Category Archives: game based learning

WWW – Simple access to web pages

I’m building an interactive experience which makes use of available weather data, much like the data services made available by the BOM or the OpenWeatherMap. This means I need to be able to load data from the web, parse it and then transform 3D geometry based on real world locations and the loaded weather data.

That’s a whole load of stuff to figure out and then pull together, so I’m making a start by learning how to load data by retrieving the contents of URLs and weather specific data, just to get the whole thing going.

using System.Collections;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using UnityEngine;
//using System.Xml;
//using System;

public class SimpleWebAccess : MonoBehaviour {

	IEnumerator Start()

	{
	
		WWW www = new WWW ("ftp://ftp.bom.gov.au/anon/gen/fwo/IDV10751.xml");
		yield return www;
		print (www.text);

		}
}

Related links

Modelling a simple door/entry area to Dr Softain’s lab with Blender for an augment with Aurasma Studio

A work-in-progress render of the scene and 50 frame animated geometry for an augment of door/entry area to Dr Softain’s laboratory. Thematically, this scene takes place around the same time as Dr Softain’s emergency broadcast.

The modelling is based on measurements and reference photos taken at the scene. The animated door opening was achieved by creating a simple bone system, skinning the mesh and then animated the bones. I did this because I thought animated rigid geometry wasn’t supported by Aurasma Studio. I was wrong. Animated rigid geometry is supported by Aurasma Studio. I may continue to use bones to animate the opening of the door and other geometry that makes up the scene.

If all goes to plan, the final .dae export and augment with Aurasma Studio of the alternate animated door/entry area should replace the real door/entry area entirely.

Work to be completed

The completed scene will be made up of a partially visible collapsed Dr Softain, handing lights and elements such as strange equipment and tools you may expect to find in a laboratory. I’m also considering replacing animated versions of the fridge and bin seen in the reference photos. Each element will need to be low-poly and  combined with other geometry into a single mesh to meet the 3D guidelines for Aurasma Studio. Further visual effects such as dirt, spilt chemicals, blood etc will be painted onto 512 x 512 material that is then applied to the mesh. The animation looks a bit stiff, so I’ll give that a bit of tweak too!

Thinking out loud

Sketching out the door/entry scene and thinking about the limitations of designing and developing augments. There’s something about them that makes them merely passive observational pieces. They seem read-only. Web 1.0. Augments and the fictional layer should be read/write by those who interact with the space. That’s more web 2.0 – beyond. I guess that’s the challenge. Integrate them into/with something else where action is required and/or make the diorama read/write.

Dr Softain's surgery
An example of the type of elements that could used in the scene.
New equipment for Dr Softain's laboratory.
An example of the type of elements that could used in the scene.

Dr Softain’s emergency broadcast

Dr Sigmeund Softain is specialist surgeon. He was responsible for pioneering The Softain Biopsy medical procedure. Dr Softain’s research is experimental and ongoing. He Tweets his day-to-day research activities and also discusses his work and recent findings on his blog.

One day everything changed. Something went wrong in Dr Softain’s laboratory. An experimental medical procedure went awry. An outbreak. Amidst all the chaos and confusion Dr Softain recorded his final broadcast. An emergency broadcast warning us of an unknown peril.

Dr Softain’s emergency broadcast

Outside Dr Softain’s laboratory
All that was remained was a pool of blood and Dr Softain’s laboratory pass.
Door to Dr Softain's laboratory

Door to Dr Softain's laboratory

User engagement
I recorded and edited Dr Softain’s emergency video on my iPad. I then used Aurasma to create the video augment. Early one morning I set up the installation made up of the pool of blood, Softain’s lab pass, iPad with Aurasma and instructions outside a fire door in the kitchen of my workplace and then waited for work colleagues to discover the installation as they visited the kitchen for their morning coffee.

Reflection

Thinking about it, this wasn’t really an augment. It didn’t augment reality with a fictional layer. The layer was simply triggered, much like a QR code. Also the metaphorical container for displaying the augment was wrong. Lame. A better augment would have been to animate the pool of blood or design an intercom to display the video. The situation was also goofy. This kind of scenario (minus the zombies) could be used as an element of a larger campus-wide activities such as student induction or OHS/ workplace hazard identification audit.

Putting it together

I used my iPad to shoot the video and then edited the video and overdubbed my own sound effects with Pinnacle Studio 2.0.

Dr Softain issued new medical research pass amidst controversy

Days later or maybe even weeks later

Days later or maybe even weeks later is a concept for a collaborative workplace/institute/teaching centre-wide activity for staff and students designed to mend the physical and psychological effects of the Victorian government’s $300 million in cuts from the state’s TAFE sector. Physical and psychological effects could include closure of campuses, a reduction of courses being offered and job cuts.

This blog post contains exerpts from a conversation about the concept I had with myself on our organisation’s Yammer network. This blog post attempts to consolidate the concept.

I saw the activity taking place after the catastrophic event. It could’ve been 28 days later or even 28 weeks later. It doesn’t really matter. Just as long as the scenario provides an exposition,  defines the goal(s) to be achieved by staff and students and also describes the resources/materials that are available for use.

I saw the activity involving the every staff member and their respective teaching centre. From the top to the bottom of the organisational chart. The CEO would actually play a pivotal role in activity. They would be responsible for broadcasting/providing updates on the progress of the activity. These updates would also allow activity facilitators to adjust the activity if/when required.


I saw each teaching centre being responsible for helping students contribute a specific artefact or service from their particular area of expertise. The artefact or service (and production of) would contribute to the activity while also satisfying the students scholastic assessment requirements.

Nothing about the activity changes the need for students to demonstrate their skills and provide evidence of their competence. It’s just their output or artefact may change, but not how they work through the process of creating the artefact.

I didn’t want the activity to involve only our Australian based campus. I wanted the activity to be inclusive. What better way to reach out to our state and international counterparts than a part in a inter-campus activity.

Hospitality Tourism planning is highly complex and requires integrated and flexible approaches. The activity would reflect the typical nature of each particular area of study. for example, hospitality and tourism is a complex industry that requires flexible approaches and unique problem solving skills, particularly in the context of responding to a natural disaster. Real-world examples that require application of employability skills and dimensions of competency.


Scientist area always important in an activity involving zombies. They serve as one of the last hopes – finding a cure!

The activity would take place in real time and play-out over an entire semester, perhaps even the entire scholastic year. Although maintaining momentum over this period of time could be difficult. The pacing of the narrative would be informed by the deliverables of each course.


Testing the activity on a teaching centre could be a good way to identify issues.

Then I realised. Yes. This is a zombie game.

This activity would take place openly and in public. Non-students and staff would be able to observe the progress of the activity via the organisation’s website. Completing the activity publicly gives people the opportunity to see the work the students and staff are doing together (Outside an open day, showcase or expo context).


Then I realised the zombie metaphor is problematic.

Staff and students are not to blame for the funding cuts.


Although the activity may not be completely appropriate at this point in time, I do think there is potential for a collaborative workplace/institute/teaching centre-wide activity for staff and students to occur.

GBL MOOC – Week 1: Game Based Learning/Game principles: Serious Games (Darfur is dying)

Darfur is Dying - Start
This post documents my thoughts on Darfur is Dying as part of the Week 1 activities research into Serious Games for the Games Based Learning (GBL) MOOC.

The game 
Darfur is Dying – http://www.darfurisdying.com

What is it?
Darfur is Dying is mtvU’s Darfur refugee game for change that “provides a window into the experience of the 2.5 million refugees in the Darfur region of Sudan. Players must keep their refugee camp functioning in the face of possible attack by Janjaweed militias. Players can also learn more about the genocide in Darfur that has taken the lives of 400,000 people, and find ways to get involved to help stop this human rights and humanitarian crisis.”

Audience

General/Secondary/University students.

Why so Serious (Game)?
To successfully meet the challenge of maintaining the function of a refugee camp under the threat of possible attack by Janjaweed militias, the player needs to:

  • obtain food
  • build shelters
  • collect water
  • stay healthy.

Game mechanics

Darfur is Dying makes use of:

Learning outcomes
A game that deals with conflict and civil unrest clearly has no winner. Darfur is dying provides an insight into the life of people living in the Darfur region of Western Sudan during the civil war in Darfur. Throughout the game the player is prompted with education points and information on how they can help stop the crisis in Darfur. This game is successful in creating an awareness and reaction to a situation which would not normally receive much attention from mainstream media.

GBL MOOC – Week 1: Game Based Learning/Game principles: Serious Games (Viking Quest)

Viking Quest - Splash screen
Viking Quest is an adventure game produced by BBC History.

This post documents my thoughts on Viking Quest as part of the Week 1 activities and research into Serious Games for the Games Based Learning (GBL) MOOC.

The game 
Viking Quest – http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/interactive/games/viking_quest/

What is it?
Viking Quest is an adventure game produced by BBC history. The player is placed in the role of a viking who has been issued a challenge by their chief. The challenge is to travel to a distant land, loot a monastery and then return to Norway with the treasure.

Audience
General/Primary and Secondary school

Why so Serious (Game)?
To successfully meet the challenge set by the Viking chief, the player needs to:

  • determine if they should borrow money to fund their quest
  • choose a location to build their longship
  • select a longship that is suitable for their journey
  • choose crew members
  • select a route across the North Sea
  • determine if they should burn the monastery.

Game mechanics
Viking Quest features:

Learning outcomes
Viking Quest provides an overview of the type of activities (Sailing, looting, ship building), technology/transport (Longships, weapons), commerce (Loans/Borrowing money, slavery), belief systems (Casting runes – Consulting the Gods, Christianity), settlements (Froya, Strandebarm, Kaupang) established by Viking culture.

Without knowing the scope/audience for Viking Quest, (but knowing that it was produced by BBC History) I think it’s reasonable to assume that the broad overview of Viking Culture presented in the game was the intended learning outcome. I also think it’s reasonable to assume that Viking Quest may be part of a larger and perhaps more detailed learning/educational resource on Viking culture and could be regarded as complementary material.