I just finished Level 0 of the upcoming Fish Lake game.
Level 0 in each game has two purposes:
- Be a fun way to learn how to play the game. Players walk around in a 2-D version of the “real” virtual world. They shoot things, jump, move around, learn to pay attention to the elders who can give them directions, and follow the path shown by the wooden arrows. We added this level after teachers told us that the students often just jumped into the game without reading the instructions or paying any attention to the directions. Then, they kept asking the teacher how to shoot, which way to go on the trail, etc. So, now, they can’t get into the main game until they get through level 0. It’s only three mini-levels and you get killed pretty quick if you didn’t pay attention to the instructions.
- Test prerequisite math skills. You get two problems as a “password” to get into the game, one problem in the level 0 game itself, and then one more problem to pass out of the level. This game is on fractions. If you can’t subtract, multiply and divide integers, you’re not going to be able to do the game and you should play Spirit Lake instead.
I finished Level 0, where you walk around a rock and a tree, shoot a buffalo, get told by a tribal elder to watch out for snakes, avoid stepping on a snake (or you die), avoid a rabbit, which gets caught in a snare and killed, are told by a tribal elder to go through the cave where the bear is still asleep and told by a second elder that bears hibernate up to 100 days. You select the wrong cave, you die. The right cave, you pass on to the end of this level.
So…. I called in a game tester. Usually this would be David or Marisol but since it is the evening before the Fourth of July, I only had my 15-year-old daughter. She sat down and here is how she played the game:
She jumped over the tree, shot the buffalo, then went to the next level, shot the tribal elder, shot the snake, shot the rabbit, then went to the next level and shot both of the tribal elders before they could say anything. She walked into the wrong cave and died.
Then, she turned to me and said,
“How am I supposed to know which one to pick?”
“The elder would have told you if you hadn’t shot him before he could talk. Why on earth did you shoot the grandfather?!”
She replied very matter-of-factly,
“Well, he wasn’t MY grandfather.”