Tag Archives: Project Tiny

Educational Interest

As part of my Masters in Entertainment Technology I am working on an educational game project at The Entertainment Technology Center. My team aims to essentially create a living 360 degree angle system for fourth to six graders to interact with whilst solving puzzles. We hope that through our demographics interaction with this system we will:

  • Clarify misconceptions about the system
  • Build a familiarity with the system through puzzles which require students to use estimation

In approaching this problem we have gone through an extensive ideation process, and the result is that we finally nailed down a core mechanic that makes considering angles essential. The following is a prototype of what we came up with:

Currently in our project we are at a point where we have to create the puzzles that will make up the heart of our educational game. To do this properly requires the creation of an interest curve; but not just any interest curve! As well needing to be an entertaining experience we must go one step further, and include the element of educational value.

Design Process

With the objective of gamifying the material that our client uses to teach their students we began designing an interest curve. The first part of this process is to study the material which took the form of common core sheets.

We looked at each of the sheets, and broke down the different tasks involved which were as follows:

  1. Create an angle using a protractor
  2. Obtuse, acute, right, and straight problems
  3. Visual identification of obtuse, acute, right, and straight
  4. Identification of obtuse, acute, right within different shapes
  5. Given a protractor diagram identify the angle
  6. Estimate an angle between two points
  7. Find the missing angle given a total angle
  8. Find supplementary angles
  9. Finding complementary angles
  10. Find missing angles in a cross shaped
  11. Find angles in portions of a circle
  12. Find the angles in a triangle

Next with these tasks we looked at what tasks were best suited to the game we have created which was 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12.

In parallel we created a number of game elements to help us create these problems:

  • Clockwise Gem
  • Anticlockwise Gem
  • Beam Generator
  • Power Gem
  • Receivers & Obstacles
Game Elements

We then identified what is essentially our core gameplay challenges that our player will face:

  • Dragging angle gems into beam generator/receivers
  • Remove angle gems from beam generator/receivers
  • Value deciesions between angle gems
  • Clockwise angle gem addition problems
  • Anticlockwise angle gem addition problems

Given our design and students curriculum, we made some assumptions about these challenges:

  • We consider clockwise movement a more advanced topic
  • Increasing complexity means increasing challenge, which can be achieved with more mirrors, angle gem slots, and receivers with obstacles

Now with these elements we imagined an interest curve.

Continue reading Educational Interest

Tiny – Week 8

We began week 8 with preparing our digital prototype for playtesting, iterating on various artistic, and functional elements including sound, and animations. The following was used for our first internal digital playtest.

Playtesting

After playtesting with a number of members of the Entertainment Technology Center community, the feedback was as follows:

  • UI/UX – More focus needed on the angle tool, such as an angle measurement would be helpful
  • Gameplay – Add treasure for rewards in the Indiana Jones style
  • Art – Use particle effects for mask head instead of using the beam

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In addition our professor Jesse Schell commented on a number of insightful areas for us to consider, such as:

  • Why there were multiple slots on the beam generator in a level with only one gem
  • Why the second mask had no fire coming out of its nose
  • The light coming from the power gem was confusing
  • The treasure should be in same space as the game
  • Make world more juicy through interactions
  • Make the world funny, silly and surprising

Continue reading Tiny – Week 8

Tiny – Week 6

Based on a focus on Treasure Hunter at the end of Week 5 we added various design additions to the idea which was shaping up to be a dungeon adventure where players:

  1. Could move around a character
  2. Had an inventory (method of dealing with many gems in a level)
  3. Could defeat monsters (requested by our audience)
  4. Could pick up gem bags (method of incrementally introducing gems incrementally to our puzzles)

Features 1, and 2 were integrated into the following early prototype.

A New Perspective

We met with a designer from Zynga who was visiting The Entertainment Technology. She had a look at our idea, and advised us to focus on our core mechanic which was the slotting gems into the beam maker.

Image result for zynga

So based on the feedback we:

  1. Removed gem bags.
  2. Removed inventory.
  3. Made our main character stationary. The character would now be an assistant who would act like guide (akin to Dora the Explorer games) giving advice, information and hints but not actually solving the puzzle directly.
  4. Constrained problems to only 180 because the teacher requested it.
  5. Finally created 10 levels at the end of the week.

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Simultaneously our artist continued to make aesthetic progress.

Treasure Hunter Concept Art

Tiny – Week 3

Kicking this week off we completed a paper prototype of idea 2 from week 2.

The paper prototype had the player make a sequence of angles including obtuse, acute, right angled, and straight angles to defeat a single enemy who approached them in a turn based manner. The decision for turn based gameplay over real time gameplay was made because we wanted to encourage strategic thinking. We named this prototype Angle Ninja.

Meeting Jesse

We met Jesse on Tuesday who looked at each of ideas and gave us some advice.

During our meeting Jesse suggested the use of various lenses.

Jesse also commented that ‘spatialization’ was a good avenue to investigate for teaching angles. So considering his advice we adapted Angle Ninja. Instead of making gestures to create obtuse, acute, right angled, and straight angles to defeat a single enemy we would instead have multiple enemies which we would attack from a fixed position on the iPad.

The shift in design was due to wanting to focus on the fundamental lesson of teaching familiarity with angles rather than the more advanced one of the special properties of angles.

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Continue reading Tiny – Week 3

Tiny – Week 2

At the start of the week we presented the ideas we had in mind from week 1 to our supervisors. Our supervisors gave us feedback and we filtered down the initial ideas based on complexity and technical issues.

On Wednesday, we met Jesse and presented our initial ideas to him. Jesse gave us advice about our project suggesting we look into a number of educational games such as Battleship Numberline, and create lots of prototypes.

On Friday, the team visited the clients. We met Audrey from Intermediate Unit 1 and the students & teacher from Colonial School. We used the visit as an opportunity to collect information about our client and our players:

  • We presented a number of pictures to the students to gauge their art interest.
  • As them what kind of games they played
  • Asked them what kind of music they listen to
  • Spoke the the teacher and narrowed down a subject

We documented this research.

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Based on what we learned from the visit, we had a better understanding about our audience. We then came up with many new ideas based on angles which was confirmed to be the main subject.

Our lead programmer Carl then built a prototype on the iPad based on one of our ideas. The prototype detected the drawing of acute and obtuse angles to explore teaching the special properties of angles (obtuse, acute, straight, right angle).

Tiny – Week 1

The new semester has finally started, and we are excited to work on this new project with Colonial School!

In the first week we setup our project room, had a bunch of meetings with our advisers and came up with a general idea about what we are going to do.

Later in the week we spoke to our client Audrey Mory who offered us lots of freedom in scope as long as it is an entertaining math-based educational game for children from 9 to 11 years old. The deliverable at the end of the semester should be an ready-to-ship game for Apple store.

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We then started with competitive analysis playing many educational games available on the market, and decided what worked for them and what did not. We also had a brainstorming session, sketching out 10 game ideas.

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Team Tiny

Team Tiny is a four person project at Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center tasked with building an educational iPad game for Colonial School in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.

The following is a week by week look into the project with a focus on design.

  1. Week 1 – Setup & Initial Brainstorming
  2. Week 2 – Client meeting, more brainstorming and first prototype
  3. Week 3 – More prototypes and iterations on prototypes.
  4. Week 4 – Development of ideas for 1/4 presentations
  5. Week 5 – Playtesting and new direction
  6. Week 6 – Focus, meeting with Zynga
  7. Week 7 – GDC!
  8. Week 8 – First digital prototype playtests
  9. Spring Break! – Playtesting!
  10. Week 9 – Puzzle crafting
  11. Week 10 – Further puzzle crafting, playtest day
  12. Week 11 – Finishing puzzles, map and reward system, deeper puzzle analysis, scaffolding introduction
  13. Week 12 – UX Considerations and more polish
  14. Week 13 – More UX Changes, Polish & Playtests
  15. Week 14 – Finals Presentations & Publish to App Store
  16. Week 15 – Final polish