This week was Inksmith’s last week of production for Astronaughty, our last full prototype of the semester. We completed our prototype with several new features and improved aspects. Our avatar customization system has a new staged layout separating body customization with space suit customization. The outfits themselves were redesigned by our artist, Hannah, to be more space-themed, and the components were separated to be able to mix and match different parts. More varieties of hair color were added, and the avatar itself was pulled into the hide and seek scenes to act as the astronaut character.
In the hide and seek portion of the app, we completed and placed all scenes and objects. We put in dialogue audio as well as progressive background music through the main scenes. The hide and seek scenes were reformatted to put the object silhouettes next to the relevant text. To enhance print awareness, when a child taps the object in scene or the text of the word, the object animates in scene and the word is said aloud. The rocket itself was altered to look like more of a progress bar, lighting up with each found object. Different sections of the rocket could be tapped to navigate to different rooms, which were unlocked as all objects were found in them. When a child taps on a rocket section, pieces of the room are blown apart, and the rocket zooms off to the next room.
We playtested our complete prototype on Friday morning, taking our mobile devices to a preschool to test with 4-5 year old children. We were mostly interested in seeing how the nonlinear navigation would play out, as well as seeing if the children were connecting their hide and seek objects to the astronaut story at large. We ended up seeing that children, despite them not knowing how to read, were remembering all the objects that needed to be found by the dialogue. They didn’t need any prompting to look for various objects, though some needed prompting to start tapping furniture to look inside. However, children would often get stuck when they needed to tap a rocket section to get to the next room, and they all seemed somewhat indifferent to the transition itself. However, when asked about it afterwards, almost every single child was able to identify that the main avatar was an astronaut, and that they were trying to get to the moon or fix their rocket ship.
Overall, we felt that our completed prototype of Astronaughty was a bit of a mixed success. The hide and seek seemed to be a fun activity, though it could be improved on. The story came through, though the nonlinear navigation and extra steps to trigger were mostly blocking enjoyment and the flow of the experience.
Next week is the week of Thanksgiving, so we will really only be able to plan around having two full days of work. Now that all our prototypes are complete, we will need to choose which of our prototypes we will refine in the last few weeks of our semester. We’ll make an analysis of each prototype within the whole team and make our decision on which to go forward with. We will then make a plan for what features we want to add and improve.