I promise, this is the last time I bang on about @HeritageJam – until next year

The only thing I haven’t covered, since last month’s Heritage Jam event, is the on-line entries, which were more numerous. You can read about them all here (scroll down), but I want to use this last (I promise) Heritage Jam 2015 post to pick out just a few of my favorites.

First up is my award for Most Fun, which goes to Howard WilliamsHeritage Jam: Conserving the Past, an investigation of the actual jams available for sale at heritage sites on his family holiday in Wales. But its not all fruit-spread based humour, he also manages to fit in this specialist subject: the heritage of death, and even the death of heritage.

Howard also contributes to the winning team entry for the on-line competition. This is a shoe-in on my own favorites list because of it’s medium. The Volund Stories: Weyland the Smith is a comic, created by Hannah Kate Sackett. I love comics, and it inspires me to pick up my pencil again and practice drawing. (My problem is that I use a tablet for everything nowadays, and my fingers have forgotten how to control things like pens and pencils.) Only the first few pages were submitted for Heritage Jam, and I eagerly await the completed work, which will be published (free) on both Kate and Howard’s blogs.

The individual winner was also another of my favorites, Cryptoporticus by Anthony Masinton. This is a “first-person walking simulator” (in the style of one of my favorite games Dear Esther) around a mysterious imaginary museum.  To tell the truth, when I saw this (and another which I’ll mention later) appear in the Heritage Jam gallery in the last few hours of wrestling with my own entry, I almost gave up. This looked so brilliant, I thought mine and Cat’s work could not possibly compete.

I only managed to get a few minutes with the actual game during the event itself, but I liked it very much. Sadly the link to download the game on the Heritage Jam page no-longer works. I hope this is only because Anthony is dealing with a couple of bugs he couldn’t manage to fix before the deadline, and the links will eventually work again, because I for one want to have a go playing it right through.

The other entry which almost made me give up my own efforts was the excellent website Epi.Curio, by the appropriately named Katherine Cook. This encourages visitors to interact with the past, and with museum collections, in the multi-sensory sphere of cooking and eating. It’s just such a brilliant idea, presented in a beautiful responsive website. I am overwhelmed and insanely jealous of Katherine’s imagination. (And yes, before you ask, there is a recipe for an actual Heritage Jam.) I haven’t actually tried any of the recipes yet, but I’m thinking about making Pan de Muertos for the end of the month.

Spooky Pan de Muertos from the Epi.Curio website

So that’s a quick whizz through my personal favorites, though there’s plenty more quality stuff in the gallery though, check out Shawn Graham’s Listening to Watling Street, for example. Indeed, there was so much high quality work on show, that wen I submitted mine and Cat’s piece, I was feeling quite subdued, depressed even, despite the amazing etheral quality of Cat’s auralisation. I felt we had worked really hard, but hadn’t come close to some of the showstoppers that were already entered.

So imagine my surprise, and absolute joy, when on my way home from the event, I saw the tweet from Heritage Jam that our piece had been Highly Commended in the judging of the on-line entries. Despite being on the winning team at the in-person event, I was even more excited by this “second place” than that victory. The judges comments were so kind, so I’ll finish with them (and the electronic versions of our certificates).

The breath-taking audio reconstructions included within this complex project captured our judges imaginations and hearts whilst the intricate layering of narrative and interpretive contexts left them wanting more. They were hugely complimentary of the way in which the duo had structured the piece to meaningfully showcase and integrate narrative, reconstruction and data into the piece. The interactive nature of the project promoted significant discussion on the topic of agency, control and interpretation in museums and collections, making it not only a thought provoking piece in its own right, but also in relation to wider heritage themes and issues. The technicality, scale and artful nature of the project, as well as the thoughtful, comprehensive paradata far exceeded the expectations of our judges for a short-term “jam” project, leading them to crown “Among the Ruins” as the highly commended team entry for the 2015 Heritage Jam

HighlyCommended - Online Team

Winner - In-Person Team

 

Twine

twinegraph

I’ve been toying with Twine . Not like a cat with wool, you understand (though maybe like a cat with wool, because I find it very difficult to leave it alone now I’ve started), but with an open-source tool for telling interactive, nonlinear stories. I’m thinking about using it to create an interactive narrative based around Portus. Inspired by the Honda Type R interactive YouTube ad, I have this idea about the user being able to flick between the present day and one or more periods of the port’s Roman development and decline, while they also get the better idea of how the various spaces connect and relate to one-another. I also have this crazy idea about using it to navigate other student’s creative course work. Which is all very ambitious for someone who knows very little at Twine.

So this week I’ve been learning about Twine. And the best way to learn about it is to play with it. And its fun. It is so much better than HypeDyn, which has a very similar model. It’s so much more intuitive, easier to use and, dammit, prettier. It may turn out not to be quite as functional at HypeDyn, but so far, everything I’ve asked of it has (with only a little Googleing for help) been as easy as pie. What I haven’t yet fully scoped is how procedural it might be. On the surface, it seems everything the player reads has to be written, though it can be shaped at least by variables “if/else” functions.

So, given that I needed to have a structure, a story, in mind to get the most out of my practice, I haven’t started with the Portus Twine. Instead I’ve used a story that I’ve had knowing about in my brain for quite a while. Its a piece of “fanfic” if you will, a story featuring the characters from the little known (but much loved) short-lived TV series, Firefly. Its a story that I’ve told interactively before (frequently in fact), around a table using a variety of Roleplaying Game systems. Players of all sorts have made all sorts of choices, so while I can’t claim to be able to predict everything a player might want to do, I do have a good understanding of the choices they usually want to make. I’ve also discovered that the story can have a number of different, yet satisfying, endings and got a good idea of how the emotional ups and downs of the story feature in the narrative.

I’ve not done it all of course, just the first scene. But I have managed to do something I’ve been wanting to try for some time, and that is let the player’s actions decide who their character is, and thus what their point of view will be for the rest of the story. It’s only a short scene (very short if you are a gung-ho sort of player who jumps in with both feet). Short enough in fact to try multiple times to see who you end up as. Give it a go. tell me what you think of my first attempt.

If you’d like to have a go yourself, this a very easy and useful introduction, and this is a very snazzy presentation. It is notably how the award winning game Depression Quest was created.