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.

www.GIFCreator.me_clzwpc

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.

gunshot

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.

 

Journey Out West

So, I tried, unsuccessfully, to get this map to embed. I eventually gave up and decided the best way to go about it was to just share via twitter and embed that. Even the tweet, sadly, does not display a thumbnail or anything. So, for this assignment, I made a story map with a twist. I was looking for ways to incorporate other characters and this seems like a pretty good idea. I created a journey out west where I encounter several ds106 characters along the way. To create the assignment, I just opened several tabs with characters and organized them in a way that made some geographical sense. That I have been all over the country certainly helped there… After that, I just made a story out of simple interactions with the characters. The upshot of it all is that I am not more familiar with ds106 characters. I may have to use that familiarity to create a far more extensive “which character are you” buzzfeed quiz in the future.

Buzzfeed character quiz.

So, for this assignment, I reviewed a plethora of the characters from fellow ds106ers and pulled out a couple that I thought I could get into their mind the best. I typified their personas a bit, but isn’t that the point of a buzzfeed quiz? I created 4 questions to try and prevent ties, but in retrospect, 5 would have been best.  The hardest part of the assignment was trying to find out how to embed a buzzfeed post, but I never did figure it out. In the process, I found a few ways to just make the quizzes though word press, so if I develop the quiz more, I might try that instead. All I could do is post it to twitter and then embed it. That is probably better anyway because more people might see it now and actually be able to take it.