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IMGDC 2.0 Day One - Hybrid MMOs Print E-mail
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Written by Matt "snorkle256" Nolan   
Monday, 31 March 2008


Later in the day at the IMGDC, I sat in on a presentation given by Peter Smith entitled “Designing a Hybrid MMOG”.

Smith began by showing us a game called Lunar Quest that has been funded by the National Science Foundation.  Lunar Quest is an educational hybrid MMO.  It is a physics learning game that hopes to provide students with the opportunity to interact in a MMO world while learning through quests that utilize educational flash games.  The goal is to show students what is possible with physics and to encourage them to continue expanding their knowledge in the field.

Lunar Quest looks like what NASA's proposed moon base would if they had created it in the 1960's.  Its artwork is very “retro-future”, as Smith put it.  Being a physics learning game, the developer had to ensure it had realistic gameplay, particularly with regard to the game's physics (obviously).  As a student moves around the moon base, it is their job to fix problems that occur utilizing physics.  These quests occur within the aforementioned flash games which provide a high repeat play factor and ensure that each student is provided with the same experience.  After completing a predetermined number of specific type of challenges players will be able to show off their skills to others in the MMO side of the game via badges displayable on their character.  This, and the prospect of winning a space suit which can be used to explore outside the lunar dome, provide enough incentive for students to continue learning.

Students progress in the game will be tracked via a website, which allows them to see where their achievements are in relation to their classmates, as well as all other students playing the game.  The site also allows teachers to see the progress of each individual student.

The game is hosted in Multiverse, which makes it very easy for the team to keep their data connected.  It also makes it easy to develop and deploy new content, including the addition of new flash games.

Peter Smith doesn't know yet how effective the lessons in Lunar Quest are, as they have not begun testing.  You can bet that if they are, the framework will be adapted for other subjects, such as chemistry.  I expect we'll hear more about hybrid MMOs in the future.


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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 01 April 2008 )

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