Well, I am sad that this project didn't work out at all. I would have loved to watch my master teacher's chemistry kids test the game and start seeing connections between manipulating variables and manipulating puzzle pieces. That's why I plan to continue this project long after my tech class is over. However, for the purposes of my assignment, I would say I have learned quite a bit from this venture.
I learned that creating a video game is a HUGE undertaking.
I learned that even though fixing bugs is a hair-pulling nightmare, the process of puzzle-solving with code is really fun.
I learned that GameSalad is not a program that I will use in the future.
I learned that sometimes you make a lot of breakthroughs with a project but everything still falls to pieces and that's ok. Having a project not work is just an excuse to try it again at a later time (and with a different program!).
Guiding Questions for this Project:
What will the graphic layout of the game interface look like?
The layout was designed to be a basic, easy-to-use game board with places for tiles.
What graphics, characters, pictures, colors, etc. will I use in this game?
Well, my excellent graphic design skills were able to conjure up a red square and a blue square for puzzle pieces... quite elegant, I know, but it gets the job done.
How can I make my own tile sheets in GameSalad?
I never figured this one out. The way GameSalad works is more conducive to creating individual picture files rather than clumping all of the pictures onto one file and having GameSalad chop it into pieces.
How can I make the game work with mouse clicks (for PC users) and swipe gestures (for smartphone users)?
I learned that the program has different commands for PC controls and touch controls, both of which are easy to incorporate into the game code. The tricky part was figuring out how to group all of the smaller pieces into the large "PC" or "touch" categories in the code.
How will I publish the game? Github? App store? My professional website?
I didn't get this far, but I probably would have ended up publishing the game on Github and on my class websites. No need to make money off of this project -- it was purely for the sake of helping my students better understand unit conversions.
How will I incorporate aspects of mastery, autonomy, and purpose in this game so that high school students will WANT to play it?
The mastery comes from leveling up, receiving immediate feedback about moves made, and seeing how what you do with colored squares is applicable to what you do with symbols and number. The autonomy comes from students being able to play the game at their own pace. The purpose comes from getting to play a game instead of doing worksheets for homework. Most kids would likely prefer the former of the two options.
How will I test the teaching efficacy of this game? (Remember, the whole point of this is to help high school students to better understand unit conversions and have fun in the process!)
I was going to use my master teacher's first chemistry classes as a control and his second chemistry class as test subjects, since the second class struggles the most and needs the most help. I would have given the test subjects the game and tracked how they performed on homework, tests, and labs throughout the semester. I would have then compared their scores and learning to that of the control group to see what effect the game had on their learning unit conversions (which are used EVERYWHERE in chemistry).
How does coding work in GameSalad?
Coding in GameSalad was a new experience for me. I am used to typing lines of code, but GameSalad uses a drag-and-drop scheme.
Where can I find some free assets for the game? (Assets are things like tile sheets, animations, code snippets, characters, etc.)
There are a lot of online repositories for game assets. I looked through some of these and didn't find what I was looking for, so I decided to make it simple with square puzzle pieces.
Who can I bribe to field test this game for me?
Kids. No bribery needed. I would just say, "Hey, I made this game for you -- tell me what you think" and they would say, "Cool! I've never had a teacher make a video game for me! I would love to try this for you!" That's exactly what would have transpired, I'm sure, had this project worked...
I have some bad news.
After working on this project for a few weeks, encountering obstacles in the building process and finding solutions around those obstacles, I have finally come to an obstacle that is beyond my ability to circumvent. The program I have been using to create this educational, practical video game for chemistry students is broken!! When I try to click on the attributes for the characters I place in the game, nothing happens. This is not an issue with my programming or my game -- it's an issue with the software that I'm using. Apparently, other Windows users have had problems with GameSalad glitching or freezing or not responding. According to one source, which I included in the picture below, GameSalad has a large Mac user base and the developers are lackadaisical in responding to issues posed by Windows users. This means that my bug reports probably won't be addressed any time soon.
Just to be sure that the issue was with the software and not with my computer, I took a screenshot of my task manager. It shows that my processor was running at 9% with a memory usage of 61% -- not enough to cause the program to freeze. No, the non-responsiveness is an issue with the user interface of the software. I have noticed a few bugs while working with GameSalad since I started this project, but so far none of the issues have been "game-changing". This one, however, means game over for my project... or at least the project as I originally intended it...
It turns out that there are a plethora of "game engines" (programs designed to help you make video games) available on the web. I mentioned this a little bit in my first post for this project. While