Patch Notes

Alpha 41: New Character Customization Options

Today is a bit of a smaller update on the content side, but our Art Team has been working hard on getting some new character customization options going, especially more faces so more of our players can make their characters look a lot more like them!

New Character Customization

You can now have a customizable face option for your character!  There are 11 faces to choose from: 10 new ones, plus the previous default face. When you start a new character, this will be an option. If you have an existing character, head over to Whipper Snippers and it’s with the hair and face options!
We’ve added 4 new long hair styles.

We’ve added 2 new dark skin tones to expand the variety of dark skin tones.
We’ve now added a “Randomize” button so that you can see the variety of options (but it changes EVERYTHING on your character).  We mainly did this so that on original character creation we don’t need to choose a “default” body/skin/etc. — it will be randomly generated for everyone and they can Randomize a bit before deciding what they want for their character.

 
Other Updates

The Launcher should now determine if you need an update a bit faster.
Fixed a bug where pressing the left and right mouse buttons in the Egg Inventory in the Drakonarium could cause your character to start running.
When there is a scrollable user interface, it will no longer cause your camera to also zoom in/out when you get to the end of the scroll in most windows (still working on this for all the HELO windows).
Fixed a bug where players were not able to walk up to the Amazon Biodome Transit Center door to prompt the travel menu.

 

News & Announcements

National Science Foundation Grant for a Group STEM Challenge

 
We have some exciting news today!
Immersed Games is being awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Science Foundation for development of a new innovation to work with Tyto Online.
The official title of the grant is, “A Group Video Game Challenge for Integrated Applied Science Learning.”
This innovation pulls from the experience of dungeons or raids in video games, where groups of players team up to defeat “bosses” in epic battles. Except in our case, student will be able to apply learning in groups to solve challenging applied problems that utilize the learning they accomplished across multiple science modules of science in order to earn group rewards.

Innovation Description
The overall concept of this grant’s research and development work is that after students have learned science content in Tyto Online or at school, they’ll be presented with a challenge that integrates learning across their units or topics. Groups of ~5 students will travel to a location on the alien planet where the drakons, a dragon-like creature, have undergone devastation! Their population is in turmoil due to a variety of potential factors that the students must solve.
The students will use skills from multiple areas of science as they work to solve the problem together. After they are introduced to the problem, they’ll jump into problem exploration: collecting data like blood samples from the drakons, setting population devices out, and sampling water quality. They will be able to generate graphs of their data, propose hypotheses, and together figure out what they think is hurting the drakons.
Then, following an engineering practice model, they’ll move into solutions — generating possible ideas, supporting the best ones, testing them, seeing results, and determining the best possible solution for fixing the problems they identified. Solutions may include selective breeding to reduce the prevalence of the genetic predisposition, creating a vaccine, environmental changes, or other potential solutions.
We are also building this with a scalable framework so that we’ll be able to use this basis to create more challenges, in the future building it into an expansion to our back-end content authoring system to use more regularly in students’ gameplay.

Educational Benefits
Integrated STEM Learning. Students will have already individual learned the content areas utilized (cells, ecology, heredity, and evolution) in silos, with isolated instruction in each content area. One of the goals of the proposed innovation is to focus on integrated STEM learning, addressing the subjects together in a way more similar to real world problem solving (Roberts & Cantu, 2012). Integrated STEM learning has been argued for by educators who argue that it provides contextual, deeper knowledge which will help students be more competitive as they actively engage and connect their learning areas into cross-domain skills (Boy, 2013; Relan & Kimpston, 1991; Sanders, 2012).

Problem Based Learning. The proposed innovation also utilizes a problem based learning approach, which is a form of constructivist learning. In problem based learning, students are introduced to a setting, start a problem, research and set their own hypotheses, and engage in self-reflection as they work to solve problems. The benefits of problem based learning include situating learning in context, encouraging accessing of prior knowledge for high-road transfer, improving metacognitive awareness, and long-term retention (Hmelo & Evensen, 2000; Gavriel & Perkins, 1989). Students who use problem based learning are even more likely to use basic science as a tool for problem solving than students in a traditional curriculum (Hmelo & Evensen, 2000).
Cooperative Learning. Another benefit of the proposed innovation is the focus on cooperative learning. According to Terwel (2003), the general aim of cooperative learning is how to think for oneself. Some researchers, such as Gillies and Ashman (2003), argue that cooperative learning has the broadest set of diverse, positive outcomes for learners. Cooperative learning has been shown to lead to more productivity, better communication, improved motivation, and even feelings of acceptance and inclusion among group members (Gillies & Ashman, 2003).
Using the structure of video game raids for cooperative learning as an extension also encourages more acceptance of failure, as in video game raiding, failure is seem as progress as long as the raid group is able to reflect and improve strategies in their next attempts (Chen, 2009). In terms of developing 21st century skills, raids also require cooperation and communication, not just content or skill areas, which helps develop those skills further (Chen, 2009).

Interested in participating?
We will be conducting a small study towards the end of the project, around April/May, in order to analyze how well the design has worked, the student’s use of tools, etc.  If you’re interested in your child participating, please fill out this form to get on our interest list!
 

Reference List
Boy, G.A. (2013). From STEM to STEAM: Toward a human-centered education. Proceedings of the 31st European Conference on Cognitive Ergonomics; Toulouse, France, August 26-28.
Chen, M. (2009). Communication, coordination, and camaraderie in World of Warcraft. Games and Culture 4, 47-73. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1555412008325478
Gavriel, S., & Perkins, D.N. (1989). Rocky roads to transfer: Rethinking mechanics of a neglected phenomenon. Educational Psychologist, 24(2), 113-142.
Gillies, R.M., & Ashman, A.F. (2003). An historical review of the use of groups to promote socialization and learning. In R.M. Gillies and A.F. Ashman (Eds.), The social and intellectual outcomes of learning in groups (1-18). New York, NY: Routledge Falmer.
Hmelo, C.E., & Evensen, D.H. (2000). Problem-based learning: Gaining insights on learning interactions through multiple methods of inquiry. In. D.H. Evensen & C.E. Hmelo (Eds.), Problem-based learning: A research perspective on learning interactions (1-18). New York, NY: Routledge Falmer.
Relan, A., & Kimpston, R. (1991). Curriculum integration: A critical analysis of practical and conceptual issues. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association; Chicago, IL, April 3-7.
Roberts, A., & Cantu, D. (2012). Applying STEM instructional strategies to design and technology curriculum. Proceedings of the Technology Education in the 21st 29 Century (111-118); Stockholm, Sweden.
Sanders, M. (2012). Integrative STEM education as “best practice.” Presented at the 7th Biennial International Technology Education Research Conference; Queensland, Australia, Dec 8.

Patch Notes

Alpha 40: Winter Wonderland + Drakon Pedigree

It’s that time of year again! Espeth is busting out holiday lights, holographic snowflakes, and bottom-heavy humanoids with twigs for arms! Enjoy the Student District’s annual Winter Wonderland update!

“Hey, these are the same decorations as last year!” – a disgruntled Tytonian. Not so! Try sliding on the ice at the Academy and across from the apartments. That’s new! (“Awesome!” – formerly disgruntled Tytonian.)
Construction Vendor Roberta in the Commons will now sell Snowbuddy decorations in addition to her usual fare.
Come to think of it…how is a winter wonderland even possible in Espeth? Tyto Student Chen is on the case!
LNR is getting into the holiday spirit, too. Help her deliver presents to Espethians, an integral part of her favorite holiday, Non-Reciprocal Item Transferral Day!

 

Drakon Pedigree Tracking

You can now track your drakons’ ancestry with the new Pedigree tab. Open it up to see drakons’ immediate relatives (parents, siblings, grandparents, and children.)  You can find this on the drakon’s profile.  If you switch profiles, the Pedigree will stay unless you click the Pedigree button again to refresh it.  In this way, you can look at all the relatives of a drakon and more easily compare across drakons to better understand the results of your breeding.

 

Other Drakonarium Updates

When drakons breed, there is now a cinematic of their courtship dance.
We also have a new nest that’s much more comfortable for the eggs!
The eggs in the Egg Inventory are now correctly colored to reflect what they’ll look like in the incubator (and give some insight into the color the drakon may be).

 

Teacher Tool Addition: Assigning Sandboxes

Teachers can now assign a Sandbox to their students in order to get them right into it without requisites. Students normally need to be Level 3 in each Module to access the Sandbox, but this tool will now assign it to them so they get the opening quest and access even before that point. We want to make sure everything is flexible for however teachers want to use the game in their classrooms!

 

Bug Fixes

Monthly Income in the HELO now correctly accumulates over time for each week you were gone.
Updated some UI icons (Punnet Square, Probability, Parent DNA).
Fixed a bug where sometimes HELO Weekly Challenges would show up twice in the quest log.
Fixed a bug where tapirs were not clickable in the HELO.
Changed the name of our “loot box” to “reward box” in a definite attempt to avoid anyone thinking you pay for ours (we have no micro-transactions).
Animals in your HELO may now die of old age. This helps with apex predators especially.

 

An important note!  If you did not see it last time, I wanted to make sure people see — we added an option to the game launcher for “Simpler Graphics Option (for slower machines).  This essentially switches to Mobile-type graphics options and lowers the visuals of the game a bit, but will increase performance.  If you have a low frame-rate or lag in your game, give this a try next time you play!  Find it on the top bar, under “Launch Options.”

Patch Notes

Alpha 39: Reach Level 10 Heredity, and Sandbox Updates!

We’ve been hard at work finishing up our Heredity quests, so you can now reach Level 10 in Heredity!  We do have a couple more quests we’re going to go back and roll out for earlier levels, supplementary information about probability for example, but this now enables maximum level of Heredity!  Woo!  We love milestones of finishing up a Module.  🙂

An important note!  We added an option to the game launcher for “Simpler Graphics Option (for slower machines).  This essentially switches to Mobile-type graphics options and lowers the visuals of the game a bit, but will increase performance.  If you have a low frame-rate or lag in your game, give this a try next time you play!  Find it on the top bar, under “Launch Options.”

 
Here are the new quests you can encounter:
Feeling Blue: Cherie has noticed a new arrival in the rainforest biodome: a bright blue iguana!

None of the other iguanas have this daring new color, so what’s going on?

Ineritance Types: Omar told you all about genotypes and phenotypes a little while ago, but he wants you to understand how studying genotypes and phenotypes influences how scientists understand the way certain traits are inherited. Answer Omar’s questions about a hypothetical family of technicolor tuffet plants and become an inheritance type master!

Sickle Cell Anemia: Nurse Practitioner Marysol thinks about blood more than the average person (being a nurse and all.) She wants to tell you about a disease called Sickle Cell Anemia, which has several traits, all of which have different inheritance types!

Harmful Mutations: Some mutations develop before an organism is born. Some mutations, like cancers, can occur at any time throughout the organism’s life. Nurse Practitioner Marysol wants to help the citizens of Espeth protect themselves from skin cancer! Help her educate the populace about proper sunbathing habits.

Cool Cat Co-Dominance: Esmeralda usually spends her days helping students from behind a desk at Tyto Academy, but today she has a favor to ask! Her cats have just had kittens, but something’s not making sense: though one parent is black and one parent is orange, two of the kittens are displaying both traits at once, while the other two are not! Help Esmeralda unravel this meow-stery!

The Yellow Mystery: It’s about time for Yosef to have a conniption again, but *this* time, he’s really serious! (This is *really* the last straw, he swears!) He’s been trying to create an all-white timpita, but his experiments have had disastrous results so far. Help him understand what he’s been doing wrong.

 
H.E.L.O.  Updates

We’ve been doing tons of work to improve balance and play experience in H.E.L.O. ecosystems, and will be doing more! Leaf points, detritus decaying rates, animal hunger, and much more has been re-tested and re-tooled over the past few weeks, so expect a more enjoyable (and stable) ecosystem simulation experience when you play.
Pausing your H.E.L.O. now freezes all animals in place (except for butterflies. We’re working on that.) For now, enjoy trapping your animals in midair and taking cool action shots from every angle!
Weekly Challenges now reward RP, and the H.E.L.O. now has Monthly Rewards of RP based on your biodiversity and health. This will make it much faster to unlock species, and we’ll soon be adding more ways to spend that Ecology RP!
Caribou moss is no longer invisible in the H.E.L.O.

Drakonarium Updates

Gaze in awe at the miracle of drakon-hatching with a shiny new drakon-hatching animation! All drakons that hatch in your Drakonarium will now play a short animation that is guaranteed to make the whole experience at least 63% more magical.
Drakon eggs now vary depending on the size and color of the drakon.
You can now pay RP to instantly hatch drakon eggs!
The user interface has been modified to be more like the H.E.L.O., with the Egg Inventory, Look Book, and Directory on the bottom of the screen to make them easier to interact with while also interacting with drakons or the incubators in the Drakonarium.

 

 

News & Announcements Patch Notes

Tyto Online for Schools

Today we’re excited to be able to announce that we have launched a new set of teacher tools for a new version we’re calling Tyto Online for Schools.

The new for Schools teacher tools include three main sections: Explore & Plan, Track Progress, and Manage Classes.
Our goal is for teachers to be able to seamlessly use Tyto Online across their entire school year, aligning with each unit of content.  Teachers can assign quests for quick 15-20 minute applied problem solving as students learn science, or have the kids dig into the sandboxes where they’ll learn through experimentation and can be used as a basis for motivated classroom discussion about these topics.
For example, most players begin the ecosystem sandbox by placing too many apex predators at once, which leads to an ecosystem collapse as the predators quickly eat all of the prey animals and then starve. Through trial and error, students organically learn about trophic levels: the ratio of prey to predators has to include far more prey to be sustainable. The teacher can also use this as a conversational basis, pulling out diagrams and working through this theory with the kids, using examples from their own sandboxes. We’re already frequently having these conversations with our at-home players, and are looking forward to expanding this experience

Explore & Plan
This is my personal favorite right now.  You can look at each Module, click through to see overviews of the storyline and sandbox, sort quests by standard, and then actually assign quests to the students immediately or for a scheduled date.  For the kid, this means they’ll log into the game and have a popup from the quest-giver saying they need help that will then teleport them right to the correct starting place for the quest.  Quick and easy!

Track Progress
This is still being worked on and will go live within a week!  Track how your classes are progressing through the quests, and see the status of all quests (not started, in progress, complete), sorted by standard.

Manage Classes
We’ve made it easy to manage classes and add students, with suggested memorable usernames and passwords.  We’ll work on single sign on with Google Classroom soon, and others on request.

What’s next?
Tyto Online currently covers middle school level life science content, with Ecology and Heredity Modules. We are working on building out the rest of a completely game-based Life Science learning package by the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. Tyto Online is currently available on Windows and Mac computers, but will also be on Chromebooks for the coming school year.
We also have much, much more we want to build for the teacher tools.  Some of our primary ideas include a Live Tracker, better calendar views for quest and lesson scheduling, more analytics about in-game performance like arguments used or misconceptions, etc. But really, we’ll be listening to what teachers say they need!

Getting Access
Tyto Online for Schools is $10 per student per year, with all content and at-home access included. This is discounted because of the group purchasing and implementation of schools, so this pricing is only available for schools and educational organizations. Teachers can sign up for 30 day trials, or for notifications of when the Chromebook enabled version launches for the coming school year from our landing page: 

For Homeschoolers: We’ll be making the Explore & Plan and Track Progress tools available to you, too, soon.  Just need to do some account re-working!

Patch Notes

Alpha 38: Underlying School Changes + Easier Animal Unlocks

We’re doing the first touches to help teachers begin to use Tyto Online in their classrooms!

We actually snuck this update out over the weekend, because we have our first beta testing teacher starting with the product in their classroom today.

First, we did some user facing things that will impact everything to simplify some of the unlocking and progression.  We spent some time discussing ways to make this simpler for schools, but still a great progression for those playing at home.
Re-Working H.E.L.O. Animal Unlocks
The largest change was re-working how you unlock animals for the H.E.L.O., the create-your-own ecosystem Ecology Sandbox.  Previously, you needed to unlock it in the Research Tree, then research it.  Once you did all the research, you could use it in the H.E.L.O.  We already had concerns this process was a bit too lengthy, and in classrooms it definitely is.  So now, here’s how it works:

We removed the Research Tree altogether.  In order to unlock the species, you can now grab them straight from the Biodex and “Buy” the unlock with your RP (Research Points) right there.  This way you’re not bouncing between the Biodex and a Research Tree.
When you “Buy” a species to unlock it with your RP, you can immediately use it in your H.E.L.O. without needing to do the research.

If you want to access all the information in the Biodex to learn more and perform better in the H.E.L.O., you’ll still need to go back into the biodomes to research the animals.

 
The rest of the changes:

All levels now are 1000 XP (Experience Points) to level up, rather than requiring more for each level.  In many games, levels become exponential, but that really wasn’t necessary for us and ended up with inflated XP for quests at the end.  By putting all levels at 1000 XP, we can now better reflect the difficulty of a quest with the XP, rather than giving higher level quests more XP even if they were not actually harder.  This may change your level… for most people that have played a lot, you may discover you’ve gained a level… or a few.  😉
When you level up in Heredity, you’ll now get extra Heredity RP (Research Points) like you do with Ecology.  This will help you with RP to spend in the Drakonarium.
Some non-Ecology quests were showing up as Ecology because we didn’t have a way to give them no module, but we’ve fixed that so some of the fun, story-building side quests are now no longer granting Ecology XP when they should not.
More tutorials have been added. We’re continuing to do this, with the goal of a tutorial the first time you do any new type of quest mechanic, regardless of the order you complete quests in.

 
School Support:
This update also includes some hidden work that we’ve done to set the groundwork for our teacher tools.  Teachers will be able to assign quests, track student progress, and easily manage classes.  This is in closed use with limited people right now and will be fully announced and released soon.  Email lindsey@immersedgames.com if you’re an educator interested in testing these early tools!

Patch Notes

Alpha 37: Quests through Level 9 Heredity!

Today we’re launching four more quests that, when completed, will allow you to reach through Level 9 of Heredity!  We’re so close to getting everything in that we’ve planned for this Module, which is exciting!  Level 9 in your Drakonarium will also unlock some new pattern mutations like albinism and more to discover!  After reaching Level 9, be sure to check the Lookbook to see if there are any new genes there that you can breed into your drakons.

Hip-Hop Hare-edity: It’s a great day in the Great Plains biodome! A new brood of jackrabbit kits has been born, but Supervisor Tai has noticed something odd about one of the babies. Help them figure out what may have caused this anomaly.

A Different Direction: Calypso in the Student District has been monitoring the district’s resident Ridley turtles for some time now, and their babies have just hatched! Help Calypso discover the reason behind the unusual color of one of the babies.

 

The Y Factor: Amalia has been creating karyotypes of some of the other Espethians in town, but she’s noticed something very odd about Jian and Mr. Columbus! Travel to the Student District marketplace and help Amalia with her project.

The Deer Mouse Mystery: Sadly, some of the mice in the Great Plains biodome have been exhibiting signs of sickness. Could it be genetic? Supervisor Tai needs to get to the bottom of this, and they need your help!

Additional Notes: ‘Pouncer in the Dark,’ which can be picked up in the Amazon biodome from Cherie, was formerly an Ecology quest. We have changed it so that it now grants Heredity module credit instead.

Patch Notes

Alpha 36: Level 8 Heredity + Drakon Patterns

Hello, everyone!

 

 

We haven’t been as frequent with patches lately as we’ve been working on teacher tools (to be released soon), and we released our dinosaur expansion pack for Tyto Ecology.  This, and MUCH MORE, will make its way into Tyto Online with our next Module.  We’ll announce that soon.  🙂  #teaser

So that said, today we’re releasing three more quests that will allow you to level your character up through Level 8 in Heredity.  This will also unlock the next tier for your drakons in the Drakonarium, which is patterns.  The drakon pattern genes work with incomplete dominance, meaning you can get a lot of awesome blending results with heterozygous genetics.  Definitely have fun experimenting with that!

After this, we only have two more levels worth of quests for Heredity, around 10 more quests to add!  And that will unlock the rest of your drakon breeding features.  We’ll also be adding in a pedigree system to better track the genetic lines of your creatures, and that will wrap up the Heredity Module!

So for today’s patch, here are the three quests we’ve added:

DNA Detective.

Pre-requisite: Heredity Level 7

Head over to Ariel at the Bell Jar Cafe in the Student District for this mystery.  Someone has been stealing lunches, and a chogwig has been accused.  Collect evidence and determine who the culprit is!

The Right Vein

Pre-requisite: Heredity Level 7

Nurse Practitioner Marysol in the Student District is in her first quest-giving role!  She needs some help identifying people with a particular blood type to ask to be donors, as they are in need.  Learn about blood types and predicting what types kids will have based on their parents.

Dead Hare Hopping.

Pre-requisite: Heredity Level 7

A generation of jackrabbits in an area of the Mojave biodome all became sick and died rather suddenly! Farah, the Biodome Supervisor in the Mojave, needs to know what’s happening quickly so that the species doesn’t get wiped out.

 

We’ve also updated the on-boarding room where you get defrosted from cryosleep to be much more pretty and consistent with the rest of our art.

News & Announcements

The dino-dome winner is…

The winner is…
Cretaceous Mongolia, including Flaming Cliffs!
This ecosystem includes the Velociraptor, Protoceratops Deinocheirus mirificus, Plesiohadros, and more!

Image by PaleoGuy on Deviant Art.

This ecosystem includes what YouTuber Best in Slot refers to as “danger floof,” or the Therizinosaurus, which is my favorite:

Image by Sergey Krasovskiy.

Now, several people noticed that it ended in a close tie at the end between Mongolia/Flaming Cliffs and Hell’s Creek, so we took a look at the IP addresses of the votes to make sure our own office votes didn’t skew the results. What we found instead though, was… drum roll… massive voter fraud!

Okay, not that massive, but our top IP address voted 29 times for Hell’s Creek!

Now we do recognize some of the smaller ones can be multiple family members or people in the same location, but 29 people with the exact same IP address voting for Hell’s Creek with most of the votes only taking 2-3 seconds to complete? Sorry, someone was cheating.

So we dug into the data, removed excess suspicious votes, and by the end, Flaming Cliffs was the clear winner:

Flaming Cliffs: 43%
Hell’s Creek: 33%
Europe: 24%

And, for your humor, we made this handy cheating infographic — really all in good fun because it’s not like this was a super serious legal vote. But we did want to get to the bottom of what the actual most popular ecosystem would be, and we did!

Patch Notes

Alpha 21: Biodome Updates

We have a smaller patch today given how major last week’s body style update was… and we have some major features coming up. We will post and let you all know what is on the upcoming radar soon!
Visual updates in the pre-set biodomes:

Updated Grasslands and Desert biodomes lighting and visual FX, such as the desert having heat waves!
Updated landmass settings for aforementioned biodomes.
Added more dynamic grass for Grasslands.

The grass moves under you now in the Grassland!
Other updates:

Afro hairstyle added to player customization options.
Minor fixes to clothing and body style updates as polish has been needed.
Minor quest fixes.
Minor LOD updates for static meshes.