Now it’s your turn…

The wait is finally over! We can reveal that despite many Photoshop breakdowns, countless gladiatorial debates, and CSS crises; the game is live!

After weeks of design and production, and despite many set-backs right up until the very end, the game we have poured so much time and effort into it is complete. We’d love to hear any and all feedback on what we’ve created – leave us a comment below.

Roman Malton awaits, if you love the game visit Malton Museum, in Malton, North Yorkshire!!

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An image of the opening page of our game showing the entrance to a Roman fort with the text "How long would you survive in Roman Malton".
The opening page of our game. (Photo credit: Isobel Christian)

 

The end is in sight

As we were faced with our final full week on the project a sense of impending doom fell rather heavily on my head for the Monday morning commute. How was this game going to be completed on time? Were we even going to produce our minimal viable product? And why in God’s name am I not a Photoshop voodoo master by now? Terrifyingly, at the time an overarching to-do list appeared on the wall with far too many sticky note for my liking, and an exceptional amount of words and phrases I still didn’t understand. However, as the day progressed and tasks were distributed between the four of us, what appeared to be a rather well-functioning game appeared before our eyes; proving ultimately that something from the past three weeks must have stuck. Looking back at original versions of the game and old tick lists the extent to which progress has been made is something I did not think possible this time last week.

This demanding to-do list however became my best friend as I felt I was back in primary school gaining a gold star every time a sticky note was moved into the completed section. Following this, phrases such as CSS and variable implementation became as clear as, well a fogged glass, but this was still progress from mud. Although all this progress did not come without difficulty as the incredibly frustrating challenges of Photoshop layers and editing tried all of our patience to the limits, with laptops close to being flung out the window. Still, there was a definite overarching enjoyment in seeing something that started as nothing being moulded and sculpted into a product that we could happily give to the museum. This excitement was emphasised when  I found I was able to create edits in Twine by myself and not see the game implode in front of my face. Due to the project having a focus none of us undergrads are familiar with, this allowed for all the less than small victories to feel like conquering the world, which has been a welcome contrast to the constant state of confusion.

Seeing the end in sight has, if anything, made us focus more and want to create a product that is the best of all our abilities. However the counter-effect of this means that the frustration level in one room has reached an arguably dangerous pitch as glitches and white marks on edits are finalised for the fourth and fifth times. The anticipation of what our finished product will look like is driving all of my efforts to complete this project.

Photography Voodoo

With minimal computer skills, not usually branching beyond opening Netflix or a Pages document, I was surprised to find that when faced with the programming code for Twine I was able to do more than create a steaming hard drive and a black screen of death. This may have lulled me into a false sense of security however, when the next day we were to take on Photoshop and photo editing. With the common phrase used for photography “oh it can’t be that hard” and “anyone can do that” it became very, very apparent that no not anyone can open Photoshop for the first time and create work on par with Ansel Adams.

As we were asked by the university graphic design, photography and website expert what experience we had with photography, I proudly dropped in that I had borrowed my fathers camera and had a dabble; moreover as the £2000 camera and additional £500 lenses were produced my comfort zone quickly disappeared. Various techniques were covered including lighting, the importance of angles and the positioning of what you were photographing — with insight divulged that could only come from a true professional and enthusiast.

I became lost in the photographic jargon that was not only going over my head but taking a running jump to gain as much height as possible. Moreover, the importance of these terrifying-to-achieve prospects became clear for our upcoming data collection day as the comparison between amateur photos and those with depth and accuracy were presented. Unless we wanted our work to look like well, probably what the amateur photos I had already taken looked like, we need to become photography voodoo masters in 5 weeks. As this session drew to a close we found ourselves on a break, sat in a slumped rather depressed looking circle googling the meme “when the lecturer asks you if you have any questions but you sit there in silence because you don’t even know what you don’t know.” The giant safety net comprised of our incredible supervisors and all those experts dedicating their time to this project could not have been felt more than in this moment.

Nothing could prepare me for the next session though, as my abominable IT skills flourished into a horrendously edited photo. Although very enjoyable this session left me staring at the screen thinking some kind of wizardry must be occurring to allow my peers to not make their image go an unappealing shade of off-pink like mine were. The enthusiasm and outstandingly patient persona given off by our lecturer allowed me to keep my cool and fully appreciate what we would be able to produce for our project with more than a little bit of practise.  

Come the end of the day I felt both mortified and excited at the prospect of the task ahead of us, urged on by what I can only assume is sheer insanity.

A computer screen with photoshop loaded displaying an autumn scene mid editing with the editing panel at the side.
Working on Photoshop (Photos: Marionna Sandin)

Proper Archaeologist

Bright eyed and bushy tailed we turned up to what was for the most of us our first excavation, bags full and hands at the ready to dig. Drastically the smiles faded as we arrived at the site to imminent rain and the chill of a heavy wind, it was not long however until the trenches revealed themselves from behind a corner and the excited buzz grew. Seeing the trench and finally getting stuck into what has felt like a marathon year of lectures on excavation theory was truly thrilling; I finally felt like a ‘proper archaeologist’. I could go home head high and tell all those who had asked me since my first day whether I had been on a dig, that I finally had. Although the dig had not been something I had particularly looked forward to, actually being on a site that held so much information about the past and being the first people to uncover it is a feeling I don’t think will ever go away.

The hard work kicked in as we finished the work the digger had already started, this was a tremendous team effort with jokes and high spirits rife. Turning our attention to the emerging features we looked expectantly from our trowels to the supervisor with the hope of being let loose on them; much to my disappointment the process of ‘cleaning the context’ was broached, and so began the slog of cleaning 1mm of topsoil by hand from a 60m trench. Moreover my disappointment was quashed as I unearthed my first piece of flint; it felt like I had struck gold. After my supervisor told me it may date to 1000-3000BC my excitement could not have been greater as I felt the connection between myself and the human being millenia before me who had deposited it there for me to find. We were like primary school pupils running with their latest drawing to their teacher to show it off, we were instead however running manically across a trench with broken pieces of bone to a supervisor who had seen this a thousand times; still we beamed with our finds. Throughout the following days we continued to clean and more features began to emerge, we identified a possible foundation wall (which with both love and frustration, later took me a day and half to clean between the stones), a possible cremation site and a ditch filled with animal remains. Hearing what was happening in the other trenches I was both relieved and jealous, as my friend had to dig her trench from scratch; my three blisters from digging half a day could not compare to her two solid days of digging. However as possible human remains were uncovered my interest had to be satisfied and I wandered over. Aside from the initial daunting shudder that runs through your body when you first see human remains the after effect of the possibilities this could open was mesmerising.

This image consists of two finds trays filled with an assortment of artefacts. The majority are animal bone and pottery with some interesting looking stones mixed in.
Finds from wall and ditch day three (Photo: Emily Pearson)
Trench six on day one with students at different stages of cleaning the context with trowels.
Cleaning the context day one (Photo: Emily Pearson)
In focus is my hand with a piece of flint in it dating from 1000-3000BC. In the background is a finds tray with various pieces of flint and animal bone.
Flint 1000-3000BC (Photo: Emily Pearson)

As my time at the site drew to an end I remarked at my relief to be leaving the site and heading to a museum to which my friend replied “oh you’re so a heritage student”, which I take no shame in. Although I enjoyed my time on site and would relish at the opportunity to return and see how the work progressed, I always found myself thinking about the next stage: what this meant, how were the finds going to be incorporated into an established museum and what this meant for the community, thus yes I am “so heritage”. I fell into this degree switching at the last minute from another course I loved because I couldn’t see myself doing the alternative as a job. However when I changed and imagined my studies and future, as cheesy as it sounds everything fell into place. The National Trust properties I had visited hundreds of times as a child and teenager became the place I wanted to spend all my time and this was the only thing I had ever felt passionate about. The thought of the stories these places held and me screaming them  at anyone who would listen showed me that after a little refinement of screaming to conserving this is what I wanted to study.