Blindfold Racer: Jet Pack and the Wall

As we developed more levels with animals and prizes, we needed something to do with the prizes. After all, how many chests of gold and diamonds do you really need?

I created a level with an very high (virtual) wall in it, and ask the children for suggestions on how the car could get over the wall. They thought of a ramp (how would you put a ramp that a car can drive on – in the trunk of a car?), a sling-shot (perhaps too small to shoot the car), helicopter blades, and a jet pack (any many others). We picked the jet pack.

You would finish one level fast enough to earn the jet pack, and then use the jet pack to get over the wall in the next level. We had to come up with more gestures to start the jet pack (two finger tap), and sounds for the jet pack:

  • Sound that you are near the jet pack so you know to tap with 2 fingers
  • Sound if the jetpack doesn’t have enough fuel
  • Sound that the jetpack is working
  • When you crash into the wall because you didn’t start the jet pack

Now that we opened up the game to more than just driving and avoiding animals, the children were coming up with ideas for more and more levels.

We spent an entire class on the troll level. In the one level, you need to drive to the food sounds to get food to feed the troll, and in the next level, you must feed the troll. We had to find food that made noise (popcorn and soda), and created another gesture for feeding the food (tap with 2 fingers).

As we tested the game with more children, some of them complained about the sounds we originally picked. For example, if you ran over an animal, you heard a squishy-crashing sounds. The children thought that was too creepy, so we changed it to a descending “wah-wah-wah”. They were also confused about the prize sound (a squeaky toy duck like you would find in a bathtub), and didn’t understand that the squeaky duck sound was a prize (so they avoided the sound). We changed that to an ascending chiming sound, and the children thought it made more sense.

One difficult problem that we encountered was how to pick items out of your inventory list. Let’s say that you’ve acquired 20 items as you move from level to level, and then you want to feed the troll. How do you tell the app which item you want?

The app can’t read the entire list to the game player – with 20 items, and 5 seconds per item, it would take an average of 50 seconds to read the item the game player wants. That’s way too long.

We solved that problem by reading only those items in the list that are relevant to the current logic puzzle being solved (what to feed the troll), and have the game player press the screen when she hears the item she wants to use. Assuming 5 items that are appropriate to the current puzzle (5 seconds per to say the item’s name), it would take an average of 12.5 seconds to pick the one you want. That’s acceptable.

We designed other levels where the troll would be more fussy, and he would be satisfied with one food item more often than the other, so it might take several times to complete the level. They also thought about connecting the solution for that level to the day of the week, or time of day, or season, or current weather conditions (all of which are accessible on the iPad and iPhone).

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