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  • Student Postmortem: Northeastern University's Shortfall Digital

    [08.09.07]
    - Mark Sivak and Seth Sivak


  • Shoestrings

    Educational games are always a tough sell because they are typically built on a very limited budget (in our case, $0) and are not created by professional game developers -- although we had a lot of input from professional game designers.

    By approaching the game design from the point of view of students who might play Shortfall, we really tried to make the game interesting and fun first, and just slip in the educational information where it would in fact add to the game, rather than sap it. Judging from the initial responses to the test play, it seems like this version of the game was at the very least an upgrade from the original board game.

    Personally, this project was a great experience for many reasons. It was a fun excursion from our typical engineering studies and showed that engineers can in fact design a respectable and creative game.

    The finished title is another step in the right direction for educational games. Hopefully, the Northeastern University and Metaversal Studios teams can continue this partnership and press on with the development of Shortfall Online - a fully networked computer-based game.

     

    Web site and Trailer: http://www.coe.neu.edu/Groups/shortfall/
    Developer: Northeastern University and Metaversal Studios
    Publisher: Northeastern University
    Number of Designers: 2
    Length in Production: 3 months
    Release Date: June 14, 2007
    Platform: Web Browser
    Development Software Used: Adobe Flash, Photoshop, and Illustrator
    Development Hardware Used: Dell Precision 670 Workstation
    Machine Project Size: 200KB


    Co-authors Seth Sivak and Mark Sivak graduated with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Northeastern University. Seth will be attending graduate school at Carnegie Mellon University, where he will be working toward a master's degree in Entertainment Technology from the Entertainment Technology Center. Mark is currently a research assistant at Northeastern in the Mechatronics and Robotics Laboratory, researching how virtual reality games can help patients use robotic rehabilitation devices.

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