Last week I took a wonderful 5-day professional education course at MIT titled “Game Development for Software Engineers”. After years of playing (and criticizing) video games, I figured it was finally time to get off the bench and see exactly how tough this game development stuff really is. For a while now I’ve been dabbling with the Unity Game Engine for data visualization and to learn some basic game programming, and the purpose of this course was to teach the kinds of agile software development, rapid prototyping, and playtesting practices that make it possible to develop complex game systems that interact with even more complex users.
My original concept was to develop a small educational game that would expose my 5-year-old son to pre-calculus concepts. I wanted him to see a few of my favorite functions in a setting he would enjoy, and learn to manipulate them by changing their parameters. The game my classmate Denis and I came up with is called “Robot Math Attack!”, and if you’d like to play it, you can do so in your browser right now by clicking here or on the image below.
This prototype represents about 40 to 50 hours total development time, using the free version of Unity (which can be downloaded here). Both Denis and I worked on the game concept, design, playtesting, and coding, and I did nearly all of the art myself using colored pencils and a scanner. Assets we “borrowed” from the Internet include the chalkboard backgrounds, the font, the 8-bit sound effects (some of which we made using this tool), and the wonderful music (though sadly I can’t remember where we got it).