Creating Interactive Stories

Interactive Stories in their simplest form are Text Adventures, but how can you easily enable students to create these adventures for themselves?

Creating interactive stories from J Le Rossignol

A simple sample task for use in the classroom, with the handouts for Keynote or PowerPoint.

Choose your own adventure story (Task) from J Le Rossignol

Retro-gaming strikes back!

It’s interesting to see graphically simple challenging games like Flappy Bird, Geometry Dash, and Phases. All of which have game play that challenges the player, and it is a point of renown for those that achieve the highest scores.
This trend seamed to start with Flappy Bird, which has a simple touch control that controls the bouncing motion of the bird. The challenge for the player is in timing the motion to find the games through the pillars. The graphics hearken back to Mario, so much so that comments about a law suit appeared on the Internet. The game topped the Apple iStore, spawned many clones, and the creator pulled it down for a little while.
Piano Keys has simple black and white squares that the players much touch in rapid succession and keep up with the cascade of tiles that flow down the screen. The challenge lies in the number of piano tile that you can touch within a time limit, the speed the tiles move, or the how long you can last.
Geometry Dash is another game that exemplifies simple game play with stylised graphics. The player needs to move a cube through a series of side scrolling platform environments (levels) with various spikes, walls, and pits by jumping the cube over or under these. Alternative parts of each level have the cube transform into a spaceship that flies through a similar level. The spaceship naturally falls, and touches cause it to fly up at a sharp angle.
Phases has simple graphics, with the player controlling the left and right movement of a ball and it bounces through an dangerous spiky environment.

All these games share similar traits from the arcade games of the ’80s, in that they have simple stylised graphics that just get the idea across, and the focus on challenging game play with the aim of making the game superior.

Start your (Game) Engines

I attended the DLTV conference which had too much funky stuff. AIE‘s session about the Unreal game engine and how it could be used in ICT teaching, was excellent giving me a good background and some cool ideas to try out.
Knowing little or nothing about all these different game engines, I thought it was worth some background research. Ralph Barbagallo’s Blog has a good overview of the various game engines, with some insightful comments. Digital Tutors provides a similar overview and Arges Systems gives an in depth comparison. For a fuller discussion I reads through some of the Unity Forums.
Edit: Unreal is now free for student!


  • Unity3D is more expensive with per seat / per platform licencing, but provides a greater library of assets to quickly add make games. It does have a free version with a 30 day trail of the Pro.
  • Unreal 4 is very cheap, $19/mo with no lock-in. The engine has been modified to enable easier scripting and C++ programming for the coders. Its asset library is relevantly new. This gets better for Academic Use, because the license covers all the institution’s computers.
  • Crytek is cheaper again, $9.95/mo, and has high quality graphics, but the engine appears to be difficult to work with.