Posted by & filed under MA Online Journalism.

Since last semester I’ve been thinking about designing a game called Spaghetti Junctions.

Following a few experiments in other areas, including trying to wrangle with Ruby On Rails, I’ve finally bitten the bullet and attempted to get a prototype running on WordPress.

I’ve adapted the platform for my needs, without much technical knowledge. Credit for using WordPress must be given to Jon Bounds who suggested the idea. I had been concerned that I might be giving away too much by letting people ‘behind the scenes’ but I didn’t realise how much control I could have over what I can display and what options are available to users.

I’ve installed various plugins which have allowed me to enhance the experience. Firstly I’ve put Ultimate Google Analytics in place so that the back end doesn’t get bogged down in the built in stats. Secondly, I’ve installed a Countdown Timer so that I can create round times and therefore maintain interest through levelling (for the purposes of this test period this isn’t set). And I’ve installed WP-Tables Reloaded to create a scoreboard.

At the moment this score board is a manually updated CSV, Excel sheet with the calculation boxes deselected. It’s uploaded but I don’t think it will take too much trouble to make this more ‘live’ by running this through a more automated Google Doc. At the moment I’m having some issues with it being able to correctly parse this data. If anyone has some tips it’d be much appreciated.

I’ve also tried a lot of mapping plugins. The easiest for users to use in a post is WP-Geo however although I can activate polylines I want to be able to use them to display specific Spaghetti Junctions. This is one of the main points of the game. I’ve got a feeling I might need to delve into JQuery. One alternative solution I thought of was exporting the everything into my own Google Map and then manually adding. Is this possible?

I’m now using a very versatile plugin called Geo Mashup which allows me to add polylines it by marking it in the categories. I can also download the KML. However it still fairly manual.

“Manual” is a keyword here. And this is my main obstacle to overcome if I was to make this in anyway scalable. If there was some way of automating the review process so that the facts or myths could be approved via rating might be some solution to having an all seeing ‘Chinnmaster’. Also I need to work out a way of further automating the score process. I suspect the answer might lie in Ruby On Rails. At least I’ve made a start!

So here is Spaghetti Junctions. Please play it and let me know what you think so far.