The island of Ysola has a long history, much of which has not been recorded and lives on only in the memories of the ancients. Some of the more recent history is known, but is in danger of being erased by those in power. The Radix Endeavor game starts off at a time when big change is imminent on the island and much work is being done to shape that change. Watch this prequel video to reveal one more piece of the puzzle and understand how the Curiosi were formed and what they are fighting for - or rather, what you are fighting for, if you choose to work alongside them.
News by louisa
Many questions surround the infamous Ysolian skull houses. How old are they and how have they been preserved? Whose skull is that anyway? Do the inhabitants have to brush those teeth regularly? Theories abound but answers are few.
If your travels around the island have not yet revealed its location, then you have much left to explore!
Sabetrug used to be a bustling metropolis, at least as far as cities on Ysola go, but that was in a different age. Now most of it lies in ruins and it rarely sees any visitors. Except for the occasional intrepid explorer of course, and those are becoming more common since the Curiosi started organizing themselves. If you venture to the ancient ruins, you will find a variety of shapes as the ancients themselves had rather geometric sensibilities. Enough of the ruins are intact that you can measure them and even gather information from locals about what purpose the buildings used to serve. Step into the past and discover the rich history of the old Ysolian capital!
The island of Ysola has areas that spread across a variety of biomes and terrains. If you walk around the whole island you'll experience forest, grassland, swamp, volcanic desert, and even city environments. They each have their own charms, and possibly horrors as well, but we'll leave that up to you to discover. The educational benefit of having these varied environments is that not only will students come across different plants, animals, structures, and characters in each area, but they will be able to compare and contrast what they find. They can collect data about creatures and analyze it according to its source, and they can hypothesize about what may have caused differences in conditions and traits from biome to biome. The quest lines in the game facilitate this type of inquiry, but we hope that teachers and students will embark on their own independent investigations as well and get to know Ysola on an even deeper level.
In this TEDx talk, physics teacher Alex Rawson talks about how we need a paradigm shift in the types of homework students are asked to do. Instead of trying to force kids into doing it, why not make it so fun and engaging that they will be eager to do it. This is the same attitude toward teaching that we try to embody in all our projects at the Ed Arcade, so we were very happy that Alex gave a shout-out to Radix! In essence, make homework exciting, authentic, and collaborative - much like real world STEM problems can be. Thanks Alex, we'll be seeing you in-game and we'll try to build some castles to seize soon!
We released the pilot version of The Radix Endeavor a few weeks ago and lots of teachers and students have started using the game. Today we are releasing the rest of the content for the pilot version to round out the game's curriculum, provide quests with additional scaffolding and goodies, and make the teacher dashboard much more robust. Here is an overview of the new stuff you'll see in the game as of today:
- Statistics quest line: "Data Detective"
- Ecology quest line: "Population Arbitration"
- Mixed content geometry quest line: "Secret Headquarters"
- Mixed content stats & genetics quest line: "Prustic Pets"
- Side quests to help scaffold the scale maps "Rubble Rouser" quest line
- Side quests to help scaffold the genetics "Breeders Beware" quest line
- Server reservation system for whole class play time
- Revamped class progress with student gameplay tracking
- Details on student failures and possible causes
The Cartogram is one of the many tool stations that Radix players encounter as they go on adventures in the game. It can be used to draw scale maps and plans, something which the in-game character Marabola asks you to do quite a bit of. When you visit the Sabetrug Ruins, you can measure the lengths of the ruined buildings in the world and the remnants of the maps provided, and figure out what the scale should be. In addition to helping Marabola, the cartogram tool can also act as an open-ended sandbox area. Players can create shapes using the rectangle tool or a point-by-point drawing tool to depict any shape they would like. They can then save those maps in their inventory and even share them with other players.
To help rebuild the old city and draw scale maps of the infamous Cricket District and Falcon District, watch the cartogram walkthrough video and embark on the Rubble Rouser quest line!
One thing that players can do in the Radix Endeavor game is experiment with breeding a variety of plants and animals. There are quests that require players to complete breeding tasks and make discoveries about inheritance patterns. However, one of the unique things about this game is that players can also explore independently, collecting cool-looking species and messing around with any of the tools that seem interesting. We've noticed some players setting their own goals and seeing how far they can push the limits of the game world. One example of this is that you can breed any creatures you find in the world, and you can breed as many of them as you want. A giant herd of glumbugs may not be everyone's idea of fun, but it shows how creativity plays a role in the exploration of the game world which is something that, as designers and educators, we love to see!
To try your hand at animal husbandry, watch the trait cross walkthrough video and get in the game! You'll find trait cross stations in Lednem Crossing, Bladed Crossing, and a number of other areas around Ysola.
Exciting news: the Radix pilot has officially started! If you don't already know, one of the reasons we are designing and building this game is not only so that teachers and students can play it, but also to learn more about the ways in which it is and is not effective as a learning tool. To do this we are conducting a research study in which we will collect data about how people use Radix - through classroom observations, surveys, assessments, and game data logging for example.
- If you're a teacher interested in participating in the pilot study, find out more at radixendeavor.org/teachers.
- If you want to know about the results of our research, stay tuned this summer!
- And if you want to know more or help us spread the word about Radix, check out today's press release at education.mit.edu/blogs/carole/2014/02/04.
When you make a game, designing the game mechanics (what the player does and how the game experience feels) is a huge part of the job. Writing the game content (all the stories, characters, and tasks) is another huge job! Writing content for an educational game is even trickier because we have to make the content appropriate to the game, fun and engaging, and also true to the concepts being taught in the game. In Radix, although it is a fictional world, this means everything about the world still has to follow the rules of mathematics and also plausibly fit into realistic biological systems.
One example of content we’ve been writing lately is all the phenotypes of the plants and animals in the world. “Phenotypes” refers to their genetic traits – the way they look or function, which you can see or experience. For instance, within the same species some flowers could be red and others yellow. Or, bugs could have long or short antennae. Real plants and animals have countless traits with very complex varieties, but in the world of Radix we simplified our system to focus on up to 3 traits per species, with up to 5 possible varieties within each trait.
Coming up with the traits and their varieties is both challenging and fun! It involves researching real species to see what is feasible, thinking beyond the most common examples like color and measurements, plus fitting the traits to the species in the world and what can be reasonably drawn or communicated to the player. For example, some myzle flowers have a shock factor while others don’t – shockingness is an interesting trait that leads to lots of fun uses in the world! Ripsnarls can have curly or straight tails, and may be bred for a certain variety depending on what is currently desired as pets. Other traits are not even visible, like an animal’s sense of smell or the stickiness of a plant’s sap.
By providing a rich array of examples, we hope to get the idea across to players about how important biodiversity is, and at the same time let them figure out that there is a genetic system that can be discovered and understood. Most importantly, since Radix is set in a contextual world, players don’t just collect and breed animals because they are following instructions. Rather they are motivated to do so in order to use those special phenotypes to solve problems and improve their character and the world!