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Friday, 27 June 2008

Testing times at castle Bromlestein

As part of my teaching here at the College for 08-09, one of the new courses will be in ‘Games Design’ and not surprisingly Second life came to mind as one of a number of possible platforms that I could be making use of. Unlike the other games design packages at my disposal though, I realised SL would have to be adapted for the task of an action type adventure, so that while being able to extract a certain amount of adrenalin, would also be able to get my students to either learn or have their current knowledge in some way tested. I decided to go for the latter, and as a first attempt the result is Castle Bromlestein.

Having read ‘Exodus to the Virtual World’ by Edward Castronova, an excellent book, I became suitably convinced that my game should feature a mythology, and so I put together ‘The Illumni Chronicles’; if you feel in the mood for a short read you can take a look here.

The game takes place in a medieval castle, whose stonework has embedded into it a knowledge base of the Illumni. As players move around, scanners are able to detect an avatar and at random times rez either a spinning golden question ring or a defender of the knowledge; Kbot (growler). In the case of a ring, when touched by an avatar it will present a multiple-choice question, at the moment these are all based on html. The avatar responds by entering the correct option number through chat. In the event that a Kbot appears, it will attempt to home in on the nearest avatar, and if it engages, points are lost. There are two ways of dealing with these Kbots, try to outrun them, or use a hand held weapon like a sword to repel it. As I have only allowed Kbots to persist for a short while, avatars have a reasonable chance of keeping their score; I did manage to get guns and bullets working, but they required my students to have full edit rights, not a good idea on my own private land really.

I have a database logging all the scores and that seems to work well at the present time.

You can find a short a short video on YouTube: -

In the video clip one of my Alts is seen answering a question, and then shortly after finds himself getting attacked with pretty poor performance I must say, by a couple of random Kbots; not an easy task recording and defending at the same time, at least that’s my excuse and I am sticking to it. If anyone would like to come along to Shimmer Island and take the teleport for a try, then you are more than welcome, though you will have to maintain your own score for now. The whole thing is just about out of proof of concept I feel, though still in development, and so naturally any feedback would be appreciated.

And in keeping with the game theme, access to the castle is through a disguised teleport, located on the top floor of the beech house

Bye for now, good luck Skipper Abel