My OLPC Journey Dec 2010
Previous: Sep 10   Oct 10   Nov 10  

The Gift of Summer

Great start to Summer - yes I'm in the Southern Hemisphere! I'll spare you the technical details but I've solved my "flickering cursor" problem. Expect "Boxes" to appear at SugarLabs shortly.

Dec 2nd Martin always gets to check out my new activities before I proceed. His contribution is invaluable in that he spends a lot of time trying them out and nearly always comes up with great suggestions. Let me quote from this occasion:

The first observation is: if I don't recognize the game, then I won't figure out how to play it. I spent two rounds thinking that the objective was to mark 3 sides so they could be filled in with a yellow box.

Possible solutions:

  • make the first round stupidly easy so the player can't but fill in a box;
  • have the first round already filled in with at least one player box;
  • make the drawing of successfully filling a box slower, (first draw the 4th bar, maybe let it blink for a while, then fill in the box, do this until the player succeeds with at least one box, maybe also blink players new edges to show that it's the same process);
  • draw a frowny face on the players side (maybe even in the player XO icon) every time the player loses a box, make the XO jump if it wins a box (the animated version would be to make it clap and dance, but that's another project ;-)
  • give help by blinking an edge that would close a box. the player is quite likely to click that, and therefore succeed...

When you get to see "Boxes" you'll find that most of these suggestions have been acted upon

And I'd also like to publicly thank the many people who have responded to my "from a struggling new XO activity developer" e-mails - your help has been invaluable too!

Later the same day I spoke too soon! I've just discovered that Journal handling has changed since the release of the first XOs which means that my score saving fails on the earlier models. :o(

Even later the same day It turns out my understanding of the earlier model was at a fault! An afternoon wasted on a false alarm!

Dec 6th All 6 activities are now "sugar coated" and undergoing final testing before publishing. And I'm finding time to think about Activity No.7!

Activity No.7

Dec 9th Hmmm ... that didn't take very long! Apart from some decoration for the middle and the numerous changes that Martin will no doubt suggest, "Eleusis" is finished!

"Eleusis" has been around since the Fifties. This, of course, is a much simplified version. My main challenge was to present it without the use of words.

An even bigger challenge was accepting that many players may have never encountered a deck of playing cards.

The idea is simple (as all good ideas are!) ... cards are dealt out and accepted or rejected according to a hidden simple rule. Figuring out the rule will ensure that you know which button to press.

Activity No.8

Dec 12th Really on a roll now ... one activity every three days! This can't last!

This one is called "Rectangles" and is one of my favourites. The grid has been broken up into coloured rectangles but, at the start, only ONE square from each rectangle shows its colour. It also shows the area (ie the number of squares) that make up the rectangle. The player's task is to find all the rectangles - no easy task especially at the higher levels. The picture shows me about to "colour in" a red rectangle of size 4.

Activity No.9

Dec 16th Did I mention my passion for jigsaws? Letting it have full rein in Activity No.9.

You may be wondering why none of these new activities are appearing at SugarLabs. The plan is to completely test the new sugar-coated versions of the first five activities ... then upload them. Then we'll start testing the brand new activities.

Dec 17th Submitted a Contributors Project Proposal Form requesting two XOs.

Continued working on PJ (short for "Peter's Jigsaws") - once again not using text is challenging. Here's how it looks at start up. The right button moves in and out and a piece rotates. The arrow button will rotate all the pieces so they are the right way up. As usual the Blue button allows the player to choose a new picture. The centre is cleared once the player clicks on a piece to start playing.

Dec 18th Completed PJ - the fun part was finding 20 suitable pictures - here's what I ended up with:

Activity No.10 - Castle

Dec 23th Trip down memory lane and my most ambitious activity so far - not even sure if I can produce a satisfactory version of a game that was originally totally keyboard driven and played on a text-based screen. Just for the record this was in 1980 on my 8K (yes 8K!) OSI Challenger. Later I produced a DOS version which looked like this:

Of course I'm aiming to make a totally graphical version with no text and completely mouse-driven. Half the fun will be finding suitable pictures! Watch this space!

Dec 28th The picture search is well under way - have a look:

Dec 30th Great way to end the year! I've just heard that my Contributors Project Proposal has been successful and that two XO's are on their way from the US!