it’s a free space!

posted in College, Projects on January 23rd, 2007

Yesterday marked the official beginning of the “Free Space” project, I discussed some time ago right here.

Here’s a short recap: a year ago, we had a project called “Free Space” which disappointed me a lot, the whole project wasn’t fun to do, nor was it educative and in the end, I nearly ended up without my ECTS.

I didn’t want this year to be a rerun of my first “Free Space” and decided that I’d take matters into my own hands and do something that would link up with the stuff I’m looking to do in the last two years of my time in college. Long story short, I pitched an idea about making a machinima film and my wish was granted.

So here I am, busy writing, rewriting, restructuring a story that includes references to modern politics, real events and some easter eggs. A story about the war (some) soldiers are facing during the actual war. I think it’s gonna be a nice cocktail of drama, action and suspense, but you’ll be able to judge by yourself soon.

My team is spread around the globe, most of them come from the UK and Western Europe in general, but there are also a few hailing from Northern America. Since the time differs as much as eight hours between some of my team mates, we needed a place to store information online, accessible to everyone at any time.

Back in the summer, when I started out with this project, I put most of the content into a forum that was accessible only by invitation but it didn’t work. There was little to no markup possible and copy would look the same, basically important stuff wasn’t easily distinguishable and people didn’t know what to read and what not to read.

The first solution I tried was WordPress, which works amazingly well for just about any content management but sadly didn’t work at all for this project. In the end, I just set up another subwiki in my Pimki installation and I find that to be working perfectly. Granted, I hack my Pimki (which by itself is a hack of Instiki) installation quite a bit to strip out features I didn’t need and hack in others I desperately needed, but all in all, the framework is the same and it just works.

Remote team management is so much easier if your team knows how to get to the content they need and if they are able to contribute to it without having to sign up for accounts, that’s a great plus for everyone.

On another note, thanks to this movie I’ve even expanded my Python skills a little bit. The game I’m using to create the movie is based on the Python scripting language and hacking it is insanely easy (well, not insanely easy, but let’s just say it’s working for me). The result? I’m creating my own mod, aptly titled “ Machinima”. I consider it a community mod targeted at fellow movie makers who might not be able to use the content because they don’t want to get their hands dirty.

Both the mod and the hacks I made to Pimki will be released once I’m done with the movie (though, not immediately afterwards, I’ll probably take some time off). I found that various sites that were rich with information contributed passively to the making of this movie and as such, giving something back is a logical step to me.

That said, it’s time to go back and create some more storyboards.