Chapel Hill, NC
Mentor: Joel Hollingsworth
Project title: Engineering on the go: Building a "serious game" to make games on the Android platform
This semester the “app,” now officially named PlatForge, achieved some major milestones, and officially released on the Play Store (see below for a link). The first month or so of the semester was spent preparing the app for an Alpha release. Two testers worked with me for about a month to put the app through its paces, helping me improve the user interface (UI), find bugs and develop improvements. The result was a number of significant changes to the app’s UI and structure. By the end of the process, however, it was clear that it would have been wiser to seek feedback much earlier in the process. By this point in the app’s development, some design choices were far too embedded to significantly alter them.
After Alpha testing, my focus shifted to creating the written portion of this project. I developed a 90 page report on PlatForge, giving and academic overview of the use of games and game making for educational purposes, as well as a more technical summary of the app’s features and design choices. The purpose of this document is largely to provide a launching point for a future developer. The written thesis was defended with a panel of professors, who approved it. A hard copy of this thesis can be found in Belk Library, and a digital copy will soon be available on their website.
I implemented the final phase of development at the end of this semester, opening PlatForge up to Beta testing, allowing anyone with an Android device to use the app and give feedback. Meanwhile, I worked on a tutorial system to lead the testers through PlatForge’s features. The feedback was generally constructive and positive, but reinforced the idea that I would have been better off seeing such feedback much earlier in the process. Still, the tester’s comments have been saved can could be used for future development.
Throughout the semester, I worked with the app’s artists to finalize the art assets. This is an important accomplishment to me, not only because of the flavor and vitality it gives to the app, but also because these are assets that can be published for free use by other game developers. The higher the quality of open game art we contribute, the higher the quality of open-source games we will see developed.
PaltForge will remain in a Beta stage for now. It is officially released, but I recognized that it still lacks some of the features necessary for a “full” release. Moving forward, my highest priority is to make the app more available to the open-source community, so that it might find life with future developers.
I’m going to NC State in that fall for a PhD program in Computer Science. Obviously my research contributed a lot to that decision...I came into college thinking that videogames were a purely hedonistic pursuit. I come out thinking they hold so many opportunities for improving others’ lives. That transformation started when I stopped thinking of my passion for games as illegitimate. Lumen helped me see my work with games as something worth doing, and as a result I started looking for others who shared that belief, and found a whole academic community centered around it. And that led me to State.
Dr. Ann J. Cahill
Professor of Philosophy
Spence Pavilion 111
2340 Campus Box
Elon, NC 27244
Phone: (336) 278-5703
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