CONCEPT: A unique coding and literacy hybrid that is unlike any other programming tool we've seen.
DELIVERY:Like many people my age, text-based adventure games like Zork were the first experience I had with computer games. Imagination ran wild as you struggled to find that special command needed to GET SWORD or find the way out of a dungeon. the Adventure Creator brings this concept into the 21st century and it does it brilliantly.
Incorporating coding concepts as well as story construction, it's clear from the off that this is a different beast to every other programming app. Utilising a coding interface that falls somewhere between the visual blocks of Scratch, Hopscotch et al ad and true text based languages like Python or Ruby, TAC incorporates the use of conditionals to develop the choices offered to the player.
The actual story building interface is reminiscent of mind mapping app like Popplet with different settings added and linked to each other via nodes. They can also stand separate to the others if they are accessed indirectly or lead to a completely separate level or path. Each area is embellished with descriptive text, an image and even sound effects. Linking to a second location is easy - you just pick the direction you want that path to lead and a new node is created. Within each location, objects can be added that are assigned their own weight (and whether they can be carried or not) and description. The scope for cross-curricular projects here is immense whether it be historical themed sagas, geographically accurate tales or recreations of classic narratives.
The programming element comes into play via the application of conditional if/if not statements. These can be applied to rooms, objects and even marker elements within rooms (eg doors) to control progress. For example a barrel may need to be opened before its contents can be obtained or a door unlocked to allow movement in a chosen direction. It does take a little while to adjust to this style of programming but like most coding languages, once the penny drops, students will find the whole process inedible naturally.
To play the game, users return to the main menu and load it up in play mode. Initial instructions can be added which appear first and then a simple interface of image, compass and text is presented. Users can click on directional points on the compass to enable movement and interact with the environment via text input. Additional information can be gleaned by clicking the eye icon to reveal the detailed room description entered during creation. It's clean, simple and easy to navigate.
Games can be saved and shared in either a locked format or an editable unlocked format for collaboration. A PDF of the overall layout can also be exported, making for a handy guide or some learning evidence.
LIMITATIONS:Some may feel the learning curve is a little steep, making the app better suited to older students. A whole heap of tutorials and lesson resources are being collated on www.theadventurecreator.com which do help. This can now be accessed directly from within the app too. The only other thing that I would comment on here is the inability to test the programming without leaving the editor and booting the level up in play mode. This can be somewhat frustrating, especially whilst still getting to grips with the app.
CONCLUSION: Absolute genius and a truly versatile learning tool that will engage, inspire and challenge students in equal measure. 5/5
As a programming platform - especially good for conditionals Developing positional language Designing computer games (enterprise project?) To create interactive stories As part of a cross curricular history project PSHE. - develop stories with choices that relate to morality