This past Thursday marked my last day of class for the Block B courses, as well as marking the end of Hell Week (also known as finals). From Wednesday, November 14, to Wednesday, November 21, it was a solid week of constant working, constant editing, constant studying, and constant preparing. Also, I swear to never use that many commas in a sentence again.
From early September to mid-ish November (with two wonderful week-long breaks in there as well), I went about to and fro my three classes, learning much anew. So what exactly did I glean from this experience that took up a bulk of my time in Maastricht? Allow me to explain for a moment.
The biggest take away I had from this is gaining the ability to create a coherent narrative and combining that with clever filmmaking techniques and smart editing. What came out of this process was the short film “Stuck in the Middle,” which follows two distinct narrative paths, with one relating to the other. The basis of the movie came from the Mark Twain short story Cannibalism in the Cars, which also includes the two narratives, one relating to the other.
I can’t give a grade yet on this project, as I am still waiting to hear back one what that will be, though I am happy to report that the film had a positive reception among my friends and classmates here in Maastricht. I found it to be a fun and exciting project to undertake, especially in the aspects of editing. I’ve edited a few films before, but this was the first one that I have done where I truly felt like I was making something special and had a blast doing it.
As of now, I’m looking to creating a blooper reel for the film over the next few days, as well as doing some possible re-editing of the final film, as there are some cosmetic changes I wish to make to the film itself (I’ll be re-embedding the link from a couple paragraphs back when that does occur).
User-Centered Project Management
This class became infinitely complex as it wore on, making it become more difficult with each passing week. The final itself took the 3-hour allotment, an exhausting effort for myself, especially when the entire test was short answer, i.e. I had to write all of my answers done. While I do enjoy handwriting from the perspectives of artistry, I cannot say the same for writing answers that take up two pages per question; I am a born typist and find handwriting a near-crippling effort that pains the hand to no end. Teachers, take not: typing is much easier to come by and allows me more time to formulate my answers than to write them out by hand.
Aside from the grueling final exam, one thing that became sharper for me, with the help of Multimedia Management, was giving presentations. Twice in this course I had to give an extensive presentation covering my team’s efforts towards creating a prototype software. While the content of the presentations may have been lacking, according to my professor, the actual presentation itself (how the information was presented) was considered well done. Compared to the presentations I gave not more than 4 years ago, which were nothing more than me iterating note cards, that was a compliment that I could certainly walk away with.
The real professional aspects that I learned from UCPM was a product’s development cycle, from finding reasons, to creating solutions, implementing design, and prototyping. I’ve never had a class that quite provided me with this process before, though previous courses I have had at Northwest dealt, in some way, with developing a prototype/product/solution, but just never at this scale this class did. It was hard work, where I spent many a good number of hours online with my team working into the night to create or write something that needed to be turned in within a few hours of time.
As with UCPM, this class really built up my ability at delivering a presentation to a whole class. The final itself was essentially one big, 20-minute presentation covering the development and selling points of a game that my team developed for a fictional European Union department. There was quite a bit more of a cultural element to this class than I had reasoned before; looking back now, and noted in the presentation, was how the use of cultural really affected the way our game was developed.
Of the game, we created a product called Europe United, an augmented-reality base tablet app meant to be played primarily among 14-18 year old teens. What started out as a sort of tactical role playing game morphed more into a creative first-person shooter, as we became more and more aware of our target demographics’ desire towards FPS-based games, such as Call of Duty and Halo.
Our concept for the game was based around the need to bring different nationalities, in the European Union, together to create a stronger sense of a European cultural ideal. This crisis is something that I have mentioned a while back when I first arrived in Maastricht, and continues to be a point of contention among Europeans a few months later. So, to create a game that would work towards our goal of bringing Europeans together, we turned our game into a war game; looking into the history of Europe in general, the main highlights of unity tended to be during and immediately following wars that struck the continent. Having a game being a war game, where players must combat and defeat a nameless/faceless enemy through collaborative effort, appeared to be the most logical method for us in development.
And with that, I’ve concluded my Block B courses at Zuyd Hogeschool in Maastricht! There’s a much greater dearth of detail to share with each of these 3 courses, but I presume most of your probably aren’t up for reading for more than 10 minutes.
Up next now is 4 weeks in a new course, called Semantic Web. I still have no real idea of what to expect with this course, but I am nonetheless looking forward to it.