Hello everyone! My name is Shawn Conrad, and I am a student here at MIT pursuing my Master’s degree while working on The Radix Endeavor. My focus is in user interface design, and I will be publishing a series of posts about the thought process behind the feedback systems being developed for Radix.
The Radix island world is full of plants and animals living everywhere from cities to swamps. While the setting is “earth-like”, it is not actually earth. This means that our artists and designers have lots of freedom in what they create. However, we have to think carefully about the properties of everything that we create. To begin with – can these plants and animals really exist? We don’t want to make animals that seem anatomically impossible – a grasshopper the size of the empire state building would collapse under it’s own weight!
The 2012 year was a full one for the Radix team. Our main focus was on design and curriculum we’re really pleased with everything we managed to accomplish. 2013 is shaping up to be a very big year for us. Our developers, Filament Games in Madison, WI, have begun development on the game and we’re looking forward to seeing the game come alive as they release pieces for us to test. We’ll continue with play testing in schools using both our own prototypes and the builds from Filament.
As we talked about previously, open-ended quests are an important type of guided activity in The Radix Endeavor. However, we hope to take it even further by providing real “sandbox” environments in the game as well. These are free-play areas designed to have no goals, where players can use the available tools to do essentially whatever they want. We think it’s important to give players time to just explore certain concepts, because by messing around they will figure out what they find interesting and make their own discoveries.
In an MMO, a quest is a directed task that a player is asked to complete. The Radix Endeavor will largely be structured by sequences of quests in certain topic areas. We want some of these to be more open-ended quests, which might seem like a paradox but it’s one of the design challenges we’ve been thinking over since the beginning of the project. As we have conceived of them, open-ended quests don’t leave players completely on their own, but they don’t have just one right answer either.
The two main areas of focus for Radix are high school math and biology. We chose these as the initial content areas because we felt they provided many topic areas that lent themselves well to an MMO and also because they are the areas that our teams knows best. The challenge came in deciding which specific topics to cover in each domain.
Yesterday we presented a workshop on The Radix Endeavor at the MassCUE conference. We gave participants an overview of our concept of an educational MMO for STEM learning, and we had them play around with the Radix World Preview as well as an early prototype of the shape building tool. We got a great response from teachers and tech directors who were engaged in the demos and are excited to see how the final game comes out!
One of the topic areas covered in The Radix Endeavor is geometry, and more specifically modeling with geometry. This can mean building things in the world that are made up of geometric shapes, as well as solving volume and surface area problems by approximating the shape of real-world objects with prisms. We’ve already created a bare-bones prototype and had high school students use it this summer.