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.


Cool Hand Luke’s Dinner

This three star assignment was to take an image from the daily shoot and write a haiku about it. After searching through a few images, I chose this one because it seemed the easiest to relate to the western theme. I don’t think I have ever seen a western movie that they didn’t eat beans at least once.


Eat beans on the trail
No can opener in sight
Guess I need a rock

Seven days this week
I can’t eat another can
Some beef sounds better



2011-272 Beans

How many x words even exist?

This 3 star writing assignment was to write a story in alphabet.  The challenge is to write a story using a word starting with each consecutive letter, the more sense it makes, the better.  X is a real problem though, and there are only two ways around it that I can see…  Either forego literal sense, or bend the rule. I chose the latter as you can see in my story about boy who hates his mother’s dinner option.

A boy called dinner. Everyone from grandmas’ heard. I just kinda lingered, mom’s noodles’ odor proliferated. “Quit remonstrating,” said tiny uncle Vern. “We’ve extra yellow zucchini”

Hot Lead Lunch

This two star  assignment was to write a terrible death ending for a choose your own adventure style book. It was a great assignment to incorporate the western theme; no shortage of deaths in gun battles in westerns. It was fun to take a typical western finale scene and create a silly twist that meant that the hero wasn’t going to go down in glory like usual.

You Chose Wrong!

The man that challenged you to a fight only looked like he was a loner. After venturing out in the street for an old fashioned draw, you noticed an ominous glimmer from a rooftop across the road. Turns out the whole thing was an elaborate scheme, and that the man on the roof whose gun barrel just revealed him was still sore at you for taking the sheriff job in the old 4 horse town you had left. Before you could draw your weapon or even turn tail and run, you heard the loud report from the rooftop rifleman and felt the bullet tear though the flesh in your abdomen. It was at that time that the man who called you into the street drew his revolver and fired two more well aimed shots. You were dead before you hit the ground.


The future: More than just a search for amazing tacos

Your Hopes, Dream and Fears is an assignment to write a letter to myself in ten years, that I might be able to look back and reflect upon it later when I read it.  I am old enough that I think my goals are static, whether I achieve them or not is another matter, but I will remember them…. I think. It is odd that looking back to ten years ago, the goals I had at the time have all pretty much gone by the wayside as life barreled forward. These goals, though both limited in scope and somewhat broad, are more impassioned than those, so hopefully this time it is a little different.  I really dislike thinking so much about the future, but assignments like this are good because they keep the pressing need to progress along the path I have chosen at the front of my mind instead of passively waiting for the world to unexpectedly take notice of how wonderful I am and hand me all the opportunities I desire.

Dear future me,
I think a lot about where my life has been and where I intend for it to go. I spent my youth comparatively aimless for a variety of reasons, so it is nice now to have some intended direction, and to have the wisdom to realize that no matter what I intend, life may have other plans and that I can be ok with them.  Hopefully this is a characteristic that you still share, but let me tell you about the things I aim to work toward in the mean time.
Professionally, you (me) ought to have finished law school or graduate school by now. Don’t put that off like you did college. If we (myself and I) are able to attend a worth while law school, meaning if you did well enough on the LSAT to choose the school, then my primary goal is to be practicing law that in some way helps and assists some undeserved class of people. I will do the best on my end studying to make that come true so that you don’t have to look back and think, “if only.” I don’t mean social justice law or anything like that, at least not exclusively, but some sort that you think betters the lives of everyday people instead of furthering the interests of those with the most power and influence. They have enough lawyers anyway, they will be fine without me. You should probably consider something that at least makes enough money to pay for all this school…. sorry about that.
If law doesn’t work out, or even if it does, teaching of some sort has always had an appeal to me, so I hope that by the time you read this, we have had the opportunity to explore that more. I hope that additionally, you are excited and passionate about learning as I am currently. I will work on keeping that alive for you.
You are blessed enough to already have a large and happy family, so I hope you keep and cherish them as much as I do now. I will keep pushing our children to help them pursue their own goals and have the direction that we did not, but I commit to you that I shall make sure those pushes are as gentle as possible.
If you fail to do all that… then you better at least have a funny comedy routine about it… biggest smiles mask the saddest faces or something to that effect.

May this letter find you in good health, until then,
Present Me

Plot twist.. or flip.

For the assignments, I like to just click the random button and see what comes up until something sticks out. For this one, monologue of a household tool, I read the normal assignment, had a thought that relates to my life, and decided to use the assignment to reflect that thought, however mundane it may be. I was writing about an everyday object, after all. The interesting part of the story, to me, is that is gives me a new way to look at and outwardly express that simple idea. What might be a complaint or gripe because an opportunity for unique story telling.  So, without further ado..

Lost in Space: A Cramped Unfamiliar One

This is not my home. I don’t even know how I ended up here. All the other contraptions here are keeping to themselves, but I am sure they are giving my dirty looks. It doesn’t matter anyway, not one cares what they think. They could never do what I do, rescuing objects from the fire and such. That one is pointy and small, I don’t know what anyone would want with that… and that one looks the same but much larger; I think it might be dangerous. I smell something going on out there, I suspect they will come after me very shortly… but how will they ever know where to look? Last time I took a shower, those small creatures brought me here; that seems like days ago now.
I really just want to be home, and to be quite honest about it, I am scared. I think I smelled the burning smell yesterday, but no one came. What if they found someone else to do my job? It isn’t like there is unemployment for things like me…. I will just end up stuck here forever… or worse. If they really did meet someone else, I might end up going with all those boxes, and paper, and old food, to whatever hell it is they run off to on Tuesdays and Fridays.
And now I smell the smell again… What is that sound, though. I don’t want anyone reading this to get too excited, but it sounds frantic. I hear banging, shuffling, movement, and that burning smell is intensifying. It smells like buttermilk and flour, with a hint of maple off somewhere in the distance; no way they can solve this one without me. I know they are coming, I just hope they make it in time. Being lost in the darkness most of your life is bad enough, but being lost in this foreign darkness is so much worse.
It is all happening so fast now, the noise got so much closer. There was some discussion between the big one and the little ones, it sounded frustrated. Now I smell a new smell, like a fruity sort of lotion one might use on their hands… Finally! I know it is ok now, I can feel the sliding and rolling underneath me, and the space is illuminated. I just need all these other guys to move so that she will see me. It is times like this when I despise being so flat, but how could I do my job if I wasn’t? Time to wrap this up for now though, it is only a matter of time before I am removed from here, off to work. I will need a shower when I am done again, but hopefully I find my way back home after the shower this time.

Not too cold to whistle…

So, when I came across the can’t get it out of my head assignment,  I instantly knew what song I would choose. It has literally been stuck in my head for weeks, and last night I actually sat around wondering why it has been there so long. I like to remix it with baby applicable lyrics (I am not very good at it) and sing it to my daughter. This was much easier because all I needed was the tune. My next step in life is to figure out how to record myself whistling without hearing my breath and such…


Anyhow, I don’t know because I am not quite in my youth, and I listen to music that is older than me, but I think the song is highly recognizable even if I had butchered the whistling, and not to brag, but I didn’t. Anyway, I hope that for anyone that listens and recognizes the song, they get it stuck in their head as well so that I am not the only one. For anyone that can’t figure it out and is really curious, the answer is here.