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Developer Journal : Digital Wellbeing

Digital Wellbeing

As of the 22nd of Monday, I’ve decided to cover a topic on digital wellbeing for my developer journal.

Digital Wellbeing is the idea of a state of personal wellbeing that’s from the use of technology, it can simply mean the improvement of a person’s well being through the use of media – but this can also include how the person maintains their relationship with technology.

“Digital wellbeing considers the impact of technologies and digital services on people’s mental, physical and emotional health”

Alicja Shah, 2019

People can use technology to stay in touch with distant family and friends, as well as use it for personal work – people are connected more than even in the world today. However, prolonged use to technology has negative side effects too as it can lead to psychological and physical issues.

Physically, staring at a screen for too long can induce digital eyestrain upon a user. This is because of exposure to Blue Light on most digital devices, overuse of this may lead to eyestrain and focusing problems.

“Digital eyestrain refers to blurred vision and other symptoms such as burning, stinging or tearing of the eyes associated with prolonged use of digital devices.”

Alicia Rohan, 2016

When using any digital devices, it is important to consider the 20/20/20 rule. (See Figure 1)

Debunking digital eyestrain and blue light myths
Figure 1 (medicalxpress.com)

This rule explains that to maintain a comfortable vision when using digital devices, for every 20 minutes of digital device use you have to look away for 20 seconds focusing on something else 20 feet away – this can help reduce eyestrain.

Another issue that could arise from the use of technology on the psychological side would be the overuse and dependence on technology, prolonged use can lead to issues such as isolation and depression.

“Young adults aged 19–32 years found that people with higher social media use were more than three times as likely to feel socially isolated than those who did not use social media as often.”

Timothy J. Legg, 2020

It is also important considering that we are also currently living during the coronavirus, which means a lot of people are isolated already in-doors to stay safe and have to rely on technology to communicate with most of their friends.

Finding ways to reduce social media use can however help reduce feelings of isolation in some people.

I think that personally, I have managed to keep myself well kempt when it comes to the internet. As I already have a lot of experience compared to other people, however it is sometimes hard to keep up with my health as I sometimes spend too much time on my computer – this can affect my sleep as well as my workflow.

Bibliography

Marsden, P., 2020. What is Digital Wellbeing? A List of Definitions. [online] digitalwellbeing.org. Available at: https://digitalwellbeing.org/what-is-digital-wellbeing-a-list-of-definitions/ [Accessed 28 February 2021].

Shah, A., 2019. Defining digital wellbeing – Jisc Building Digital Capability Blog. [online] Jisc Building Digital Capability Blog. Available at: https://digitalcapability.jiscinvolve.org/wp/2019/09/03/defining-digital-wellbeing/ [Accessed 28 February 2021].

J. Legg, T., 2020. Negative effects of technology: Psychological, social, and health. [online] Medicalnewstoday.com. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/negative-effects-of-technology#:~:text=Social%20media%20and%20mobile%20devices,on%20developing%20children%20and%20teenagers. [Accessed 28 February 2021].

Rohan, A., 2016. Debunking digital eyestrain and blue light myths. [online] Medicalxpress.com. Available at: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-04-debunking-digital-eyestrain-blue-myths.html [Accessed 28 February 2021].

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Developer Diary : Tutorial

Development Activity

As of Monday the 15th, we had an independent study week where we were given the chance to work on anything we had to catch up with during our spare time. For this week, I chose to start and finish my tutorial task.

For this task, we needed to make a Phaser Tutorial on anything of our choice. I decided to do a basic tutorial on Matter that many beginner level users would be able to learn how to set up their own scenes as well, it will cover most of how to set it up and how the user can create small simple contraptions using the engine.

Writing a coding tutorial can better help develop a basic understanding of your subject matter, it can help you to build something small and simple at a deeper understanding – this understanding can aid you in future projects.

“It requires that you understand what you’re doing/building enough to be able to explain it to somebody else”

ryanjyost, 2019

A great way to start your process on this would be to try and pick up a topic you want to learn and write about, which could just about be anything you’re not so experienced with.

I felt as if writing a tutorial on the basics of Matter from the ground up has helped to show me understand what the most simplest way to start on a foundation for a program using Phaser, as I’ve managed to explain in detail most of what goes into making the program work at a core level.

Figure 1

After having explained how to put some simple objects with attributes together, throughout the tutorial I’ve also provided links to the Phaser 3 documents that the reader can check to further entice them into starting to explore and experiment with what they can do in the program.

I’ve also provided some in-game screenshots of what I was able to achieve using this simple level of understanding, within the tutorial I managed to put together a small simple physics contraption that made use of constraints. (See Figure 2)

Figure 2

I think that I’ve managed to provide a decent tutorial for anyone without much prior knowledge to using Phaser on how to set up a simple scene, I’ve also left a lot of what you could possibly do in the guide as open-ended as possible to encourage experimentation by leaving many links to the Phaser documentation the user could use to expand upon.

Matter I feel is a good way to introduce beginner level programmers to using Phaser, it touches upon how these programs are usually set up which can help to further a beginner level user’s understanding of the basics, there’s also plenty of attributes you can assign to even basic objects that make it fun to experiment and learn with.

It’s also got many examples you can try on the Phaser website:

https://phaser.io/examples/v3/category/physics/matterjs

Although the coding in the tutorial is kept as brief and as simple as possible, I feel as if the next time I get the chance to write a tutorial I could do something slightly more complex to help further encourage myself to learn more new things about Phaser.

Bibliography

Ryanjyost.com. 2019. How to write a coding tutorial. [online] Available at: https://www.ryanjyost.com/how-to-write-a-coding-tutorial/ [Accessed 23 February 2021].

photonstorm.com, P., 2021. Phaser – Examples – physics – Matterjs. [online] Phaser.io. Available at: https://phaser.io/examples/v3/category/physics/matterjs [Accessed 23 February 2021].

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Developer Journal : Presentation

Presentations

As of the 8th of February, this week was about preparing and starting our presentations on Entry Level Games Developer jobs.

We were put into our seminar groups for this project, so we had to work as a team to put together a single presentation – each of us had to find and pick our own entry level job we wanted to present. (See Figure 1)

Figure 1

We planned on doing three slides each; the first would be a brief description of the job and company, second would be about the key skills required to get the job and last would be our own thoughts and conclusion about the job – since our presentation also had to be roughly around 20 minutes long, we gave ourselves 5 minutes to speak through our slides.

One important thing we had to consider for our presentation was to keep things simple, so we made sure that most of the text on our slides were a big size and written briefly.

“You should be able to communicate that key message very briefly. The important thing is to keep your core message focused and brief.”

skillsyouneed.com, 2021

Before, our slides were packed with text and had a much more smaller font – this proved to be too hard for people to read in a presentation. Due to this, we changed our font size to something much more bigger and cut off most of the unimportant text.

We moved most of this information into our speaker notes, which we’d look upon whilst presenting. (See Figure 2)

Figure 2

Another important thing to cover here which would help with our presentations would be to consider the Dual Coding Learning Theory, this is where both images and written information are combined to provide an easy visual and verbal way for people to process information.

“Dual coding is combining words and visuals such as pictures, diagrams, graphic organizers, and so on. The idea is to provide two different representations of the information, both visual and verbal, to help students understand the information better.”

Megan Sumeracki, 2019

Following these rules, we cut the amount of content we intend to include on a slide and instead present everything in a simple concise way.

We can also use images to help our readers to get a rapid gist of what we’re talking about.

Information is lined up neatly and written briefly to give our readers confidence, most of the details are saved for when we start to speak about our slides.

“Visuals are powerful for communicating complex ideas in an efficient way; it takes a great many words to describe the simplest of images”

“Cut the amount of content we intend to include on a slide or resource; chunk the information into headings that stand out”

Futurelearn.com, 2021

Using a combination of both of these, ideas we’ve managed to create a slide that’s quick to the point and comes across as clear as possible. Here you can see the brief description of the job and company as well as some images of their logo and most well known games within the industry. (See Figure 3)

Figure 3

I think that I managed to learn quite a bit about how important it is to condense information when making something such as a presentation, I learnt that with things such as Dual Coding Learning Theory that there are better and simpler ways to get messages across.

This was fairly important for this lesson, as we were given a 20 minute time limit to do our presentations, so we had to focus on getting our message out as clearly as possible rather than outputting as much information that can overwhelm the readers.

I think that maybe if I were to try and do another presentation, then I should focus more on getting a good balance between text and images. As although we shortened most of our work, we didn’t provide as much images to show to our audience.

Bibliography

skillsyouneed.com, (2021. Top Tips for Effective Presentations | SkillsYouNeed. [online] Skillsyouneed.com. Available at: https://www.skillsyouneed.com/present/presentation-tips.html [Accessed 11 February 2021].

FutureLearn. 2021. An introduction to Dual Coding Theory. [online] Available at: https://www.futurelearn.com/info/courses/technology-teaching-learn-ing/0/steps/53322 [Accessed 11 February 2021].

Sumeracki, M., 2019. Dual Coding and Learning Styles — The Learning Scientists. [online] The Learning Scientists. Available at: https://www.learningscientists.org/blog/2019/6/6-1 [Accessed 11 February 2021].

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Developer Journal : Rewards in Games

As of the 1st of February, we covered responses to rewards in games within our lecture.

Rewards can be anything players earn from gameplay, players are given achievements for accomplishing certain tasks and improving their performance with scoring, these can be a good incentive to keep the player interested and playing your game.

“Rewards and scoring should also correlate to what you want people to learn and the feedback you want to offer to them re: their performance.”

Sharon Boller, 2013

Rewards can be good teaching tools for rewarding the player with feedback for specific tasks you want them to complete, this can be an effective way to teach certain gameplay elements you want to teach by offering them something in return such as some loot. (See Figure 1)

Image result for quest rewards
Figure 1 (runescape.wiki)

However there is a psychological effect to this, whenever we receive an award this triggers a special behaviour in our brain that allows it to get stimulated by the process of receiving a reward – This in turn leads us to seeking out more rewarding stimuli.

An example of a game that uses rewards like this could be “Pokémon Go”, which is an Augmented Reality Game about collecting Pokémon. Within it, you can collect Pokémon of all sorts of rarities – this is done using a schedule of reinforcement called a Fixed Ratio: This is where the reward occurs after a certain amount of actions.

In the Fixed Ratio schedule of reinforcement, a specific number of actions must occur before the behaviour is rewarded.

theconversation.com, 2016

If the user catches enough Pokémon, they will be rewarded with a level up, or even possess enough candy to evolve their Pokémon – There is also a slim chance the players will end up coming across rare Pokémon, which keeps players interested. (See Figure 2)

Figure 2 (theconversation.com)

This is what makes the app addictive, as players will continue to check the app regularly throughout the day due to these regular reward schedules.

In my personal opinion, I think rewards can be a good as a learning tool to the player and encourages them to play better at the game via scoring systems. This can help the player to enjoy the game much more through a fun system that rewards and incentivises good play.

However, I disagree with using rewards to keep players addicted through tedious gameplay as it means your game gets less fun and becomes more of a chore to play through. Many games use this to further desensitise the player’s stimuli and keeps them playing for much longer.

Bibliography

Boller, S., 2013. Learning Game Design: Rewards and Scoring | Knowledge Guru. [online] Knowledge Guru. Available at: http://www.theknowledgeguru.com/learning-game-design-rewards-scoring/#:~:text=Rewards%20can%20be%20anything%20players,Some%20games%20have%20them.&text=If%20the%20task%20in%20a,for%20performance%20rather%20than%20completion. [Accessed 11 February 2021].

The Conversation. 2016. The power of rewards and why we seek them out. [online] Available at: https://theconversation.com/the-power-of-rewards-and-why-we-seek-them-out-62691 [Accessed 11 February 2021].

RuneScape Wiki. 2021. Post-quest rewards. [online] Available at: https://runescape.wiki/w/Post-quest_rewards [Accessed 11 February 2021].

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Developer Diary : Matter Physics

Development Activity

For this week, we were given the task to use experiment with “Matter”, which is a plugin for Phaser which enables physics. This is different from the other games we’ve been developing as we haven’t used any other physics mode besides “Arcade”.

“The Phaser Matter plugin provides the ability to use the Matter JS Physics Engine within your Phaser games. Unlike Arcade Physics, the other physics system provided with Phaser, Matter JS is a full-body physics system.”

photonstorm.github, 2021

Using “Matter” will give us a full proper physics system that is dynamic, it will also allow us to create many things such as rigid bodies and physics constraints – which is what I’ve added in for my project.

One of the first things I started to try and implement into the project, was a functional bridge that consists of many individual objects constrained to each other (See Figure 1).

Figure 1

This bridge was created for the first scene of the game, and is meant to assist the player in getting past the first pit.

Within the create function of the code, to create this bridge I first had to define a variable to group multiple objects together, then create another for the bridge itself – the bridge variable will be assigned to be added as a “.stack” because we plan on using multiple instances here.

Using our assigned variable from earlier, we create a chain with our bridge and then add a world constraint at our first and last instances created with at the chain – world constraints help to fix these ends of the bridge onto a specific Y and X axis without the object falling over.

“Constraints are used for specifying that a fixed distance must be maintained between two bodies (or a body and a fixed world-space position). The stiffness of constraints can be modified to create springs or elastic.”

brm.io, 2021

The final constraint for the other end of the bridge is added by specifying the total length of the bridge’s bodies in an array and inputting the similar code as before, only changing the coordinates (See Figure 2).

Figure 2

Another addition to the first scene I’ve added was a simple ball that’d block the player’s way, players traversing the bridge will have to try and jump over the ball or try to roll it into a nearby pit to use as a small platform (See Figure 3&4).

Figure 3
Figure 4

Creating this object was fairly simple, as I just had to preload an image of a circle I had and then in the game’s create function I included a new variable called “ball” which simply added in my image.

Although, this doesn’t mean the image spawned in itself has the collision of a ball, so we have to declare that the object has circular collision by using “.setCircle”.

Figure 5

The second scene of the game introduces a new mechanic where the player is able to click and drag onto certain objects, they use this mechanic later on in the level to try and build a staircase to the level’s goal point.

The player’s first obstacle in this level as you can see is a whole bunch of crates blocking their way, alongside one single image one tutoring the player that these blocks can be dragged.

Figure 6

For this to work, I implemented special objects that have been assigned a collision group referred to as “canDrag” (See Figure 7).

Figure 7

I’ve also implemented an extra control using the mouse called “mouseSpring” which enables the player to pick up certain objects with the mouse, this is helped by including a collision filter which enables it to only work on certain objects such as our “canDrag” objects (See Figure 8).

Figure 8

An effective way this mechanic is used is for a puzzle at the end of the level where the player’s entrance to the goal point is being blocked by several crates (See Figure 9).

Figure 9

Using the drag mechanic, they’re able to move the boxes out of the way and can even arrange them into a staircase to help themselves climb up onto the platform easier (See Figure 10).

Figure 10

I found learning Matter in Phaser to be quite fun, as I enjoy a lot of physics games. We were also given some time to try and experiment with this project more, which felt like there was some creative freedom to it.

Although one issue I have is that it is hard to find documentation on Matter, some features such as the bridge had no texture or fill so they couldn’t be seen unless debug mode was enabled – I could not find anything online that could help me with this – However, this was only a small issue I had with the project, as I feel the rest of it went fine.

Bibliography

Photonstorm.github.io. 2021. Phaser 3 API Documentation – Class: MatterPhysics. [online] Available at: https://photonstorm.github.io/phaser3-docs/Phaser.Physics.Matter.MatterPhysics.html [Accessed 2 February 2021].

photonstorm.com, P., 2021. Phaser – Examples – Drag Filter With Pointer. [online] Phaser.io. Available at: https://phaser.io/examples/v3/view/physics/matterjs/drag-filter-with-pointer [Accessed 2 February 2021].

photonstorm.com, P., 2021. Phaser – Examples – Bridge. [online] Phaser.io. Available at: https://phaser.io/examples/v3/view/physics/matterjs/bridge [Accessed 2 February 2021].

Brm.io. 2021. [online] Available at: https://brm.io/matter-js/docs/classes/Constraint.html [Accessed 3 February 2021].

Photonstorm.github.io. 2021. Phaser 3 API Documentation – Namespace: Collision. [online] Available at: https://photonstorm.github.io/phaser3-docs/Phaser.Physics.Matter.Components.Collision.html [Accessed 3 February 2021].