About ruthanngrogan

Me = Masters student in Creative Digital Media. Part time worker.Optimist. Kid sister. Music Lover. Spiritualist. Animal Lover. Girlfriend. Concert Goer. Mafia Movie Geek. Treky. Trubie. "A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history."Mohandas Gandhi. "My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind." Albert Einstein. "There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness. " His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

State of Play

State of play is a gaming conference for indie developers based in Ireland.  It’s run in the Aungier Street Campus of Dublin Institute of Technology. It has been running for quite a few years now and has a successful following. As the gaming industry here in Ireland expands, so do the amount of people demonstrating their games at the conference. The Malevolence team were delighted to take part.

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Malevolence Technical Director “Michael Boylan”

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Creative Director “Ruth-Ann Grogan” being interviewed by Frankie Whelan for the Irish Independent. 

State of play gave us the opportunity to reach important testers for our gamebook. As Malevolence is not a full game yet it is not a full book either, it allows us to take advantage of user testing at events such as State of Play in receiving critical feedback necessary to the gameplay that Malevolence has to offer. It also allows us to receive feedback from users outside our defined target market.

Ruth-Ann got the privilege of speaking to a journalist about Malevolence and why moving into the technology sector was the right move for her career. Follow the link to see her and others speaking at the event. Click Here!

For more information about state of play please visit: http://stateofplay.ie/

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Sprint 3

Back in DIT this week to present our final sprint goals before our submission of our artefact in December. Overall our feeling has been one of positivity. It’s in these last few stages, although we are starting to tire, it’s most important to keep progressing and reaching our goals on a weekly/day to day basis.

The main objectives the team set out to complete in the last sprint were the following:

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Out of these we prioritised completing as much as time would allow:

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User testing again was a prioritised objective for this sprint. Also, the team attended a workshop that highlighted the important role that JSON can play in conjunction with Lua for creating apps/games in Corona. Michael then had to organise and re-code the project to work with this.

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Our next aim is to complete artwork, re design the graphics for the combat scenes, add audio, fix bugs and continue our user testing. Sprite sheets have not been added as a top priority, but as an aim if we have enough time towards the end of the project.

Feedback from lecturers was over all positive. They would like to see the changes we have highlighted above. They also suggested perhaps testing the font we have chosen for legibility. They agreed combat scenes needed work and also encouraged user testing.

Find below a screen recording of our prototype up to date:

Enemy Characters

During Malevolence, our main character Kalem must travel into the Underworld to rescue his younger brother from the clutches of Abbadon, Ruler & Lord of the Underworld.

Along the path you choose for Kalem, he will fight various enemies. All of the enemies for Malevolence I had created prior to starting any artwork.  I had a description of how they would look, sourced colours for their appearance and in my mind, I knew how they would speak. It’s only in recent days that I have actually started to bring these characters to life. Each are scary in their own way, if not visually then behaviour and temperament are assets to fear with these creatures. If you are not cunning in choosing your character stats at the start of the combat scenes, it is possible that they may out smart you. You may have to be fast, strong or accurate in your fighting. All of these enemies have various strengths and weakness’ that may not be apparent in the text. It’s up to the reader to discover them and play upon them in combat.

Here are a list of enemies that Kalem may face depending on what path you choose for him.

Guards of the Underworld

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Guards are slaves to the Underworld, they patrol the earth stealing and capturing any person caught out wandering. They serve Abbadon and do only as he commands.

Donté the Dark

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Donté is a monsterous man!  He is lead torturer in the Underworld. He takes pleasure in hacking up victims when Abbadon is finished sucking the life from their bodies. His skin crawls with black veins and his head is covered in tattoos. His weapon of choice is a cleaver.

Flesh Eating Demons

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These beautiful creatures seduce their prey and then eat the flesh from their victim’s bones. Demons become frantic when threatened and viciously kill instinctively. They do not possess weapons, just razor sharp teeth and dagger like nails that can shred skin in an instant.

The Shapeshifter

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These scaled creatures can morph into any living/dead creature they desire, easily tricking you into close contact with them and then they attack. Although sleek and lean they can land a deadly blow to any substantial sized enemy.

Abbadon – Boss Fight

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Abbadon will be the only boss fight that Kalem will encounter in the underworld adventure in the malevolence mini series. Lord of the Underworld, he stands 3 times the size of an average man. His body is a mass of bulging muscle. His eyes glow orange filled with a fire that builds from sucking the souls from victims taken by the Underworld. Abbadon has skill with many weapons but wields a scythe during the final battle of Malevolence. You will need to work hard and choose the right path in order to face him with full strength.

More artwork for enemies is in the pipeline but this is what we have currently up to date.

We look forward to writing again soon,

~Team Malevolence~

Introduction Section Artwork

Without giving too much away we wanted to show off some of our artwork from the introduction section of our game book, Malevolence.

The introduction section is a very important aspect of the game book, it introduces users to characters and the world in which the game book is set. It also builds up tension and events. A lot of the art work you’ll see uploaded here will have animations or moving objects. All of the scenes slowly transition to each other when the user clicks the forward arrow, changing the text shown on screen. Each background will coincide with the text that is displayed.

We have only uploaded a few images. They are so much nicer when they are working together in transition on the iPad. We’ll let you be the judge of that.

Until our next Blog,

Team Malevolence ~

User Testing

It has become a number one focus of the team to prioritise “User Testing”. After our initial project documentation (requirements and design) we narrowed down the type of market that our interactive game book would appeal to. So how do we go about sourcing users to test our product? Basically for Malevolence, we scouted online forums with fans dedicated to fighting fantasy and choose your own adventure style game books. We posted a basic overview of what type of game book we are developing and shared all our social networking details so they may follow the progress of the project. Through this we have sourced small group of people that commonly play these books to test for us. As well as that, we have a group of people sourced online through our social media that own ipads that have never played these types of game books to test too. In that respect, we have two different types of groups and users testing.

For the narrative testing we uploaded the narrative and all linking branches to html pages. We then implemented google analytics so we could track our users choices and paths. Find the images below that highlight certain aspects.

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Google analytics set up
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Drop off Rate

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Results from google analytics data, that shows 32% of readers made it to the final scene.

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The red line indicates the most commonly chosen path by users.

In-Person User Testing

The team have also attended “Testing Jams” with consist of various users of different age/sex/culture to test our game book. These users may never have played a game book before or in fact have never played an application on an iPad before so it was interesting to see how they interacted with Malevolence. Currently we have only attended one of these testing sessions but have more planned in coming weeks. During these testing sessions the environment has played a huge role. We have tested in a small space, with a seat for the users, window open to allow air to flow but the room has been a comfortable temperature. We have then handed the iPad to the user with a current build of the game book ready to play. We have then taken note of users interactions and asked them a short list of questions at the end. It has been noted since our previous testing session that users found the combat scene very difficult and hope to address that in the coming weeks.
Here is the results from our testing session on the 15/10/2013

Testing Session 15/10/2013

Combat Mechanics

Objective: Monitor users interactions with the game scene. Can they figure out how to use it with minimal instruction? Are they using buttons displayed? Did they win/lose?

Navigations

Objective: Monitor and record users interactions with the navigation throughout the gamebook. Can they use it? Is it obvious what the various navigations are for?

Testing Room Environment

Small quiet room. Medium temperature. No Noise, chatting kept to minimal volume. Capacity 18 people. 9-12 people present at any given time.

Feedback:

User 1 –

  • Lots of hyphenation in narrative that needs to be taken out.

  • Would like to see small drawings on blank spaces on paper background. (stamp or logo or symbol)

  • Didn’t understand how to use stats.

  • Really liked HUD – easily navigated through intro and branching narrative.

  • Struggled with combat scene/still couldn’t understand how to use it with minimal instructions.

  • Prefer if the introduction corresponded in similar style to branching narrative but could felt that opinion was not valid as she did not read those style books before. (However, did prefer introduction style with illustration to correspond with text.)

  • Definitely need instructions for combat scene/couldn’t use it at all.

User 2 –

  • Throughout navigations work well and it has a good feel.

  • The buttons should highlight on hover, not the other way around.

  • No minus on stats.

  • Last piece of the action bar (yellow block) looks like a button.

  • Message board needs to be changed.

  • Health is beside the timer rather than being displayed with the health bar.

  • Would prefer introduction and branching narrative to be similar in design.

  • Knew how to use combat system with minimal instruction. Did not need any instruction on navigations.

User 3 –

  • Change the open hud arrow.

  • More visual feedback needed on buttons in HUD when touched. (cracks in wood)

  • Break up text with paragraph breaks.

  • Ask a question in the branching narrative asking the player what do they wish to do before giving the choices.

  • Sprite animation needed for attacks

  • Tutorial explaining the health, timer and attack bars purpose

  • Audio is needed

User 4 –

  • Animated graphics to fill blank space.

  • Paper texture looks better with darker backgrounds.

  • Tutorial need for fight – possible in the intro that users have the option to skip.

Test Flight

From the group of testers we gathered online, we created a group for them all on Facebook. It seemed an easy way to inform the users of new builds and sharing links without emailing each individually. Of course, we have kept a record of all user details anyway.  We emailed users our build on test flight, when they have approved of our provisioning license, we send them an email with the current build.  We have received a lot of feedback using this method of testing.

In our next blog we will discuss artwork of enemies that can be seen in the Malevolence.

Team Malevolence ~

Sprint 2

We are a bit behind on updating our blog but luckily we are keeping track of all our development as we progress through creating Malevolence.

Since our previous post, we have completed a lot of user testing on the Narrative of the book as well as user testing the combat mechanic.We have also passed our Sprint 2 deadline. We have presented once again in front of our lecturers in DIT to receive feedback on our work and progress so far. Please see the screen shots below of our presentation that day, highlighting our user testing and objectives for the next sprint.

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We also recreated a short video that gives a short overview of gameplay.

Here is the feedback we received from lecturers :

  • The moving graphics on the pages (especially the inter pages) looked good.
  • use a spread sheet to list all assets, animations, character, fights and mechanics so you can see how much you have done and how much you have left to do. In these last two months you need to have a very clear idea of what is needed and what will take most time to do. this will help you focus your efforts were they are needed.

  • The fact that it was on a device and that core aspects of it were tested were big pluses. The testing will stand to you in the exit interview.

Our next blog we will update you on artwork progress and feedback from our social media!

Team Malevolence

Sprint 1 Presentations

This week we were back to the the familiar setting of DIT to present our work to lecturers.

We prepared ourselves well and spoke clearly about our work. We received useful criticism and feedback and will be taking it all on board this week while reviewing our storyboards.

Below is a list of somethings that will need to be finalised.

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Although it was suggested to change the name of our Gamebook, we appreciate the reasons why our lecturers want us to, we have decided to stay with Malevolence. To us, it is not just a name picked at random, but a name that reflects our story. Also, we think it sounds quite cool. So there you have it, a simple break down of our presentation feedback and our plans for the weeks ahead.

Talk soon,

Team Malevolene