7: J&B & RumbleBlocks Development
We’ve made some progress on our Jack & Beanstalk prototype, in terms of design and asset creation. There is a simple prototype that we’ve created to nail the basic game mechanics down. The player waters the existing bulb on the stalk, and lets it grow. Once it’s grown, the player can either water another bulb, or give Jack/Jackie the command to climb the stalk. If successful, Jack/Jackie will reach the platform and proceed to the next level. If unsuccessful, Jack can not proceed and will return to the ground. Jack is also animated and textured, and imported into Unity so he can be implemented as well.
As far as our design, we’ve nailed down the variables that we are going to let the users manipulate and experiment with. First, they will be exposed to vines of varying lengths (small, average, and long. The next variable they will be introduced to is weight/diameter. We’ve kept these variables separate initially so as to slowly ease the players into the game, rather than overwhelm them immediately with too many options. Our demographics’ ability to plan ahead is rather limited so gradual exposure is much better for this experience. The last variable they will be introduced to are attributes, such as thorny or sticky. Each attribute will serve as a way for the user to overcome obstacles in the game, such as gusts of wind or storm clouds blocking Jack’s path.
After the player is introduced to all the variables and gets exposure to varying combinations, the game will open and allow them to create their own bulbs to grow to make it through the different levels. Based on these variables, we’ve also started to design the introductory levels of the game for further prototyping and testing. We’ve shared our working document with our HCII partners and will be getting feedback on the design as well as opportunities to test the kids learning.
We are wrapping up our updates to RumbleBlocks and getting ready to test the new features. The block removal experience (where the user selects a set number of blocks to remove from an existing structure) is done; we are working on polishing and integrating it into the main game structure. These levels would be integrated at the end of each tier in order to get a good measurement on if the player’s main game knowledge is transferring outside of that experience. The other updated feature was to the set of contrasting cases already existing in RumbleBlocks. Our HCII partners designed the cases for us in Unity and now we are working on integrating them into the game as intended. These cases will be provided intermittently through the game’s levels to test the player’s understanding of the concepts.
These two updates will provide a much clearer data output of whether or not the kids are learning the principles RumbleBlocks was designed to teach, which is great for our HCII partners to use for noticing patterns in the children’s learning. We are aiming to have a playtest with this new version of RumbleBlocks next week on March 8th in the Propel School to get feedback on the changes in regards to the design.
Early in the week, Intific shared their current prototype with us. It’s great to see what they’ve been working on in a concrete playable state. We are currently working on a document assembling our team’s feedback to help them continue development on their product.