Friday, May 1, 2015

My Big Idea Pt.2

The Game

I substitute teach at a K-8 school, and for the last few months, I have been making a video game with the help of the art teacher and all her students. You can play it here. It's a work in progress, and at the time of my writing this, there are about 12 completed levels.

The kids come up with level themes and do some level design, and then the art teacher sends me their work and some instructions. I do some a lot of programming, and in the end each class gets their own level.

A sprite sheet for one of the levels
The kids then have the opportunity to send me feedback through the menu on the left of the game screen. And they do. A lot. Feedback is varied, and I include some of it here because it makes me smile:
The whole game was really cool, but when I got to the end, where the blue castle/tower is, I had no idea what to do!!!
maybe you should make the boats a little faster
This is really hard but really cool. I like the effects. Something you could work on is putting more features in.
i really likes the game! i just wish that when u get to the end of the level there is somethnh like that say congradulations or somethings
These are just some of the emails that students have sent me through the feedback form.  It's exciting to see students invested in a project.

The Machine

When I'm not working on the game, I'm working on my arcade machine:

My scratch-built, fully function prototype

This is just a prototype, so it's pretty ugly, but it's fully functional. The monitor is just an old (barely functional) CRT TV because it looks a whole lot better than an HD monitor.
The version in the picture is running off of a Raspberry Pi, but I recently switched to a Beelink Pocket. There's also an Arduino Micro in there that converts button and joystick presses into keyboard input.
The board I made to connect the Arduino with the computer.

 The Big Idea

What I would like to do is build arcade games with students professionally. Everything I've done to date has been for fun, but I don't have the time and financial stability to continue much longer without monetizing in some way.

I'm envisioning an artists in residence program that pushes into a school for a week. During that time, students would break into groups and each group would be responsible for some part of the game development:
  • Story and Level Design
  • In-game Art
  • Digital Image Editing
  • Cabinet Construction
  • Wiring and Soldering
  • Cabinet Art
  • Sound Design
No one student will learn the whole process, but together the students will construct an arcade cabinet that they could play in the cafeteria/library/art room for years to come.

This is an ambitious project, but I believe that it has the opportunity to really change how students view themselves and the games they play.

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