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Education Feature: 'Student Game Profile: AlphaCraft'

Today's Gamasutra educational feature, part of the expanded Gamasutra Education section of the site, shares the one-man d...
Today's Gamasutra educational feature, part of the expanded Gamasutra Education section of the site, shares the one-man development process of University of Baltimore's AlphaCraft, a word game created for a university contest. Student Jeff Reynolds describes the game idea and approach in the following extract: "The initial concept was simple enough: word Tetris. I wanted to create a form of Tetris using falling letter tiles or blocks of letters that the player could assemble horizontally or vertically into words that would then remove those tiles from the playing field. As the levels increased, the speed of the falling tiles would increase, and the complexity of the tiles would as well. Instead of just one letter at a time, they would have two or three that might come in odd shapes instead of a straight line of letters. There would be power-up tiles such as bomb tiles created by an exceptional word score. Call it 'Tetris for the brainiac.' The design document was not needlessly complex or detailed. Since I was the only one reading it, I did not need to create long descriptions or insert any coding examples or talk about the graphics. Just simple screen plans, a rough idea of the game play and levels, and some thoughts about potential problems or pitfalls. My biggest concerns were around the coding I would need to figure out, particularly in stacking the letter tiles and having the game determine if they were a word or not in a quick manner. It turns out both were legitimate concerns." You can read the full Gamasutra educational feature on the topic to find out how AlphaCraft came from "word Tetris" and how it faired in the contest (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).

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