A disadvantage to working in multimedia is that you have to work in groups and keep careful records of everything you do. This is my record of a project I worked on while working towards my diploma. I've put it online to give the inside scoop on multimedia development and to discourage other poor saps from getting into the field. Needless to say, all the names have been changed, but everything else is identical to the diary I handed in to the Lecturer.|
Update October 2001
Enough time has now passed I feel to reveal what this project was really about. Back in 1998 I figured it would be politic to conceal the fact that the project was actualy based around the replica ship "The Duyfken" being constructed in Fremantle at the time. As the ship has now been finished for some time and is currently sailing to Holand, I feel it is OK to reveal that one small, loosely associated part of the Duyfken construction project was so innefficient and plagued with division. I have kept all of the changed names, but references to "The Catamaran Project" have now been altered back to the Duyfken. I have also inserted a few of the surviving graphics from my 3D model of the ship. Unfortunately the best graphics got corrupted in the transfer from Mac to PC format, and while I still have the files they are unreadable.
DENYS THE PURPLE WYRM
DUYFKEN PROJECT PERSONAL DIARY
This diary is based on my memories of what I did for the project, and on consultations with other members of the group, particularly Scott Copely. I was relying on the weekly activity sheets we filled out to construct this diary, but Paul Almoner has confiscated them, so there may be discrepancies in my recollections and what actually occurred.
It will become clear through the reading of this diary that I do not like Mr Almoner. Neither does anyone else. It may seem that this diary is nothing but a list of diatribes against Mr Almoner, however I have been very careful not to let my feelings get in the way of recording what actually happened. Everything written in this diary is true. If Paul comes across as an irritating, dimwitted, obsessive mental case, then that is because he is. The fact that I am prepared to write such things about a fellow human being should be taken as an indication of the irritation, resentment and downright dislike Mr Almoner created within the Duyfken group.
Not a lot of work was done this week. We basically just organized roles within the group and did a bit of planning. I was assigned to work on the Game section, and to do the programming and 3D work. The Game was relegated to low priority, which annoyed me as it was the main reason for my choice to join the Duyfken group, but I was talked around.
The meeting this week was mainly tied up with baroque procedures. Paul has established what could justifiably described as a constitution for the group, with rules and regulations for everything. We were all too stunned to object and grunted agreement. Later I figured out what I needed from Neil Baker to begin work on the 3D model ship. I also did some work on a basic Interface design.
The ship’s plans arrived this week so I began work on the 3d model. I continued work on the Organisation interface, and showed Scott what I had done.
The ship's cat hanging
out in the bows
Paul was late this week, so among ourselves we established a half hour limit to the meetings. When Paul turned up he wasn’t too pleased. I dumped the interface and finished the Hull of the ship.
Week 5, Week 6
I had little to do with group dynamics during these two weeks, leaving the meetings as early as possible and concentrating instead on the 3D Model.
Paul approached the group with a number of interface designs this week. One of these was quite good in principle, although it featured a number of pointless and confusing distractions. We decided to use this, but Scott and I agreed that we would have to confront Paul about some of the sillier features. After this we spent a good half hour trying to explain screen resolution to Paul, who was obsessed with cutting out pieces of cardboard to see how the interface would look on different screen sizes. I spent ten minutes in photoshop drawing a basic grid showing the layout of the interface, and showed it to Paul on different screens. He got a bit upset that the interface wouldn’t fill the screen, until we showed him how to change the resolution down to 640x480. He then got upset about the black border surrounding the interface. We had to get Mark to explain to him that this was the edge of the display area.
I was becoming increasingly frustrated with the way the group was running this week. I programmed up an interface for the Life on Board section, but couldn’t find any data to put in it. I filled it with dummy text describing the crew as a bunch of drunks and misfits. Good therapy, it cheered me up for the rest of the week.
The ship's cook in the forecastle. The wooden
block in front of him is the fire box, the hatch
to his right leads to the heads. His pose provoked
not a few guffaws from members of other groups.
My frustration boiled over this week, and I hijacked the meeting. I suggested that we dump the idea of everyone working on their own little section, and that we combine talents to do the sections one by one. Everyone except Paul agreed that it was a good idea and we made a decision as a group to commence a combined effort on the History section immediately. I made some points about my inability to find data anywhere, and Paul responded with the fact that he had a filing cabinet full of it. I asked where the digital copies were, and he said he’d have them for me in a few weeks. He then went on to propose getting some other students to help with some of the artwork and other aspects of the project. I figured we could do with a bit of help here and there, and agreed, then he spent close to half an hour talking about contracts they’d have to sign. I left the meeting half way and got on with modeling the boat.
Scott and I got to work on combining our programming efforts, and set up a list of global variables we’d require. I finished the week feeling we were finally going to start getting somewhere.
At this week’s meeting Paul announced he had gone over all our heads and convinced Dan Laverton (who is no longer our lecturer, and has not been for several weeks since Mark took over) to reinstate the old fragmented system of separate sections for everybody. Paul had this meeting without telling or involving any of the rest of the group. His main argument seems to have been that by concentrating on the history section (which used to be his designated section), we’re putting all the work on him. He seemed to think that we were going to stop work on our sections (which was true), and just leave him to do the history on his own (which was a load of rubbish, we’d all be working together on it). Everyone was very upset about the way he went behind our backs.
For several weeks Scott has been very unclear on what he’s meant to be doing. Working with Paul has proved impossible for him, so he’s been shunted into a number of meaningless and insignificant tasks like supervising everyone’s filling out of forms. I’ve found myself in the position of manufacturing work for him to do. This week we cleaned a lot of rubbish out of the project folder and reorganized it into some kind of logical structure. Paul threw an apoplectic fit because we hadn’t sat down and had a meeting about what we should delete and how it should be organized. I continued with the 3D modeling while Scott and Paul argued out in the hall.
In order to get the project back on track, Paul insisted that we come in on the holidays. Fair enough. Except that he consistently turned up late or not at all. I mainly worked on the 3D model, and took some time out to work with Scott on the programming, particularly the menu behavior and the background Section. I also put together a quick placeholder wooden background for the interface to replace the grid we were working with.
Over the holidays I read an interesting book talking about the maritime history of Australia and the Indies. Realizing that it could be of a lot of use to the History section I kept copious notes and gave them to Paul. He was very upset that I was "taking over his section". That was to be last time I tried to help him out.
Unfortunately this picture of the Helmsman at the
compass lost it's colour data in the transfer from
Mac to PC. The circular thing in front of him is the
ship's compass. The view is looking forward
across the middle deck towards the forecastle.
At this week’s meeting Paul announced that he had recruited one of last years diploma students to do the coding for the project, and told me to hand over all the code. Scott and I were both livid about this. Again Paul had gone behind the group’s back. In addition this seemed to indicate that he thought we were as incompetent at coding as he was. We were also concerned about the legality of getting someone else to do our project for us. I handed Paul some print outs of the code for this student to examine, but kept the files myself. Also Paul held another secret meeting with Dan Laverton, but we couldn’t find out about what.
Scott still not having any work to do, I asked him to produce five maps for the Background section. Paul came and explained that he was worried because I’d created a wood background for the interface without bringing it up at a meeting. I explained that it was just a placeholder, but was still upset. He then requested that I include more space on the timeline in the background section. This was no problem, but he also insisted that I include a flapping banner, an animated flying dove (which serves no purpose whatsoever, it’s just there to use up processor time), and space for a 3D rendered character that would explain how all the features would work. There were also a number of buttons that had to be included to adjust settings. These were all the features that Scott and I had been trying to excise from the interface design, or relocate to a separate options screen and we had a bit of a confrontation about it. In the end I dropped in some dummy graphics just to get rid of him.
The meeting this week was based around the feedback from last year’s student. He had recommended we use external files for all our graphics, because the end product would come out smaller. This seemed like a good idea, and we agreed to try it. We then got embroiled in an hour long discussion on file name formats for the linked files. Scott and I were of the opinion that it didn’t matter what we called them, Paul insisted on a complicated coding system defining exactly where in the project they were linked to. My main objection to this was that we still had no firm storyboards on what graphics were going where, so it was pointless to waste all this time on it. In the end we agreed to a system just so we could get back to work.
The rest of the week was used to update and standardize the different director files. Scott brought the maps I needed, and I put them in the history section. Paul threw another fit, and said that we’d agreed to use old maps that he’d scanned. He refused to listen when I explained that they were unsuitable for the job because they were historically inaccurate, and were scanned in far too small. Paul stopped talking to Scott after this.
I didn’t get too much work done this week because the promotional CD was due. Mostly I worked on the boat. Paul announced that he could no longer afford to employ last year’s student, and that we’d have to do all the coding ourselves. I was shocked to learn that Paul had been paying this guy, but was pleased to regain full control. It was in this week that we finally decided that linking files was far too complicated, and abandoned the system altogether. In order to save headaches we declined to tell Paul about it.
This week I decided that the Boat was as finished as it was ever going to get. The model was getting too complicated for Infini-D to handle, so I added a few dummy objects to get it looking right and halted work on it. The class passed quite easily because Paul spent the whole of it annoying Mark rather than us. It seems he wanted Mark to take over administration of the entire group, apparently this is what the Lecturers were supposed to do anyway, according to Paul.
This week he started ringing me up at most inconvenient times to complain about Scott and his "hidden agenda". Exactly what this agenda was he wouldn’t say, he just insisted that Scott had one. He also accused me of working with Scott in private, apparently to create our own personal version of the project, cutting him and the others out of it. I presume that this was because Scott and I weren’t moving very fast on the Project at TAFE, mainly because of Paul’s interference and demands from other subjects.
This week I began work on rendering the movies, and creating the images of the crew in Poser 2. I had to ask Mark for some help with Poser 2 but soon got the hang of it. Scott came in this week with an entirely new interface for the Life on Board section. It looked professional and polished, and the whole group (excluding Paul who was late) agreed to use it no matter what Paul said.
The frustration within the group, and stress over the oncoming deadline for completion had risen to the point where we decided to mutiny. We consulted with Mark, who told us to do whatever we had to to get a product by the end of the term. When Paul arrived he found everyone working hard, and unwilling to hold a meeting with him. We were also demanding firm deadlines from him for the text he was meant to be supplying. He just about went into shock.
The ship's surgeon on the..... the little deck at the back, it's
been three years for crying out loud I can't be expected to
remember the name of every part of the ship! His bald head,
muscular physique, skin tight clothes and gold earing provoked
a lot of comments suggesting he was on his way to a gay
pride parade. Not my fault, we only had a very early version
This week we continued with coding and rendering. On Monday Scott and I spent five and a half hours at his house pulling all the files together and standardizing their layout. On Friday Scott held an extremely productive meeting with Sol, Greg and myself about what items in the Life on Board section would be interactive. The new policy of ignoring Paul wherever possible has created a new air of productivity and goodwill.
Paul came to talk to me while I was setting up some of the rendering. He asked my why I wasn’t working on the 3D model. I explained that I’d halted work on it. He complained that I should have brought it up at a meeting. He then asked to see the files. I showed him the Infini-D file of the ship. He asked me where all the other files were. I explained that there was only one file. He asked where my incremental versions of the ship were. I explained that there weren’t any. He asked why. I explained that I didn’t work that way. "Well that’s a problem then isn’t it!" he growled and stalked off.
He later called a meeting during the Friday afternoon class. Scott refused to participate as he had work to do for this class, but the rest of us joined in for a short while. It was surprisingly productive and Paul and I thrashed out exactly what headings were going to go in the Background section, based on his papers, and my notes on my book. There was no sign of any text from Paul, and we couldn’t do it ourselves because he’d emptied the filing cabinet.
The Life on Board section is almost complete after only two weeks work. It makes you wonder what we could have achieved if we’d ignored Paul from the beginning.
Friday this week was the Exposed day. This meant that we got nothing done in class. Out of class I put together graphics for some of the maps in the history section, and wrote the text for the life on board section, as none was forthcoming from Paul.
We spent a little bit of time discussing the presentation next week. Paul wanted to outline all the problems we had in the group, effectively giving himself a public forum to slag everyone off. We objected, pointing out that the presentation was supposed to be in the form of a presentation to a client. He was still insistent though. We threatened that if he was going to do that, we would all announce exactly what we though of him, which seemed to make him think twice.
On Thursday Sol announced that Paul had broken his leg falling off his bike, and wasn’t going to be coming for the presentation. Apparently he decided not to call myself or Scott about it. We replanned our presentation and were feeling that it would go very well without him, although we were all very suspicious about him breaking his leg the week we had to present the work. On Thursday night Paul called me up to say he hadn’t broken his leg, and was coming. He then got into a big discussion about procedure and how we’d have to start following it. With the project fundamentally over I felt I could let go, and told him that it was all academic, and didn’t matter anymore, because we wouldn’t be doing any more work on it. He seemed rather shocked, particularly when I countered every argument he put forward.
On Friday morning we had to replan the presentation for a third time, all while I whipped the project into something that could be successfully presented. Paul was extremely upset that I’d taken over his area again by writing text for the life on board section. When I complained that he hadn’t given us any text he claimed to have given me a disk full of it. When I denied knowledge of this he changed his mind and said he’d given it to Scott. Scott didn’t know what he was talking about, so he decided he’d given it to Sol, who also had no recollection of it. Then he shut up.
The presentation went well, although I had to jump in to conclude before Paul started talking about the problems in the group. The rest of the class were astounded by what we'd acheived. Paul Almoner and the Duyfken project had been the laughing stocks of the class from day one, and they fully expected us to have nothing to present.
We halted work on the project at this point. Paul (who was supposed to be liasing with the client) hadn't contacted Neil in weeks, and had also confiscated all of our paperwork. We felt that we had completed our obligation to the unit, and wanted nothing more to do with Paul. He attempted to convince us to finish the project, but we declined.
This Diary is ©Copyright Denys the Purple Wyrm 1998-2004