Monday, March 21, 2011

Touring the campus with Google Earth

For my studio project, I have continued playing with Google Earth, and created a virtual tour of the Indiana University Campus. Google Earth really is a pretty amazing tool and the more I got into it, the more you realize how much it could do. The first thing that I did to learn about Google Earth is to go to the website and watched the tutorial videos. Some of the information I already knew, but I learned a lot of good stuff from them too.

The first thing that I did was to learn how to create and save 'markers' to your places. This is a pretty neat feature because it allows you to enter text, hyperlinks, and even save the precise view of the place you see in Google Earth. In order to not have the tour become too long for this, I chose about 6 places on the IU campus that I thought were interesting to show. From a benefit point of view, I think there could be huge benefits from the university to embrace and use this (and it looks like they have based on the number of 3-D buildings that have been created). A virtual tour could be used in recruiting prospective students, highlighting a particular part of campus, or just being used by anyone who is curious to find out more about the campus.

Once you have all of the 'markers' in your places, then I started to actually create a 'tour'. This worked ok, and I did have some setbacks. The first limitation is that while Google Earth does give some control over how the movement occurs between markers, it can be difficult to get the settings correct and sometimes it would zoom way out, before zooming back in to the next marker. One other major problem that I encountered is that you can narrate your tour using a microphone, but it seemed to cut out after about a minute and a half. I don't know why it cut our, but I had to use QuickTime to get a good screen recording for the tour, but my actual Google Earth tour file, only has audio for the first part of the tour. The third major problem that I found is that in trying to set up and join the Google Earth community so that I could post my tour and share it with others, I was never able to sign up for a new account. I tried on several occasions using all kinds of combination, but it always gave me an error message that the user name was already taken. I was never able to set up an account to join the community. To work around this, I had to same my screencast as a movie and upload it to YouTube. The video is embedded below and in some ways this would be more beneficial as more people could view it, but having the tour inside of Google Earth allows for much greater interactivity and exploration which is important for the learning process. I could share the .kmz file (Google Earth Tour file type) directly with others and they would be able to open up the tour on their own machine, but it still has the problem of no audio.

I had to redo the video, hopefully this link and the above video will be working shortly:

Overall I think that Google Earth is pretty fascinating. Allowing users to upload video, pictures, tours, 3-D models and other artifacts to the platform make it very interesting. Hopefully it will continue to be around for a long time and it will get the support that it needs from both Google and the users.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Little Big Planet 2 - Resources

This week I collected links to help others create levels when playing Little Big Planet 2. Like Maria’s Atmosphir, Little Big Planet 2 can be considered a game design platform, but it doubles as a game, too. Also, LBP2 provides an online community where designers can share their work. This kind of digital media is a valuable tool for those interested in creating games – it allows them to explore their creativity and gives participants a venue for self-expression.

Since I am new to this sort of digital media, I found that exploring these sites to be helpful to learn how to create levels and they were very inspirational, also. Remember, the game itself has tutorials to “play” and watch, but I do not have access to share those reels with you. In addition, these links provide cross-references to the game’s tutorials and I can share them easily with all of you.

This site is a blog created by the makers of Little Big Planet. The blog is organized well and it is easy to investigate. This blog is the first example of the many new media tools used to communicate with users of Little Big Planet 2.

Makers of Little Big Planet also create this site and it is a compilation of tutorials and music videos about Little Big Planet. This is a second example of new media – visual and audio products to share with the LBP2 community.

Flickr – This is media molecule’s Flickr site, which shares their sketches, wallpapers, digital photographs, etc. This site is a third example new media sharing and communicating details about Little Big Planet 2 – I liked this site due to the visual inspiration and the story it tells with pictures.

Media Molecule’s Facebook site connects users with the makers of LBP2. It also links users with resources to play the game and to help design levels.

Finally, Media Molecule has a YouTube stream that users can subscribe to for recent posts of videos created by Media Molecule. This is the final example I am sharing of new media being utilized to help users learn how to design and play Little Big Planet and Little Big Planet 2.

The wonderful connection with all of these examples is that users can also create every one of these media resources to share with their immediate community (friends and family) – for example, my daughter has created a blog about Minecraft and is currently working on video/audio recordings to post to You Tube.

She also has me post her blog postings to my Facebook page (since she is underage) – asking my friends to visit her blog. We have not started a Flickr site, but certainly could do! I am interested in learning more about – this is the first I have come across this web 2.0 tool. I think it is similar to -

By exploring the resources Media Molecule has made for their game, it has inspired me to take a closer look at how we can expand our blogs and play/learn time while playing and designing games! For example, I would like to add pages to our blog so that Samantha can include more than one video game to her blog - allowing her to share a more rounded perspective of her accomplishments with this genre of media.

Maria's design studio- Cake marathon

For my design studio this week I created a game level on and I called it "Cake marathon". Atmosphir is a game design platform that allows users to create their own game levels and share them with the online community. I find the particular kind of media to be a wonderful tool for creative expression. Designers (users) can create whatever they want, can provide whatever experiences they like and design different difficulty features for their audiences. Creativity is for me a major characteristic of good digital media. The affordances of the particular medium fascinated me because I could manipulate everything in ways that other media had not afforded so far. For example, I could easily lay out the blocks with just one click or by dragging my cursor around the grid. I could easily add and remove objects, an action that would be difficult to obtain unless someone had advanced programming skills.

Screenshot from my cake marathon. Click on it to access and play the game (also at:

For my example, I created a level through which players must jump across several cake pieces, cookies, orange and kiwi slices, as well as a candy bridge in order to reach the final flag. It seems very easy, but when I tested it, even I had trouble getting across! I think the role of the arts and creativity is major in media for the 21st Century. It is not only colors and graphics that make digital media so much better and attractive, but also the opportunities for expression they provide. Creativity in the particular context does not mean colors and graphics, indeed. Creativity seems to be measured through the difficulty levels and the designed experiences users come up with. I find this to be a very powerful property because it comes to redefine the ways we perceive creativity in online spaces.