Game Story and Level Progression:
Initially the title of our game was meant to be ‘Space Invaders’ but because this is the title of an already existing game, we decided to change it to ‘Space Expeditions’.
Our purpose was to design a game which would help to teach children the materials they study in school, but in a playful way. In ‘Space Expeditions’ they would learn about the solar system and space as if they were astronauts travelling in space.
It is a proven fact that by learning through playing and experiencing is much more effective, furthermore is more pleasurable than by reading the information from books.
The genre of ‘Space Expeditions’ is educational adventure game. The player would travel from a planet to another and would jump over obstacles, holes, would collect points, play mini games, find out important facts about the specific planet in order to expand his/ her sidereal knowledge.
Our group chose to do the design in a cartoony style. The motive of this decision was that by doing it this way, it would allow us more freedom in planning how to do the scenes and the characters than the realistic one.
We already made a sketch of the Home/ Menu screen containing the Play, Rules, Scores and Difficulty Selector (Easy, Medium, Hard), buttons unfortunately it does not fit the other images, so we need to revise it.
The story takes place in the distant future, the year is 2211. In the past two hundred years the world has developed immensely, technology has already exceeded the limits of imagination.
Whilst people were watching fascinated as Neil Armstrong landed on the Moon on the 20th of July in 1969, now it is possible to do so for everyone.
In 2211 it is a common event to make trips wherever you want, you can have a nice picnic on Jupiter if you like.
Children in order to learn about the different planets in the solar system, go on field trips in space to explore it.
The game has 9 Levels (which are the planets of the solar system): the first one is Mercury, the second Venus, the third Earth, fourth Mars, fifth Jupiter, sixth Saturn, seventh Uranus, eight Neptune and the final one is Pluto.
We also discussed the possibility that in order to expand the game a bit more, we could also add the Sun, the Moon, asteroids etc.
As the player would move from one planet to another passing the Sun, the levels would get more and more difficult.
Each level has obstacles and aliens which the player then would have to jump over or across, whilst collecting points. We named these points ‘Stars’.
The player would have to complete 3 mini games which would teach them different facts about the planet they are on. These are illustrated as 3 chests which would open up revealing one of the mini games.
As the player progresses in each level the mini games get harder.
The first game children would have to win is an Image Puzzle. It is simple to play, they just have to slide the pieces around to reveal an image of the planet. Once they could see the image they would be told something about the planet.
The second game is Hangman where the player has to guess the name of the planet. Our first idea was to hang an astronaut on the gallows, but then we raised the idea of hanging the character itself. This would be a funny thing, because even if the player would loose, he/ she wouldn’t be hanged due to the fact that there is no gravitation in space. This would mean they would be floating.
The third is the True or False Quiz, containing six questions based on facts about the planets.
In case of completing all of the mini games, the player gets a flag symbolising the end of the level, and moves on to the next one.
Because our game is not gender specific and girls can be interested in astrology as well as boys, we decided to design two characters, one for each gender.
We wanted to make these characters appealing, funny and friendly so we could attract girl players as well.
Our group searched for popular astronaut illustrations and found among them two which just matched with our ideas. After manipulating with the images, changing the hair, the space suit etc the characters were complete. The designer named them Rick and Eva, but players would have the opportunity to name them themselves as they wish.
Due to the fact that children’s tastes are different we created an option where they could customize the space suit of the characters themselves. While boys could choose blue, green, orange or red; girls could opt for red, pink, purple or yellow.
The move the characters around, the player has to use only the arrow keys to move back or forth, up and down; the space bar to jump and the mouse the select.
At the presentation there were some who found these characters too childish and advised us to make some changes, make them more grownup.
Orsi, with the help of her 11 year old nephew who lives is Stockholm, did a survey in the school called ‘Johannes Skola’. They asked 25 children who are just the targeted age group to express their opinion whether they like Rick and Eva. Every one of them were immediately interested in the game and found the characters nice.
At the moment we are still seeking for feedbacks to decide the fate of Rick and Eva, but as the survey demonstrates, it seems to be a success.
Game play and challenges:
The target audience of our game are the 11-15 year olds. We wanted to make ‘Space Expeditions’ as interesting as possible by adding obstacles, holes, platforms, bad aliens and tasks to the game.
Our aim is to try and make it not too complicated so we don’t loose the players if they find it hard to follow.
To make the game worthy to play we added a goal to it, players have to collect points which, in the case of this game are called ‘Stars’. In order to help the players and test their memory, every star they collect reveals a fact in order to help them complete the Quiz.
The ‘Stars’ are also chances, lives; children can not only collect but they can loose them as well.
The first rule is that every five times the player runs into obstacles and aliens or falls in a hole, he/ she loose a ‘Star’.
The second rule is if they can’t complete a game, they can start over but the consequence of this is minus a ‘Star’.
If the player runs out of points, the game is over.
At the end of each level in case of completing all of the mini games the player gets a flag and moves on the next planet.
Our group also wanted to introduce a competitive edge by giving points for completing the quiz and points for the number of stars left at the end of the game. These could then be published on online league tables and Facebook etc.