In with the new!

The most exciting part about working in a start-up, and particularly at 7 Generation Games, is all of the new ideas that we are going to make happen.  Right now, I’m adding Ojibwe to our newest game, Fish Lake. I designed the games so that a new language could be dropped in with relative ease as each individual game does not have a lot of the language in it. Of course, the challenge is finding a native speaker of Ojibwe, Dakota or whatever language the tribe wants. After we have the sound files recorded, we just need to swap in the new language version and away we go.

Our latest game has a lot of tangents, and that is by design. We’ve noticed that the kids like to explore and wander off the path. While we restrict that some, with invisible barriers that keep them from getting lost, we also added a lot of Easter eggs. Everywhere from the instruction web pages to the 3-D game to the math problems, if you click on a picture or object, you never know what will happen. The word for “grandfather” might be spoken in Ojibwe when you click on the grandfather. A movie on the story of Standing Rock could play if you trip over a rock. Click on the deer and it might turn and run away or jump over your head.

Our games are done in iterations. We get a working model, then we make it better. Then we make that better. As we create new games, sometimes we go back to the earlier ones and add new features.

Two big changes we want to make this year are:

  1. Start shipping the game with an embedded web browser. The lack of standardization among web browsers is the bane of my existence. Something will look perfect in Firefox and be completely off in Chrome or Internet Explorer. Right now, we develop everything to work with Firefox, since it runs on both Mac and Windows, and we just tell people to use Firefox, but we do realize that may cause a slight inconvenience for some people who need to download and install Firefox. They also need to disable the pop-up blocker. I know, none of that is rocket science, but we’d like to make the game as easy as possible to use and be sure it works as we designed it.
  2. Create separate “home” and “school” versions of the game. Right now the first log in screen asks for the username your teacher gave you, school, etc. Those are pretty minor changes. Right now, you need to be connected to the Internet to play so your scores can be recorded on the server and included in the averages for reports to the school. A home version could store the score locally and be played without Internet access. I’d also like to have the home game be a little more realistic, for example, including a fight scene. Some of our staff members are completely opposed to the idea of any violence whatsoever. Stay tuned for those discussions.