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Cambridge Science Festival

Posted in: Bond Breaker, Electric Shocktopus, General News, Gravity Simulator | April 22, 2014 | No Comments


This past weekend, I took part in a Science Carnival here in Cambridge.  There were dozens of booths filled with sciencey-stuff.  Most of what I saw was in the Games Corner, a room devoted to the intersection between science and games.  There was a 3D printer making Minecraft figurines, a game you controlled with a potato (think potato battery), and a giant chessboard controlled by robots.

And of course, there was me, showing off a bunch of stuff.

 

Games games games!

Games games games!

 

I brought three of the games that I’m working on right now – which was a fun challenge.  Before I’ve always shown off one game at a time… which is difficult enough.  It would be *madness* to prepare three games for a single event.  Probably true, but boy am I glad I did it.

There were perhaps a hundred people or so that came by the booth and played one or more of the games.  And in general, the event skewed a bit younger than I’m used to (more early-elementary schoolers, say).  But I got great feedback, and learned quite a few lessons.

1. Thank goodness none of the games needed much explanation!  I was worried I’d drive myself crazy splitting my time introducing people to three very different games.  But with tutorials at the beginning of each one, people were generally able to simply sit down and play.  Phew!

2. The Gravity Simulator has an extremely wide appeal.  I’m used to talking with some of the… well… ‘advanced’ users of the simulator in the forums here.  People who push the bounds of the sim, setting up and sharing complex creations.  But on Saturday, I was able to place the simulation in front of a bunch of kids and adults who’d never heard of it before.  (And thankfully, I’d added a bit clearer instructions than in the original iteration.)  And, to a person, they found something cool to do.  Whether it was an attempt to get two planets in orbit around a star at the same time — or just a kid seeing how many planets she could spam onto the screen — people found ways to entertain themselves.

3. Shocktopus is a work-horse.  People really get into that game.

4. This was Bond Breaker’s first time out, and it performed admirably.  It kept people engaged, which was nice to see — and I was able to get a bunch of great ideas for ways to improve the game.  Mainly: ways to tweak the tutorials and explanations so people would have a better idea what was going on.

All in all a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon, chatting with people, seeing them enjoy my games, and learning a heck-uva lot myself.  A big thanks goes out to the Cambridge Science Festival, and all the people who stopped by the booth, spending a beautifully sunny Saturday playing video games inside.

-Andy

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