For months we have been working on improvements to our next game, Fish Lake. Day after day, it was like piling up pebbles, fixing this line of code, brushing up that graphic. As usual, the first version had its share of glitches. It seemed like progress was going really slow until ….
Playing it today for the first time in months, I realized how much we have really accomplished. Now, I can’t wait to go back to North Dakota and show it to the teachers who were our beta test sites in the spring. One pebble at a time doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up to a dam after a while. (If you play Fish Lake, you’ll get to make a dam.)
Here’s what we have done this summer:
- Added snakes to the path from the village to the fishing spot to make it more of a challenging game,
- Reduced the number of snakes because kids kept dying five or six times before they made it to the first math problem!
- We try to have a math problem pop up every two minutes. Since the addition of the snakes made it more likely that a student would die at least once, and increased the time it took to get through the first level, we added an additional math problem.
- Teachers had suggested we teach the topics before students were tested on them, rather than asking a math problem and then providing instruction if they miss it. We added another math activity at the end of level 1 with a problem on looking out for snakes and explaining how to solve it with equivalent fractions.
- We added a hint option to every problem, again, because teachers wanted the students to have the chance to learn more mathematics and solve the problems.
- We added several more video clips explaining the cultural parts of the game, for example, that Native American tribes varied in how they fished. Some built dams and then caught the fish with a stick. That pops up before the part where you build the dam so it makes sense in the context of the game.
- Just for kids’ amusement, added some little mini-games, like a canoeing game between the 1st and 2nd levels,
- Added two more problems in level 2.
- Added different types of problems, more similar to the Smarter Balanced Common Core Assessment tests, for example, dragging a game piece to 1/4 of the way down the trail, instead of just typing in a number.
- Fixed every broken link we could find
- Added two more levels
- Added 7 more math challenges
- Added 20 more learning resources
And we’re still working! I hope to send the latest beta out to our subscribers in a month. Seeing how all of those days of cleaning up code added up, I’m really anxious to take another pass-through our first game, Spirit Lake.
We keep getting closer to the ideal we want our games to be. Exciting times.