Some good news to report: The Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning (CATL) at Elon University has awarded me with a substantial grant to foster the development of the DigiBahn Project. The grant will be used to upgrade the game engine from the free Unity3D Indie to Unity3D Pro (license comparison here), which will allow me, among other things, to improve the render-to-texture effects in the game, optimize game performance with the editor profiler, and import streaming videos into the game. I'm thinking that the latter will be especially useful for inserting instruction videos into the game (such as those I make for my beginning German language courses using Camtasia) via an in-game hand-held PDA device. Incorporating such a device virtually in the game might be a good way to blend instruction and the game environment in a non-obtrusive manner that minimizes impact on the game flow. I will even have some grant money left over to get some textures from Arroway.
Now that I am on Spring Break, I have been spending a lot more time with game development. I'm still working on developing what I have termed Building A for the game, which will be located adjacent to the tower, and had the chance recently to do a quick render:
The render showed that I needed to tweak the bump map a bit and, perhaps, that I also need to revisit the color map as well. I'm not too fond of the corners of the building. I'm also wondering what I should do with the doors. Eventually, I'd like to be able to open them, but I'm not exactly sure how I will go about doing this at the moment. As Building A is an older structure, I'm thinking that it will probably serve the purpose of a city museum (Stadtmuseum), such as the kind that is also located in an old building in both Munich and Göttingen.
Finally, I just sent off an application to the upcoming Humanities Gaming Institute, which will take place 07-25 June on the University of South Carolina. My wife and I are expecting our second child (a boy) shortly before the institute kicks off, but hopefully I will be able to attend as much of the institute as possible. I will keep you posted regarding developments in this area.