For Kenneth Ward, studying chemistry at university led to a fascination with robots but they were too expensive for a student to really get into. So, he started making computer games about robots instead.
Meet LogicBots, an educational game where players build virtual robots to complete puzzles using logic gates.
The game is played in two halves – first, players design and build their own robots starting at the most basic layer. Players create robots out of virtual components (wiring, batteries, wheels, sensors and so on) just as they would in the real world.
Once the robot is complete, players then must navigate their robots through each level of the game. Levels may be obvious mazes, outdoor spaces (well, virtually speaking) or require robots to navigate through darkened rooms or clamber over obstacles and even climb vertical surfaces.
The game comes with 40 built-in levels and has five in-depth tutorials to help guide new players.
A level editor allows students to build their own mazes and puzzles. Already the online community has embraced LogicBots and is creating its own world puzzles for others to download. There are even language packs available to convert the game from English into French, German, Chinese, and Hungarian.
“There’s also a sandbox for robots so you can build your own, tinker for a while and get it going the way you want,” said Ken.
Support for basic game
Ken funded the creation of the game via Kickstarter and was able to build the basic game off the back of support from around 500 investors.
“That gave me the money to be able to build the current version, which is available via Steam and that’s now self-sustaining in terms of income.”
Knowing the game would appeal to teachers as well, Ken has turned his attention to the education sector.
“I have recently finished an educational version of the game that’s being used in some schools outside New Zealand – I’m keen to find out if there’s interest locally as well.”
LogicBots is currently available via Steam’s online game portal but Ken is building a new version that will be available directly for download, so as to avoid the problem of school-based players needing to install Steam in order to play.
It’s available for Mac, Windows or Linux machines at this stage. Ken says the processing requirements of the game make it too processor-heavy for smart phones or tablets available today.
Assess and review
The game is available in a free demo format, so teachers and players can assess whether it’s right for their needs (the full version retails for $23.99). Online reviews of the game are overwhelmingly good with a 90 per cent ‘very positive’ score on Steam.
“An excellent 3D simulator of robotics, from the most simple to the most complex designs. Just don’t expect them to shoot lasers or possess artificial self-awareness. This is reality, not Skynet,” said Review Experts, while Sci_Girl Labs adds, “Do you want to build your own robots while staying in budget? Tweak other people’s robots? Make challenges for robots? Then you need to get this game.”
Ken says the game is aimed at 12 to 18 year olds as it does require a rudimentary understanding of electronics but for those with a keen eye on building a robotic army to take over the world, albeit a virtual one, then LogicBots is for you.
Paul Brislen writes for INTERFACE Magazine.
Steam is a development and distribution platform (and online community) for digital games. You need to download the program to use it to create your own games or play other people’s.