We’ve been developing a mini-game for the computer scientist role that allows players to learn some of the basic principles of multi-threaded and parallel programming. The goal of the game is to process data using the fewest cycles (and time)¬†by placing semaphores onto the grid game board to restrict or allow access to various processing resources.
Many of our high school student players expressed an interest in having differing mechanics to explore the MAX5 scenes and collect genetic samples. ¬†We hear you! Beyond the current scene that flies you over the city in a hover craft, we’re adding a level where you can actually steer, explore, and fly freely yourself as you collect data.
We’ve had a fantastic group of high school students and graduate students steer the design of MAX5 this summer. One of the reccurring themes has been to make the game more emotionally compelling through the use of an expanded narrative. ¬†We’re including a map to track progress and show multi-media snapshots of the deadly flu outbreaks as they occur in-game; we’ll also be introducing several new characters.
Meet PRODO, or “Personal Robotic DNA Oracle” for short. ¬†PRODO is a companion character that can help players find DNA using its super sensitive biosensor nose to “sniff out” potential samples. The need for a companion character to promote emotional attachment was brought to our attention by our team’s high school student design expert. ¬†Thanks Diana! PRODO 1.0 comes equipped with basic capabilities to perform several simple commands and search for DNA. Players will be able to customize their own PRODO and program additional upgrades and capabilities.
Since MAX5 takes place twenty years into the future, we want the game to reflect the future of DNA sequencing techniques. ¬†Sequencing a sample is a way to discover the¬†order of the¬†nucleotide¬†bases (adenine,¬†guanine,¬†cytosine, and¬†thymine, or A,G,C,T) within¬†a molecule of¬†DNA. Companies are developing ways to sequence DNA more quickly with greater throughput (requiring less power for greater results).
We recently updated the game to better reflect the steps needed to sequence DNA:
1) Since viruses are dependent on a host for replication, the first step the player will need to take is isolating the viral DNA from any sample collected (be it saliva, tissue, or sewer samples). This process also separates the cellular materials from the DNA
2) The second step is to separate viral DNA from host DNA
3) Once the player has purified viral DNA, it can be sequenced and the order of AGCTs is determined.
The screenshot above shows the “3rdGen Sequencing” button we developed to better reflect these steps.
It started with the ability to reprogram the drones, and now we are extending the ability to ‚Äúhack‚ÄĚ into the various objects in the game and change their physics behavior using real C# code.
The laser collider door shown above allows players to enter one direction, but prevents them from going through the other direction until they “hack” the code above (to set the collider.enabled = false).
Stay tuned for various other “hacks” that use real code.
We have started initial development of MaxFive,¬†a game based around a futuristic crime scene investigation scenario in which players are part of an international lab and must collaborate in teams to take on the roles of forensics experts, computing experts, and scientists, to solve clues and recover data to stop a bio-terrorist organization. We are excited to have received a grant from the National Science Foundation to fund the development of the game.
We will be posting development updates, so stay tuned.