In January, we spent two weeks in North Dakota talking to teachers and observing teachers and students playing Spirit Lake: The Game and Fish Lake.
For weeks, we have been working on the changes they recommended and more suggestions that came in as students played the game.
Spirit Lake 2.2 is now available.
The major change is that the game is now a stand-alone application.
When we first created Spirit Lake, we made it to play in a web browser thinking that would work well because schools wouldn’t need any special software and it would work on either Mac or Windows.
This caused the absolute biggest headaches for teachers.
Some schools did not have Firefox – which is the only browser with which the game was 100% compatible on Mac and Windows. Teachers had to download Firefox and disable pop-up window blocking – which is a pain if you have to do it on 40 computers. It’s a pain if you just forget to do it on one and then a student is playing the game and a movie that is supposed to pop up doesn’t and the teacher gets called away from what he or she is doing to trouble-shoot.
Then, we ran into the biggest problem yet – some schools have student logins on each computer. That meant that even if we downloaded the Unity player on the computer, installed Firefox and disabled popups, the second that student logged off, that was all wiped from the computer and it had to be essentially re-installed every time!
So …. our new version has the video player, audio player and browser built in. What that means is the parent/ teacher / IT staff should not have to do anything after it is installed.
Installing has become much easier as well. You click on a link to download the file. Find it in your downloads folder, double-click to open it. Click next or ok at each window. The installer window closes and there is a buffalo on your desktop. (Not an actual buffalo. We aren’t that cool yet.)
Making the game easier to install and play EVERYWHERE has been our number one priority.
We started out making it usable on both Mac and Windows. Then we tried to get it to run in any browser, but we use a lot of third-party components – Unity 3D and impact.js, for example, that we don’t control. Then there are browsers that don’t play webm and others that don’t play mp4.
I think we have fixed 100% of the major technical issues. You won’t be asked to download Quicktime. Chrome won’t ask you to allow every single individual video to play as a pop-up. Anything irritating students/ teachers/ parents was our first priority to fix.
Along the way we added a username AND password. In the past, teachers gave students a username from a list we issued to each school, so that there wasn’t a buffalo123 at two different schools. Now, teachers can issue their own usernames and passwords and individual users can just make up whatever they want.
We had 95 improvements we wanted to make on the two games, which I put in order of priority from 1- 6. In the past two months we have addressed 20 of these. All of the #1 priority items on Spirit Lake are done and we *hope* to have the number one priorities for Fish Lake all completed by next week.
and, as always, you will get free updates for a year