11 06 2010

Over the last 2 days the slow realisation his hit home that we have encountered an utter disaster with the work that’s been done. This week new anti-virus software was installed on all the machines in the department, including those with adventure author. It appears that in order to install the software the technician(from outside of the school) was rather aggressive in the removal of files from the hard disk and has inadvertently removed all of the maps that our pupils have made. Recovery is an option but when would that happen? It looks like everything has gone down the pan. All that hard work and dedication from the pupils and they have nothing to show for it. Gutted…


It’s good to talk…

28 05 2010

This week has seen the first foray into the use of conversation writer with my pupils and lunch club. What has been interesting although not surprising is the dedication to good dialogue by the girls whilst the boys want to fight dragons that they’ve scaled so big that they dwarf the entire map! They learn soon enough though that it is very frustrating for the player to instantly face such a mighty foe and make necessary changes. I’ve also tried to come at conversation writer from a programming point of view, I’ve encouraged branching in the dialogue, not only is this good for a game as it gives the player choice, but the logical thinking skills required make it much like writing a computer program. Luckily the pupils I’m using the software with have all had exposure to Scratch and picked up on the branching very quickly. THeir games are now becoming very playable adventures and quests and soon enough we’re going to reach the stage where they want to play the game more than they want to edit it! That’s when I’m looking forward to getting them playing each other’s games so we can begin the evaluation process which I think will go well as there is already good collaboration among the groups in terms of support they offer each other and I can’t remember how many times i’ve heard the phrase “aw that’s soo cool!” when talking about another’s game.

Paths, Baking and Narrative

14 05 2010

So the lunch group have been working on AA for nearly 2 weeks now and are really getting into it. Today we looked at baking and getting a walk around the maps they’ve made. They quickly realised that lots of zombies might look awesome on the map editor but it can be quite a difficult experience when actually getting down to playing. We also came across the issue of areas being non walkable and perhaps using these to shepherd the player to where you want them to go. Today we got down to giving items/characters names and descriptions to help the player and next week we’ll look at using sign posts and other narrative tools. I’m also thinkng that they’ve “played” with the map editor to the extent that they can now think about creating a game and begin the creative process using fridge magnets.

And… they’re off!

11 05 2010

It’s taken me a week to get round to this, but, Bo’ness Academy is now up and running with Adventure Author. Steve my colleague has had 1st years using it to create realistic landscapes as part of an existing unit and will continue to do so this week. His blog is here. I have begun the pre-project stuff with a mixed group of lunchtime volunteers and should get started in earnest this week. I also began with a 2nd year class yesterday and was quite disheartened about the attitude of some of the girls, they decided that they didn’t like it before we even started. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised as they’ve shown similar disaffection with most of the course this year, what makes it quite disconcerting is that they’ve chosen Computing for next year! Let’s hope Adventure Author inspires some enthusiasm.

Access Rights

27 04 2010

So, last Monday I returned to my lovely new machines which i had helped the technician set up on the last day of term. They had been imaged to run on our network, they came with Windows 7 but unfortunately this would cause problems with our other network devices(so I’m told).

Our technician then made an appointment to come and go through the install process on our new machines. This went smoothly as we’d done it once or twice before, I eventually saw the AA I saw on the training course which was great. We now know our hardware will support the software. However, the issue we have now is that AA will only allow users to save to the C drive, the local hard disk of the machine, saving is not a problem. However, when the pupils go back to a saved map, they cannot get “see” the local disk of the machine to access their map. This can be got around by allowing pupils different access rights, but this will give them access to restricted folders on the network also. Pupils probably wouldn’t notice but it is a risk. I think I’ll pass this one over to andy to see if he can come up with a solution for us…

Positive & Negative = Neutral

26 03 2010

So my positive for the week has been the overwhelming response to my ad for volunteers to use Adventure Author at lunch club, but follow the same process as I would if they were a class. I have ~40 signed up and some more disappointed as I can only accomodate 20 at a time. So they’ll come 2 days a week each, a great start.

The negative is there seems to be some issue with our computers and the software. We followed the excellent install instructions to the letter but have encountered a bug that means Adventure Author won’t work. However, Andy at HW has been trying to solve this and has been prompt in his efforts to get us moving without him having to come to the school.

So the outcome is that I have eager pupils desperate to start but not being able to. I just hope the enthusiasm carries over to after the Easter holidays.

Hot iron struck..

22 03 2010

Well today I began putting the wheels in motion for the Adventure Author adventure to begin. Tomorrow pupils will be given the opportunity to sign up for a lunchtime version of the project, totally voluntary but totally structured, hopefully they’ll learn without even realising it. I feel so devious!

I also performed a trial install of the required software with the assistance of my on the ball technician. However we have a small technical hitch, when I try to create an area in Adventure Author, the program closes down. Hopefully it is a small glitch and is easily fixed, the rest of the installation process was a breeze because we followed the instructions carefully. We’ll need the senior technician to sort out the mre technical pupil log-in situation though, but that should be easyto take care of(fingers crossed). So anyway, I feel like the wheels are in motion and getting started propely isn’t too far away. It might be ambitious to try to start before Easter but we can always aim for it!