SURGE :  Fuzzy Chronicles

In Fuzzy Chronicles players navigate their avatar (Surge) through the play area to collect Fuzzies and treasures and deliver them to safe locations while avoiding obstacles and enemies. Play is divided into levels that are short and puzzle-like in nature, interspaced with dialogue that provides players with feedback about their achievements and current goals, as well as engaging narrative and “just-in-time” help and scaffolding. The Fuzzy Chronicles was developed as part of the EPIGAME grant from the Institute of Education Sciences at the US Department of Education. After completing development, some further development on Fuzzy Chronicles was completed as part of the EGAME grant from the National Science Foundation.

Whereas SURGE Classic involves extended levels, Fuzzy Chronicles levels focus on a small number of discrete actions to encourage players to think more carefully about the outcomes and implications of each action. We are using Fuzzy Chronicles to research predictive functionalities in terms of how players navigate through levels by having players create a navigation plan along a set of timelines for when various actions should be taken. The player also draw a separate trajectory map that represents the intended flight path.  We have two versions of the navigation interface. In the temporal versions, players place their actions in a timeline.

In the spatial version of the navigation interface, players place their actions directly on the play map. Each version of the navigation interface emphasizes different relationships. We are researching the affordances of each. We propose that navigation interface provides an excellent opportunity for prediction. Essentially, while real-time and just-in-time navigation formats are common in games like Fuzzy Chronicles , formats supporting prediction are also not uncommon and could be developed without breaking the game aspects of Fuzzy Chronicles . Furthermore, a game like Fuzzy Chronicles provides excellent opportunities for research on the integration of prediction into games because of the range of interface formats afforded along a prediction/real-time continuum. Essentially, real-time or just-in-time navigation formats engage the player in making decisions during the flow of the level often in a reflexive manner mirroring constraint-based thinking (e.g., the player continually micro-adjusts direction and velocity as it becomes apparent that adjustments are required. These more predictive interfaces, we hypothesize, should support a higher level of model-based thinking than constraint based thinking, as well as a higher percentage of explicit articulation of thinking versus implicit intuitive thinking that might stay at the level of unaware application of p-prims. This should be true in terms of comparisons between the Predictive and Real-Time categories as well as comparisons within the Real-Time category and comparisons within the Predictive category.

We also  hypothesize that players in conditions that include explanation functionality will develop deeper understandings of the core models in keeping with the literature on self-explanation. We are currently conducting research on self-explanation functionality in Fuzzy Chronicles. Part of this research focuses on data-mining and leveraging computer-adaptive functionality within the explanation challenges themselves to provide formative assessment of player understanding as well as to adjust the player's experience in the game to match that understanding.

Whereas we designed SURGE Classic in Unity 3D, we developed Fuzzy Chronicles using FLASH to develop levels and the WISE 4 online inquiry environment as a portal and hub for the levels. WISE 4 is designed to be very lightweight. This plan also allows us to leverage the powerful capabilities that already exist or that will be developed by the WISE 4 team, including assessment tools, drawing tools, collaborative functionalities, and many other student tools, as well as teacher tools that allow teachers to access and grade student work and provide teachers with updates and alerts about students’ progress.