some games i've made
Wildbase Recovery CentreIn 2017-2018, I was contracted to program two educational iPad games for the Wildbase Recovery Centre, “A Day in the Life of a Kiwi Ranger” and “Diagnose Me!”. I worked in the open source RenPy game engine - commonly used to create visual novels - because I was already comfortable with Python. I had a lot of creative control over this project - not only was I able to work very closely with the illustrator, Massey OpenLab design team, Department of Conservation employees and even vet technicians, but the team was kind enough to allow me to suggest almost anything I could implement myself. Both games are aimed towards young children (6-12). In order to allow for ambient sounds in the centre environment to shine through, the games themselves are silent.
Diagnose Me! is a vet simulator, made to walk kids through the process of examining, testing and diagnosing injured native birds. There are six different birds to treat, each with a different selection of available tests and a final diagnosis. This was my first time learning to implement finger-swiping touch controls. In addition, it was really important to track which tests were available, which had already been done and which weren't applicable to the situation (as per vet recommendations). All sorts of tiny UI elements (and how they reacted to players' taps) were essential in pulling off the game's "feel". There was also a lot of information to display - in a way a child could understand easily - which was an interesting challenge.
A Day in the Life of a Kiwi Ranger
Kiwi Ranger places you in the shoes of a Department of Conservation ranger, so you can spend a day tracking a kiwi through the bush. The four selectable kiwis all had slightly different behaviors (and appearances), and I was able to slide a lot of "randomness" into the game's design. Will your kiwi run away, or hide in a burrow? Will it be sick or healthy? What other animals will you find first? Animal locations are semi-random (for example, the whio is always on the same screen as the river), and you're guaranteed to find a few animals before you run into your kiwi, since finding other animals turned out to be so popular in my user testing. One really interesting tension here was having to decide how to deal with it if your chosen kiwi is found deceased. The rangers really wanted to include this - it's a fact of dealing with wild animals - so in order to make it still feel rewarding, we worked out a small "detective" mini-game once the bird is found.