We all like teaching, and we wanted to create something that would be beneficial to younger students and help them with math in that in-between time from when most students can understand it with relative ease and the time when they’re happy with Cs.

What it does

It strives to reinforce or even teach middle schoolers Algebra I concepts through a storyline that will hold their attention. The goal was to make something more interactive and captivating than a cartoon tour guide who had no story or role than to guide the student through a series of exercises with visuals.

A synopsis of the plot: The player would receive a letter from their old friend, Cyra, a rather pushy, giddy, but generally amicable individual. The player visits Crya in her hometown of Southwald Pickering, with a meager population of ten. Various children about the town ask the player for help solving their Algebra I problems. Eventually, they begin to disclose that the player has been helping a relatively unknown mayor, who relatively keeps out of sight, even from his own citizens. As the player progresses through the Algebra I curriculum (and therefore, the story), they begin to realize many things, including that they have stayed far longer than intended, town members are missing, and that they must stop the mayor, who is building a diabolical contraption called the Gehenna Machination that will allow them to stay in power, no matter what the cost.

How we built it

We built it by learning Unity and C#. Three computer science majors brand new to Unity. We drew everything in the background and all of the assets. By manipulating the cameras and assets we were able to make a side scrolling 8th grade math practice game.

Challenges we ran into

I have never programmed in C# before. However, Unity mainly uses C# for its scripts, so it took a lot of time to learn the syntax and the functions of different GameObjects. There were a lot of issues surrounding the player’s model and camera angles.

A smaller challenge lay in the fact that I (Audrey) was without a drawing tablet, which she normally uses to trace over scanned sketches, and thus, will have a transparent background. Drawing, coloring, and creating effects with a mouse initially proved to be far more awkward and cumbersome than imagined. I am still relatively inexperienced with digital art, typically having only translated simple sketches, and with much more time. Before finally figuring out how to select parts of a layer based on brightness in Medibang, I tried finding my way around GIMP 2.0 and Photoshop CS2, both which I found to be either overwhelming (being inexperienced with both) or outdated tutorials for what I was looking for.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We finished a project at a hackathon to a reasonably demo-able level after having no prior experience and no fleshed out idea for our project until hours into the hackathon. We also made a pretty interesting story (if we’re allowed to say so ourselves) within an hour.

What we learned

We’ve learned the very basics of Unity and how to manipulate assets. Also how long it takes to create our own assets. I (Jerry & Jacob) also learned how to program in C#

What's next for Mystery of Southwald Pickering

We’re planning on continuing the project still in Unity, but with less rushed graphics. I (Audrey) hope to be able to fully sketch, ink, scan, and graphically translate the town and people in it with more professional tools.

The story already completely fleshed out, and the curriculum and problems for the storyline created. We hope to have an area in the game the player can return to for practice problems. Additionally, we hope to be able to incorporate short explanations and lessons before presenting the player with a problem such as this one, regarding order of operations:

“Have you heard of the order of operations? You’re going to need it to help me with this problem.” [ENTER/a break in text] “PEMDAS -- it’s an acronym to help you keep track of which operations in a series of operations are evaluated first. Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction.” [ENTER/a break in text] “Do note: multiplication and division have equal priority and addition and subtraction have equal priority.” [ENTER/a break in text] “So that means that whichever comes first from left to right in the series of operations is evaluated first. You’ll see what I mean in a minute.”

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