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.


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.


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.


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.

Me and my Robot

So, for this assignment, I remixed one I had done before, and I added some twists. In the original, I just made a digital copy of myself. For this one, I was going to make a video of the same, but the tool I found that lets me make a video avatar of myself had a robot that gave me an idea. I used the robot and let him have my normal voice, and then I made my reply and I turned my voice into a robot voice, or at least I attempted. The tutorial I used, the guy was far more soft spoken than me, so my results were not as good.  I recorded both videos, and stuck them together in Movie Maker. Then I opened the video in audacity to work on the audio track. I triplicated the track, then made my edits to the portion I wanted to sound like a robot. I changed the pitch and tempo of the various tracks and added echoes.  Here is the result.

How to Embed a StoryMap

So, for this tutorial, I am more interested in embedding the StoryMap on a WordPress site than on creating the storymap itself. This is something that I spent a bit of time investigating, so I just wanted to simplify the process for anyone interested. I tried the plugin, and it did a lot of really odd things, none of which were successfully embedding my storymap. So, if you would like embed your storymap, you can do the following:

1. Go to your Dashboard on your WordPress site.

2. Click the link in the tab on the left to go to “plugins.”

3. Click add new, then search for “iframe” and you will see a plugin called iframe shortcode.

4. Click install, then click activate.
5. Now, the once forbidden iframe codes can be displayed on your site. (this means more than just storymap embedding, by the way.)
6. So, for the plugin, you replace <iframe     > </iframe> with [iframe   ] The final version of your url will look like this,

iframe src=”your full url, do not remove the quotes” frameborder=”0″ width=”100%” height=”800″

Yours will need brackets around it, though. I had to remove them here so it would not try to embed here.  The final product will look like this,  although your storymap is likely must prettier than mine.

Leonardo’s life in the spotlight

This assignment used the same basic idea as one I did last week. The emphasis here, though, was to show the age progression in the character and not just highlight some of his interesting roles. I chose Leonardo Dicaprio as the focus for this assignment since he has such  long film history and most of his roles were big enough to make getting good footage easier. I tried to use his best roles, but many of them were left out as I found that I wanted to use the clips themselves to tell a story inside the story, inception story style, fitting for the subject.  I start with Leo getting your attention, an interview with him as a young man talking about his Oscar prospects, and them move though his career. I tried to make the clips flow with one another; I move from his anguish over his mother’s death in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape to his own anguish and death in Romeo and Juliet. Then, he is on the titanic talking about waking up and not knowing here he will end up, then he is on a plane in Catch me if you Can. In the inception clip, he is talking about wondering how “we” get here, then I cut to the climactic end clips of Wolf of Wall Street and Reverent. After that, he is giving his Oscar (or maybe it was the Golden Globes but he did win an Oscar) acceptance speech for Revenant where he is talking about the story of the journey in Revenant, but I frame it like he is talking about his life and career.  In each of the clips, where possible, I tried to cut on his face or really near to it so that his age progression is noticeable. Also, in the sections where the camera spends a long time focused on someone other than Leo, I use a blur filter to make it clear the importance of his face.  Also, to make it smooth, the only place I fused two scenes facing him together, I used one of the movie maker transitions to make it not choppy.

Benicio del Toro Montage

So, for this assignment, I made a montage of Benicio del Toro clips from various movies. I tried to include something from all my favorites, although somehow Way of the Gun was left out. Past that, I tried to isolate the a few intense moment from the scene; the whole thing is supposed to be between 30-60 seconds. It was actually harder to cut it that short than it would have been to leave it long. The last thing I tried to do was make the clips sort of flow together and create the sense of a really abstract story. Intro at the beginning, confusion ensues, the action reaches a crescendo, and then it all falls with him going down at the end.