Blog

  • Evaluatin’ Movable Type

    September 13, 2004

    NOTE: This post got ‘piratized’ by the text filter I used for Talk Like A Pirate Day and got saved back into the database. This seems kind of dumb. Is it a config issue? Anyway…

    I’m evaluatin’ both Movable Type and WordPress, I’ll warrant ye. Movable Type has a nice interface, but th’ static page generation workflow bugs me a bit. Aarrr! I were bein’ also surprised t’ see a lack o’ built-in CSS class definitions t’ handle basic formattin’ chores o’ images, etc. My impression is that th’ power o’ Movable Type lies largely in its skeleton structure, integration with RSS feeds, and plugin support. There are also a few very nicely designed Movable Type weblogs, we’ll keel-haul ye! Aarrr!

    Some advantages o’ Movable Type

    • It’s relatively nice lookin’ out o’ th’ box
    • It’s relatively easy t’ install, though ’tis still somewhat involved fer th’ novice on unix who’s ne’er installed a database-driven application.
    • It has an active developer and user community, unlike “more powerful” roll-yer-own systems.
    • A pretty powerful template-based content system, with lots o’ useful tags

    Some thin’s that are iffy:

    • A somewhat primitive upload admiral
    • Nay asset management…ye need t’ define yer directory structure fer images, thumbnails, and so on in advance if ye want it t’ make sense later.
    • A confusin’ dynamic template system. Partly this is due t’ th’ system itself not bein’ well understood by meself
    • A requirement t’ know CSS t’ restyle yer site
    • Cost fer multiple users (not a big deal, th’ prices are quite reasonable)

    So this brin’s me t’ WordPress, which is free, has active community support, and installs quite a bit more simply, pass the grog, avast! Let’s see how this goes.

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  • First Post

    September 11, 2004

    The new web site is launched, though things are still obviously under construction. This will be a good opportunity to post regular tidbits about what I’m working on for a small group of acquaintances, while working on my writing.

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  • Boston Museum of Science (2002)

    September 3, 2004

    The Museum of Science Bird Hall focuses not just on a lot of stuffed birds, but on bird language. A careful observer can tell a lot about what’s going on by identifying the behavior of birds. The two interactives are designed to demonstrate this through illustration and example. They were designed at Interactive Factory with the Museum of Science’s exhibit designers.

    Both interactives were created at Interactive Factory, primarily using PC Director 8.5 for deployment on dedicated PowerMac 700MHz G4s, back in 2001. An interesting challenge was that the kiosks were designed without keyboards or mice, relying solely on arcade-style pushbuttons. I did the programming with some graphics for each interactive.

    FBI Mystery

    990-02-mosfbi01.jpg The idea behind this interactive is to solve a series of mysteries through auditory cues. The kiosk itself resembles the back of an equipment van, stacked with all kind of audio equipment. The interactive resembles a mixing board that allows users to selectively add and subtract sounds to match audio heard in a recording.

    Mural

    990-02-mosmural01.jpg There are three different mini-games in this interactive, based around events that take place in Acadia National Park up in Maine. Like the FBI Mystery, the emphasis is on teaching bird language. This screenshot shows the “reconstruct the events” mini-game.

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  • Phase Forward DIA Kiosk (2002)

    September 3, 2004

    990-02-pfdia01.jpg At Active Edge, we created this kiosk application in about a month, starting from concept to final delivery. We worked with Phase Forward’s Marketing department to understand the nature of “clinical trials”. Because of the trade show environment, we designed the game to mostly work as an ambient part of the overall booth, providing background movement and a “high tech” feel. The interactivity is very limited, designed to quickly move into attract mode if no user input is detected.

    313-02-pfdia02.jpg313-02-pfdia03.jpg313-02-pfdia04.jpg We used a two-person team. I was the producer, architect, integrator, working with a colleague at Active Edge who created the 3D look. The Flash engine was very basic, consisting of a shell that could load two completely independent animated SWF files.

    990-02-pfdia05.jpg We accurately animated two complete workflows: internet-based trials versus paper-based. The “simulation” shows that internet-based trials finish faster than paper-based trials. Originally, we had programmed more interactivity into the application to allow exploration, but due to time constraints of getting the application fully tested and stable for installation, we had to axe that feature. Still, the overall project was pretty cool.


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  • NCAA Football ‘99 (1998)

    September 3, 2004

    NCAA Football 99After Qualia, I worked for a year at Tiburon / EA Sports as Art Manager on NCAA Football ’99, the sister game to the well-known Madden football series. The role of Art Manager was to coordinate the activities of the artists assigned to the game (7, in this case) with the Development Director and Programming Manager. Although the studio offered excellent benefits, I found that bekng a middle manager didn’t agree with me, and I returned to Boston after we shipped gold master. Working on the top football franchise in the world in a AAA studio would have been a buzz to anyone who loved the game, but as one generally ignorant of professional sports, I wasn’t as hardcore as I felt I needed to be.

    Years later, I’ve realized it was the sense of “authorship” I missed from my earlier experiences making games. By 1998, the scale of the game industry had started to come within range of billion-dollar levels, and “team” had displaced “authorship”. You can’t afford authorship. It will sink your production.

    So it’s important to me to do my own thing, and I’d rather work on smaller projects as a primary contributor.

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