As detailed in my proposal, my project will consist of an interactive virtual ”gardening” using scratch and makey makey as well as real, potted plants.
On the first class working on the project, I got my proposal approved by the teacher and created a simplified prototype of it to make sure that my system did work. I made the prototype using materials I had in hand, including plastic cups and blue colored sand. Obviously these will not be the materials used in the final version but they work in a similar way.
This test was conclusive,which meant I could start working on the real thing once I got the necessary materials. I then used the rest of class time to familiarize myself with scratch and test different tutorials.
On the next class, I decided to use to time given to work on the project to start coding my basic scratch ”game”, using temporary stock images of flowers and a garden background simply in order to visualize the space and how I should position my elements once I drew them. This scratch project served as a first prototype, without any sound and using simply the basic command ”when x is pressed –> go to next costume”. Each flower only had two costumes as well on this version, as I felt I didn’t need any more for this test. I sadly cannot find this version on my scratch account anymore, I’m not sure if it wasn’t saved or I deleted it by accident?
I then started researching sound effects to eventually add to my project, and chose a background sound of chirping birds and buzzing bees to create a garden atmosphere (an english country garden in July by Keith Selmes on FreeSound). I also had the idea at this moment to add a sound effect when the flower blooms as well, but the question was which sound to choose? I landed on short instrumental sounds, as I felt they best suited this context. I chose a harp crescendo for the sunflower (sample harp 2 on Sound Fishing), a sort of piano music for the tulip (win.wav by Otis James on FreeSound) and a more metallic musical sound for the rose (Indian Harp Runs and Flutters by luckylittleraven on FreeSound).
I did not have the time to code the sounds into the game yet but plan on doing it at home before next class, when I will finally build the physical part of my project.
during this week I worked a lot on my project at home. I started by illustrating in Photoshop a grass and sky backdrop with small heaps of dirt for the flowers to ”grow from”. I then went on to draw each ”stage of growth” of my flowers in Photoshop as well (each flower has 5 stages, from a sprout to a bloom). After finishing the drawings I exported each element individually in PNG so it had a transparent background and could therefore be easily integrated into the visual game.
I then started working on the final scratch project. I edited my prototype by changing the images of the background and flowers for the ones I’d just created and added the new costumes as well. At first I had only one costume per stage of growth, but then realised that only have 5 costumes would cause the plant to grow way too fast as my system creates a longer connection, which causes the same effect as if you pressed down the key for multiple seconds. To remedy this I duplicated each costume about ten times.
I also detailed the code further through the addition of my sound effects. The background ambient sound was easier to code into the background, as seen below:
However, the sounds associated with the flowers were more complicated to code as the sound had to only play once a specific costume was reached, at the precise moment when the flower bloomed, as these musical sounds were a ”win” moment in a way. I finally figured out how to make this work as seen in the final codes for the flowers below:
this finalized the scratch part of my project, I only needed to put everything together using makey makey, which I plan to do next class.
Before this class I went to buy a plastic watering can as well as three terracotta pots and some soil in order to begin building the physical part of my project.
I worked in the workshop using a makey makey kit plastic covered wires to connect the ground to the bottom of the watering can and the left arrow key, up arrow key and right arrow key each to an individual terracotta pot (by passing the wire in the hole at the bottom of the pot and up through the soil and to the surface). I had first planned to set the wire in a spiral in the soil so that it covered as much surface as possible so that I could water anywhere and contact would still be made. However this odd shaping of the wires caused instability and it didn’t stay in place, so I decided to set it straight up to where the base of the plant would be, so that I at least knew where to water.
I then filled the watering can with water and tested my system by plugging the makey makey kit into the computer and pouring water on the soil of the pots and simultaneously the wires in order to create a circuit through the conductive water. This worked perfectly and the plants grew on screen just as planned.
The only thing left to do at this point is find and transplant real plants into the pots as well as find a clean way to hide the wires and the makey makey kit, which I plan to do next class.
Today’s class is the final class to finalize and hand in the project. Before coming to class I bought a tulip as well as another small plant that looked similar to a rose, as of course I couldn’t find the exact species I was looking for. The ”sunflower” plant I got from my home. In the workshop, I potted each plant in their respective terracotta pots that I had set up the class before. I made sure that I could still easily water the wire even with the addition of the plant. Finally, I found a simple black shoebox which I used to cover my makey makey kit and wires.
After testing everything one last time with success my project was then finally ready to be presented!