ARIS 1.6 has been out for a couple weeks. It’s been a long time coming, there are a lot of big changes, both obvious and under the hood, and of course we haven’t put much together in the way of documentation. It’s so exciting to see so much activity on the google group. I can’t believe this little project has generated so much interest. In this post and hopefully a couple more, I’d like to get some quick and dirty help out there for those who are experimenting and perhaps running into some walls. It won’t serve as proper documentation, just an intro to some of what’s new and what’s changed.
Before continuing, there are some ARIS documentation and tutorials out there already. They are out of date. Things like server addresses mentioned in videos should not be trusted, and the videos in general are the most out of date because they cannot receive delta updates very easily. But they can still be helpful for getting the basic idea. So until more are made, I wouldn’t disregard them entirely. If you make new videos, please share them on the google group. Following is a short list of places to get started:
- The ARIS Manual (no 1.6 features written about yet but still mostly correct)
- Tutorial page on arisgames.org
- ARIS Editor Storyboards (I wouldn’t have thought of this, but @adriancamm said they were helpful for their workshops recently) – these are old designs for what the Editor should eventually have done to help authors
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on to the notebook. This is what took a year of hard work, and why 1.6 is such a big deal.
The Notebook – Data Gathering and Communication in ARIS
The notebook turns the data gathering capabilities in ARIS and up to 11. In 1.5, there were some basic options to have players upload media, but the functionality was more of a placeholder than anything else. This didn’t stop the creation of some really cool content. The notebook makes it possible to create ARIS content that revolves entirely around gathering, categorizing, and communicating about data. The kinds of activities one might carry out with this tool just got a lot bigger.
I made a short (~11min) demo video of the notebook in action on the client. It’s not professional, but if you like moving pictures, maybe it will be more helpful than the description below:
To begin with, the notebook allows the player to create notes. Each note consists of:
- one or more media items (text, photo, audio, video), each with their own title – by default a timestamp
- a title for the note itself
- tag metadata (autor defined, player defined, or both)
- comments – per note (a comment consists of text and a single media item per comment)
- likes -per note
- location (optional and moveable)
- an optional shared state (shows up on other players’ shared notebooks, maps, or both)
This is a big step for ARIS even though this is hardly an uncommon feature set for a mobile app. Instagram is very similar. Glassboard, which I’ve written a little about before, has essentially this exact feature set except organized around the context of private sharing. But it’s very new to ARIS, and what ARIS already has to offer to make this implementation different is a varied context for that data gathering that is not inherently tied only to the personal life of the player (unlike Instagram), and having additional supports to develop that context and embed the player within it.
But back to the documentation.
The notebook is a new tab in the ARIS client interface. When a player clicks on it, they will see the notebook view – a list of their notes, a few buttons to create new notes from various media, and a few view options.
Create a new note - If the player clicks on one of the creation buttons, they will be taken to an appropriate media creation screen. After creating their media, they will return to the Edit Note view.
View a note - If a player clicks on a note in their notebook they will be taken to the Note view: a nice, full-screen, paged view of the contents of that note.
View filter (gear icon) – A player can choose if they are seeing just their notes, or those shared with them, and order the view by date, alphabetization, popularity (# of likes), and by tag.
Edit Note View
Here created media will upload to the ARIS server, and the player can title the note, the media, create/assign tags, share the note, add additional media, and locate the note on the map. A player can also get here to edit an existing note by hitting “edit” in the title bar while in Note view.
If a player clicks on a note in their notebook (personal or shared) they will be taken to a nice, full-screen, paged view of the contents of that note. Swipe the screen to continue to the next media item in that note, and choose to “like” or comment on the note by clicking the buttons at the bottom of the screen. If the player is the author of the note, they can edit the note by hitting the link in the title bar. They can also click through to see the comments on each note.
When a player clicks on the comment balloon in a note, they are taken to the comment view, a list of comments on that note. Comments consist of text and/or a media item (picture, video, audio). Comments can be liked, just like notes. Each comment is identified by the player who made it. By hitting the (+) button, players can add a comment to the thread.
Sample Use: Judge an Art Contest
With just this simple introduction to the notebook, it is already possible to create an art contest for players to judge. I’ve done just that. You can judge yourself. The game is called Art Contest Sample. Just search for it in the game picker.
How to Judge (two ways)
- Click on Notebook > (Gear) > Shared. You’ll see each note. “like” your favorite. You get one vote.
- Click on Nearby. You’ll see each note. “like” your favorite. You get one vote.
How it’s Made
In the editor, I created a new game. I didn’t do much else. In game settings, I made sure players could make notes and add them to the map, and that the game would be easily discovered.
After that, I fired up the game on the ARIS client, and as a player, created several notes. Each note contained one picture. I then shared the notes on both the map (shows up on other players’ maps) and the list (shows up on other players’ “shared” section of the notebook). If I only wanted people to be able to judge by (1), I could have stopped there.
To make it so people could judge by option (2), I went back to the editor (reload the page so the new stuff shows up). The notes I created as a player were there on the map. I then changed the options for each location. I gave them an error of 10000000m (ten million meters – about as far away as you can be from anything on the planet) (NB – the screenshot below shows an error of -1. This doesn’t currently work, but should mean an infinite error radius), and made them hidden. That way, the player would not see them on the map, but they will always show up as nearby.
There is no way to limit the number of votes a player uses. Eventually, there will be requirements in the editor you can use to govern players more closely with the notebook. For now, there is one requirement that allows a commenter on notes to interact with other game elements in ARIS: player has created (#) of comments. Look for much more here soon.
To create this scenario, I needed to do work on the client and editor. You cannot create notes as an editor. So authoring tends to involve the use of two pieces of software.
More to Come
That about wraps it up for an intro to the notebook features. I’m really excited to see what people put together using this new tool. I’ll try to get a couple more of these out the door so people can begin getting comfortable with ARIS 1.6 sooner rather than later. I have some ideas about what to talk about next, but I’ll also be looking to the google group to see what people have questions about.