I was interviewed a few weeks ago by a student reporter from The Pendulum, the student newspaper here at Elon University. The interview dropped off my radar until just a few days ago when I noticed that an article on my efforts to develop a 3D-DGBL to teach beginning German had finally been published. The…Read more Student Newspaper Article and Final Findings
Visual Learning and Game Maps
Now that I have my article on digital game-based learning out the door and the semester is gradually coming to an end, I have had much more time to spend on Blender and creating 3D models. Although directly related to the research I am conducting on 3D-DGBL environments and their eventual application for second language…Read more Visual Learning and Game Maps
Getting My Blender Chops Back
It has been a few weeks (months?) since focusing intently on Blender, and I have been having some difficulty getting back into it. I thought I would start out small and finish work on the center point of any pedestrian zone - the fountain - but this has proven to be somewhat of an arduous…Read more Getting My Blender Chops Back
Back in the Saddle and Paper Out the Door
Finally made it back to Elon University after a whirlwind couple of days in sunny San Diego at the 2009 ACTFL conference. I had many excellent opportunities to share ideas about 3D digital game-based learning with interested colleagues. Many thanks to all I met at the San Diego Conference Center and who visited my poster…Read more Back in the Saddle and Paper Out the Door
Going to California
I have not been blogging for a few weeks now as I have been busy with other things, such as getting ready for the upcoming ACTFL Conference in San Diego, teaching my German language courses this semester, and finishing a research paper on the pedagogical applications of narrative in first-person 3D gaming interfaces of the…Read more Going to California
Unity Available for Free!
Just cruising around the recent postings on BlenderNation and came across the news item that the Unity 3D game engine and editor are now being released under a free indie license. Apparently there is tight integration between Blender (and other 3D applications) and Unity, which will allow all development in the DigiBahn Project up to…Read more Unity Available for Free!
ACTFL Poster Presentation and Handout (Thanks, Inkscape!)
I spent the time this weekend working on my poster presentation for the upcoming ACTFL Conference, which will be held 20-22 November in San Diego, California. I will be chairing a panel at the conference, presenting my own paper, and also doing a poster presentation: Should make for a busy and exhilarating couple of days.…Read more ACTFL Poster Presentation and Handout (Thanks, Inkscape!)
Aligning Narratives: Theories of Situated Cognition, SLA, and Game Studies
For the last, oh...I dunno, say, four months I have been reworking my submission to L2 Journal, at the cost of me actually doing any real game development. I just finished up a section of the article, which describes the applicability of 3D-DGBL, specifically its first-person ilk, for second language acquisition (SLA). A dry theory…Read more Aligning Narratives: Theories of Situated Cognition, SLA, and Game Studies
The Game Background Story
I'm sitting in my office, looking across the Fonville Fountain Plaza and making some Blender renders for the upcoming 2009 ACTFL Conference, where I will be presenting a poster on DigiBahn game development, when it occured to me that I have not yet actually blogged on the background story of the game. What's it all…Read more The Game Background Story
First Test of Prototype Game Level – Paper Version
As part of their midterm, students in the intermediate conversational German course tested what they had developed so far today in class. Over the past few weeks, students in this course have been researching assigned identities for the NPCs in order to develop more realistic depth of character. I am hoping that this research will…Read more First Test of Prototype Game Level – Paper Version
Been Really Busy. Sorry.
Sorry that I have not had the chance to put any new posts up. As I had anticipated, teaching responsibilities this semester have put a slight damper on my development activities. In addition, I have also been investing more effort into the research side of the endeavor - and reaping the benefits! I have two…Read more Been Really Busy. Sorry.
Toward More Perfect Textures
I have been playing with GIMP to create the textures for the fountain. Although not as "intuitive" as, say, Adobe Photoshop, I have found GIMP to be adequate for my needs. It is also free, which it great for an indie game producer/university professor with a tight budget yet big ideas.Using Blender to export UV…Read more Toward More Perfect Textures
Old Rusty Pipes
I spent Saturday afternoon playing with the procedural textures that ship with Blender to create the water pipes on my recent project, the fountain that will go in the center of the pedestrian zone. Thinking about how these pipes should look like, I thought that they would have been exposed to the elements for some…Read more Old Rusty Pipes
More Student Work on NPCs and the Bologna Process
We spent a fair amount of time in our last class period fleshing out the NPCs for the DigiBahn game. Here are some images of the work that the students produced on the whiteboard:The students will be working in small groups over the course of the next week, working with library resources and databases to…Read more More Student Work on NPCs and the Bologna Process
Hast du Durst?
Since every Fußgängerzone needs a fountain, I've been busy these last couple of days modeling one in Blender in my spare time. Creating the basic shape was fairly easy, as was making an animation for the water in the fountain:And here is the original image on which the design of my 3D model is based:I…Read more Hast du Durst?
DigiBahn Comes to the Intermediate German Conversation Course
Over the last few days I have been attempting to create a fusion of my research and teaching agendas by getting students in my intermediate German conversation class involved in the DigiBahn Project. In class we have discussed - auf Deutsch, sogar! - language as a sociocultural tool that we use to structure reality and,…Read more DigiBahn Comes to the Intermediate German Conversation Course
New DigiBahn Screen Capture and New Training Resources
A new screen capture of the DigiBahn game, including a new model of the church (St. Andreas Church in Weißenburg in Bayern):I also tweaked the camera to provide a more realistic human perspective; the point-of-view (POV) is much taller than in prior screen captures. In any case, we're making great progress on the game so…Read more New DigiBahn Screen Capture and New Training Resources
Flow, Narrative, and Idealized Sociocultural Spaces
One of the features of Half-Life 2 that impresses me time and time again is the seamless sense of flow that the game narrative, virtual spaces, and ludic activity provides. Unlike many other games that front load a large amount of interface training thinly masked as plot development or avatar "education" (America's Army 3 comes…Read more Flow, Narrative, and Idealized Sociocultural Spaces
DigiBahn, Blender, and Google SketchUp
One of the primary difficulties facing the DigiBahn Project is the development of realistic 3D models to simulate an authentic German environment. One workaround we have been employing is to mine the Google 3D Warehouse for models and exporting them into Blender as a COLLADA file.The workflow is fairly straight-forward:Download the SketchUp model as a…Read more DigiBahn, Blender, and Google SketchUp
Nothing But Blue Skies…
I have been busy since 3:30 AM this morning, working on getting a basic prototype of the DigiBahn game ready for the 2009 ACTFL Annual Conference. I know that it won't be until November 22, but I'm afraid that once the semester starts the first week in September, I'll get too busy with other things.…Read more Nothing But Blue Skies…
The Play of Language
Thinking about how the DigiBahn game could eventually be used in a language classroom has led me back to thinking about language itself, specifically its "play-like" nature: We can "play" with meaning of words and even entire games focus on using language in playful contexts. Seen within a communicative framework in real-life settings, language and…Read more The Play of Language
Specular and Bump Maps; New Screen Capture Software Needed?
I have been experimenting a bit more with Blender to get the animation for the street sign in the pedestrian zone just right. Although it still doesn't look exactly the way I'd expect it to look in real life, the use of specular and bump maps has given the model a more realistic appearance than…Read more Specular and Bump Maps; New Screen Capture Software Needed?
Fun with Specular Maps and Stanley Fish
For the last few days, in addition to getting a handle on the Blender Game Engine and Python scripting language, I have also been working on developing a workflow for creating 3D game models. Thinking that starting off small would probably be the best way to go, I decided to create a mesh texture for…Read more Fun with Specular Maps and Stanley Fish
Delving Into Python: Free Stuff!
I just love free programming resources, don't you? Since the Blender game engine uses Python as its programming language of choice, I recently decided to dust off my coding skills (I went all the way up to C3, data structures and algorithms, while retooling as an unemployed, post-PhD graduate) and get more involved with Python.…Read more Delving Into Python: Free Stuff!
Game Level Map: A Good Start
It occured to me a few days ago that a game level map would not only help us visualize the direction in which we want to go, but would also help us in marking progress and keeping track of what meshes we need to create in order to complete the level. So, after a few…Read more Game Level Map: A Good Start
DigiBahn + Blender Game Engine
Did a quick run-though today of the DigiBahn game with the Blender game engine (BGE). I was able to find a script for mouse/camera control on the Web, although it is using Python 2.5 and many of the functions – its seems – have been deprecated for Python 2.6. Future development in Blender 2.49 and,…Read more DigiBahn + Blender Game Engine
First Animation Render in Blender!
Well, it took me the better part of the evening to render ~ 13 seconds of video in Blender, but I finally got it knocked down. I didn't take too much time for cleaning up or smoothing the meshes, so some areas are a bit rough. I just wanted to test out Blender's animation capabilities…Read more First Animation Render in Blender!
Saved by a Python Script
While rendering the first test images of Stuttgart Central in Blender a few days ago, I couldn't help but notice that the handrails on the moving walkway were a bit "chunky," for lack of a better word. This part of the mesh was actually the most difficult part to create as it required me to…Read more Saved by a Python Script
DGBL Primers, the New Sesame Street, and Elon University Students
There is so much literature out there about computer games, DGBL, and education, it is sometimes a bit overwhelming to find a good overview that can quickly provide an orientation point for future research. In the past I have suggested Richard Van Eck's Digital Game-Based Learning as a starting point, but a few days ago…Read more DGBL Primers, the New Sesame Street, and Elon University Students
Initial Blender Experiments
For the last few weeks we have been working on getting meshes created in Maya and Blender. Just to see what they look like together, I threw some together this morning for a quick render: In the next few days I will focus on getting the handrails on the escalator ironed out; the mesh here…Read more Initial Blender Experiments
3D-DGBL and Instructional Simulations for the Humanities
Three dimensional digital game-based learning (3D-DGBL) environments and instructional simulations provide several advantages for the teaching of the humanities and foreign languages, including the ability to foster constructivist learning environments and provide personally-tailored and highly motivational instruction; the promotion of student-directed learning, free inquiry, and exploration; and the power to emulate remote or inaccessible real-world…Read more 3D-DGBL and Instructional Simulations for the Humanities
Modding a COTS Game
In October 2008 the Elon University Digibahn Project began modifying The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) game with a freely available game editor (TES Construction Set) in order to build a proof-of-concept game prototype. By April 2009 we had imported a few basic 3D meshes, developed an instructional blueprint, and programmed some…Read more Modding a COTS Game
Learning from Computer Games?
I discovered this video of Battlefield 2142 gameplay a few weeks ago and found it interesting for the amount of learning that actually is taking place in the game: The video depicts a teams of players, each who has individual and unique responsibilities on a combat assault team. The players can access the game form…Read more Learning from Computer Games?
A Journey of Ten Thousand Vertices
It was during a temporary job that one takes between academic positions when I was reintroduced to computer games. I say “reintroduced” because I grew up when the Atari gamestation, Pac-Man, and the mall video arcade were coming of age. Although my junior-high school friends spent numerous hours – and quarters – in dimly-lit rooms…Read more A Journey of Ten Thousand Vertices