Sunday, April 28, 2013

Turma Cósmica Portal

The final part of the Turma Cósmica Project (loosely translated as Cosmic Bunch), was the development of the educational portal.

The idea is an aggregation center of educational content with a system backbone that can be either used as a web portal or integrated to a school intranet / extranet.

The system has three different profiles: 

  • student / child login
  • parent / teacher login
  • administrator login
The screens below are a view of the student / child login.

For the stundent / child profile, the feeling of the portal is of a social network, but great care was taken to guarantee the safety of the youngsters.

First the parent or teacher is the one responsible for creating the account of the young ones, that could be either a father creating the account his children or a teacher creating a new class.  If is for a public portal, nicknames can be used for these.

Instead of uploading pictures, the children are only allowed to create and customize their own avatars, choosing gender, physical characteristics, clothing and accessories and a background set.

Another part of this profile is a "News" center where the children receive and send news from their contacts and can also interact with each other making comments on these news.  On a school environment, news from the school or teacher can also be received and commented.

Parents and teachers can access and monitor logs of all the students activities throughout the whole system. Messages sent and received or time of login and logout.

Another tool used by the children is the Agenda, they can write down about home works, exams or any other school activity. The teacher can also write a note on each of their respective student, for example "Don't forget to bring your coloring pencils for school tomorrow."

On a environment outside the school a children could use the agenda as a diary or a calendar to mark birthdays.

Probably the most used area by the children is the games area. All the educational games that were once produced for the Turma Cósmica in the past and previously distributed in physical media format now are rewritten for the web using Unity 3d Game Engine. May aspects of the game play is logged for the teachers to follow what games each student likes the most or has the highest scores. Since they are all base on the school curriculum, an analysis can be made to spot overall difficulties in the given subject for each student or the whole class in general.

There is also a trophy system on the games, so each child can see a raking of the best players on his class or social circle.

Accompanying each game, there is also it's corresponding text to the game's subject. New content can added or available one can be edited by a teacher or administrator in this area.

Besides producing the graphics for the games, I also made the graphic design and was part of the over all concept team.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Turma Cósmica volumes 3 and 4

Before writing in-depth about my current works, I'd like to post here some images from our last two games that were produced for Windows and Linux (under wine).

Turma Cósimica Vol. 3

- Rumo ao planeta Antiqua - 
(Heading to planet Antiqua)


Turma Cósimica Vol. 4

- Reconquistando o Brasil - 
(Reconquering Brazil)

Trailer and Game Play

These games were produced almost 4 years ago with Torque Game Engine. The 2D elements were done in Adobe Photoshop and the 3D was done in Autodesk 3DS Max.

Another tool that I used indirectly on Volume 4 was Adobe Flash. I did many animated concepts, game play development and even some coding in Action Script and presented them to the programming team to be implemented in Torque.

Since hardware and software progresses at an amazing rate, the game play and graphics quality in these games are a bit outdated already specially Volume 3, but I still consider them to be of great value to be used in schools or at home following the same curriculum used in a normal class room. These two games were developed for kids in 3rd and 4th grades.

Return to activity

After a long time away from writing, I'll try to to keep it more active now. My work has changed a lot during this last year. I still work at PUC-PR but the educational games unit has changed a bit our focus.

Our new name now is UCDI - Interactive Digital Content Unit (Unidade de Conteúdos Digitais Interativos). Besides educational games for computers, we now produce educational content for tablets (Android and iOS) such as eBooks and Apps, educational and recreational content for planetariums. Actually, the whole last year was almost entirely doing research for the university's newest acquisition.

FTD Digital Arena

More on this later.