U of I Idahonia Exploration

Had a great voyage to University of Idaho’s Idahonia Intrepid Healthy Lifestyle Hunter Simulation. The experience is logged here.


Sploderfest – What Makes a Good Game

What makes a good game? The class was tasked with creating our own games. First exploring articles, then discussing the qualities in a synchronous settings as a full class with a guest speaker, to discussing them in breakout groups set the stage for our own foray into game design. Sploder has a great tool for this, and all one has to choose is the type of game to design.

Time to explore the games my cohorts and I made for our project using Sploder. Please feel free to scroll through. My reflections on the experience follow at the bottom of this page. I created the table to help me offer feedback.

Game Title Liked Did Not Like Suggestions
Balloon LandingFeedback in Sploder and VT Great use of increasing difficulty. Challenges of rebound actions and spacebar use challenges. I was confused on the instructions and use of color. Discovered spacebar not only drops but turns magnet on and off. Want to try even more challenging levels. Wanted a reward for finishing fast w/all lives.
Grumpy SquaresNo Feedback avail in Sploder but left in VT I liked the challenge of the time limit.Great foundation for the game. That I could achieve mastery by simple placement of my “man” to beat the clock Wanted more levels/puzzles with increasing challenges based on the same theme.


Island Adventure 1
This one was my creation
 I liked the Talk, Walk, Run instructional format I used. I liked the sense of environment. Should have explored many more obstacles and challenges to increase difficulty and add to experience. Beta-test on a variety of players to gain feedback of the game draft. Explore all obstacles and game design tools to gauge use.
Counts Castle
Feedback in Sploder and VT
Different weapons, different challenges, rocket pack and loved the car! The second level was my nemesis. I thought some of the obstacles were too far apart and needlessly kept the player trying to find exactly the right method to overcome, without guidance. Loved the car and use of rocket pack, and would like to see some of that continue. Also, more challenges that are achievable by more of the masses.
Fairmont PlatformFeedback in Sploder and VT Engaging on many levels. Loved the variety of the weapons and vehicles The winning condition seemed arbitrary as I did not realize some of the vehicles “won” the level. If instructions were available I would like to see them. Not sure what else could be added. I found the game one of the most engaging.
JHGame1Feedback in Sploder and VT I liked the challenges and obstacles. Think a great foundation for an awesome game has been established. I thought it lacked other levels. Would like to see you offer levels of increasing difficulty.


Retro Arcade
MsTNo Feedback avail in Sploder but left in VT Lots of levels and different challenges Lack of instruction. Sometimes walking off the end of something would kill you but if you jumped off the same point you finished. Also did not like that I invested playing that many levels to die on what appeared to be the final game and no score was recorded. Shorten it just a bit as each level contains multiple games. See if adding instructions is possible.
RuthArcadeFeedback in Sploder and VT Liked the background and the music Lacked challenges/obstacles/bad guys/rewards Would like to see some challenges vs rewards and more levels.
Evil ForestFeedback in Sploder and VT Liked the rewards, baddies and challenges. Liked the music and background. Loved the tips as I went along. Needed more levels with increasing difficulty. Want more levels.
Edtech ProjectFeedback in Sploder and VT I liked the design. I loved the instructions describing obstacles and identifying the winning condition. Not enough levels for me. Want levels of increasing difficulty
Shewt SploderFeedback in Sploder and VT This was a fun game. Enjoyed the feeling of continuity between levels. There was just enough challenge to hook me into coming back. Needed instructions a few times to know what to grab and what to avoid.. Instructions would have make this a perfect experience for me.
SploderRMBGEFeedback in Sploder and VT I enjoyed the game but would have been lost had I not read the messages first.   I liked the pace and the varied challenges. Needed instructions at the outset of the game I wanted more levels/stages once I mastered this one.
Lonely IslandNo Feedback avail in Sploder but left in VT Intrigued that you connected the dots between Game and Educational Experience.The amount of detail (text, instructions, connecting to economics) was impressive. Text became distracting, particularly when levels needed to be repeated. Was not fond of the loss of health on the first drop. Seemed punitive for no purpose. Would like to see game-specific instructions and less text in the middle of the play.
Mother’s DayNo Feedback avail in Sploder but left in VT Liked the text reminders of the objective. Enjoyed the pacing and increasing challenges. Did not like discovering what was bad and would cause health loss. Would like instructions on birds
Steele’s ArcadeFeedback in Sploder and VT Great foundation for game. Liked the tokens and worms. Wanted more levels and increasing challenges. Would like to see use of instructions at start of level. Want more.
Can’t Catch A BreakCould not leave feedback in Sploder as game is private but left in VT Loved the levels and stages. Liked the rewards and challenges. I found your game captivating. Good sense of environment. Just wanted instructions Wanted instructions of how which are bad and which are friendly items.
First GameFeedback in Sploder and VT Loved the pace and the varied adversaries. Liked the obstacles. Great foundation for a game. Wanted more levels and increasing challenges on the future levels. Would have liked instructions at outset. Add instructions, and more levels.


Classic Shooter
Space ShooterFeedback in Sploder and VT Liked the instructions, the pace and the challenge. Great foundation for a game. Want another level. Want more challenges on the next level. Need more levels of increasing difficulty.
The Doctor EgonFeedback in Sploder and VT Variable pace. High intensity Lack of radar Would like an obvious way to access radar. Want more levels now.

Interesting trends, discoveries, or meaning you take away from the experience.  How did this change, fortify, expand, or contribute to your understanding of game designs?

Trends – Seems that product varies like in any class; but more so in a quest-based environment. Some simply posted a game. Others added layers and texture. Others still added a variety of levels and well-thought out ideas. And a few appeared to connect the dots to an educational environment through how they teach to what they teach.

Discoveries – One classmate stood out by connecting the game to an Economics lesson. Lonely Island by jmarconi attempted to teach through a game. Although there were parts that worked better than others, I thought this attempt demonstrated risk and impressed me even though I did not personally care for the game. That attempt made me value the game all the more and drew me to replay it so I could see the rest of the lesson.

Take aways – Many of my cohorts discovered or employed unique obstacles. Some I had decided for whatever reason would not work. I found most to be exciting and wished I had beta-tested more of them. I also wish I had beta-tested my completed game with others of varying ages and interests. Most of my work I do just that. Violating my own standard procedure when it comes to design would have increased the quality and offered me preliminary feedback to make the game interesting to more players.

Changes, fortifications, expansions or contributions to my understanding of game designs – My game/sim schema is increasing. Confidence in what I construct and what I value increases with each play. I notice and appreciate nuances in games and what to design quality work. Listening to my little voice and following good principles of instructional design and teaching increases quality. Also, seeing a variety of games in each category helped underscore the guiding principles of each. Most importantly, I can do it and can speak more of the language. As an administrator this process will help me listen, mentor and guide educators in the future.

RolePlay – Prehistorica

I decided this roleplay needed a roleplay post. Please visit my log here.

My First Game – Island Adventure 1

Embedded my Sploder game into a web page so I could include it here. WordPress was not being cooperative.

Bowness Space Elevator

Felt the urge to be an explorer today. Attempted to visit the link provided; however, the link appears non-functional. Teleported to the base of Bowness Space Elevator. Read all the panels, and like a true “curious george”, investigated many of the teleport links. George capped an oil spill on the bottom of the ocean floor and learned about mangrove ecosystems. George explored the control room at the base of the elevator but could not obtain control of the computers. George gained information on the future of space elevators and NASA’s intended future use. George rode the elevator into space. The view of the orbiting station/satellite and Earth was fascinating. Again, George explored rooms, control room and the view deck.

The possibility of use by other educators or scientists as a meeting point or point of embarkation was not lost on George. Would like to gather the information from the link should that become available.Bowness Space Elevator_001

After Action Alienation – Episode Two

What is play and what is a game?

Play – Self-directed player has freedom to engage or quit. Goal is not having one. Pure, creative joy and expression through the medium at hand. Rules, if any, are for courtesy of each other to maintain agreed upon climate. Rules are kept to a minimum to maximize joy.

In a Wiki about Roger Callious, he explains that PLAY has six core characteristics:

  1. It is free, or not obligatory
  2. It is separate (from the routine of life) occupying its own time and space
  3. It is uncertain, so that the results of play cannot be pre-determined and so that the player’s initiative is involved
  4. It is unproductive in that it creates no wealth and ends as it begins
  5. It is governed by rules that suspend ordinary laws and behaviours and that must be followed by players; and it involves make-believe that confirms for players the existence of imagined realities that may be set against ‘real life’

In an excerpt from Freedom To Learn: The Value of Play Peter Gray uses five characteristics when defining PLAY:

  1. Play is self-chosen and self-directed
  2. Play is activity in which means are more valued than ends
  3. Play has structure, or rules, which are not dictated by physical necessity but emanate from the minds of the players
  4. Play is imaginative, non-literal, mentally removed in some way from “real” or “serious” life
  5. Play involves an active, alert, but non-stressed frame of mind.

Game – Some sort of winning condition exists. There is a goal valued higher than the means to get there. The focus appears to be having a higher score by whatever means are indicated in the game. The games as rules that are far more constraining than in my version of Play.

Wolfgang Kramer posits What is a Game? and offers the following standard for a “game with rules”:

  1. Game rules
  2. Goal
  3. The course of the game is never the same – chance
  4. Competition

Game Explorer

Not sure about this quest. Seems that I am to set up this post and revisit as no links to these games are here. Looking forward to greater exploration.

Action Games – Asteriods and Galaga took me back in time. I wish I had a even a nickel for every quarter I spent at the arcade back then. Player races against the clock, physics variables and quick responses to finish off the opponent. Compared to games of today, the strategies are predictable as the patterns repeat for the most part. One does not have to think and plan as the player reacts over acting or planning. There is a winning condition; but only to move up a level. High scores are recorded and other statistics like accuracy percentages to entice replays. Communication with a second player occurs outside the game context as the game is played in the 3rd person. No in-game contextual communication is available. To me, it represents a brief escape, where the play is almost pure. I don’t have to think, just react, play, and repeat.

A version of the SHMUPS  would be Think Tank. The goal is to kill the bad guys before they get you. Weapons are primitive in the sense that you don’t have to pick up new ones along the way. You simply shoot before getting shot. This particular variant offers coins to retrieve after the “kill”. Adds to points, though the greater reward is faster time.

Narrative Games 1 – Played Zork and was reminded of times spent playing this game years ago. Not a huge fan as user is often limited in moves. For instance, the computer does not recognize “walk around the house” as a valid instruction. Many times the user is only aware of other moves when he/she returns back to a previous location and is afforded a different view. (Now the window is visible.)

The game is primitive by today’s standard as you type simple commands. However, I like that the player should take notes. I used to draw picture maps when I played the game. It was nice to see that Nick Monfort from the Exploring Interactive Fiction video stated he used maps as well. I  think this would a good skill set for students to master.

Narrative Games 2 – Peasant’s Quest – This game was a bit more advanced than Zork; but, not something I enjoy playing. Utilizing the walk-through was somewhat helpful. However, the player has to ask the right questions and phrase them in the correct way for the computer to process. Spent a great deal of time in un-productive struggle.

Using the walk-through one can advance through the narrative. However, without it, my character was not speaking the language. The game is challenging in the sense that the player must use the exact language. The rewards are not enough to keep me focused and engaged in the game.

Narrative Games 3 – Graphic Adventure – The Legend of Zelda – This was a mild improvement. However, since I do not have a joypad or controller, and instructions are lacking, it is challenging to maneuver using the keyboard alone. The text is interesting; but repeated reminders of the mission without offering any assistance to advance my character was truly frustrating. I think I would like the increased input using the up/down arrows over a completely text-based game. I want more opportunity to work with this game. I looked online for control-help and guidance for play. Most is written for platforms other than OS-X.

Narrative Games 4 – Modern Games – Schema of games increased with new vocabulary. MMORPG is massively multiplayer online role-playing game played by numerous gamers in a virtual world that is often fantasy based. ARG is an alternate reality game using the real-world as the platform. My challenge with MMORPG is my love and passion for the life I currently live. The investment of personal time to gain understanding of role playing was immense and I am still not there. From a teaching POV I can appreciate students and their ability to experience a culture and environment without having to actually visit there. I am aware of the strong interest by those younger so understanding their interests and teaching that includes those interests will certainly draw more students into the educational mix. Studying ARGs adds a new layer to gaming; bringing the players back into the here and now and away from a computer terminal or game controller. I am fascinated by this layer and would like to incorporate this into teaching at some point. I think this would a huge draw and unique exploration of material. The examples of Tron, Halo and PacMan seem to be the tip of the iceberg. History, English and Theatre could all gain from this genre of game/content delivery.

This was a new experience for me. First, I clicked on the wrong link and played a Medieval version of the game. After creating Castle Phoenix, rescuing a lady in distress and plundering the castle of a rude neighbor, I rebooted and found the correct game and explored that as well. Having experimented in both environments added a different layer to this experience. I think it would be valuable in a Literature class to truly help one understand some of the problems of the time period. Of course, Mathematics, History, and Civics are other pertinent content areas that would benefit from the lessons in the sim. The best of this experience is the control the student/player has to explore cause and effect of their actions.


Real Time Strategy Games Shopping Street This game is addicting. What started as a twenty-minute exploration became a six-hour marathon. Strategic placement of stores at the outset and during periods of growth influenced overall successes or failures. Strategies needed revision as the goals increased. Applications could vary from high school Literature, History, Mathematics and Science classes exploring Cause and Effect, Marketing, and Business concepts, to a class analysis of Probabilities, Civics and growing a town or variables of successful venture capital opportunities.

Turn-Based Strategy Games – RISK, Acquire – I could not decipher this particular game. The title was not visible and there was not an active link to the game. I played an online version of RISK, which I truly believe is an awesome TBS game. Having to work cooperatively for a fixed period with an opponent is a valid skill to learn. Exploring weaknesses in your plans or discovering your opponents seek a different plan and outcome, is also valid. Another TBS game I would use in a high school Mathematics, Civics, Theatre, or Literature class is Acquire. It is a fun game to learn how stocks and mergers work. The euphoria felt as one conquers the world with either TBS game is visible and useful as a teaching point.

Other Games 1 – Exploring this genre, one was reacquainted with online Poker, Chinese Checkers and Yahtzee. With Poker and Yahtzee one can discuss probabilities of outcomes and strategy of playing certain ways. Online Poker is a bit of a challenge because one cannot gauge the number of cards played. I have not played Chinese Checkers since childhood. It is another game of probabilities, strategies and outcomes. The three of these games could be used to get someone to think laterally. There is no story line to follow and no roles to play. It is simply playing to surpass the opponent whether computer or second player. The mathematics applications seem vast. For other classes, these challenges would be good appetizers to get brains awake and moving.