my head:

”Writing this as I am on George Orwell’s death-day, it’ll come as no surprise that I find this lamentable, especially because the instant availability of great gobbets of information also means that info can easily be manipulated for commercial and/or malign reasons. And returning to Anderson’s piece, even self-accumulated data – which is not necessarily the same as factualinformation, right? – can be used by data miners, or ‘pirates’ as I call them, to bombard you with sales pitches for anything that might improve your mood, bowel movements or sleep patterns etc., i.e. in much the same way as Google already picks up on the content of your emails, and Twatter your tweets (well not mine, obviously), Farceberk your cute snaps of little Johnny building a snowman and sell it to advertisers who then bombard you etc., etc. We may also become so enwrapped in our virtual or ‘enhanced’ realities that we are unable to distinguish it from the real one, indeed it may become the real one.”

The part that disturbs me the most is how much information is available to companies, hidden audiences, etc through us accessing and using these applications?  This does unnerve me, it is true that on sites such as Facebook I am annoyed by adverts and posts which are directed and unwanted to my account from activity on the site.  Should we blithely carry on, or should we be questioning much more about how much information we are sharing about ourselves and who can access it?  This always nags away at the my back of my mind every time I encounter a new technology.  I think we should always learn to embrace new things but also to question them as much as possible also, I think every site we share any sort of information on should have a VERY clear and dedicated page that describes exactly what we are letting ourselves in for!

However despite these wary feelings I couldn’t help but like Wikitude, it’s amazing that we can go to an unfamiliar city and wave our phone about to find what we are looking for, a certain type of restaurant or even where the cash machines are located. Generally as I searched the internet I have found that there is a lot of positive writing about Wikitude, The Wicked Wikitude App and also Wikitude Augmented Reality browser and BlackBerry Messenger – cool or creepy?

I then decided the only way to make a cool or creepy decision was to create my own collaborative map world using Google Maps and Wikitude and invite people to join in! To understand something you have to experience it, so I thought it would be a good idea to make a map of all my favourite places to eat and drink in Liverpool as I love going out there!  At the moment there are plenty of websites and reviews on restaurants and bars, however I thought it would be beneficial to make a personal map so that any friends or colleagues visiting the city would have a quick of what the, ‘locals,’ and also previous visitors really recommend.  It also might help myself and my friends and I negotiate the back streets of Liverpool after a good few cocktails, without jumping into a taxi for all of 2 mins discovering where we actually wanted to go to was just around the corner……)!!

Glass

Above is the Icon that is displayed beside my map in Wikitude.

I am going to share the information about my map with friends on Facebook and also by Twitter and will be interested to see who joins in. The map is invite only so that I have control over who will be able to edit it.  So if you have been out anywhere in Liverpool and think it was totally fabulous and worth putting on the map let me know and I’ll send you an invite.  So far most of my favourite venues are mapped because of the quality of the cocktails……I have published my map, it’s now on Wikitude, (download the free app to your phone), if you look in Food and Drink it will be there it’s called: Cooltastic Liverpool, (just because I love a good night out in the fab and cooltastic Liverpool)!

 

Research Questions, Methods and Breeding Horses….

To understand the game of Minecraft, (a virtual world game, which I have chosen for my latest research project ), I decided to give in to resistance and to immerse myself in this game, (I have resisted for a while……when I like a game I become addicted)!!  I have I have currently been experimenting with constructing buildings in Minecraft, however I have become a little sidetracked as my son showed me all the other wonderfully distracting features of Minecraft!  This week I have mostly been distracted by breeding horses, housing them etc and also making sure they don’t escape, instead of figuring out how to make La Sagrada Familia, (my chosen iconic building)!!  However in making some problem solving planning decisions about where my horses live, I realise I am doing a little Urban Planning of very rudimentary sorts as well as some construction, (note the handy torch devices on the fence to stop the horses escaping)!!  However I seem to have had a horse population explosion over night, (or the foals just grew…….)! Oh noooooooooo, I must make some bigger paddocks………please click on image below:

What I dhoulsd be doing

Last week we covered: Research Questions – Hypotheses – Interdisciplinary Research. Which brings me to ask what exactly is my Research Question about Minecraft? In the lecture we were told we should be able to formulate our research question so that we can describe our research question in about 5 minutes or so to a stranger in a pub. So in the next part of the paragraph I am aiming to do that. However to start talking to a stranger in a pub I would realistically had several pints or more of cider before I spoke to a stranger, so this would probably more likely lead to a very hazy rambling conversation at best!  I am not currently not in a pub so will try my best without fizzy fermented apple influences so here it is:

I am increasingly fascinated by the amazing creative architectural structures that people have built in Minecraft, which in turn has made me start to research and think about the future of the architecture and the urban planning industries through games and other virtual environments such as Minecraft.  I want to investigate the future possibilities of virtual world based games such as Minecraft and similar technologies being the start of a revolutionary building/gaming tool and would like to find out what the consequences are for these industries as Minecraft is so inexpensively available and also easy/fun to master and create with. Over the years I have used 3DS Max, (and more recently Maya), to recreate Interior and Exterior structures which requires a lot of study to achieve construction, environment, lighting, textures etc.  Minecraft is like a virtual Lego box with all the building structures ready prepared and waiting, all you need to do is have some imagination, (I hear if you love Lego this helps too).  So anybody can have a go at building without prior study, unleashing creative talent from those who may not have gone down the 3D program route, (on Friday I discovered my 7 year old son had made a hotel complete with a floor for housing sheep).  I have found a very interesting article called Game Over For Architects.  I have to ask myself after reading this, is this new technology good or bad for architectural and urban planning industries? Or should they be embracing them as some architectural practices are, (eg Architecture firm holds competition in Minecraft).

As I have to get down to the business of actually building something in Minecraft, I have discovered there are channels on YouTube which actually help you become a Minecraft Architect.  I shall be watching these to get some good tips, I have also decided for my first building I will be trying something a little less complicated than La Sagrada Familia!

Maybe I should try building my dream house………

Research, Science 2.0, Danger Pubs and The Unbearable Task of Homework, (not mine, my son’s, I like mine)!

St Peters House Library
St Peters House Library

Brighton Uni

The wealth of information on the Internet never ceases to amaze me!  I remember a time when the only place to get information was the building that is called, ‘The Library’, (see above image)! Because I decided on going to University in the wonderful, historical and quirky Brighton, the main library was of course in a lovely converted Regency building not connected to the main university campus. So it involved a very brisk walk down the road and in Autumn/Winter when those sea breezes were rather erm….’challenging,’ it didn’t help there was a lovely pub next door to the main University Building that was all to easy to enter, making the library a less attractive proposition…..(Danger Pub 1 see above image)!  Actually now I’ve just looked at a Google Map there are actually two pubs en-route, (one I had forgotten about = Double Danger Pub 2 see above image), I wonder does this have a statistical impact on students making it to the library? (In my case yes, I do I love a good pint of cider in a good pub)!  I am sure there could be some pertinent scientific research done on this!

Nowadays we have the internet with all it’s amazing resources and networking sites, which are enabling a rich cauldron of information to be shared.  The internet and it’s networking capabilities certainly enables information to reach those who may not have found it easily or if at all before.  Which brings me to research and Science 2.0.  Tonight I decided to search and see if I could find anything on Scientific research and Minecraft which is my project topic for the Research Module.  I was looking for informative scientific surveys that have been carried out.  At first I was getting a bit frustrated as I wanted statistical analysis,  I then read back through the lecture documents on Blackboard and realised what I was actually looking at were documents/blogs/web pages that encompassed the concept of the open science movement, (Science 2.0). I will reference these findings in the next paragraph.

I am currently looking at the game Minecraft, in regards to architecture and urban planning, however I am also very interested in games and education, (in the current module due to the timescale studying children is not possible, but I am also now very interested in games for educating adults, from an article I read earlier, however this is digressing and I will talk about this later)!  During my search for Minecraft and scientific research I have unexpectedly come across a lot of really interesting information regarding Minecraft and education.  Although as unexpected this is, it rather an epiphany for me!  I have been saying for a long time, “I wish education could work with games, (eg Minecraft or similar), it would make homework so much easier.” I have a young son and the last thing he wants to do after school is more schoolwork, I have often thought that I wish there was an alternative platform for learning.  So during my searches for, ‘Science,’ and, ‘Minecraft,’ I found the following article by Dr Dan Short: Teaching Scientific Concepts Using a Virtual World – Minecraft.   This next YouTube video I find amazing, it’s a Minecraft Scientific Calculator…….wow!!

Might be a bit advanced for Primary but this could be great for teenage/adult learning and definitely could be adapted for Primary learning too.  Here are some further Minecraft Science experiments: Top 5 Minecraft Science Experiments.  I have also found that papers which are pertinent to my research are written and being shared on sites such as the Social Science Research Network: User-Generated Content & Virtual Worlds.

The more I research into this game the more fascinated I become.  I have also found that Minecraft now has a dedicated educational website, Minecraft Edu Homepage and also the person the developer that makes it possible for them: Aleksi Postari, (I’m following him on Twitter and Tumblr).  Some schools have already implemented Minecraft into their curriculum: Swedish school makes Minecraft a must.  I’ve found a lot more links from all around the world, and have found out that Minecraft is a growing feature in schools and education, (there would be a large smiley emoticon here if I could work out how to do one without messing my blog up)!!  I must get round to fiddling about with the handy CSS editor!

So I have now downloaded and have started playing Minecraft, (Minecraft), on my PC.  I shall become addicted this is inevitable………………more updates soon I am in the process of constructing……….

CVs for Creative Industries Which, (Hopefully), Warm Employers Hearts

curriculum_vitae_by_iTudorVinyl_Record-Themed_Resume

It’s Tuesday and I have been doing some searches for local part time jobs, and already at the back of my mind I can see the grimtastic document that is my CV waving and niggling away at me with a wheedling little voice!  So I started thinking why should the task of updating a CV have to be arduous experience filled with dread, (well it is for me I would much rather be doing something else, in fact anything else, however not the ironing that is a step to far).  

A while ago on Facebook someone posted a link to 45 Resumes to Seize Attention and I also found CV’s and Profiles Archive.  So I had a look at both links and found some really interesting and innovative new ways to present the CV.  Why can it not be part of the creative process, the creators of these CVs looked liked they had a fascinating and enjoyable time making these designs!  There are some really nice graphic ideas, I particularly like the booklet/fan idea I think the format it’s presented in is really clever and completely different, it lends itself to encouraging the recipient want to open it and flick through.  I think a CV from a creative industry could be completely unique and so maybe, ‘off the wall,’ works best?  Or does it?  As much as I like the ideas in the links, are they too much?  Should a creative CV have elements of creativity without overloading the document with the design?  Some of the CVs from the link are maybe hiding/confusing the information they are trying to convey, amongst all the interesting graphics.  

However I don’t think there is a right answer to this, I do think that the appropriate design of the CV really depends on the ethos of the potential employers company, (brand, philosophies and outlook etc).   I also found an interesting article, Creative Resumes How Much Is Too Much, which also discusses some of the reactions and observations I have made regarding the Creative CVs and also discusses further insights and information from a professional point of view.  I particularly like the advice to always have a plain back up copy of your CV!  

HayleyWellsCreativeCVResume-the-Creative-Dork-by

The above also started me thinking more about CV’s appropriate to the industries we are trying to make impressions on.  Why can’t a CV be animated/contain film and also audio, if the person is working within the animation, audio, video or film industries?  So I decided to search and see what I could find, below are a few examples of my search:

Animated CV 1 my favourite I liked the humour! – Animated CV 2 – Animated CV/Portfolio 3 scroll down on website – Animated CV 4 – Animated CV 5

After watching a few of them I came to the conclusion I enjoyed watching the humorous ones most and also the quicker the animation/filming the more it kept my attention from the start.  As much as I’ve enjoyed the above do they work in a job application situation and are they appropriate?  Also I began to think is it acceptable to just send a link to a potential employer, how would the video CV be introduced?  Maybe the link/button should be embedded on an electronic static CV so that the potential employer has both options?  An eye-catching static CV with all the appropriate information and a very obvious link to the video CV maybe? The Video/Audio/Animated CV could be a like a teaser trailer maybe, a bonus addition, a mini showcase of work and skills, with a longer comprehensive animated portfolio to follow……..

There are lots of questions in the above paragraphs and I would be very interested in opinions, especially anyone has had good/bad experiences with using a creative CV? It’s something I’ve just started exploring so I’ll carry on researching and will update if I find more examples and evidence.  I would like to find some certain evidence that this kind of creative CV will work before spend time and launch it at prospective employers!! However it had been very interesting to find and enjoy some innovative design and inspiring work.