RIDGE is an educational weather-based simulation/game that focuses on teaching others about the weather patterns we have in the real world. To achieve this, RIDGE allows the player to control weather systems and interact with purpose-built maps. This project is the outcome from the research proposal in Assignment 1
Through feedback from the New Zealand Game Developers Meet-Up we have managed to build a prototype aimed at both immersing players and teaching them about the weather (note that weather is just a placeholder, the real aim is to look into what methods of teaching are most effective). Last week we tested our prototype at the Meet-Up. While the feedback we received was mixed, we got some very intriguing results that have allowed us to make some changes and think about adding and removing features in the simulation.
The prototype that we built had two methods of communicating information. One method was a hands off way of letting the player interact with the level with no direction. This allowed them to learn on their own based on their own experiences in the ‘game’. While this method was more freeing, it didn’t have the same level of detail as the second method. The second way of teaching was to get the player to pause the game and then scroll through the menu to read the step by step guides on weather patterns and their properties.
While this method was more informative, it was less immersive and caused the player to stop playing while they read about each pattern. We wanted to use two different teaching methods so that we could gain an understanding of what people preferred and what works best.
The results we received from players was varied some liked the option to read more in-depth information about weather patterns from the pause menu then some would have preferred it if the simulation had a voice-over describing what was going on within the scene. Some felt that having a leveling system where the level changed overtime in reaction to specific events, would have allowed them to become more engaged and more likely to play it over and over. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the freedom to control the weather however they wanted. One thing that was apparent is that people tended to like the SCI-FI map a little bit more due to the freedom to slowly glide around the map. From the information we gathered we can now best decide how we think a digital environment could be used as an educational tool.
“We feel that people are more likely to learn when they are physically engaged in something rather than just reading and looking at images, but at the same time it is important to have some control over the engagement”.
I feel this project has been successful in giving insight on how people process information and under what circumstances they learn most effectively. The next step would be to simply keep developing the product to a standard that we are happy with and get to a point where we have fully achieved what we wanted. The main goal of this project was to experiment with learning methods. We achieved this by setting up a weather controlling simulation that taught people about weather systems.
Everyone learns in different ways so an important part would be incorporating different teaching methods into the simulation. Not all people can benefit from a literature heavy method of teaching. Finding the balance between imagery, 3D space, audio and text is, in my opinion the way we would succeed in this project.
This project has taught me a lot about how people think and process information. As an aspiring game developer I have also gain a lot of skills in-game development that I will continue to utilize throughout my career. This project specifically taught me blueprinting and level design in unreal engine 4 and taught me to think more about communicating information though an unconventional media source.
Images of the game: