ReporterOnline: Open Source Personal Data Tracking

This weekend at RIT as the was the Rochester Civic App Challenge Kickoff Hackathon (a mouthful, i know, more details here). At the hackathon I started a new project, one that will work with a new app I have been using onmy iPhone. This app is called Reporter and it tracks user generated questions and randomly asks the throughout the day. I will get a notification saying “Time to Report!”, then go to the app, have it record my location, date, time, (all of which can be turned off) and other questions I have it ask me. This data is then stored on my phone and can be synced with a Dropbox account. ReporterOnline, this project, takes a user’s data from the app that they have uploaded to their Dropbox (with the user logging into their Dropbox) and generates graphs based on the data. These graphs and charts will each have a web link attributed to them, so a user can show their progress in one category, but keep others private. One pie-in-the-sky feature would be crunching the user’s numbers to show them times when they have high & low numbers in their questions to better understand their habits. Here is the Source Code & Demo. The demo right now succesfully logs in a user to Dropbox, grabs multiple JSON files, and scrapes the files for their location and prints it to the user’s web browser console. In other words, it functionally works, but nothing will happen on screen. Yet! Stay tuned for more!

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WoW Diabetes Mod Update #1

This week, the team finally finalized roles of the WoW Mod. We have split our team of 6 into 2 groups, one to work on the actual add-on, another to develop the website that the add-on, which will communicate with a website to give players achievements, leader boards and other incentives to play with the add-on. I am working on the add-on team. We have been building a basic add-on for the web team to use so they can develop the infrastructure needed to grab the mod’s info for the website. We have just finished this basic add-on and it has been pushed up to the github page found here. In working on this basic add-on we have a better understanding of the base code that was given to us by Zach (a RIT graduate that was working on Stephen Jacob’s starting work on the mod) and now see a new problem ahead to solve. In wanting to have the mod store information on the user’s machine, we will need to have a way to grab that information to send to the website. It seems (from early research so far) that we will need to make a client with an installer for the user to download and install on their machine. The team is going to do more research on what is the best way to grab and send this information. Check back for more developments and how we solve this issue!

First Thoughts on World of Warcraft

I have never played World of Warcraft; lets just get that out of the way. I have played other MMO’s: Guild Wars 2, betas of Elder Scrolls Online, and Star Wars: Old Republic. I enjoyed my time in all these games, Old republic until it became free-to-play, and like the ideas of a connected world with players inhabiting it. So for a class, I will be making a mod for World of Warcraft, so it seems important to have an understanding of the game. I downloaded the game,  started a toon, a Tauren, and began my adventure. And boy was it boring! I would spend more time walking to the activities needed for a quest then doing those activities. The story-line and world seem like some super generic fantasy, full of tropes and cliches. All these story-lines also seem super racist! Seen below is my toon in the starting area, which might be a little offensive to Native Americans.

Maybe?

Maybe Slightly Offensive? Native Americans != Cows…

 Now granted I have only played 5 hours of it, a game that people have played for years, so maybe I have not gotten to the “interesting” or “fun” parts of the game. I will be playing more of the game but since I am playing a starter edition of the game (the Free version), I can only play a toon till level 20. Check back for my thoughts on the game and see the progress on the WoW Diabetes mod I am working on.

First Flight for the Third Time!

I am again taking a class at RIT that uses Remy Decausemaker’s great website/online course system. As with the other times I have used it, another tag and RSS Feed was needed for the course, so that I may have a place to write about my experiences in the class. That way the professor will understand that my playing of World of Warcraft in his class will help my course project! (Yes it seriously will, more on that in a little bit further down) It seems the whole First Flight experience, the first assignment for the course where you set up your website’s RSS Feed, get on the IRC channel to talk to all the other students, and learn about Github, have all stayed the same, with the website being steadily improved each time I use it. Hats off to Remy Decausemaker and his coding and web chops!

Now about that whole World of Warcraft(WOW) thing. This class I just completed the First Flight assignment for is Production Studio with Professor Stephen Jacobs(SJ). This is a new course for the program, but it basically gives professors and students class time to push personal projects forward. Some in the class are pitching projects they would like to work on to SJ, while others, such as myself, will work on projects SJ has started with others in the academic, health, and gaming fields. The project I hope to work on, (SJ needs to see what people want to work on, so that the whole class in not working on one thing) is a project to bring diabetes to WOW characters. This will be through a mod that users can freely download to add to their WOW experience. This idea comes from a nurse that worked as Blizzard’s (studio that makes WOW) on-staff nurse a few years ago. She wants to bring public health education to people through games, but thinks that using existing games with large player bases will get more traction than a standalone game. It seems like a interesting project to work on, with lots of creative ways to simulate. Hopefully I will be working on this project! I should know by next Tuesday, so check back then!

Sleepy Scientist Update 4

With Thanksgiving break almost upon us, the Sleepy Scientist team has been hard at work. We have been preparing a build of the game, with full instructions and reworked visuals, updated AI and tweaked levels, and a few changes to the timing of selecting and placing inventions in the game. This is all for our next playtest, which could possibly be our largest and most useful of the semester, mainly due to the fact that the team will be taking this build home to family and friends. The team is very excited, I myself can’t wait to get feedback from my family and friends who have not seen me work on a game in quite some time. It should be a great time! After some of the other games I have shown to family and friends I think they will be very surprised to see how complete this game is. Although we are far from done. Thanks to the professor of our Game Design & Development II class, Stephen Jacobs, the team has been given an Android tablet to further develop the game for mobile. Luckily, in working in monogame from the start, it seems to process to do this should not be especially difficult and I have tasked one of our programmers to get a build of the game running on the tablet during break. Hopefully, we will be able to see the game in its originally thought design by the beginning of December and will be able to continue making the game for that platform. It is not that the PC development has not gone well, it is just that the game was originally designed from a controls standpoint to be on a touchscreen device. The mouse clicking interface we have been using has been a good stand-in, but the development is reaching a point where tweaking for feel is taking place, which is very difficult when you are not tweaking on your preferred or originally designed for platform.  Some exciting things for Sleepy Scientist with even more to come! A potential playtesting session with our target audience (kids!) is in the works! It may even happen with the tablet! Check back for more!

Sleepy Scientist Update 3

This past week I have learned a lot about what a Scrum Master. (or even something more generic like a managerial or advisory role) should be doing on a game dev team.  This week we (the dev team of Sleepy Scientist) were not able to meet a deadline to have a playtest available for our fellow classmates. Now luckily we were not too far behind, just a solid day of work, but behind nonetheless. I came to see from talking with my team and getting advice from my professor for the class that some of the issues were due to lack of communication, that I should have been facilitating.  A simple thing such as a spec sheet, so that our programmers, level designer, and artist all know the exact size of art assets for the game, are the types of things that I need(ed) to make sure are available. With that information they can make informed decisions about how much screen space the scientist will take up and plan their level designs or algorithms or animations around those specs. I have also come to see that I need to really push the team to be communicate with each other. I am not sure how I will pull that off, but in the meantime we will be meeting more during the week. I will also be giving out very specific goals for sprints, less “Get a menu system up and running in the game!” and more “Have a main menu, pause menu, pause the game, and an instructions screen.” I will also be making sure that I have more on my plate. Before I was trying to give out what the team deemed they could do and pick up what was left for that week; always ready to be their back-up in case they needed any help. That has never happened, so I have decided that making sure  I always have a full plate (that will possibly get fuller when I help out others) is the only way to proceed forward. Some tensions in the group have arisen from this, but I hope that we can chalk it up to stress of missing a deadline and continue working on Sleepy Scientist.

Extra Life 2013 Open Source Game Stream

Extra Life is a fundraising event where gamers worldwide play and stream games for charity. Specifically, I am raising money for the Denver Children’s Hospital. I will be participating in this year festivities which are from hopefully 8am on Nov.2nd to 9am on Nov.3rd. 25 hours of open source and free video games will be played! (Watch me here) Many of these games are multiplayer and I would love for anyone reading to download and play the game with me! Feel free to donate here, I am already of my goal (thanks to all that donated!), but there is always more support that could be given!  For anyone interested in what I am going to play, here is the list:

25 games for 25 hours! I’ll be starting sometime around 8am (EST)! See you there!