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New game - Bird Private Investigator


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#1 admin

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 08:43 PM

Note to leave messages in this forum you need to join. Once you sign up you can enjoy all the features of WhatBird including being able to ask our resident ornithologist to help you ID any bird.

Please check out the new game I developed for teaching how to identify birds by sound. Details can be found here. I welcome your feedback. The game is set up right now for children so its pretty easy but we are adding a new Levels feature that will make it more difficult for experienced birders.

 

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#2 juliboc

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 05:30 PM

The graphics are beautiful, and the game is fun and educational.  I would like to see better instructions.  I fumbled around before I discovered there were multiple birds and that I needed to pan the frame.  But once I caught on, I enjoyed it and learned the sounds.  I like the binoculars too.  I think children (and teachers too) will like this.

Julianne



#3 admin

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 05:50 PM

Hey thank you for looking it over and leaving me this feedback. Plenty of poeple have looked at it but yours is the first comment.

Can you tell me a little more about what was missing from the instructions? You say you did not understand there are several birds and  you must "pan" to see them. How could I say that? Like this:

"To see the birds you must click on the frame and drag to the right. This will cause the background to scroll. You can scroll up, down, right or left. When a bird comes into view you will hear its call and see a pulsating green circle which indicates its location -- but it will be invisible at first. Try to guess what the bird is by listening to its sound, and select its name from the box in the upper right part of the screen. If you want a visual hint click on the Visual button. Each time you click it will make the bird less transparent -- but it will also take points off your score."

We plan to add a lot more features, including multiple difficulty levels (so advanced levels only show part of the bird such as just its head, the transparency is not as strong, etc), much wider worlds, animation such as rippling water and rain, many more birds, more habitats, better integration of birds in the world and so on.

Thanks again,



#4 juliboc

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 07:27 PM

Those instruction are very clear.  You might consider telling how many hidden birds are in the picture.  You might also consider putting the instructions above the game.  (At first I didn't see the instructions because I didn't scroll down far enough -- my fault.)

The enhancements all sound like they will be good additions.  Actually, I was eager to try another habitat, but alas I couldn't find one.

 



#5 admin

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 08:43 PM

Good suggestions! I moved the instructions to the top, and you are right, that is way better. I can't really tell how many birds are in the game as it will change frequently. Part of the fun is NOT knowing and finding them all. Certainly the glints make it pretty obvious, but for the more advanced game you will have a harder time because the only indicator will be the sound you hear as you scroll the background. If you are a keen birder you should be able to locate the bird because the sound volume increases as you get closer to the bird.

There are two habitats: Lake and Marsh. Links to them are on the upper right of the game. Did you see those?



#6 mmc2315

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 06:51 AM

The kids and I tried the game again today and the Lake Habitat pulled up for us this time. We also experienced the background music this time (didn't before) and IMO, I thought it interferred with the bird sounds. I'd prefer the game without the music.

M.

#7 admin

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 09:30 AM

M: we are going to make the background sound optional in the next version so you can turn it off or change its volume. Glad it worked for you.

#8 juliboc

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 05:49 PM

I played with the game again today, and have one more suggestion.  I think kids should be encouraged to use binoculars, so I think points should not be deducted for using them in the game.  They don't seem to help much with the identification, but they are good for getting a better look at the bird after it has been displayed.

#9 admin

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 05:59 PM

Here is what I have been thinking about visual hints and the binoculars, I think you will like this.

Visual hints and the binoculars

 

What would be very cool is if instead of having visual hints that simply change transparency we combined the visibility feature with the binoculars. The idea here is to make this more like real life.

 

Suppose when you wanted a visual hint you used the binoculars and there was no V button. Rather then having transparency as the effect, instead we make the bird out of focus (not the background which would as you say be CPU intensive). Each time you magnify the bird it becomes more in focus. We may or may not want to remove points for using the binoculars depending on the level of difficulty.



#10 AVNthusiast

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 09:12 AM

When I played this game the first time, I only went by sound -- didn't use binoculars or view. Then when I tried those, just for fun, I was a bit disappointed -- they gave me too much information right away. The first level of either should be a rough outline of the bird -- just shape, and maybe location -- in a tree, on a snag, in marshy weeds, etc. No plumage or color. Even the first couple of zoom levels should leave out details, I think.

Nonetheless, this game holds GREAT potential, and I'm eager for more birds, habitats and levels of difficulty. I'm not great at bird vocalizations, and this could help me -- a lot!

--dawn, Bloomington, IN

#11 admin

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 11:29 AM

Im going to change the hints so they work like you describe, very good suggestion. I dont think the location idea makes sense as the pulsating green circle already tells you the location. See my previous message about the binoculars, I think that is a better way. Im working on adding more birds and backgrounds.

#12 junco

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 09:18 AM

Fun! I really enjoyed it. Thanks!

#13 admin

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 04:31 PM

I've started a contest to come up with a name for our mascot for the Bird P. I. game. Please see details here.



#14 copenhvr

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Posted 16 March 2006 - 05:33 PM

I thought the game was pretty neat and has lots of potential. With only 3 choices of birds, I didn't feel the need to use the hints,so I didn't really play around too much.  I hope the moredifficult version has more choices.

#15 copenhvr

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Posted 16 March 2006 - 05:38 PM

Just thought of a couple more things.  The announcer's voiceseemed much louder than the bird calls, though possibly I wasn't alwayscentered exactly on the bird.  And it takes FOREVER to load atdial-up speeds.  The graphics are beatutiful, but please take uspoor dial-up folks into consideration whenever possible!

#16 admin

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Posted 16 March 2006 - 06:05 PM

Yes we will add more choices in the new version with multiple difficulty levels. And one of the levels will remove the "glints" as well. Thanks for trying it out.

#17 admin

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Posted 16 March 2006 - 06:07 PM

Your right those voices saying correct are too loud, I will lower the volume on them. We are optimizing the graphics and sounds, please try the Mountains habitat if you can, that one has been optimized so it should load much faster. If it doesnt please let me know.

#18 juliboc

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Posted 16 March 2006 - 08:59 PM

I have a suggestion about the visual hints.  I think it would be more realistic, and fun, if the birds were  hidden by leaves, grass, a tree, stump, rock, or cloud, etc.  Then with each hint, the bird would move slightly from behind the obstruction, revealing a little more of the bird each time. 



#19 admin

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Posted 16 March 2006 - 09:44 PM

Thats a very good idea. The problem however is for that to work we would have to anchor the bird to the object that they are on, and somehow build pices of that objects image into the bird image. It can be done but it would be very hard to easily move the birds around, and my long term goal is to make it so YOU can pick the birds with a development system using our database. So I came up with these ideas, one of which is like yours, and another which is different, what do you think:

Visual hints and the binoculars

 

What would be very cool is if instead of having visual hints that simply change transparency we combined the visibility feature with the binoculars. The idea here is to make this more like real life.

 

Suppose when you wanted a visual hint you used the binoculars and there was no V button. Rather then having transparency as the effect, instead we make the bird out of focus (not the background which would as you say be CPU intensive). Each time you magnify the bird it becomes more in focus. We may or may not want to remove points for using the binoculars depending on the level of difficulty.

 

Another more complex solution is that we donít use the focus affect. First time you used them the bird becomes partly visible, like the old Visual hint works. But imagine that instead of simply magnifying the bird the binoculars magnified only a part of the bird, like the head or the tail. And it would not be fully opaque, you would see a partially transparent head the first time you tried to focus on the bird. Each time you increase the magnification you would see more of the bird, maybe its tail and head on 1.5X and a little less transparent, and maybe finally the whole body on 4X. This would make the game more of a challenge and be similar to what happens in nature, when you use binoculars its often you donít get a perfect view of the bird, because its moving, or obscured by a branch, or the lighting is too dark.

 

For this to work I was thinking we could use regions or masks on the birds body that are changed in visibility when the binoculars are used, so I donít have to have multiple images for the bird (body head, tail). Otherwise we might have to put different parts of the bird on different layers and align them which would be pretty hard and time consuming.

 

But between these two ideas I like the out of focus idea best because it does not require a lot of changes in the XML.

-----

BTW I would like your opinon on this debate I am having with a game developer, see the end of this thread:

http://www.whatbird....ShowThread.aspx



#20 admin

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Posted 19 March 2006 - 08:34 AM

I recevied this today and I thought it was a wonderful message. She also has a good idea about a habitat geared to local birds in a suburban area

"I liked the "what bird is this?" game very much; will you include birds that are more common to suburban homes?  I would love to become more acquainted with the little creatures in my own backyard, and know that many cities (at least here in Texas) are including greenbelts in their urban planning.  I have lived in suburban homes all my 46 years, over 40 of them in Texas, and I just now became acquainted with the pretty little gray-brown-and-coral housefinch. I also like your music. Thanks for a great website, and for helping the rest of us appreciate the beauty of the world around us.  It has made my enjoyment of my own life richer. - Lynne"

 






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