Just today, a couple of people (thanks Bryan Berry and Robin Norwood)
have made me aware of their awesome little puzzle game environment
that is *deeply* integrated into the Khan Academy backend. Combine
that with the fact that they've hired John Resig (jQuery creator) as
their "Dean of Open Source", and it's pretty clear that they're moving
in a direction very similar (and perhaps complementary) to Tinygames,
I believe in the philosophy of "aligning with strong forces," and
right now, there's no force stronger in open education than Khan
Academy. Have a look at this:
This is the Civilization Tech Tree model of education -- and, IMHO,
it's exactly right. It's precisely what I envisioned for Tinygames.
It already exists for Khan Academy, and it would be stupid and
stubborn not to pursue the obvious link between the two.
Thus, my new immediate goal -- and when I say immediate, I mean within
the next couple of weeks -- is to build a complete Tinygames adventure
that directly parallels a meaningful chunk of this Khan Academy
structure -- but much more character- and story-driven. I still
believe in the hackability and openness of these games as a core
philosophy, but integration into a rapidly evolving and valuable
framework like Khan Academy is the right move, from my perspective.
Look for some updates by end of weekend.
I think the framework they have is great...to me, it looks like
they've gone for a breadth-first approach, which is fine. But, as a
result, I don't think the interface matches the needs of someone who's
learning basic addition. If we could say "Hey, let us help with the
'depth' part and make the interactions fun and age-appropriate." that
might get their attention. For instance, wrap what they have in a
game-y framework with minigames for each exercise.
What could we bring to the table if we have that sort of conversation with them?
"The Sage does nothing, yet nothing remains undone."
-Lao Tzu, Te Tao Ching
This. Exactly this. I think it represents a perfect opportunity.
> What could we bring to the table if we have that sort of conversation with them?
To me: an example of what an interface might look like if it were
driven by an API approach. "You guys write the backend, and let other
folks right front ends that connect to it."
Working code talks. I think a working demo of what we're talking about
would do worlds more than just talking. What do you think? If you
agree, what's the fastest way to get that?
I'm continuing on my 'missile defense' idea...probably have something
working in less than a week, depending on how much Real Life
intervenes. Concerns I have:
o I can do the code, no problem.
o I suck at graphics. It's going to look very...retro...unless we have
someone with skillz to spruce it up.
o The 'missile' aspect might be a little warlike. Changing that to
asteroids and defense lasers, or boulders and a magic wand would
mostly just mean changing out the sprites, so not a huge deal.
o It doesn't integrate with the Akihabra stuff GDK is doing...or
whatever Kahn is doing. Probably doesn't matter for a prototype.
So, I'll probably finish this thing anyway. But is there a
better/faster solution for a prototype?
Well, you know I'm chasing the Aki angle, so I'm moving ahead with
that. Should have a check-in by late tonight that will give some
ideas on where I'm looking to go.
And to clarify here:
I'm choosing Aki because I know how to integrate pieces together in it.
That does *not* mean that other tinygames shouldn't also be in this
mix, especially with an API-driven approach. The Khan folks are big
on "points" and "badges" and "pathways", but the game action itself
isn't exactly stimulating... yet. I think the sensible approach is to
say "hey, tell me what call I need to make to add points and badges
from my mini-game that's functionally equivalent to your mini-game."
Which is an approach that could work well with any small JS game. I'm
just locked in on Aki because it's what I've currently invested time
I've been watching this discussion with interest. I'm neither a Linux programmer nor a graphic artist, but I am a retired teacher and, I guess you could safely say, a pacifist. I may have some things of value to contribute as you put together your tiny adventures for the Khan (Mongo) Academy exercises.
Out of respect for the many children in the world who have been touched by war, including those in the inner cities of the USA with their fierce gang wars, I urge you to not use a missile theme or anything else resembling modern warfare/weaponry.
Are you all familiar with the "monomyth" or the "Hero's Journey?" It is a basic adventure story structure that can be found in so, so many stories, films, TV shows, and, yes, games. All students of script writing study it as part of their preparation. (Yes, like everyone in SoCal I have a script I want to write.)
Here are a couple of links to web resources about the hero's journey:
http://chrisvogler.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/heros-journey-short-form/ (a really excellent discussion of how to shorten the adventure)
I know you probably don't have the time to read a book about this, but here are links to Joseph Campbell's original book (1949 but now reviesed) and to Christopher Vogler's more recent one relating to movie scripts (but very applicable to games):
Hope this info is useful. I am looking forward to seeing what you come up with!
I certainly respect your point of view...my main interest at this
point in the game I'm writing (as opposed to the Mongo game(s) GDK is
working on) is in the game mechanic, not necessarily the theme. I'd
already decided that following "Missile Command" theme exactly was at
the very least two "Cold War", but I haven't really decided on a
specific theme to replace it with. I'd be open to almost any theme
following the same basic mechanic.
Right now I just want to find the time to get it in a playable state.
I think the general premise is "figure out how Canvas works and get
any code working at all."
In all fairness, I think Robin understands the issue you raise, and
needs to be given some time to explore the tech without expectations
just yet. There's plenty of time to refine storylines and so on.
It's very early days yet, yes?