Week Eight

Tuesday saw Andy’s first ever iLab workshop on Understanding Flocking, Crowds and Queues. The workshop clashed with our regular coding lecture, however most of us were present for the workshop instead. I think it bodes well for the iLab series that everyone attended. Andy began the workshop with a brief introduction on HTML and CSS. We then wrote our own index.html files and ran them in our browsers. I haven’t really worked with HTML or CSS before, so it was a good chance to have an introduction. My only prior experience of HTML is in the context of WordPress which basically does all the hard work for you. However, I found it quite simple to understand and got to grips with it fairly quickly. There is obviously much more complicated HTML code than we were writing, but it was easy to grasp the basics at least:

Once we had explored a bit of HTML, Andy introduced the concept of flocking and Craig Reynolds’ Boids – a computer representation of flocking he developed in 1987. Reynolds developed three rules which govern flocking behaviour, these are: Alignment, Cohesion and Separation. I found it fascinating to see how such complex behaviours can be achieved with just a few simple rules. To code this behaviour, we would be using JavaScript with the p5.js library. JavaScript libraries are a pre-written collection of code that allows JavaScript to mimic other languages, p5 transforms JavaScript into the Processing language. Processing was a language developed to help artists write code more easily:

Processing Basics.png

Once we were all up to speed with what we were doing and the tools that we would be using, we got down to it. We began with a few very simple objectives – creating a canvas, drawing a circle on the screen, filling it with colour, adding outlines etc. We then progressed onto some basic movement code to get the circle moving in a set direction. Next, we began to code the flocking behaviour:

Sadly, the workshop ended before we had a chance to reach the final code example. I think Andy maybe overestimated the group’s ability and underestimated just how much time he would be spending fixing errors throughout the day. I think the next workshop he runs will benefit a lot from the lessons learned in this first one. The entire workshop was around five hours long, towards the end I was really starting to feel fatigued. I would’ve liked more breaks throughout the lecture just to stretch my legs.

Overall, I think the workshop was really interesting and enjoyable. I will be looking forward to attending more iLab workshops if the subjects continue to appeal to me. Hopefully, this first workshop will improve the subsequent ones and make iLab really successful.

Aside from attending the iLab workshop, this week I managed to start and complete my next prototype Tilted. In total, the development time was just over 16 hours, so around 4 hours longer than Faded’s development time. My pace of development is right where I want it to be, my goal was to try to develop one prototype each week and I have managed to do that. I’m not sure whether I will be able to continue with this pace however, because I need to catch up with some creative writing work and I don’t yet have another idea for a prototype. However, I’m pleased with the progress I’m making and I’m looking forward to working on another prototype soon.

I haven’t built the web version of Tilted yet so I’ve been unable to illicit any immediate feedback on it. However, I have been getting quite a lot of responses to Faded. Adam has been posting the prototype on various Slack channels and has received some valuable feedback on my behalf. It has been really great to see reactions to the prototype from people in different fields and interesting to evaluate what worked and what didn’t. Adam also had a chance to play Faded himself and had some useful feedback. For him, the character fade and disappearing dialogue happened quite abruptly and perhaps felt quite sudden. I’m sure that with some finessing of the script and some slight alterations to the code I could help to alleviate this abruptness. He also liked the sliding animations of the characters and felt that the story was quite evocative.

Feedback on Faded isn’t the only feedback I received this week, on Friday I got a chance to talk with Adam one to one to receive some Formative Feedback on my progress so far:

Thankfully, the news was good and I’m on track to get an excellent for this semester. Adam stressed the need for me to keep up my momentum and gave me some further suggestions on what I should be doing next. I will evaluate his feedback fully next week and devote a page of this blog to it. I’m also going to prepare for my presentation on Friday. I still need to figure out what I’m going to be presenting. I think it’s a proposal for my project, although I’m not entirely sure what form this will take yet. I’m also planning to generate some ideas for my next prototype. I will be referring to my research throughout this idea generation phase as my first two ideas have come directly from that research. Adam also suggested that this would be a good way forward. Overall, I’m really happy with my progress this week and hope to continue my momentum going forward.

Week Nine