Well, its been a while since I updated this blog, but fortunately development on the game has continued nicely. Weve gotten to a point that we have what were calling an alpha release. It is nearly feature-complete and is focused on acting as a sort of quick tutorial on the cell for students. It doesnt have a real level structure, instead opting to give the player free-reign to move about, discover resources and organelles, and play around with the mechanics of the game. Theres not really much of a goal with it yet thats coming soon. You can see below what some of the tutorial slides look like, as well as our awesome new in-game encyclopedia.
The discovery-based game mechanic gives players the ability to move along at their own pace and either focus on something theyve just found or keep running about finding new things. It works very well as a tutorial, though I dont know that itll make it into the final game. Im considering offering it as a Cell 101 game that teachers could have students play in a classroom. You can get through it in about ten minutes if you rush, but taking your time you can easily spend twenty. It doesnt have the replay value and long gameplay that the full game will have, but it does offer a nice, bite-sized chunk that includes most of the major biological teaching points in a module that can easily be used for a single class-period experience.
One of the members of the CellCraft team is an education grad student at Wake Forest University who is doing a thesis on using gaming as an educational tool, and he had the opportunity to do a test of the game in a high school biology classroom. We dont have any numerical results yet, but the high schoolers were apparently a little skeptical at first but quickly really got into the game and were quite enthusiastic. This is extremely encouraging considering at this point its not even a game: theres no conflict or goal for the player. For them to enjoy and be intrigued already is very exciting, and should only get better as we start on the next project, which is adding viruses to attack your poor little cell