Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Our final will be on:

Tuesday, 12/6

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Due Tuesday (11/22)

Three things due from your team:

1. A sketch of the shape of your racing track, with whatever vehicle/character is taking the place of the "car" included.

2. A sketch of your title screen, which should give some indication of font style.

3. A sketch of a "story" screen, giving some context for the game. If the vehicle is a helicopter, who is the pilot, and why is she/he taking flight? Lay out the objective of your game. This should be some combination of snappily written text, and images giving a sense of character and environment. It can be one main image, or it can be several images broken down into comic-strip format. As a reference, take a look at how "blockade blitz" lays out its story:

Blockade Blitz

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Due Thursday (11/17)

At the beginning of Thursday's class, have a sketch of your idea for a "customized" flash racing game. The further the design is from the original racing concept, the better. You will be able to change the racing car to any other sort of object you'd like, and you'll also be able to customize the route and the look of the "track." Maybe instead of a racing car and track, it's a piece of food navigating a digestive system, or an ant navigating an ant burrow, or a comet cycling though a route in a solar system. Try to transform the original design as much as possible.

Bonus points for sketching out your title screen, and any sort of intro visual materials that will set the stage for your game.

Racing Game Tutorial

Link here:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Machinima shortcuts

Hiding the Second Life Interface:

To make the whole User Interface (UI) disappear, you can either use a shortcut or through the advanced menu.
Press Ctrl-Alt-⇧ Shift-D to make the Advanced menu appear.
Then go to 'Rendering', unclick 'Show UI'. That will make all the UI disappear. If you want to get the UI back use the shortcut: Ctrl-Alt-F1.

Stopping your shot with Snapz Pro X:


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Next Tuesday: 3 pages of storyboards

At the beginning of Tuesday's class, have your three ages of storyboard for your script finished. We'll go over the storyboards, and assign roles for creating your Machinima, in class.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Next class: Script Due

At the beginning of next class, have a one or two page script for a Machinima we'll create in Second Life, using at least one of the buildings the class has created as a "movie set." As a reminder, here are the building we have at our disposal:


You don't have to limit yourselves to the ideas we came up in the brainstorm session. But for those of you who missed it, here are a few of the ideas we threw up on the whiteboard --

Self-referential story about waking up and being stuck in Second Life
Religious sacrifice made at the Parthenon
Murder at the Club House
Nutso art critic showing off the art in the club
Time traveler going back in time to the castle, and finding life is simpler there (while someone living in that time thinks it's a terrible time to be alive)

Remember the avatars that we have at our disposal. The story can be told in any sort of mode you can think of -- interior monologue, dialogue, faux-documentary. Have fun with it, and we'll read them off next class.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

mjb - my avatar and me

Okay... Yeah... Weird. Is this person goth or something? I bet they smoke in real life too. Do they really think that cape looks cool? They must dress really weird. I bet he lives in his mothers basement and argues about comic characters online all day long.

This guy over here must be quite the adventurous fellow. And where is he? Did he really land that thing on some road? Crazy guy! I wonder who he's talking to...


Sean's avatar

This is my avatar. The personality I was trying to portray with this character was that of rugged adventurer. This is apparent in the hat and dirty low cut shirt with the sleeves cut off. The face, however, contradicts this personality, in that it is extremely feminine. Not sure how to change that.

This is a photo of myself taken earlier this year in Park City Utah. Someone seeing this photo for the first time may think that this is a person who enjoys the outdoors; and the winter in particular.

This was me with extremely long hair enjoying the Grand Canyon. If a stranger was to see this they may think wow is that a guy or a girl. They also might think that whoever it is really enjoys to travel and see new and exciting places.

My second life character started off as an adventurous pirate in a church. But while taking his adventures to many new places
he realized that he was Chunk from The Goonies. Now he is looking for a sunken pirate ship somewhere in the Caribbean
in hopes that the treasure that was sunk with the ship is still there.

Ricko's avatar

This guys is one friendly guy who likes to party. He had a lo of problem with fixing his hair. He do like to discover new places like the next guy.
The left picture is the picture of me trying to discover the world. This time it is in London. New adventures means new people and new culture. I believe that people see me as one rare Swedish guy that is to open minded and to open to talk for being from Sweden.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Gabor's closeup

Here's a close up of my avatar, not very detailed but fancy enough. Many would say that there's no effort in the customization that I can do, I would say that's spot on. The average person would know that its one of the cut and bake avatars that are given to you at the beginning of account creation. There's not much attitude going on, except for the hand on the hip.

Here in this picture there's plenty of flavor going on. In the background you see a small, detailed circle. It would be safe to assume that there is ping pong going on or beer pong, more likely the later. One thing that stands out the most would be the black leather jacket, sunglasses, and black fedora. You don't see a combination like that, especially at night. You can tell that he doesn't mind wearing his sunglasses at night and that may be his favorite song.

Building in Second Life; What's Due for Tuesday, Sept. 27

For this Thursday's class, we'll introduce some basic building concepts in Second Life. It'll probably take a little time to get oriented to the interface, and to virtual 3D construction in general, so we'll start small in class today: I want you to build a table, and two chairs. The first chair should be pretty basic, but the second chair should have a little flair to it. Your completed table and chairs will be due at the beginning of Tuesday's class.

Also due on Tuesday: a sketch of a building you'd like to construct in Second Life. Hopefully the time spent in class today will give you some ideas of some of the possibilities and the limits of the basic building tools. Since SL isn't constrained by the physics of the real world, take the opportunity to be playful and creative with your design. Take your cue from "novelty architecture" (we'll look at some examples in class) -- buildings that are perhaps more sculptural or metaphorical than practical. Here are some links to examples of novelty architecture in the real world:

You might want to make your sketches on graph paper, as that will give you some indication of relative scale, and you might be able to translate some of that information to the SL building grid.

Here are some basic tips for building in SL:


Holding down the alt key and clicking in the viewer, you can use your mouse to navigate through the visual space without having to move your avatar around to see things from other angles.


Ctrl + L: Links objects
Ctrl + Shift + L: De-links objects
Shift + click + drag: Copies objects


When moving or rotating an object, you have access to a grid that will "snap" the object to specific coordinates. The grid will appear when you start moving the object; drag your cursor over the grid, and your object will snap to the grid increments. Building objects that are sized the the scale of the grid is a helpful strategy.


To create a hole in your object, in the build menu, select "edit" in the top menu, and "object" in the sub-menu. You have an option to "hollow" the object (and "path cut" will begin to slice into the shape of your object).


Right clicking on your object gives you several options, including editing, deleting, and "taking" your object. "taking" the object is like saving it -- it gets saved to your inventory. To keep your inventory organized, you should name you objects -- do that in your "Build" menu, under "Edit," in the "General" sub-menu.

Here are a few SL building tutorials on youtube:

GViz's adventures.

Nice day at the beach, I couldn't help it. I felt like I needed to relax.

It's been a while since i've felt like a little kid. One of my favorite places I have ever been too is disneyland, even though with its outrageous prices. Thought I would stop by and say hi to Mickey while I was around.

I found a sweet military base in second life. It was my first time flying ever here in Second Life. Little did I know how good of a pilot i was that I would land in the middle of the ocean and crash land. After my abrupt landing, I found out I still had my missiles in tact for some extra fun!

Second Life Vacation

The first place I went was the Grand Canyon. As soon as I arrived, I noticed the only 2 other people in the entire Grand Canyon were getting busy. I decided it was the perfect Kodak moment.

This place was about a 30 second walk from the Grand Canyon. I love ass-deep powder in regular life, so I figured I'd enjoy it just as much in Second Life. I didn't.

These are posters of movies that can be viewed in a theater. I tried to watch a few, but they all cost real money, so I opted against it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

NC State, The Bay, Casino

Casino, The Bay, and NC STATE


beach paradise island, london, and st. maur

Assignment for Thurs, 9/22

Your assignment for the beginning of Thursday's class:

Post two pictures to the blog. One is a picture of your avatar (or maybe two pictures, if you want a full-body shot and also a closeup), as well as a snapshot of yourself (you can take the shot with your computer, or you can pull a recent shot off facebook or elsewhere.

Under each picture, write a paragraph describing what assumptions an average person would make about the avatar or the person in the photo. What sort of personality do they have? What sort of personal background do you think they have? What sort of attitude?

Second Life Visit

I visited an art installation by Artistide Despres, called "Alea Fukushima," which was a response to the Fukushima reactor meltdown. I actually met the artist there and got to chat with him a bit.

Brett's Zynga article response

1. Their edge in the industry is due to their incorporation with social networks allowing people to easily play with their friends. The games are also free so anyone can play, and if they choose to spend money on their games, they can.

2. They are using a free-to-play model which is different because most games you have to purchase in full. The free-to-play model lets you play for free and if you want specific perks you may have to spend money.

3. Zynga made good choices by creating a free-to-play model, incorporating micro transactions of money, creating games that have a huge chance for profit, and incorporating itself with various social networks.

4. I 've never purchased a virtual good. I've won various virtual goods for my Xbox Live avatar.

5. I'd side with the game designers because data isn't a clear cut way to design a game around. The developers that left the company even said that the data didn't explain how to make games, it didn't account on how to create the right use experience.

Foldit: using games to combat disease

Interesting BBC news article on harnessing gamers to solve science problems -- in this case, modeling an enzyme that may help with anti-AIDS drugs:

More info from Wikipedia:

Direct link to the Foldit site:

Zygna Article

Zgyna’s edge is simple they put free games on the market through facebook and then analyze data from their users to create valuable new items that can create a profit for Zygna.

There first game introduced on facebook was a poker game. This game created a lot of buzz and then designers added virtual goods you could buy at the poker table.

I have bought backgrounds for xbox360 platform; one was a Nazi Zombie background that would show up when the system was started.

Being a business major I would have to decide on the choices driven by data. The data is what is keeping Zygna up to date on the market and the influence facebook users have on each other. While having an attractable design/game is important, it is useless without more people playing and collecting data is how that is accomplished.

Places I went

A night club were I went. I meet a lot people there.

Golden gate bridge. With Juan.
There are a number of ways in which Zynga stands apart as a game company and manages to gain an edge over other such companies. However the most important aspect of Zynga's strategy is the fact that the company's games are integrated into popular social networking sites such as Facebook. The games are free to play, and offer people a fun new way to interact with friends, as well as meet new ones. The interconnectivity between players in these games gets people addicted and keeps them coming back for more; whether it be a larger, more flourishing farm in FarmVille, or taller, more impressive skyscrapers in CityVille. Zynga's partnership with Facebook allows them to reach many more people than traditional game companies. People that would normally not play games may see that their friends have started playing a game on Facebook, and in turn may decide to try it out for themselves. Zynga's games also allow players to invite other Facebook friends to play, which is another way that these games reach people in a way that other game companies simply cannot compete with. Zynga is able to monitor current trends among their users, which allows them to make a profit by giving players what they want. Some examples of ways that this has proven to be successful include the changing of colors and other features of in-game objects, then repackaging them as items to be sold. This has been done with everything from translucent fish from FishVille to the white tiger from MafiaWars. I have personally never bought virtual goods. In the debate between game choices based on data and game choices based on game designers, I would side with the designers. While I understand the importance that data has played and will continue to play in the gaming world, I believe that basing games strictly on data robs developers of creativity and instead we are left with games that boil down to little more than point and click. With all of the progressions being made by the rest of the video game industry today, the simplified, retro-nature of Zynga's games seems to be a step backwards for games in general.

Places I went


Carnival of Chaos
Chamonix winter sports center

Zynga article

1. What is Zynga's biggest "edge" as a game company?

The “edge” that they have is the very large market that they have. Any one can play their games they very simple.

2. What is the infrastructure Zynga uses for distributing its games? And how is that infrastructure different from more traditional game distribution systems?

They distribute their games through social networking site Facebook. Their games are online, people don’t have to go to the store and buy them. They have access to the games instantly. Zynga doesn’t have to spend money on making physical copies of the game. They save lots of money being an online distributor.

3. List a couple design choices that were made in Zynga games that proved to be successful.

They allow you to interact with friends to get certain things done in game. It doesn’t focus on winging but on a statues. The inter face is pretty simple so anyone can jump in and start gaming.

4. Have you ever bought "virtual goods"? If so, what were they, and why did you buy them?

I have buy virtual good every few months. The main thing that I buy are games, on a few different platforms. On the Xbox Live arcade, Xbox Marketplace, On Steam. As well as other pc software. And I buy them because it’s more convenient than drive to Reno or ordering it online and waiting for it to arrive. It is also cheaper sometimes time to get the digital copy.

5. There seems to have been tension within Zynga between designs and choices driven by data, and choices driven by game designers. Whose side, in general, would you personally align yourself with, and why?

I would lean to the design driven by the data. Why? Because that is the way I work. You tell me what you want and I will give it to you and if there is room, I will put my own touch to it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

mbrill - second life
Smuggler’s Moon is a Star Wars themed area. Full of freebies (clothes and accessories), very detailed replicas of in movie settings, characters and even dances!
Tableau seems like a wild west, world war two era army base resort hotel. I found it under the “Strange” category and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. From the artsy horse installation, to the large, unexploded nuclear bombs and right back to the beach front resort hotels, this place is just all over the map!
Off The Wall is a childlike area full of over sized toys and other play things. It’s primarily an outdoor area, full of vegetation and other kooky objects. The background sounds also add to the humorous mood.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Fashion Show
haunted house ride

places, Yak

I traveled to the golden gate bridge and visited a horse sculpture. It's moved me more than words could ever explain. After that I met up with my jolly good friend Trevor and we preceded to embark on a fantastic ride. This ride just also happened to be on the golden gate bridge. The scenery was as breathe taking as the eye could conceive. The hot air balloon kissing the horizon was a fantastic touch. Last but certainly not least I tried to gamble at a local casino, but a poor poet like me lacks the funds for such pleasures, so I just relaxed on the one of their fine pieces of furniture.

Jiang's Video-Cellphone

Assignment for Tues, 9/20

The assignment over the weekend, due at the start of Tuesday's class, is to make a blog post at this blog, with two parts to it. The first part is to upload three snapshots from your virtual fieldtrip in Second Life, with a brief sentence or two about each location. The second part is to respond to an online article about the game company Zynga.

Please read the article "Virtual Products, Real Profits," online at the Wall STreet Journal here, and in your blog post, answer the following questions:

1. What is Zynga's biggest "edge" as a game company?

2. What is the infrastructure Zynga uses for distributing its games? And how is that infrastructure different from more traditional game distribution systems?

3. List a couple design choices that were made in Zynga games that proved to be successful.

4. Have you ever bought "virtual goods"? If so, what were they, and why did you buy them?

5. There seems to have been tension within Zynga between designs and choices driven by data, and choices driven by game designers. Whose side, in general, would you personally align yourself with, and why?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Assignment for Thurs: Pick three places to visit in Second Life

So, for Thursday, please got to the Second Life Destination Guide, linked below:

And pick three destinations you'll visit on our virtual "field trip" during Thursday's class. I'll check in with everyone to hear their three picks at the start of Thursday's class.

Here are the videos we looked at in today's class:

jokes on you

Coffee Shop Career Change
by: tbyrumjackson

Athlete and his Coach

Ricko's Movie

lunch date

Saving the World

Heroless Heroes

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sign up for Second Life before Tuesday, Xtranormal posting to blog, and some links

You need to do two things before Tuesday's class:

1. Post your finished Xtranormal short to this blog (use the "embed" code)

2. Sign up for an account on Second Life

Second Life main web page

Link to sign up for an account:

Second Life account registration

You'll go through the steps of choosing an avatar (which you can later change), creating a username, and entering your email, birthdate, and password.

Here's short article on what makes writing memorable (we'll read it in class):

"Facts are Feeble Fare," by Alain de Botton

And here's a link Gabor passed along, about using "atoms" rather than polygons to create graphics:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Assignment for Thursday: Chelsea's punchline

A mini-assignment for Thursday: everybody needs to come to class with an ending for Chelsea's Xtranormal short, to punch it up. Hopefully between all of us we can come up with something that has a bit more punch.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Chatbots: Dialogue created through artificial intelligence

Here's a funny/interesting video of two chatbots having a "conversation" -- it sounds like some of the absurdist dialogue in a few of the Xtranormal shorts we've seen:

More info the project, and the Cornell Creative Machines Lab (which set up the "conversation") here:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Assignment for Tuesday 7/6

Now that you've seen some of the characters that Xtranormal uses, I'd like you to invent a character that isn't part of their "canned" character sets. If you don't feel you have any drawing skill, don't sweat it -- this isn't about being Michaelangelo, it's about communicating an idea, and a crude drawing can probably get the job done. The character doesn't have to look human -- it could be an animal character, an insect character, and so on. Come to Tuesday's class with your drawing on an 8.5x11" sheet of paper, with a front view of your character. Include a background with an environment for them to inhabit. Include a brief 3-5 sentence description of the personality qualities you think your character embodies. Imagine that you're from a design and animation company who's pitching character designs to Xtranormal, in the hopes that they'll pay you to design and execute the characters for them. In a brief paragraph, explain who you think the characters will appeal to, and why you think they will be popular characters for Xtranormal's service.


A rough cut of your Xtranormal short is due at the neginning of class on Tuesday as well.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


If you'd like to download a copy of the syllabus, click here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Xtranormal Project: What's due Tuesday

Here is a brief article on Xtranormal from Fast Company magazine:

Here is a Beginner's Guide to using Xtranormal:

And here are some Xtranormal shorts I'll show in class:

Geico commercials made in Xtranormal

"What's A Meme" by jtoeman

Pickup Line Fail
by: dweed

Orchestral Percussionist
by: mconradd


On Tuesday, a printed-out copy of a script for an Xtranormal short is due. We'll work on executing the short in class. The script should be roughly three double-spaced pages. For screenplays, in general one page of script equals one minute of screen time – the finished short should run about three minutes in length.

Write the script out in the form of a play, including some notes on gestures the characters make, like so:

How's the weather?

(Shrugs) I don't know. You tell me.

(Frowns) I asked you first.

You are constrained, by the format of Xtranormal, to a dialogue between two characters. One thing that makes dialogue interesting is when each character has a distinct personality, and a distinct speaking style. The pre-recorded voices of Xtranormal have a similarly flat affect, but word choice in dialogue can still give the characters distinct personalities. For instance, the following exchange sets up two characters with very different temperaments:

My head is like, totally foggy, man. It's like, I don't know if up is up, or up is down. You know what I mean?

I do have some inkling of what you're trying to say, despite the vague and muddled manner in which you've chosen to vocalize it.

As an exercise to help get you thinking about the different personalities of your characters, in addition to the script itself, you must also write a one-paragraph "Bio" of each character. What is their background? Their style? Their outlook on life? You should choose Xtranormal characters that somehow reflect, in their character design, the type of personality you want them to project.


Your dialogue will probably have more impact on an audience if it builds to some culmination or punchline, and if there is some suspense as to what the outcome will be. The cliche is that drama is driven by conflict (though "conflict" can be more subtle than a straight-ahead battle between two people).

The scene I showed from "Inception" is really an exposition scene -- explaining the fictional parameters of the movie's world. But it's built with a little shock at the end, when Ariadne's character is surprised to learn she's in the dream. It gives the scene a little punch at the end -- a sense of climax that gives the scene a feeling of closure, rather than just letting things trail off into the next scene.

Here are a few types of dialogue, which might help give you a structure for giving your scene a bit of an "arc," with a sense of resolution or closure at the end.


This is the most direct form of conflict: one character is arguing with another. The suspense that's built into this is: who will win the argument? Another element of suspense might be: who is actually right (the person who wins the argument, after all, might just win by being a better bully, and not actually by being right)?


One character is trying to convince another character of something. If the character being persuaded is skeptical, this provides some conflict (though not as direct a conflict as a full-blown argument). Suspense arises from the question: will the skeptic be persuaded, or resist all the way to the end?


One character trying to learn a secret from another character. The suspense can come both from wondering if the interrogated character is going to give in, and what the nature of the secret itself is. The classic example of this would be the interrogation of a suspect in a police drama, but it could be as small-scale as a mother suspecting their kid did something naughty, and trying to figure out what it was.


The flip side of one character hiding something from another is one character deliberately revealing something to another. The suspense here tends not to be whether the confessing character will reveal something, since the character is willingly opening up -- it's more suspense toward what the nature of the confession will be, and what the reaction will be of the person being confessed to.


One character lies to another. Some suspense comes from whether the character being lied to will end up believing or disbelieving the lie. If the liar is telling a particularly extravagant tall tale, there can be suspense in wondering how far the liar will push it.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Welcome to the blog for the "Intro to Digital Entertainment " class at Sierra Nevada College. As the blurb in the catalog says:

This course will introduce students to a variety of current software to produce digital media associated with the entertainment field. The course will introduce concepts and methods of animation, simulated environments, and gaming. A variety of Digital Entertainment venues will be explored, that may include film, video, television, commercials, virtual environments, special effects, computer generated imagery and animation.

Next class, we'll be going to to create some animations using pre-built animated characters. Please sign up for a free account before next class, so we don't have to burn class time getting you set up. You can sign up for an account here.

Also, for next class, prepare a 5-10 minute presentation on a video game or virtual experience you enjoy.

Address these questions:

  1. What is the basic goal of the game/exerience?
  2. Give a short description of the world of the game/experience.
  3. What type or genre of game/experience is it? (examples: platform game, puzzle game, first person shooter…)
  4. Who is the audience for the game/experience?
  5. Describe the interface of the game/experience, and the mechanics of game play/interactivity.
  6. Discuss the design of the game/experience. How does the style of the characters/environment add to the experience of the game?
  7. What is the element of the game/experience that makes it “special” – better than other examples of its genre?

Please feel free to bring any visual aids – screenshots, or the game/experience itself – to incorporate into your presentation.