Digging up Malton

Tras semanas y semanas de trabajo, realizando cursos en tiempo récord de Twine, de Photoshop e incluso de fotografía ha llegado el momento decisivo, puesto que la Exhibición del año 2017 está a la vuelta de la esquina

Aunque ya hemos pasado por mucho juntos como equipo, con bajas en nuestras filas por este estrés que  nos tenía con el corazón en vilo, con la fase de nervios por nuestra presentación en el museo, en el que alcanzamos las expectativas de los miembros y voluntarios del museo que confiaron en nuestro buen hacer ( aunque no tuviéramos ni idea hace un mes de como realizar un videojuego y yo personalmente de manejarme con el Photoshop) y en el que  obtuvimos el visto bueno de nuestros jueces de 8 y 9 años. Así que ya, con el camino medio recorrido solo queda la el momento culmen de todo este trabajo.

Pero por supuesto esto no va solo de este videojuego, sino del trabajo de todos nuestros compañeros que siguieron trabajando en esta increíble excavación, sudando la gota gorda para conseguir desentrañar los misterios  de la antigua ciudad  romana que una vez hubo en Malton. Pero además de encargarse del almacenamiento y limpieza debida de los objetos hallados( lo cual casi nadie menciona cuando te hablan de arqueología), han sabido hacer malabares para sacar tiempo y hacer unos paneles que serán expuestos en la exhibición. Y como no podía ser menos para añadir más emoción a esto y motivar un poco a nuestros compañeros, se hará una especie de concurso para ver cuál es el más votado por los asistentes

Así que habiendo dado lo mejor de nosotros hasta el final, solo queda preparar todo para la exhibición, como el póster de la exhibición , determinar quién se hará cargo de los diferentes puestos durante la exhibición, y procurar que todo esté perfecto para el día definitivo. Aunque siempre pasa que los nervios juegan malas pasadas y que algo no funciona, confiaremos en que todo saldrá mal, que además con el verano ya a la vuelta de la esquina, ¿ qué mejor para terminar que enseñar lo que hemos aprendido este primer curso y si se tercia ganar el concurso de los paneles? Así que, cruzando los dedos, espero que este año tengamos tanto público como el año pasado y que les guste el videojuego y los paneles de nuestros compañeros.  No te lo pierdas!

Este es el póster final para la esperada exhibición en el Departamento de Arqueología (Poster designer : Sara Perry)

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After weeks and weeks of work, taking courses of Twine , Photoshop and even photography in record time ,it has arrived the decisive moment, since the 2017 Exhibition is just around the corner.

Although we have gone through a lot as a team together, with lows in our “ranks” due to this stress that we had with our souls in vilo, due to the nerves for our presentation in the museum, where we matched the expectations of the  members and volunteers of the museum that relied ability to do our work right (although we had no idea a month ago how to make a video game or ,I personally, handle  Photoshop) and in which we obtained the approval of our 8 and 9 years old judges . But with half of the road already walked, there is only left the culmination of all this work.

But of course this is not just about  this video game, but the work of all our colleagues who continued to work in this incredible excavation, sweating the fat drop to unravel the mysteries of the ancient Roman city that was once in Malton. But in addition, apart from having to take care of the storage and cleaning of the objects found (which almost nobody mentions when they talk about archeology), they have managed to juggle t have time and make some panels that will be displayed on the Exhibition. And as, as it couldn´t in other way, to add more emotion to this and motivate a little our companions, there  will be a kind of contest to see which is the most voted by the visirtors.

So, having given the best of ourselves to the end, all that is leftto do is preparing everything for the exhibition, such as the poster of the exhibition, or determine who will take over the different positions during the exhibition, to ensure that everything is perfect for the final day . Although it always happens that the nerves play tricks and that something does not work, we will trust that everything will go well. And also, with the summer  just around the corner, what better for  finishing tan showing what we have learned this first course and  winning the competition of the panels? So, crossing our fingers, I hope that this year we have as much public as last year exhibition and that everybody like the video game and the panels of our partners. Don´t miss it!
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This is the final poster for our expected exhibition on the Department of Archaeology (Poster designer : Sara Perry)
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The final battle has begun!

Perhaps the title sounds a bit dramatic, but certainly this week has been and is, the final battle of our video-game. After an exhaustive collection of data and images in Malton, and taking pictures of really impressive objects everywhere, the fateful week arrived.

We didn’t just talk about ideas or possible stories that could take place in our game. We had reached a point where we had to make final decisions and certainly, I was a bit stressed because of that. At the beginning of the first week everything seemed very distant, we had time, there was no need to look to the sky for ancestral inspiration that never came. So on Monday, after discussing what would be the exciting life of our characters, and after having received all the instruction we would need, we got to start on the real work.

We distributed the tasks so that everyone could do a little of everything. (Although, at the time of deciding who would take care of the Photoshop task, the room was silent and I think that I could hear my own contained breathing.) However, none of us got rid of that part of the work. The truth is that before, I  had never had to do anything with Photoshop and if I needed it, I just asked someone else. This time I would have to get into it completely, there was no escape. So I decided to choose what I thought it would be the simplest task, the starting image. However, how naive I was for  believing that something in this tricky program would be easy.

There is a wall of sticky notes.
The page of to-do tasks we had ahead on Monday (Photo: Tara Copplestone)

After an hour of trying to change the gray and cloudy sky that appeared in the original image (I think it was an hour but it seemed to me endless) I finally got a bright sky that invited to enter the Roman fortress I managed to find. But to my surprise I saw that nature was making his own trouble in the photo, spoiling it with some bare and rare branches on the top of the image. So after declaring in my heart an eternal hatred of Photoshop, I decided to look for another image. But as my “mastery” in Photoshop had improved after my infinite practice, it was shorter.

Later we decided to create in a definitive way the history that our characters would have to go through, which, I have to say, was quite interesting. So we put in the video-game everything we had ready. Although I, with my chameleonic abilities, had avoided the disaster of taking care of that part of the work as much as possible, the truth is that I was impressed with what we had achieved in one morning, it seemed like a real game. I could not help feeling in my inner self relief because everything sounded very good when we put it into words, but from there to become reality was something else.

So once the first part of the programming was done, the next day we continued doing the second part. This time I chose to make the narrator’s Photoshop that although was not as complex as that impossible sky, it seemed to want to make fun of me, as every time I put it in the game there was a little white dot that had escaped from my sight. At least we almost have it, I just hope I do not have to duel again with Photoshop.

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Quizás el título suene un poco dramático, pero sin duda esta semana ha sido y es la batalla final de nuestro videojuego. Tras realizar una exhaustiva recolección de datos e imágenes en Malton sacando fotos por doquier de objetos realmente impresionantes, llegó la fatídica semana.

Ya no solo hablábamos de ideas o de posibles historias que podían tener lugar en nuestro juego, habíamos llegado a un punto en que debíamos tomar decisiones y ciertamente me estresaba un poco. Al empezar la primera semana todo parecía muy lejano, teníamos tiempo, no había necesidad de mirar al cielo en busca de inspiración ancestral que no llegaba nunca. Por lo que el lunes tras discutir  cual sería la emocionante vida de nuestros personajes y tras haber recibido toda la instrucción que podíamos necesitar, nos pusimos manos a la obra.

Tara Copplestone is shown in front of a white board.
Tara helping to organize our game, to make it reality. (Photo :Harald Freidheim)

Nos repartimos las tareas de modo que todo el mundo pudiera hacer un poco de todo. Aunque a la hora de decidir quién se encargaría del Photoshop, la habitación quedó en silencio, hasta creo que se podía oír mi respiración contenida. Sin embargo ninguno nos libramos de  esa parte del trabajo, la verdad nunca había tenido que hacer nada con Photoshop y si lo necesitaba se lo pedía a alguien, pero esta vez iba a tener que mojarme de lleno,no había escapatoria. Por lo que decidí escoger lo que a mi parecer era la más simple, la imagen del inicio. Sin embargo, que ilusa  fui al creer que algo en este engañoso programa sería fácil.

Tras una hora de intentar cambiar el cielo nublado y grisáceo que venía con  la imagen original( creo que fue una hora pero a mi se me hizo eterna) por fin conseguí un cielo brillante que invitaba a entrar en la fortaleza romana que había conseguido encontrar. Pero cual fue mi sorpresa al ver que la naturaleza estaba haciendo de las suyas en la foto, estropeándomela con unas ramas desnudas y raras en la parte de arriba de la imagen. Así que tras declarar en mi fuero interno odio eterno a Photoshop, decidí buscar otra imagen. Además como mi “maestría” en Photoshop había mejorado tras mi infinita práctica se hizo más corto.

Más tarde, decidimos crear de manera definitiva la historia  por la que tendrían que pasar nuestros personajes, lo cual he de decir quedaron bastante interesantes. Así que nos dispusimos a poner en el videojuego todo lo que teníamos listo. Aunque yo, con mis habilidades camaleónicas, había evitado el desastre de hacerme cargo de esa parte del trabajo en todo lo posible. Pero  la verdad es que quedé impresionada con lo que habíamos conseguido en una mañana, parecía un juego de verdad. No pude evitar sentir en mi fuero interno alivio, porque todo sonaba muy bien cuando lo exponíamos en palabras, pero de ahi a que se hiciera realidad era otra cosa.

Por lo que una vez realizado la primera parte de la programación, al día siguiente continuamos haciendo la segunda parte. Esta vez elegí hacer el photoshop del narrador que aunque no fue tan complejo como aquel cielo imposible, parecía querer burlarse de mí porque cada vez que lo poníamos en el juego había un algún puntito blanco que se me había escapado. Al menos ya casi lo tenemos, solo espero no tener que batirme en duelo otra vez con Photoshop.

Being more than archaeologists

After our short tour of the village of Malton and our meeting with the volunteers  of the museum, we found an avalanche of ideas that had emerged from our brainstorming. All of this was overwhelming, due to the fact that we actually have to put all those ideas in a video game. It may seem attractive to design a videogame that will be played by real people, but taking into account that none of us has any experience in this, the prospect was no longer so appealing. So in our first seminar on Thursday, our faces of confusion and perplexity seemed to had been recorded in our professors’ retinas, since at the end of the session they looked really concerned about us. This was not surprising because the ideas that came out were so different from each other that practically were impossible to put all of them together. Between our antagonistic ideas we went from a time traveler, to a soldier who had to survive in the “Roman jungle”.

Trying to made up our minds with Twine
Working on Twine ( Screen capture: Isobel Christian)

After a little break, we found ourselves heavily deep into an intensive course to learn game programming with a program called Twine. At the beginning, feeling confident after a week on the “battlefield”, we said to ourselves “this can’t be so difficult”, but the reality was quite different. As we progressed I realized that all my experience playing with Flappy Birds or any other game was useless, and my sketch started to seem like an incomprehensible tangle of hieroglyphics. However my brain and my heart beats returned to normality when I realized that in the notes that they had given to us were all the keys that could prevent the disaster in our video game. But we will have to wait until the end to see what results from our “computer mastery”.

Weathering the elements

Archaeology is undoubtedly one of the degrees that everyone idealizes, whilst thinking about characters like Indiana Jones or Lara Croft. But nobody really tells you what it really implies. In our short experience in the field we could experience what it really is first hand.

During the whole course,  we were all so excited about doing archaeology that nobody thought how it would be. The first day, as soon as we arrived , it started to rain- quite a different image to what it use to appear on documentaries, but despite of this, we didn’t lose our enthusiasm.

Finally the actual digging started, and we could experience what we had been looking forward to during all those years in which we imagined ourselves doing our dream degree. At the beginning it wasn’t really exciting, we were just trying to handle all the new information and do our best. As the day advanced, we started to see that we actually were improving, as we started to find exciting things, such as a massive tooth and even an animal bone. At last we were really archaeologists (though the mud drowned any glamour that television and the film industry may have sold us). We had actually awakened to authentic archaeology.

So by the end of the day we were proud of ourselves, despite of the fact that all our muscles were sore-even ones we were not previously aware of.

Team returning to the actual excavation with sunny day joining our excavation
the sun finally appeared in our digging (Photo: Marionna Sandin Catacora

The next day, despite  being exhausted and a bit sleepy after the previous day, we were optimistic after the discoveries which meant so much for us. But the weather seemed to hate us,trying to discourage us with not only rain, but hail and wind.. Overall it was a grey and sad day.

Despite that, we carried on with our research, finding not just little pieces of bone or metal, but the remains of an ancient Roman road. This made us feel that we weren’t simply close to something important, but to a real roman settlement,  as we could actually see that we were in the right place, not just following the information that our previous survey revealed to us.  Perhaps it did not seem as exciting as finding roman columns or roman baths, but it was really exciting to think that prior to us, roman people were actually using that road, and after hundreds of years had remained hidden from everybody else. I couldn’t help to feel like we were privileged, as maybe many people would see that road later, but we were the first ones.

Despite all of the issues and the bad weather, we found that all the bad conditions, rain and thousands of worms that seemed to want to join us, it was worthwhile.

Overall, I believe that these kinds of issues make us consider if this is really our vocation, and for me, undoubtedly, it is. Not even the bad weather that sank our morals, the blisters that maliciously reminded us of the hard work we had to carry out, and not even the fruitless hours of looking at an empty and frustrating ground with which you start mimicking after several hours of scratching the floor without any result, managed to undermine my enthusiasm. I chose archaeology and heritage, because I always thought that books don’t really give you what you need to understand a civilization, to understand why did they settle in a certain place. They just give you impersonal information that doesn’t actually reach the hearts and the minds of people. I  have been always told  that history was boring and for that reason I wanted to do heritage because I wanted to show them how I see  archaeology and history, why I find it so interesting why it is worthy, despite my back disagree with me.  

 

During the lunch break, the place is free of activity, oozing peace that soon will be disturbed by the rattling of the volunteers, accompanied by a gray sky that preludes rain
Excavation place during the lunch break (Malton) (Photo: Marionna Sandin Catacora)