More or Better: The Design Question Every Day

Every day, I get out of bed excited to start working. There is only one problem – with so much to be done, it’s always a question of what to do first. Take our game Spirit Lake- it’s playable. Almost no errors (I say almost because the second I declare zero defects someone will find one). The game has decent graphics, a lot of math activities and videos, the 3-D world is well done and it is definitely worth the price. It could be better. Here are two examples of improvements: OLD START PAGE Old boring home page NEW START PAGE New page with better graphics   The new page looks much better. It took a small amount of programming time because I used the HTML5 canvas tag for the image and then had to figure the coordinates for the bottom 4 pictures so that it goes to the right place when they click on it. It didn’t take very long, though. Of course, it took Justin some time to create the artwork. Here is the second example … OLD PAGE Failure page in Level 0, where the students are just playing a simple 2-D game to teach them how to use the game controls to move around, and testing if they can add 4+ 4 +4. If they can’t do these simple tasks they won’t be able to play the game. Sorry, you're deadNEW PAGE ( & yes, the claw marks will be removed before the schools get this) New better graphics death scene   This are the two most egregious examples of graphics that needed to be fixed. The latter took Justin’s time for the artwork and about 2 minutes from me to resize, rename and drop into the game. You might think it would be a no-brainer to just revise the existing game, but it’s not that simple, because …

  1. The teachers we work with have told us over and over that fractions are a key area where they want more game levels, and that is what we are working on now. Spirit Lake teaches mostly multiplication and division, using word problems. This is also an area they wanted, but not as much as the fractions.
  2. The two examples I showed were the biggest improvements, that’s why we had them done. The other areas could be better but the need for improvement is not as obvious. The question is — where do you draw the line?

What I DON’T want us to be is one of those fake educational games, where it is a game 90% of the time with math problem thrown in there now and then. So, I’m working on the math problems and videos, like this one – Maria happened to do that one, but you get the idea. If you can’t see the video in WordPress, try here.


The other issue is that if we spend $500,000 developing one game, then we have no money left over for marketing so we end up with a fabulous game no one plays because they never heard about it. You can help out by:

If we had twice as much money, we could pay twice as many people and do both. That’s a topic for another post, though. Stay tuned.


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