|Logo concept art from the grant.|
I managed to whittle down the core design ideas outlined in the grant into a bullet pointed list:
- Nurbits should be a casual game to appeal to a wide audience -- the grant references the Popcap hits Bejewled, Peggle, and Plants vs Zombies.
- As the player solves puzzles there is an aesthetic change:
- Visually the puzzle pieces go from looking like chips on a circuit board to looking more like neurons.
- The music in the games transitions from a chip-tune like style to more full and natural sound.
|Concept art of chip to neuron transition from the grant.|
- The core gameplay involves the player placing the appropriate neurons to connect an existing structure.
- Core gameplay will revolve around identifying the logic used by the neuron’s cell body to initiate action potentials that meet the requirements of a downstream "goal" neuron.
- The grant mentions the player changing the color to represent the neurotransmitters used by the neurons, and the brightness of the color representing the threshold and rate of fire.
- Higher level play requires the use of inhibitory interneurons.
- Nurbits will also have a "sandbox" that can be unlocked if the player progresses to a certain point, which will allow students to create their own neural systems and audio tracks.
|Concept art of chip with color and shape based logic from the grant.|
The second problem is a design issue at the very core of what the gameplay will be like in Nurbits. How will the action potential mechanic work? The grant mentions changing colors to represent neurotransmitters that would bring the neuron to threshold and initiate action potential. However, there is a major problem with this idea, it is not accessible to the colorblind. The original Nurbits design doc suggested combining shapes as a solution, but we felt this might be difficult for the player to understand at a quick glance.
How did we resolve these problems? Stay tuned for our next blog post!