Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Celebration in SecondLife

Linden Lab set up an area to shoot off fireworks every hour as the new year rolls in around the globe

Here's a pic at about 4am SLT. That's a replica of the Time Square crystal ball on the pole

At 1 minute to the top of the hour, the ball started falling slowly down the pole. Then some pretty cool fireworks. Here's a picture. I"ll try again a couple more times today to get pictures now that i know what to expect.

A couple more pictures

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Final version of the Game Design class games

Each of the 9 students in the class had to create their own unique videogame using the GameMaker software. They had to create the game, multiple levels, the art, and music/sounds. They're not all polished masterpieces. Each game represents the work of one single student for about 5 weeks - with help from their friends. They helped each other out with polishing ideas and debugging problems. They discovered that the design process takes much longer than they thought and the actual coding even longer that that. This was their first attempt at making a videogame. They're not completely satisfied with their games in some cases and i'd like to see them keep working on their games. But for the time they had and the fact that we sprung on them the fact that they would be working by themselves right as the project started, the games came out pretty good. There's an element of fun in most - and that's a big first step in making games.

Feel free to play the games on the site. You can leave the students comments there too or enter a review of the game. You can leave comments here too on this post and i'll pass them along. Just be sure to mention what game you're talking about.

Monday, December 21, 2009

End of the semester reactions to SecondLife

The students int eh Games & Society class had to write a final paper with their reactions to being content creators and consumers in SecondLife, plus anything else they wanted to say about their experiences.

Overall, the reactions were pretty positive. Maybe they were just blowing smoke up my skirt (figuratively since I don't wear skirts in class) to get a better grade. But I'm going to take them on face value.

Here's what theyliked
avatar customization
building tools
socializing with people from around the world
ability to host events
ability to create stuff
people were nice to them
people came to their party
people came to their presntations at the end of the semester
haunted mansions at Halloween

Here's what they didn't like
slow servers and software that just acted up occasionally
building took a lot of time
no goals, not clear what to do
no leveling up
limited game play
no good tutorials at the beginning - bad newbie experiences

Some thought SL should focus on builders and developers. Some thought SL should focus more on gamers. Others realized SL's future for business presentations. But they thought about SL and compared it to other things they know. This is a great improvement over some past classes who couldn't get any handle on what SL was. So I'm happy.

In reality, most won't use it again unless they have another class with me in the spring semester. But a few will. I was excited that they all managed to build things, they all went shopping and spent lindens; and they all talked to other people in the virtual world.And they all have had the expeirence of being content creators in a world that values such creators. That was one of my goals. And I think we accomplished that and much more. I was happy with how the semester turned out in terms of SL use. I'd do it again.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Had some good presentations

We've had quite a few people drop by to check out the posters and presentations.

Here are some pictures. The first ones rae from the poster session area. The students for the most part created cubes and textured them with info from their reports. I discovered that most of them did not know how to use photoshop or GIMP so we had to make a quick detour into a few basics there. They uploaded their graphics, creating textures.






Here is a photo from one of the panel discussions. Their topic ws the newbie experience in SL. They created a new avatar and documented what they saw  in the first couple of hours. They had some suggestions for making the experience better for new users that might have been presented a bit better, but we'll work on that in the future. Their photos are now over in the poster session area.


We learned a few things for the future
  • get the windows up wiht the options to ban people from the island (we had a few griefers)
  • have a notecard for people to evaluate the speakers to give the students feedback (just like a real conference)
  • having the talks at different times works great. Students can work around their schedules. We attracted audiences from many time zones. We need to have some a bit more convenient for folks in Australia for instance.
  • students need to practice presenting in SL. Some got nervous and didn't talk long enough. One student turned to move his presentation slide to the front during a panel discussion and then forgot to turn his avatar back around to face the audience.
  • posters need marked out areas in which to set up. Ours got crowded at one end. This congests the visitors and it's hard to follow one presentation out of many conversations.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Student presentations off to a good start

Rob Jeruben (SL name of one of my students) gave the first poster session today from my Games & SOciety class. He talked about casual MMOs and SL. We had 10 or 11 people come by and most stayed for his whole talk. They asked great questions and he did an admirable job answering them all.People in the audience were impressed with his performance too. One was a blogger from Massively (a blog about MMOs that is widely read). She posted an article about the presentations too - click here to go to the post. An IC administrator came (YAY David Garcia!). Several educators from around the world were there too. An interesting mix of people.  I'll put the schedule for the rest of the talks at the end of this post.

Here are a couple of pictures I took.




Hopefully the rest will come off just as smoothly. I'll post more pictures each day.

Here's the schedule. All times are in Pacific Standard Time - that's what SL uses as it's standard since the company that runs it is in San Francisco.

Panel Presentation (held at the outdoor amphitheatre)

 Monday 1:30-2:30pm - Elijah, Kyle, Chris

Tuesday 5-6am -  David, Dan, Brian,Jamison

Tuesday 9-10am - MIke, Mary, Zach

Wednesday 10-11 am - Chris, Nat, Sam

Thursday 9:30 - 10:30am - John, Gannon, Tom

Thursday 4:30-5:30pm - Ashley, Alyssa, Will

Poster Session (held by the boat docks on the big green carpeted area)

Monday 1:30-2:30pm - Sarah, Colleen

Tuesday 6:30-7:30am - Jymmy, Gabe, Ethan

Tuesday 8-9am - Luke, Adam, Zach, Sean

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Semester coming to a close

One almost down and one to go (semesters at IC that is)

Thursday the game design students will be play testing their GameMaker creations. We got 9 pretty good looking games - platformers, scrollers, werewolves, surfing, fighters... They need fresh eyes to play their games and find any mistakes they may have overlooked.

We're putting all the games up on YoYo Games site.  We'll test the games. The students have a week to fix them up. THey'll be up on the YoYo Games site then for posterity.

Play the games and please, leave the students some comments.