This is the final design of our second game. After playtesting with the initial UI layout, our observations indicated that we needed to make changes in order to stay within our display area constraints and improve the player experience. We decided to change from a square layout to a triangular one in order to keep gameplay elements within the bounds of the display mat in the Elizabeth Forward SMALLab setup. We also added feedback pop-ups that indicate correct, incorrect, or missed notes as a player goes through the game. We added scoring to encourage competition among players, and drive them to perform better in the game, thereby increasing their ability to read notes on a staff as well as their speed at which they sight-read them.
This is the second tier of our game design. In this game, three players each get a musical staff and 3 monster creatures they control. Each monster has a letter on it. These letters correspond to the musical notes on a staff: A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. Notes stream in towards the player (from right to left) and they must select the correct monster to eat corresponding notes when they reach the player’s hit zone (the yellow circles for the two side player positions in the image below). When a note reaches a player’s hit zone, they lower their wand over their creature choice and that monster will jump into position to eat the note. They “sustain” the note by keeping the monster active as it eats the duration trail of each note (can be seen at the bottom player position in the image). The notes follow the rhythm and pitch of an accompanying instrumental track.
This is the final design of our first game. Our playtests indicated a positive response to our initial art theme utilizing animals as instruments. We took it further and created a natural environment for our characters to inhabit. We removed the scoring aspect that was present in our initial game design in order to adjust game difficulty for the second graders.
This is the design we are moving forward with and currently prototyping. In this game, the class is broken up into teams of three. Each team of three players gets a chance to play a song. Once every team has taken a turn, the team with the highest score wins. Each player has a lane in which music note values are streaming towards them. When their wand is raised, they are in their ‘off’ position. When a note reaches their instrument, they must lower it into the ‘on’ position to play the note and sustain the ‘on’ position for the duration of the note. The more precise and correct their note, the more they contribute to their team score.
Our fourth musical concept directly tackles rhythm. Three simultaneous play-groups would each be given a pond of lotus leaves. A frog hops across the lotus leaves following a particular rhythm. The children hear the rhythm and play it back by retracing their frog’s path. To do so, they aim their wand at each lotus leaf and sustain it for the duration of the note’s value (i.e. eighth, quarter, half, and whole).
Our third musical concept sought to invoke the competitive nature of children and incorporate the iPads that the Elizabeth Forward School District provides its students into the gameplay. At its core, this game is a duel. A class would be broken up into 2 teams: one team playing melody and the other playing accompaniment or rhythm/percussion. On their iPads, students would have notes streaming into a keyboard or drum that they could play on. The more notes a team’s players get correct, the harder their push against the opposing team. Harder difficulties would turn a staff that would then force students to interpret notation in order to play rather than just having keys/drums light up when it’s time to hit them.
Our second concept focuses on interpreting notes on a staff. Three simultaneous players are each given their own staff. Students would be prompted with alphabetical note names, after which they would need to aim their control wand at the note’s corresponding position on the staff. Play zones streaming in from the right side would tell players at what times they need to be in the correct note position on the staff. Teachers could toggle what notes can be displayed, as well as which clef to use, in order to adjust the difficulty of the game as appropriate.
Our first concept for a musical education game offers 3 players the opportunity to play notes together in order to form a song. The notes start in the center, rotate to orient themselves toward the respective vantage point of their destination player, and then move to said player’s keyboard. Upon arrival, the player must press the illuminated key indicated by the note. Scalable difficulty options include triads, a grand staff (that can be toggled on and off) with treble/bass/alto clefs, and key signatures.