Final project: Merrell’s Bottom Dollar.

So, the basis of my story is an interactive adventure that I created using inklewriter. The story itself quickly became incredibly complex. Just how complex, I will demonstrate in a moment when I discuss the creation of each section.  For additional media types, I used some elements of design, some animated gifs, some visual aids, and of course the whole thing contains an decent amount of writing: ~4000 words.  Composing the story alone took well over 20 hours, although a good portion of that was just keeping the story line straight.
So, the basics of the choices I included are as follows. There are some choices that will give you entirely different outcomes no matter what, there are some choices that will give you direct options for different outcomes, there are some choices that will give you more information to make informed choices later, and there are some choices that accumulate or intersect to give you access to, or sometimes guarantee different outcomes.
In the first section of the story, I just set a bit of background. I included a couple randomized elements just for a bit of variance for people who read the story more than once, which most of the endings encourage readers to do.

This is a blurry image of the total map of the first section. In all the sections but the last, all choices meet back up on the main story before transitioning. Some of them just carry different flags that make a difference later in the story. For the most part, section one is rather straightforward, but it does contain some of the most important choices in the story. One of them is a guarantee of death, and after great deal of consideration, I decided not to tell the people who met that death why. It is, from the outcome, at least moderately straight forward.

This is the map of the second sections.

In this section, most of what occurs is that some of the choices from the first section play out. This contains many of the “give additional information that helps readers make more informed choices later in the story” type of choices.

Section 3 gets rather more complicated.

Much of it is a two cycle loop. Readers must choose, in this section, how to spend their time wisely. There are 5 other main characters, one readers encounter in the first section. In this portion, the 4 other poker players are available for conversation, but readers only have time to speak with 2. The entire purpose of this section is to allow readers access to information they need to make the right choices in section 4. But this point, some of their fates are already sealed from section 1.

Section 4 contains the actual poker game and the various possible outcomes.

When all is said and done, there are a total of 5 different outcomes, and more paths to get to each of them than I could readily count if I wanted. In addition to the several outcomes, there are different inline logical dialogues build in that reflect choices that have been made up until that point. Some examples are, the love interest is more flirty if readers have flirt with her, Merrell never refers to someone by name that he has not met, and small pieces of information are revealed to people who would have observed some necessary event earlier in the story.
In addition to the main story, I created some pieces of media to go along with it all.

I did have some trouble incorporating the media types I wanted. Inklewriter only displays thumbnails of images, so animated gifs were out for the internal parts of the story. I isolated their use until the ending(s).  The next section of this post includes all of the media that I created or used for parts of the story.


This images is an animated gif (you will have to click the image for it to animate) that I made for the “ideal” ending of the story. I just used a grass brush package to create the grass and a western brush package, from Obsidian Dawn, for the cactus. For the sunrise and shifting background, I just drew some circles and the heart, put ovals behind them as overlays, feathered the edged by varying degrees, and used the bucket fill tool for the sun, and used the gradient tool tool to move the background as the sun rose.


This is another animated .gif I made for an ending. For this one, using the revolver and muzzle flash images, I created the animation. The first few frames are of the bullet and the flash growing larger. Then, I remove the bullet, to indicated that it has hit the target, and there is a frame that is mostly just muzzle flash. The next several frames are of the gun, bullet no longer in the chamber, getting narrower in a way it might if the person’s eyes were closing, or at least, that is the effect I was aiming for.


The next image, which is actually the first image in the story, is of a saloon. It was mostly just an incredibly lucky find. The old hotel has the images of a few cards on the outside, it is typical for the period of the story,  and it did not have the name on the outside which left me free to name it myself.  I did make the image black and white, because it looked more natural on the inklewriter website, which is designed to look like a book.


The image after that, I made black and white as well, with a bit of an exception. 

I used the idea from a a ds106 assignment to leave a single, important, element of the photo in color. The white background blends with inklewriter, so it just looks like the image is printed on the page; there is no visible box. But the color of the liquor is there to signify the importance.

Another image that I designed for the story is this tombstone.

For this, I used gimp and a series of filters, noise, blurs, renderings, and overlays until I had something that looked like the stone I liked. Then, I added the text with one the western fonts I downloaded for the semester. I put the text in, then duplicated it. I beveled the first copy, and I used a technique with drop shadows to sort of burn in the other copy, and combined them all. Then, I found a non copyrighted image of some branches, put it over the top, positioned it as best I could, desaturated it, put the later in overlay mode, then used a Gaussian blur to create the image of shadows. I could have used a much simpler tombstone of some kind, but this one really had the somber, dreary feeling I was looking for.


The Deal: Final Project Progress

So, the underlying plan for my final project, the basis for the story, is the inklewriter choose your own adventure type story.  This week, I began to compose the story, but found that keeping all the threads and possible outcomes in my head, and even deciding them one at a time in order to write them was too complicated, so I have changed over to a word document and excel spreadsheet to try and create a basic story board. The final product will be a story about a poker tournament in which Merrell Shale will be playing. The readers will have choices about things like who they want to talk to, who they want to ignore, how they would like to conduct themselves before the game. All of those choices will come to play in the game itself, talking to the right people will give useful information that will help make it through the game. Naturally, I will make it so that readers have to make exclusive choices, i.e. talk to this person or that person, and each choice may come in handy, or not, and some may even be detrimental later. All of this will lead to several outcomes of the game and the associated story. To accomplish this, I will create what I am going to term the ideal story, which will have a basic narrative flow and some included details. I am then dividing the story line at those details to branch out and lead to different outcomes. I plan to, given the nature of the story, still allow readers a bit of luck if they stray from the ideal path to end up with the ideal outcome. The fundamental idea I am keeping in mind while designing the storyboard is finding a balance between complexity and immersion. A better story with more detail but fewer choices is better that a bad story with little detail but many choices, or so goes my thought process on the matter.
To employ different types of media in creating the story and create a better experience generally, I am going to use visual and audio aids along the way. Inklewriter allows me to use images directly in the story board for the story itself, and I have been investigating some way to infuse other media types without carrying readers away from the story, i.e., going to watch a video in a link and then having to come back to the story line. As it stands, the video and audio links will mostly go with the ends and the various outcomes. I am going to design some images, some gifs, some audio pieces, and possibly some simple videos to go along with the possible outcomes. If I can make audio open in new tabs, I may also create some background sounds to go along with the story, but I am up in arms with how to employ such a thing. The trouble being, if a new element of the story has some audio, the background noise would need to be non-intrusive because I have no way of getting a reader to stop that sound to hear a new one without breaking them out of the story for a moment, and I don’t want to go that route.

I have considered foregoing inklewriter because of the limitations, e.g., I have found no way to embed the story yet, but if I do, I cannot use the logic functions that inklewriter offers without typed instructions.

Buzzfeed ds106 character quiz 2.0

For this assignment, I went back to the which ds106 character are you quiz I made for buzzfeed a few weeks ago and incorporated vastly more characters and questions. I created a spread sheet with all the characters, their descriptions for the outcomes, and their answers to the various questions. I hit a hiccup when buzzfeed told me that I can only add one person to each answer so they all have to be unique. I still have a few that have variants of the same answer because I designed the quiz without that in mind. I tried to include all the ds 106 characters, but there were a few that didn’t make the cut. The primary reason was that there was too little info in that persons description for me to not have to totally invent their character for the quiz ( I tried to stay to what the creators would have wanted from their characters), or the character was so unique that it would have vastly different and obvious answers. I have one character that meets that criteria because it is humorous, and I did not want to detract from that.  I tried to add a few imaged to the quiz this time to spice it up as well, I think I will keep revising it over the next few days to get it more to my liking.

Here is the final version which I have yet to figure out how to embed.


Frontier life and Saloon hopping in the digital age.

What would Merrill be interested in if he was given access to the internet? Well, I don’t know that Pinterest would be the first place he would end up, but if he did, I have created a Pinterest board that is his style. I just thought of things that he would be interested in, given his nature. I also thought about some things that I might want to know if I was out on the frontier, how to make my own bacon for instance, and my own gun powder too. I put it all together and threw it in a Pinterest board for Merrill.

Week 13: Not your grandpa’s internet anymore.

Every time that I am inclined to do so, I am amazed, or maybe appalled, at what the internet has become. Instead, in this case, of coming across tumblr or 4chan, there was a few pleasant surprises. I did not complete all the assignments that I found interesting, but I did acquire a few more bookmarks. The first things I did for the week was use X-ray goggles to reinterpret a Craigslist post and tell a little story about Merrill.
After that, inspired by a song remix I saw on youtube a while back, I had some fun with google translate for 3.5 stars.  For my next 2.5 stars, I made a Pinterest board for Merrill which was a pain to embed until I realized I needed the code buttons on the text editor. For my last 4.5 starts for a weekly total of 10.5, I redid a buzzfeed quiz assignment that I thought was a lot of fun, but upgraded it.


Google Trains Late. Lost.

This assignment is to, using google translate, find something that does not translate well across languages and give some thought to it. Given the western theme of the class, I thought I might take it just a step further, and since many western saying are idioms, mix them up and see what I come out with after translating them to a few languages then back.  I used sayings from Legend of America.

  • Don’t name a cow you plan to eat. > Armenian >Corsican > Chinese > Hawaiian >English =  I found ” ship.   (Ok, maybe that was too much.)
  • There never was a horse that couldn’t be rode, there never was a rider that couldn’t be throwed.  > Estonian >Esperanto > Irish >English =  It was not a horse that can not be climbed the occupier could not be throwed.  (Ok, now not enough)
  • Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear or a fool from any direction. > Belarussian > Hebrew > Maltese > Vietnamese > Korean > English = At the front never a good cow, horse back or a fool from any direction.
  •  The biggest troublemaker you’ll probably ever have to deal with watches you shave his face in the mirror every morning.  >Afrikaans > Zulu > Arabic > Japanese > Chinese > English > Maybe they are difficult to deal with, every morning shave my face in the mirror of time.  (Mirror of time seems pretty metaphysical and philosophical, that quote might have even more wisdom now if you can access it.)

And now, for one grand finale, I shall find a substantially long saying and run it through every language in translate. I don’t know if it could get more jumbled than that first result, though.  Turns out it can.
“After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral: When you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut. ” Turned into “Taurus dark Puma statement of value Beckett  Robert B and soul.”
I can see how a few of those words appeared… but most of that is nonsense. Natural languages are a pretty interesting and complex things. Maybe I need the time mirror to sort all this out.

Updating Merrill’s Ride

For this assignment, I decided to base the story on Merrill Shale having sold his wagon and upgraded after he started raking in poker winnings. I originally tried with both Autotrader and Ebay motors, but the code was seemingly too sophisticated for X-ray googles, so I went to craigslist instead, which turned out to be pretty far from perfect as well. I could not get access to the other images on the scroll, so I found a vehicle posted that only had one photo. Then, I started remixing the elements so they would make more sense for the story I was telling. I was moderately pleased with how it looked in X-ray goggles, but when I published it, the code was apparently somewhat jumbled. I attempted to ascertain why or see if I  could, perhaps, resolve the issue with my albeit limited html knowledge, but x ray would not let me click on the actual page because it has too many elements.    This is the link to the page,  and here is a screenshot of what it looked like in xray.


Week 12: Mashed up

So, this week, I started with a 4.5 star assignment that was like one I enjoyed doing last week, but with a little more nuance.  This one fit better together as a complete piece since I already had a story I was trying to tell, and I even fit somewhat of a story inside it. The narrative underlying the assignment really gives it focus.
After that, I did an assignment for 4 stars that incorporated my character. What goes better together than a poker playing cowboy and a poker playing St. Bernard?
After that, I took some time to fix a post that I didn’t complete the way that I liked a few weeks ago. I researched how to get a story map into a WordPress site, and learned how to do that an more, so, I created a tutorial from that.
The next assignment I worked on, for 4.5 stars, bringing me to a total of 13, allowed me to finally use something from Lord of the Rings.
After that, I did a couple of remixes. The first was a remix of a digital reflection assignment that I completed earlier in the semester, but it took an interesting twist. It was fun to see how a new take on an old assignment could lead to something so fun.
My next remix was, essentially, to turn a guessing visual assignment into a fun joke.

Last but not least, my daily creates this week.  This week I learned how to make simple fireworks with Gimp.

British lord of the ringtones.

Maybe they grabbed the wrong costumes?  For the photo for this assignment, I put a couple of odd balls in a scene where they do not belong. They look like naturals though, I don’t even think they noticed.  The assignment was to put something in a movie scene that was totally out of place. I have been waiting all semester to use something from LOTR, so I knew now I have my chance. I just grabbed a couple other random photos of people, watched Return of the King in 8x till I found a good scene, and put them in to the scene.  I lightened them and did a few other things to make them blend. I didn’t realize how wide a suit of armor makes a guard till I tried to cover him with a guard wearing just clothes.

Done with poker, dog garn it.

I was searching through the assignment bank looking for ways to incorporate my character, Merrill Shale. When I found this one, I considered how I might make a video of an animal talking go along with an old Western gambler, and the answer came straight to me… If you aren’t with me yet, we are not on the same wavelength: dogs playing poker. Or in this case, dog losing poker and complaining about it. So… I went in search. I aimed to find a dog barking video that looked had a dog that looked like one in one of those paintings, and I found a St Bernard. I recorded some audio, muted the dog track, and put them together.  Then, I put Kenny Rogers in the background because it fits.