Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Download Game Prototype

The Digital Bahnhof (DigiBahn) Project is an interdisciplinary software development initiative seeking to program a 3D digital game-based learning (3D-DGBL) environment for teaching German language, vocabulary, and culture to advanced high school and beginning university students. The current basic prototype addresses the topics of recycling and waste management in Germany and has been developed to test proof of concept and as a research bed to evaluate how the narrative structures these environments generate can best be leveraged to teach a second language within simulated sociocultural contexts. Project development has been made possible with generous support from the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning (CATL) and Teaching and Learning Technologies at Elon University. Future work on the project will be supported through the CATL Scholars Program at Elon University. 


The 3D game prototype is the next evolution of an interactive fiction (IF) game that was developed to teach students how to navigate a German train station (available for download here). The 3D game prototype and instructional materials have been developed with open source technologies, freeware, and software that is commonly found in the second language acquisition classroom. Developmental costs have thereby been kept to a minimum, easily within the range of the tight operating budgets that many language departments and programs deal with on a daily basis. Language instructors everywhere are invited to use the game and related materials in their own courses and to adapt or correct them as they see fit. I'm sure that there are numerous errors in the programming code, German language, and instuctional design. It is hoped that the game will show language instructors what is possible with current technologies and will help to serve as a catalyst for them to network in fields traditionally beyond the boundaries of their own discipline (e.g., digital art, computer science). The game, all associated digital resources, and supporting instructional materials are made publicly available under a Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.



If you would like more information about the project, please contact the project director David Neville (dneville@elon.edu). Your feedback and experiences with the game will direct future game development and help create an environment that is fun, educational, and broadly accessible. I did all the 3D development, coding, and instructional design myself in my spare time over the course of one year, so the game doesn't play like Half-Life 2 or Mass Effect 2. It nevertheless hopefully shows the directions that language education can (and should) explore in the coming years.


For Students/Instructors
The game can be downloaded as a compressed .zip file and extracted to your computer. The extracted folder contains two releases of the game: (1) a Windows .exe file, which can be played on a PC, and (2) a Mac universal binary file, which can be played on a Mac computer. An accompanying player guide in .pdf format gives instructions on how the game can be played.


For Instructors
Instructional materials are available for download and include: (1) a PowerPoint presentation on recycling and waste management in Germany, (2) a vocabulary list, (3), classroom exercises; (4) a level-appropriate reading, and (4) a homework assignment. With the exception of the PowerPoint presentation, all instructional materials can be modified in OpenOffice, an open source word processing program.


For Developers
Game resources are distributed as a Unity package, a proprietary compressed file format that contains all the game source files for 3D models, code, and sound. Please download Unity and install it on your computer before attempting to extract these files. You can either double-click the package, which will prompt Unity to create a new project into which the package will then be imported, or your can import the package into an existing project. As the Unity package is rather large and contains many resources, it may take a while to download and extract all files. Computer code for the game was done in C# in Microsoft Visual Studio Express, 3D model development in Blender, 3D model textures in GIMP, and sound effects with Audacity using open source, royalty free, or collaborative sound resources (e.g., freesound). Once the Unity package has been extracted, all game models, scripts, and sounds can be found in the Assets folder. 

15 comments:

  1. I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow. Okay. That game was beyond awesome. It was, like, so CooL! But, if this is just a prototype, can I recommend making the controler a little less hair-trigger-ish? And when the red sign appears, maybe it could be there for few less seconds.... But don't listen to me. The game was awesome, and it makes me wish I were a student of yours.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Natron1,

    Nice to have you back after such a long break. And many thanks for the valuable feedback. There are some issues with the controller and I've been wondering myself what to do with the player interface. Ideally, I'd like to have most of the dialog delivered through non-player character, but this is a major code undertaking. So, we'll just have to see what I can get done with the resources at hand. Oh, and time...need more time to get everything done.

    ReplyDelete
  4. So, is code like the language of computers? I.E. in Blender. Can you type simple commands in the text box, like, "Add a material, and make it green"? I tried that once. I wrote, "Add material. R:0 G:100 B:0" and hit "run script" but it told me something was wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yes, the "code" would be the programming language that makes the whole game work. In my case, I used C# to program Unity to do what I wanted. Computer languages are particularly sensitive so, in your case, there was something probably wrong in the way that the command was formulated. It's sort of like speaking Spanish to the computer when it only understands French. Most people seem to use Python (a programming language) for Blender; here's a link to resources: http://www.blendernation.com/2006/09/22/learning-python/

    ReplyDelete
  6. Don't tell me you're too busy to post! (Just kidding. If so, that's fine with me. My aunt is a professor at BU, so I know it can be pretty hectic.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Natron1! Yeah, I've been really busy with other projects. We are pushing to integrate the business school more closely with our courses, so I've been designing online modules for this. Sadly, there will be no games involved (yet).

    ReplyDelete
  8. Tag! Ich bin Deutschlehrerin in Colorado und finde Ihr Spiel ja toll! Ich werde mal versuchen, es mit meinen 3. und 4. Jahr Schuelern zu benuetzen! Ich habe oft ueber solche Spiele gedacht, und wunderete wieso es doch gar keine gibt! Na endlich! Vielleicht werden Sie ihre Milliarde davon verdienen! Viel Glueck und Danke!
    Frau CJ Hendrickson

    ReplyDelete
  9. Frau Hendrickson,

    Thanks for your kinds words and best wishes. I don't think that I'll make a million off of the game, but I can always keep my fingers crossed. Let me know what your students think of the game.

    Best,

    David

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi again! Just dropping by...I dunno why I say that, 'cause I've never actually met any of my followers....

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Natron1! Thanks for taking the time to drop by and say hello. Sorry that I haven't had a chance to do more development on the game. I've been doing things for the university in terms of curriculum development and then will need to get a few more articles out the door. Once that is done, I suppose I will get back to getting more buildings developed. Check back in a few months!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Kay. BTW, I thought you might like to know I'm working on an animation called "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in LEGO." I dunno if you're familier with the franchise, but it's really awesome. And I'll post the movie on my blog when I'm done with it.

    ReplyDelete
  13. It's amazing games. Really i like & i enjoyed this games. Thanks buddy. Just visit here on my site..

    ReplyDelete
  14. really amazing Games, I want you to more games, I have a game buy sell business I want you to visit this. I hope you will like my website.

    asset store

    ReplyDelete