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May 27, 2011 / Emily

The Digitisation Adventure!

Edit: Click here to play the game.

I’m just about to submit my Web207 RWMC, The Digitisation Adventure, to flash-game-site Kongragate.com. This short game, in which I’ve brought together different pieces of media such as sounds from freesound.org, and sprite outlines from GameMaker Forum user Chumbucket, aims to introduce a general audience to themes of digitisation and remix (a form of cultural convergence, according to Jenkins).

My game is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike, so you can alter it as you please as long as you attribute me and have an identical license for your derivitive work. I won’t post the .fla online, because I don’t want to spread my terrible coding. However, all the sprites I created for the game are here:

Sprites for an Adobe Flash game called e Digitisation Adventure

If you’re looking to make a similar game, I suggest these tutorials:

Platformer tutorial: http://s-s-x.deviantart.com/art/Platformer-Tutorial-78257583
Another platformer tutorial: http://www.kirupa.com/developer/mx2004/platform_game.htm
Shooting bullets tutorial: http://www.actionscript.org/resources/articles/873/1/Shooting-Bullets/Page1.html
Puzzle script: http://www.swinburne.edu.au/design/tutorials/P-flash/T-How-to-drag-and-drop-in-Flash/ID-37/

I ended up using S-S-X’s DeviantArt tutorial as a base, the Kirupa tutorial’s enemy script for my lawyers, and the Actionscript.org tutorial to create a shooting system – all modified to suit my game. The last link provides a really great method of creating puzzles, which I used for my ‘remix level’.

Enjoy.

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March 11, 2011 / Emily

24 Hours of My Media Use

7:33am: Woke up, checked the time using my mobile phone.

8:16am: Received philosophical text message from my younger brother. Decide to think on it and reply later.

8:25am: Turned on radio (Triple J) to get psyched for the day. Reception was poor so I switched to iPod-dock mode.

8:35am: As I made breakfast I half-watched a morning show and musical meiosis program that my house-mate’s friend was flicking through. Watched Sesame Street while eating.

8:50am: Checked uni timetable on phone. Because I keep forgetting when my classes are, I set the timetable as my phone’s wallpaper for ease of use in future.

8:55 – 9.18am: Tried to focus on the uni lecture video playing on my laptop while getting ready for the day (had to keep rewinding to understand).

9.45am: Listened to Nova, a radio station I usually avoid because of ads, while catching a lift to uni.

9:50am: Logged onto Abacus Lab computer to print worksheets for the day’s classes; checked my Facebook notifications (which included a friend request from someone I haven’t talked to since I was 7) at the same time.

11:38am: After class, returned to the Labs to view some lecture slides and have a short conversation with my cousin via Facebook.

11:50am – 12:06pm: Conversation with my boyfriend via text message about class and lunch.

12:15pm: After deciding I would like some V energy drink, saw an ad for Mother on a vending machine. Bought Mother, as it was closest.

12.20 – 1:44pm: Logged into another Lab computer to make a PowerPoint presentation for uni. At the same time, used Facebook to plan an upcoming event.

2:00 – 4:20pm: During Software Technology class, used Command Line Interface and online resources to complete pracwork. Checked Oasis email and deleted the 2 uni-spam emails I’d received.

4:25pm: Conversed with boyfriend via text message on the walk home.

4:58 – 7:00pm: Used laptop to do research for uni, use Facebook, browse the internet and listen to music using Windows Media Player. Watched a musical video about Charlie Sheen that a friend had shared on Facebook.

7:00pm: Flicked through recipe books for dinner inspiration. Decided I’d just choose something at the shops on the way to boyfriend’s house.

7:30pm: Used Google on boyfriend’s desktop computer to find a recipe that matched the ingredients I’d just bought from supermarket.

8:00 – 11:03pm: Watched some digital episodes of Chuck, and read half a chapter of a short-story book before going to bed.

Summary: I spent over 6 hours using computers (during all this time I was also using the internet or at least had an internet browser open) and just over 4 hours watching video through a computer or TV screen, of which only 15 minutes came from a TV station. I used my phone for text messages rather than calls, receiving 27 texts and sending a total of 24 texts to 2 people. I listened to 2 hours worth of music (as background noise), and engaged with a few other types of media including printed uni materials, recipe books, a fiction book, advertisements, and images and notes on my phone.

September 24, 2010 / Emily

How Google Instant will change web design

As you’ve no doubt heard, Google Instant, Google’s new way to search, is currently being rolled out. In a nutshell, Google Instant is an extension of Google’s search service that shows results while you’re still typing your search query, while predicting what you’re going to type next. If you haven’t seen Google Instant yet, it looks a lot like this:

A screenshot of Google Instant in actionImage from Google’s demo video. Note that before you even click the Search button, results are displayed depending on what Google predicts you are going to type.

With Google being the most visited site on the web, the release of Instant is sure to change the way we search and use the web. But for better or for worse? What does Instant mean for web designers?

Search Engine Optimisation

Google Instant, more so than traditional search, channels attention to the top of the page, so getting high search rankings suddenly becomes even more important. This problem will apply less to any Web 2.0 platforms you may use, as social networking sites are often ranked highly due to high overall traffic. This makes having a presence on social networking sites is even more valuable than before – try putting a link on your profile to point people who’ve come from Google towards your main website (or that of your client).

In addition, because Google’s suggested keywords are based on the most common search terms, certain keywords will get even more popular, while lesser-used search terms may decline even more. Therefore, you should have a look at the keywords Google Instant suggests and adjust your site design and content accordingly (a good SEO guide can be found here).

An “Instant” Mentality

With Instant, Google are trying to get closer to the speed at which our minds work. Google claims that Instant can save 2-5 seconds per search, which inevitably nurtures a user’s expectation for immediacy. It’s safe to say that, with its huge user base, Google Instant will perpetuate the “instant” mentality that comes with the efficiency of the internet. The result is that as web designers, we will have to cater for an audience that increasingly expects their information ASAP – which means making information even more findable for fast access.

SEO and accessibility are basic best practices, but have become even more vital to a website’s success thanks to the implications of Google Instant. Now more than ever, web designers need to be skilful at including relevant keywords, and providing excellent usability for an audience with an “instant” mentality.

September 15, 2010 / Emily

Why You Can’t Ignore Web Design (and Web 2.0)

Web 2.0 Design Graphic

The art of designing for the web has been around since the advent of the web itself. If you’re aware of the current state of web design, you’ll know that a good website is considered one that follows fundamental rules of usability, and acknowledges a website’s primary purpose “to facilitate and encourage human activity” (A List Apart).

But Web 2.0 has set new standards for accessibility, interoperability, and usability. A well-designed website is no longer just a plus, it is the standard. For a website to be respected (and a site needs to be respected to be used regularly), both its visual and structural design needs to be up to par. Do you have a blog? A Twitter? A website? Perhaps your job is to make websites? However you use the web, chances are Web 2.0-friendly design has real relevance to you.

Why good web design is more important than ever

A look through requests for freelancers show that many clients are seeking things like WordPress themes and integration with other web platforms. Big company IBM have recognised the significance of Web 2.0, and are perpetuating Web 2.0 principles by distributing their own set of Web 2.0 tools. More and more large and small businesses are turning towards platforms such as Twitter and WordPress to facilitate a more open dialogue with their customers and business network. All of this suggests that clients are well aware of the network-enabled, participatory nature of the current web – and they want web designers to help them keep up with it.

So how do you – whether you’re a web designer or you use Web 2.0 tools yourself – make use of Web 2.0 in a way that makes you stand out from the millions of other people using Web 2.0 platforms? A good start is to personalise your profiles, link between the nodes of your web presence, and retain consistency of logo and design. Further, HTML and CSS can be used to create powerful custom designs that help you stand out from the crowd.

In future posts, I will discuss in-depth how to put to use these methods of combining great web design with effective use of Web 2.0 tools. If you design for the web, write for the web, or pretty much use the web at all, it will be worth following along to discover how you can make the most of web design and Web 2.0.

September 11, 2010 / Emily

Why web design? Why Web 2.0?

As my first post on this blog, this is probably a good time to introduce myself: Hi, I’m Emily, and I’m interested in designing and coding for the web! Web design is something I’ve been interested in since I was quite young – I started learning HTML from the web when I was about twelve and wanted to customise my pages on a virtual pets website (*blush*), and since then I’ve also picked up CSS, ColdFusion, and SQL! I find learning exciting – learning new web techniques especially so – and I’m currently learning how to make PHP and Flash websites at university.

Why am I interested in web design? Well, it’s probably the same reason as for most things people enjoy doing – it’s fun! It’s fun to create something out of strings of words and symbols (I hand-code), it’s fun to have control over colours and words and pictures, and it’s fun to just experiment with designs and coding techniques. It’s also deeply satisfying when you finally iron out all the bugs of the web design/development project you’ve been working on for ages – and everything works, just like you intended it! (Well.. not always just like I intended it, I sometimes find myself making compromises more than I’d like to – don’t you?)

When I started university almost two years ago, I learned that the trend towards participation and information-sharing that I’d be growing increasingly aware of was called Web 2.0. As someone who hopes to be a decent web designer, I’ve decided I should definitely learn more about how Web 2.0 platforms and tools affect web design and development if I want to take full advantage of the opportunities of this kind of collaborative and knowledge-centric web.

So on this blog, I will share my findings and my thoughts on how to design for a Web 2.0-dominated landscape. If you share my enthusiasm for making websites – great! Hopefully you’ll learn something too, or you can share your wisdom with this novice.