February, March, and a snippet of CloudBrains

DROMP advances! Slowly. Above: A piece of code from some CloudBrains. Explanation follows …

These monthly updates are again sliding later in the month. I think this is just the way it will be during the school year. Teaching is a busy and complicated job – and even more so now with the shift to remote learning that is being caused by coronavirus.

So. What’s happened?

The Mindful Mammoth website is undergoing a moderate upgrade. At this point, it’s all in the background. We’ve explored several options (WordPress, Squarespace, etc.) and concluded that the current WordPress multi-site strategy is the best one for the foreseeable future. The next step is a whole bunch of design work, polish the rough edges off the site, and then to increase the flexibility of the layout, so that it works well with both large screens and small ones.

The Diamond Challenge happened. This is a high school entrepreneurship competition roughly along the lines of Shark Tank. This year, I reprised my role as a judge (a.k.a shark). I was pleasantly surprised that roughly half the pitches were in the Social Innovation category. I was stunned that some of these people had actually begun to implement their ideas, and to do real good in the world. Wow.

The 2020 Rose Valley Game Jam also happened. This year, it was hosted by ArtCenter. As faculty in the game design program, it was my duty (and my pleasure) to support the jammers as a friendly mentor. Turns out, all of the teams were industrious and capable and independently creative – so they didn’t need much mentoring. Most of what I did was appreciate their fine work, but I was able to help resolve a few challenges, here and there.

Remember Exploring Matter in Space? The NSTA, wanting to be of service in this time of school closings, reached out to ask if I would be willing to share the book for free for the duration of the plague. I agreed, as did most of their authors. This means you can find Matter in Space – and most of the other NSTA eBooks – free on the NSTA website here.

Last, but not least! DROMP progresses. With my bits of free time, I am reworking the guts of this tactical cloud brawler to make the foundations more flexible and more stable. The first version was a little too much spaghetti and chewing gum. Most of the revisions are in place, and I’m now adding a new set of features. In the next iteration, players will be able to demolish and rebuild sections of landscape. One of the major learning goals is to help players understand the interaction between landscape and weather. Therefore, giving landscape-manipulation abilities to players will help them to learn these concepts. This will also make the game a little deeper and a little more engaging.

Yes, all is complicated and challenging. Also worthwhile. I am grateful for your support – and that of all my friends, family, and patrons. As an extra special thanks to those of you who supported us at the $10/month level and above, I’m sending you a signed page of CloudBrains code. You’ll see that it’s still a work in progress, but also a job worth doing!

Thank you,

    Tim