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Let’s Live on Mars! (Part 3)

In parts 1 and 2, we covered the first weeks of our project to create a game about the first human settlement on Mars, The Next Step, in under a month.

In this third and final part, we’ll discuss finalizing the prototype for a public exhibit at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie.

Finalizing the prototype

The final weeks of our month-long project involved finishing the prototype in time for it to be presented in front of  a jury. Each game won a category: best science, best gameplay, with The Next Step winning best graphics/artwork. But I’m getting slightly ahead of myself.

The final week of development included one final play test, which was successful, and two days of hectic final development to make sure things were up to snuff for when the public would get its hands on the game.

Preparing the exhibit

Of course, there was more to the exhibit than simply having the game running on computers for people to play. Our artist, Laurence, 3D printed models he had designed for the modules in the game, and also designed and laser-cut a parallax wooden display matching the title screen he had drawn for the game.

Presenting the game to a jury and the public (and our peers)

On the day the exhibit opened, Friday 28th July, we first presented the game in the agora of the Carrefour Numérique² of the Cité des Sciences.

We then unleashed the public on our games for 4 and a half days, there and then at the Gaîté Lyrique. We were very pleased to see that quite a few players hogged the computer they were playing on for long periods of time, sometimes hours, which is usually a good sign that you’ve done something right. Or that your game only attracts masochists.

This turned out to be an effective final play test, as we were able to see what these long-playing-time gamers thought of the game. The fact that we were there to explain the gameplay and our ambitions was a bonus, as we were able to not only talk about what we had done with the game, and how to play, but also all the extremely cool things that we knew, from the start, that we wouldn’t be able to implement.

The future of the game

Esther, our lead game designed and programmer, has planned to show her game to fellow students at the ICAN (Institut de Création et d’Animation Numériques) in Paris, and have them work on it. Hopefully, a few will keep working on the game and it will develop into something closer to the ambitions we initially had for it.

The last day

On the final day of the GLaSS, today in fact, we published our projects on Ideaweave, a CRI-developed “platform for exchanging ideas and forming groups around exciting projects”. I also posted some of the sources we used in our research (mostly things that couldn’t make it into the game, unfortunately) in The Next Step’s forum. And wrote this article!

It’s been an adventure…

Vincent Roger, ghostwriting for Esther Berges.

Written by Esther Berges

The CRI is developing a lab to prototype games with educators, scientists and students at the CRI : the gamelab.
In this context, we designed GLASS, a summer school to create scientific games, both digital and hybrid. We invited fifteen international students from science, game design, programming and arts backgrounds, during the summer of 2015. The summer school consisted of masterclasses by industry professionals, on different tools and techniques to develop games, along with a variety of creative challenges, testing of new technologies, and exciting events to share skills and learn by doing together. All of this was aimed at creating innovative and popular scientific games!

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