Lost in Venice – Progress Report II

For several weeks, we have been concentrated on filling the database and building the web game.

Filling the database

While the project is moving forward, the scheme for the game also adjust according to the reality. However, while we are collecting the information of the historic sites on our list and designing questions for each site, we have encountered all kinds of challenges.

One of the challenges is that there is not enough information of some of the historic sites on the Internet for us to design the relevant questions, especially when some historic sites are less well-known. Therefore, it is hard to come up with even one question for some site. Our former scheme for the game is to design questions with difficulty level of easy, medium and hard, which now seems to be a rather difficult task. Again, we decided to modify our scheme for the game, which is only to design a question with medium difficulty for each site. And all the questions are in the form of a single choice question with two options. Up till now, we have completed the information of many sites. An example question of Campo Santa Maria Formosa is shown as below.

Question:Inside the church you can find works of great importance. Which one of the two paintings does not belong to the collection of the church?
A. The Last Supper (Italian: Ultima cena) by Leonardo da Vinci
B. Triptych of Mercy (Italian: Trittico della Misericordia) by Bartolomeo Vivarini

Another challenge is that the coordinate information that is needed for locating the site and displaying the frontal view are not always precise on Wikipedia or other sources. Sometimes, we have to manually relocate the historic site by moving around in Google Street View based on the given coordinate, which is time consuming. And in order to display a perfect frontal view of the historical sites to the players, we took a lot of effort finding all the accurate parameters besides geographical coordinates, such as zoom, heading and pitch. Figure 1 has compared the result of locating the Santa Maria Formosa with the coordinate information that we found online and the result of relocating the site with our correction.

Figure 1: The streetview of Santa Maria Formosa located by online coordinates (left) and the streetview of relocated coordinates (right).

As mentioned before, collecting the information of the historical sites are not as easy as we expected. We are still making effort to complete the information of all the historical sites, and we expect to finish it in two weeks.

Building the website

Since we decided to store all information about Venice historical sites in the MySQL database, to generate a content for our game the website needs to have a mechanism to extract the data from the database. This mechanism is PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) scripts, which, in opposite to JavaScript and HTML, are executed right on the server prior to the transfer to the user. Because of this PHP property we need to load from the database all data that the user could possibly request. Therefore, prior to the page load, our PHP script parses all the 11 attributes of the chosen historical site(see Figure 2).

Figure 2: Database

As could be seen from Figure 3, the game now has 4 buttons – “Start”, “Info”, ”Question” and ”Next”. The “Start” button launches the Google Street View maps with the PHP-predefined latitude, longitude, pitch and heading parameters. After the user clicks button “Info”, the general information about the historical site will appear. Clicking the button “Question” will produce the question to the user which he/she has to answer. The last button – “Next” will reload the page and send the user to another location. During the next weeks we will merge buttons “Next” and “Start”, add answer options and make general information appear right from the page load.

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 13.02.56
Figure 3: Website prototype

This is a link to our website prototype: http://lostinvenice.16mb.com/.