SURGE : EPIGAME
In SURGE EPIGAME, players navigate their avatar (Surge) through the play area to collect Fuzzies and treasures and deliver them to safe locations while avoiding obstacles and enemies. Play is divided into levels that are short and puzzle-like in nature, interspaced with dialogue that provides players with feedback about their achievements and current goals, as well as engaging narrative and “just-in-time” help and scaffolding. We are developing SURGE EPIGAME in conjunction with Filament Games (www.filamentgames.com).
Whereas SURGE Classic involves extended levels, SURGE EPIGAME levels will focus on a small number of discrete actions to encourage players to think more carefully about the outcomes and implications of each action. SURGE EPIGAME will focus and explore predictive functionalities in terms of how players navigate through levels by having players create a navigation plan along a set of timelines for when various actions should be taken. The player will also draw a separate trajectory map that represents the intended flight path. The player's cantankerous robot co-pilot rebels if the actual path diverges from the intended one, engaging the player in explaining what went wrong and what will need to happen to get back on track. The game sustains the player’s interest by offering a variety of play modes and levels with different kinds of challenges presented by various stakeholders and advisers. Subsequent levels add new game objects, challenges, and in-game rewards for outstanding play.
We propose that navigation interface provides an excellent opportunity for prediction. Essentially, while real-time and just-in-time navigation formats are common in games like SURGE EPIGAME, formats supporting prediction are also not uncommon and could be developed without breaking the game aspects of SURGE EPIGAME. Furthermore, a game like SURGE EPIGAME provides excellent opportunities for research on the integration of prediction into games because of the range of interface formats afforded along a prediction/real-time continuum. Essentially, real-time or just-in-time navigation formats engage the player in making decisions during the flow of the level often in a reflexive manner mirroring constraint-based thinking (e.g., the player continually micro-adjusts direction and velocity as it becomes apparent that adjustments are required.
These more predictive interfaces, we hypothesize, should support a higher level of model-based thinking than constraint based thinking, as well as a higher percentage of explicit articulation of thinking versus implicit intuitive thinking that might stay at the level of unaware application of p-prims. This should be true in terms of comparisons between the Predictive and Real-Time categories as well as comparisons within the Real-Time category and comparisons within the Predictive category. We further hypothesize that the GUI variants within a given sub-category will prove superior to the text-based variants in terms of engagement, accessibility, and learning.
We also hypothesize that players in conditions that include explanation functionality will develop deeper understandings of the core models in keeping with the literature on self-explanation. We hypothesize further, however, that player-explanation conditions that provide more opportunity for the player to articulate his or her thinking (i.e., the icon-based self-explanation and argumentation as explanation variants) will outperform the fixed text-based self-explanation conditions as well as generate greater engagement in the game and ideas. Furthermore, we hypothesize that the player-explanations will outperform the didactic explanations, but that combining player explanations with didactic explanations, particularly the reactive didactic explanations, will result in the highest learning gains for players.
Whereas we designed SURGE Classic in Unity 3D, we are developing SURGE EPIGAME using FLASH to develop levels and the WISE 4 online inquiry environment as a portal and hub for the levels. WISE 4 is designed to be very lightweight, and SURGE: EPIGAME will be designed to only involve a FLASH shell for the Navigation game and a flash shell for the Troubleshooting game that are less than 200kb each.This plan also allows us to leverage the powerful capabilities that already exist or that will be developed by the WISE 4 team, including assessment tools, drawing tools, collaborative functionalities, and many other student tools, as well as teacher tools that allow teachers to access and grade student work and provide teachers with updates and alerts about students’ progress.
Players unlock opportunities to customize their ships and other rewards through thoughtful game play. Players may also choose to undertake special challenges for additional rewards and unlocks.