General Meeting – Milestones and Design chat

No meeting last Thursday due to weather and technology clashing. Our next Design meeting will be on the 4th. To start this meeting off, we went over some upcoming milestones we’d like to hit. The first is an open playtest this Friday for KSBs 1 and 2. There will be one in February for KSB 3 and another in March for KSB 4.

We then briefly went over our QA database and how we want the team to use it. There will be an instructional video to go along with the database so it’s easy to learn. We’re anticipating team members using it to report bugs when we do the playtests, but also have hopes that it will be simple enough to learn where the Teachers in the field tests will be able to contribute to it as well.

There was a brief discussion on the Physical (real world) Modeling Curriculum Design. Since one of the goals of our project is to parallel every exercise in game with one in real life, and see which method is most effective, we needed to talk about how similar the content of the two exercises needed to be. Another thing that came up was if we needed a third activity that blended the two (physical and virtual). And how will we support the Physical portion of the game? Through the use of a Moodle? Something that needs to be considered in the future when we dig deeper into this issue.

Moving along, Jim proposed the idea to the team of implementing the Multiplayer in Second Life. It offers some distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Pros:

  • Shorter Dev Cycle
  • Leverage COTS Technology (VoIP, SLOODLE, SLscripts)
  • Lower Support Costs (IT and Community)
  • Easier Community Management

Cons:

  • Less Access to Data – it isn’t on our server, use scripts to capture
  • Teen Grid Access – staff will need to be authorized
  • Lower Production Value

No decision needed to be made today, but something to chew on for future meetings.

The Design team resumed discussion on KSB 4, the water tower building activity. They’ve been working on making it more fun and challenging for the player.  After that, it was time for Multiplayer talks again, this time about general game sequence and player activities.

Our next scheduled meeting is for the Development Team on Tuesday the 26th, weather permitting.

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Team Meeting: KSB 4 – Structural Design

water tower for KSB 4

Each week on Monday we usually have a 2 hour team meeting to discuss the design of Survival Master Knowledge and Skill Builders (KSBs). At this week’s team meeting, we were joined by an engineering expert, Jack Goldberg, to discuss our learning goals for KSB 4. We consult with experts periodically during development in order to confirm that we provide the necessary lessons for the subject matter being taught. In the case of KSB 4, we wanted to ensure that we addressed all essential aspects of constructing a water tower.

The meeting started out with introductions and a brief game overview for the sake of our guest. After that, Jack and the design team bounced ideas off eachother on how to present the idea of “bracing” in the context of the game. They discussed various bracing types and ways of attaching the braces to the main posts, and what role the base of the tower plays in relation to bracing. After that, the discussion turned to what forces act on the tower supports and how the supports would fail given certain situations.

Some important points brought up:

  1. If you have proper bracing, the thickness of the columns can be reduced.
  2. Bracing essentially breaks up one lengthy vertical column into a series of shorter vertical columns that are less prone to buckling.
  3. Internal forces of the bracing without any horizontal force applied to the structure are essentially zero.
  4. Once a horizontal force is introduced (such as wind), the internal forces of the bracing increase.
  5. Showing a student the worst case scenario, then improving the structure from there would be an effective way of conveying the importance of each aspect of tower design.

The rest of the discussion was filled with specifics on measurements, weight, wind load, base design, connections, stability, and gameplay. At the end of the meeting, we were still struggling with giving the player enough choices to make this KSB interesting and fun. It is easy to come up with one or two optimal solutions, but for a player we feel it would be more fun if they had a wider variety of options for completing the exercise successfully.

In our next meeting, we will return to this issue and hopefully find a workable solution.