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Week 2 – Getting Started with Background Research


After meeting with our client last week we now have a clear understanding of what we are creating and we spent this week researching the problem space, including our target audience, programming games, 3D scene-building tools, collaboration tools, and technical platforms.

User Persona

After researching our target audience we’ve found some interesting data: only 23% of middle school students know how to code and 59% of those who don’t know how to code would like to learn them. Therefore we want to set our focus on students who have minimal coding experience. Below is our detailed user persona.

Programming Games

For all the experiences out in the market the first category we looked into was programming games. Out of all the games we looked into we think they share some common traits:

  • The experience involves solving a predefined puzzle
  • Players solve the puzzle by controlling a programmable character
  • They don’t have multiplayer capabilities

We think they are good educational games because by solving puzzles players get more understanding of the coding knowledge, but we think the downside is that because these are strictly defined problems (you either can solve it or can’t), it can easily lead to frustration if the player doesn’t have enough knowledge to solve the problem, which is definitely something we want to avoid.

Technical Experimentation

We also started looking into options for the technical platform we use to implement the experience. Since our team has a lot of experience in Unity and we think there were three different options for our project: Using ARENA completely / Using ARENA’s Unity Plugin / Using Unity completely. In order to test out the capabilities of the ARENA Unity plugin, we worked on a prototype which was shown below. We successfully established connection between a Unity Scene and an ARENA world. But the problem is that the plugin only syncs the transform of GameObjects, which means that all the scripts will be lost and thus any game functionalities we create in Unity will not be reflected in ARENA. Since the plan is to have users interact with objects in ARENA entirely, this will not be feasible with the plugin. With that tested we are now down to two options: Create everything in ARENA entirely, or use Unity and build our own multiplayer architecture. We will conduct more research before making a final decision.