This week my team and I were handed a list of ideas for serious games that would aid students studying for a law certificate from Becker College. Of the ideas we were given, we decided to flesh out one described as a “Rail Shooter” that would test knowledge of relevant law topics. Check out the details below!
Learning on Rails
Jared Braun, Matt Venezia,Joshua LaFrance, Tung Vu
Genre: Rail Shooter
Style: Low-poly 3D
Audience: This game is targeting students preparing to take the exam for the Becker College Law program. They will be able to play this game and study the material for their exam in an engaging way.
Primary Objective: Aid students studying for the Becker College Law Program by providing them with an engaging and effective tool for studying and retaining the material on their exams. By learning while having fun these students will be able to study for longer periods of time and retain more information. Learning while engaged is proven to boost knowledge retention, and our team is striving to create a game that is both educational and engaging.
Why this objective? We’ve chosen this objective because although there are many tried and true methods for studying and retaining information, many of these methods are boring, dry, or painstakingly low-energy. By teaching material through a high-stakes, high-energy game, we will engage learners and encourage them to retain information to a stronger degree as well as recall information faster.
Introduction to Game: Learning on Rails is a game where the player shoots at zombies in a 3D game world in order to stop them from damaging the player character. Each playthrough of the game is roughly 15 minutes in length and will feature one environment with several branching paths and pseudo-randomly chosen questions. The shooting mechanic is extremely simple with adjustable sensitivity and a practice environment to ensure that each learner’s game results are not dependent on this mechanic, but rather their knowledge of the source material. The player’s right and wrong answer counts are tracked based upon date and time, then stored in a “Personal Leaderboards” scene where they can view various charts and information that enable them to see their strengths and weaknesses.
Game Control: The player will be automatically moving to different positions in a 3D game world where enemies come at them. As enemies approach the player, a question will appear on screen accompanied by multiple answer choices. The player must shoot the correct answer choice before the enemy reaches them. The challenge is in the timing – every question has a time limit. This time limit reflects the fact that the certificate exam is timed.
Score/Objective/Winning/Losing/Competition: At the end of each game the player will receive a summary detailing their score and other variables such as response speed. Much of this data is stored in the “Personal Leaderboards” scene where players can compete against their previous scores and analyze their strengths and weaknesses.
Interface/Information: The player’s mouse is a crosshair enabling the player to shoot the answers with accuracy. UI in the top-left corner of the screen indicates the number of questions answered correctly out of the total questions asked. A pause menu is available as well.
Main User Mechanics/Actions: The player will use the mouse to click on (shoot) the correct answer to each question asked. The only other mechanic is reading and deducing the proper answer.
Levels/Environment: This would take place in a villa (modern). The player begins in the master bedroom where zombies are first encountered invading the player’s home. The on-rails movement then begins as the player is handed a weapon.
Obstacles, Interactive Elements, Enemies, Collectibles, NPCs, etc: Zombies are enemies with varying levels of speed and health.
Describe and Explain the unique ways in which the game idea meets the needs of the theme, entity, AND objective: Our game meets our objective by allowing the student to study in a manner that is both fun and effective. Because it is a game with replayability students can take advantage of both Block Studying and Spaced Repetition (LINK). With these proven methods for both short and long term retention, players will be prepared for the test and beyond like an employer would expect. This also meets the Entity’s goal by improving retention in both the short and long term, and doing so in a way that matches the time limits imposed on by the test.
Sixty seconds of play: The player wakes up in their home and hears over a radio that all evacuation planes are leaving in X minutes (representing the time of the test). The game then stands the player out of bed and officially goes on rails. A zombie busts through the door, over his head is a question. “What amendment allows the right to bear arms.” on the left side of the zombie is two answers “The 5th”, “The 4th”, to the right of the zombie are two more “The 13th”, “The 2nd”. The player would then shoot the correct answer and you would see the zombie die, or take damage depending on the type of zombie (difficulty of the question). There would be a second npc with you that would kill the zombie if it got too close (player answered wrong), as to not put the player in danger and we wouldn’t have to worry about health or the player failing the game. This process would repeat until the player reached the end of the game.
Specific Example: The player spawns in the starting room. A zombie breaks down the door. The player is led toward a drawer where they grab a handgun. After grabbing the gun and turning to face the zombie, the player is prompted with a question. The possible answers are shown right below the question. The player would then point and click on the correct answer. If the answer was correct it gets marked down as correct, and if it was wrong it gets marked down as wrong. A correct answer slays the zombie while a wrong answer doesn’t hurt them at all. If the zombie reaches the player, the player loses.
Link to Similar Gameplay: Ninja Assault
Link to Similar Art Style: Ninja Gaiden
Estimated number of Developers/Designers:
3 programmers, 1 designer, 3 artists, 1 QA
Advanced college level
Estimated length of time for development in 3 phases:
Pre – production: 2 weeks
Alpha: 3 weeks
Production: 5 – 7 months (two semesters)
Post Production: 1 months
Estimated cost for software/hardware:
Temporary use of hardware and software, thus no cost for hardware / software!
Hardware – $0
Software – $0
Plan for post release:
Support the game’s stability and ensure that the quality matches the project’s objectives.