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Pirate Outpost

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					Pirate Outpost
Whitepaper and Design Document
Bonehead has developed a proof-of-concept video game that is revolutionizing education. Revolutionary knowledge map technology and episodic curriculum modules separate Pirate Outpost from the “other” games. IT Research and Development 5/1/2008

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Overview
Pirate Outpost is a game that emphasizes pedagogically relevant instruction of physical concepts. The proposed curriculum is based on both professional and independent research and is targeted at enriching the middle school science curriculum. The game is based on a revolutionary system of tracking student learning developed by the University of California. Pirate Outpost is an example of a framework for the delivery of any type of curriculum: specific activities are presented to the student only when the student is ready to learn them. Unlike other games, Pirates has a dynamic and upgradeable curriculum set and can be perpetually expanded.

Philosophy
Learning through Entertainment Our research shows that students learn best when engaged. Pirate Outpost focuses on getting the attention of the student: the goal of the game is to entertain the player. Only when we have gained the student’s attention can we begin to introduce educational concepts from curriculum. From the teachers we’ve surveyed, we have discovered that games are effective not as drills of material, but as a method of simulation. Some students learn best from “hands-on” learning, which a game can supply. Computer Assisted Learning (Treasure Map technology) Without feedback from the player, games will never know if the student has mastered the subject. Our game evaluates the player with a knowledge space. This technique is based on research by the University of California. A knowledge space allows the player to pursue multiple paths to their learning goal. They can choose to learn buoyancy before supply and demand, but certain prerequisites assure that they are prepared to learn. Episodic Content (Epoch technology) Blockbuster commercial games like Valve’s Half Life 2 and The Matrix Online base much of their success on episodic content. The video game story does not end when the player has completed the game, but it continues as the developers release new content. Pirate Outpost exploits this strategy to deliver new and updated activities onto the player’s computer. As a framework, almost any type of learning can be delivered to end users – activities are automatically downloaded by the game software.

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Table of Contents
Overview ............................................................................................................................. 2 Philosophy........................................................................................................................... 2 Features ............................................................................................................................... 3 Framework Details .............................................................................................................. 5 Curriculum Detail ............................................................................................................... 6 Technology ......................................................................................................................... 8 Treasure Map ...................................................................................................................... 8 Epoch .................................................................................................................................. 9 Independent Research ....................................................................................................... 10 Requirements .................................................................................................................... 11

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Features
Educational Treasure Map technology Knowledge space analyzes student learning Application of abstract concepts in game Multiple paths to learn something Gameplay Engaging, popular culture entrenched Open ended, non linear flow Guidance for players who are confused Multimedia Learning experience enhanced through instructional videos Real, engaging teachers Network upgradeable content Epoch technology

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Framework Details
Open Ended World When the player begins the game, his experience is guided. Since it is assumed the player has never played before, the game teaches them the basic skills they need. Once the student has learned the basics of the game, they are faced with an ocean to explore. There are many options for the student to choose. This sense of agency gives the player motivation to continue playing. The University of Wisconsin has shown that students that are given choices are much more likely to play than students that are forced to do something. These results were validated with a survey given to middle school students, where most of the respondents preferred to explore. Physics Puzzles The activities in the game that teach the students concepts from physics will simulate physical phenomena. Players will be able to interact with the puzzle, being able to change certain aspects about the object and exploring how that parameter affects the behavior of that object. Dry, intimidating physics formulas begin to make sense when you can visually observe how the formula works in real time. And not only can you see how the formula works, you can also interact with it. Learning through observation and example – inductive learning – is more effective for physics than other types of learning (study). Instead of memorizing facts, the student builds a mental model of the behavior of objects. Another growing problem in society is the lost touch children have with the real, physical world. Kids aren’t spending time in sandboxes and learning – intuitively – about volume and different materials anymore. Instead, kids play video games that are not designed to teach. The physics and concepts in these games are unrealistic, and children develop mental models that are not congruent with the real world. Topics covered: Buoyancy Ballistics o Gravity o Math as a Model o Acceleration o Air resistance Density Materials Projectile theory (gunpowder) Trigonometry Navigation Wind patterns (trade winds)

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Curriculum Detail
Buoyancy Player is presented with a body of water and asked to transfer goods from one screen to the next (there is no ship). If the player tries to transfer the goods without building a bridge, they lose the goods (but have the opportunity to start over). A variety of objects are presented to the player, and they have the choice of throwing them into the water. Depending on the buoyancy of the object, it will either sink, float, or be suspended within the water. The player will need to build a bridge that not only spans the screen, but will need to rise in height. This is to prevent a player from simply using something that floats (like crates) the entire time. The amount of objects that the player has to work with is also limited. The activity develops logical reasoning, working with limited supplies, and concepts of buoyancy. Player develops an intuitive understanding of buoyancy, but is offered a laboratory demonstration of buoyancy concepts. Ballistics and Trajectory Ballistics and trajectory combine several different concepts from physics. The activity we use is the launching of cannonballs at enemy ships. From the independent research we’ve conducted, we’ve found that our audience enjoyed this activity the most (particularly the boys). Therefore, we’ve split ballistics and trajectory into several smaller concepts. Gravity and Air Resistance In this activity, the player’s crew is captured by the police and their escape is prevented by a ravine. The player has cannonballs and crates available to him in order to fill the ravine so the crew can cross. There are limited quantities of both, so the student has to use both in order to fill the ravine. This forces him to acknowledge that in the presence of air, crates will fall slower. An audio (spoken) and visual (animation of an air cushion) cue prompts the player to acknowledge that air resistance slows down the crate. Orbital Motion The player is presented with a picture of the earth and a large cannon. The cannon is mounted on the ground, and the player must fire the cannonball so the cannonball orbits the earth. Firing the cannonball too hard or at too steep of an angle will cause it to either leave the orbit or crash into the earth. The player intuitively needs to estimate the gravitational attraction of the earth and the muzzle velocity of the cannon.

Page |7 Effect of Gravity on Trajectory The player uses a cannon that is locked in a horizontal position. A cannonball falls to the ground equally as fast whether it is fired out of a cannon or simply dropped. Every time the player fires the cannon, he is shown a cannonball dropping (from the same height as the cannon). Both cannonballs will hit the ground at the same time. The student has the option of regulating the force at which the cannonball if fired at – but it will always hit the ground at the same time.

Ballistic Trajectory In this activity the cannon’s angle can be changed. Concepts of velocity and position are introduced. The player is shown the x and y location of the cannonball and the balls velocity. The initial force on the cannonball is from the explosion inside the cannon, with the drag of the air slowing it down. Gravity forces the cannonball down. Graphical prompts make the student aware of these effects. Once these concepts are explained, the player is instructed to fire at a target. If the player makes the target (or if he tries three times but is unsuccessful), then the next part of the tutorial begins. After the player has familiarized him or herself with position and velocity, they are presented with a mathematical overlay of the cannonballs flight path. As the player changes the angle of the cannon, the projected flight path of the cannonball also changes. The concept of a parabolic trajectory modeled with math is explained (using a parabolic function i.e –x^2 + 2x + C). As the player hits targets, the concepts of the effect of wind and gravity are also explained. Navigation Using Vectors In this activity the player’s ship is shown from top down. He is told that there is a storm and that the will need to reach an island on a nearby screen. Mathematical overlays are shown over the ship. The vectors of the wind and ships velocity are drawn, and as the player navigates the ship the vectors change. An appreciation for vector quantities (having a magnitude and direction) is developed as the player realizes that they can more efficiently complete the activity by paying attention to the vectors.

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Technology
Treasure Map The game’s activity modules are not hardcoded into the game. This provides for fascinating possibilities for an episodic curriculum. While our prototype focused on physics, it is entirely possible to have focused the game on economics or engineering. The only difference would be that the activities involve trading apples instead of shooting “The complex educational cannonballs. Content is easily added with the help software based on Knowledge of a LUA interpreter: someone designing Space Theory is capable of curriculum updates would easily create them using efficiently and accurately a visual-basic-like language. assessing knowledge in various The activity modules are integrated into disciplines, ranging from mathematics and the natural the game by placing a gateway location on the sciences to selected topics in map – the player would float up to a ship or an business and the social island to participate in an activity. The location and sciences.” image of the gateway can be customized. The UC Regents appearance of the gateway is controlled by the player’s progression through the knowledge space. New activities need to be placed on the knowledge space (i.e, this activity will be available after the player has learned buoyancy and gravity). Only then will the gateway appear on the map and the player will be able to find the activity. The Knowledge Space Pirate Outpost stores the knowledge space as a linked array. Each node of the array is a concept that the player can master. To be able to do an activity involving the concept, the player needs to fulfill the connecting prerequisite nodes. Only when a nodes’ neighbors are connected is the player given the option of completing the activity. If a developer has made an activity and wishes to place it in the curriculum, he would need to find the prerequisite skills that the activity requires. There are two ways of determining placement within a tree: by a professional that can analyze the activity, or by a diagnostic test. An activity can involve multiple concepts, and each node in the knowledge space is determined by a concept, not an activity. A professional would determine the concepts and the prerequisites needed for the concepts. The prerequisites the new concept nodes precede (what the new concepts are a prerequisite of) are also determined. Therefore, when developing an activity you will need to break down the concepts in that activity. You will also need to determine what the concepts need as prerequisites, and what concepts they are a prerequisite for. You will then need to link

Page |9 the activity you have developed to the concepts: once the player has completed your activity, the concepts that relate to it are added to his map. This is accomplished in XML format:

The player is given a diagnostic exam at the beginning of the game, where the state of his knowledge is mapped. The activities that are initially available to him are a function of what he has already learned. Baseline activities ensure that students with no prior experience whatsoever can learn the basics. Epoch The modularity of our game engine makes it possible to create an episodic game. It is entirely possible to drop in an activity module, launch the game, and have the activity available. These activities can either be user-downloadable (through an internet community or subscription service) or automatically-downloadable (a subscription service or a connection to a school server). Epoch cycles through the knowledge space XML file and constructs a knowledge map. It places gateway portals in the ocean when the player is ready for them (all prerequisites met). If the player floats up to the gateway and selects to play the activity, a LUA file is launched and the activity begins. A simple frontend can be developed that downloads new activity modules over HTTP before the game launches. More features can be added, such as binding to a teacher repository of activity modules.

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Independent Research
We have designed a survey to determine what type of game to develop. The survey was completed by 33 middle school students who were enrolled in technology classes at our high school.

Gender Female Male Everyone

Gaming Habits Do you play often? 4.1 5.1 4.8

Scale (0-7) Do you like teaching games? 3.3 3.0 3.1

How much can you learn? 2.8 4.9 4.2

From these results, we notice that girls stated that they play much less often than males. What’s even more disconcerting is that girls don’t believe they can learn as much from video games as boys. Both genders disliked games that blatantly try to force learning on to them. We based our tenets around these two sociological factors: we have created a gender-neutral main character, and we have tried to disguise our games educational nature.

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Similarly, girls seemed to show little interest in STEM careers. In all four career areas, boys were more excited than girls. The closest gap was in the science concentration, which could be attributed to efforts of organizations that encourage female involvement in science. Engineering was by far the most popular for boys, but was also the biggest gap between male and female interest. Our efforts were thus focused on developing a proof-of-concept game that would appeal to both genders equally well.
Subject Area Math Preference 2.6 3.3 3.1 Scale (0-7) Science Preference 3.7 4.2 4.0

Gender Female Male Everyone

Technology Preference 3.9 4.6 4.3

Engineering Preference 3.4 5.4 4.7

Requirements
Bonehead technology has the advantage of speed: our technology does not need excessive hardware requirements (the limiting factor will be the game you base it around). Pirate Outpost uses the cross platform library Allegro and can work on a variety of systems (compilation will be required, however). Windows/Linux/Amiga/Mac (binaries available only for Windows) AMD Athlon 1500+ or equivalent 256 Mb Ram 8Gb disk space Broadband internet connection (for career modules)

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Works Cited
Foundation, Wikimedia. "Knowledge Space." Wikipedia. 31 April 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowledge_space>. Hockemeyer, Cord. "RATH." A Relational Adaptive Tutoring Hypertext WWWEnvironment. 23 April 2008 <http://wundt.kfunigraz.ac.at/rath/documentation/>. Light and Matter. Image. "Bullet trajectory." 31 April 2008 <http://www.lightandmatter.com/html_books/1np/ch06/figs/bullets.png>. Psychology, University of Graz Department of. Competence-based Knowledge Space Theory Training Course. 29 April 2008 <http://css.uni-graz.at/projects/CbKSTCourse/release/>. Squire, Kurt. Open-Ended Video Games: A Model for Developing Learning for the Interactive Age. Madison: The University of Wisconsin–Madison, 2007. Wikipedia. "Newtons Orbit.” Image. <http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped ia/commons/thumb/7/73/Newton_Cannon.svg/300pxNewton_Cannon.svg.png>


				
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