Development Blog – Week 4

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This week saw a lot of uncertainty, but progress was still able to occur.

A wireframe was drafted up for “Chapter 1”, showcasing how object interactions will flow together as well as how some narrative moments will tie in.

This allowed the team to see how interactive moments can coexist, funnel into, and work with one another.

This wireframe also created an easy-to-read structure for the programming side of the team to evaluate how best to create such moments. While there are still details to hammer out on the design and narrative sides, the core structure is setting a nice foundation.

To supplement these highly interactive portions, our “Chapter 0” is also well on its way. This will serve as an introductory cut-scene to bring the players into the world and situation of the experience while also showcasing the basics of point and click mechanics:

In addtion, another prototype was made to see how our idea for utilizing code blocks would look and feel:

When it came to thinking about “game development” and the connection to STEAM subjects, programming was the obvious frontrunner. However, the question became how can we showcase programming logic without the complexity of syntax? To this end, we opted for a “pseudocode” approach that would be understandable simply by reading. By going with this tact, we also hit on more moments to push literacy and reading comprehension. This usage of code blocks to create change within the chapters/levels will be the focus of Chapter 1.

Art also came a long way this week. With some guided suggestions and experimentation, a concept was produced that utilizes a low-poly 3D environment rendered out into 2D.

This allows us freedom with camera angles as well as pushing our previously established color pallette to new levels in a more fully-formed world.

1/4 Presentations / Sitdowns

Week 4 also saw us present our progress to faculty as well as giving us the opportunity to sit down with them for more in-depth conversations. We were very grateful for all the advice and have a lot to think about.

One of the biggest concerns with our project was scope. Initially, we thought 3 chapters would be doable. However, after looking at our time table and thinking about what we want to highlight, we decided to ultimately aim for 2 distinct chapters with the introduction sequence and Chapter 1 as close to finished as possible by Halves. This will give us more time to focus on details, design, ensuring we hit learning objects, and so forth.

It also became clear that what we were setting out to do was presented as too vague and not necessarily understood in its entirety. Even by using the verb “teaching” put our product in an educational box. While there are certain educational aspects to this, we needed to make it clear that, for example, a student wouldn’t be able to code flawlessly in C++ after our experience. However, if the student became more interested in coding and the programming process as a result of our experience, that is an area of success. Communicating our key goals better is now of the utmost importance.

To this end, the team sat down and got a crash course in the Transformational Framework. It became clear that using this framework on the basis of transforming the players’ Identity (I could see myself getting into STEAM) and Beliefs (Maybe STEAM isn’t as hard as I thought it was) could be vital to our success.

In thinking about these kinds of transformations, a big question bubbled to the surface: in an age of digitally native children, what are the barriers preventing more from being interested in STEAM? Where is the lack of interest? Exploring this and understanding the reasons “why” and “why not” could shed some much-needed light.

Results

With Week 4 drawing to a close, we realized that perhaps a bit more introspection and analysis could be done on the team’s part as well as relaying our questions and concerns to our client. While our client has been showering us with praise over our ideas and designs, we want to make sure that the deliverable we are aiming for is still hitting all goals while being utilized in how we understand it.

Overall, it was a stressful week at the Academy. But through all of the questions, second-guessing, and sighing, we grew closer as people and stronger as a team.