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Alpha_ProgDes

A game that teaches you a new language

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Alpha_ProgDes    6935
Of course I had an idea for a primary game dynamic. And of course, I wanted to hear your opinions. Granted the storyline doesn't matter but I'm putting one out there to ease the concept along. You're playing a spy game, think 007. Now in this game you run, shoot, mingle and gather information {very important part). As the game progresses, you have to start learning the language of your enemy (let's take Japanese for example). At first, it's small things. For example, you might hear a word or two in Japanese that are key to carrying out your mission. As you progress, the game goes from English (or whatever your native language maybe) to Japanese. Toward the end everything is in Japanese. Speech and words. To complete the game, you have build your vocabulary in that language. Now obviously, this game is for people wanting to learn a language and be entertained. I hoping that people can share ideas, flesh out concepts and be helpful [smile].

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Omid Ghavami    1007
I hope you'll have an auto-triggered audio recorder! Cool idea, but I feel that it will probably get way too difficult, at least the "Toward the end everything is in Japanese". Unless the dialog is kindergarden level the game needs to be very long for players to have the time to learn the language to such an extent to actually play a game with significant dialog.

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I think it's a great idea too. You see, when we are playing a game, we are constanly picking up "new vocabulary", as we learn the game mechanics. I'm not talking about new words, but sometimes we learn that a Sword icon means the attack power, while the shield is the defence. We learn that a green number is a good number, but a red is a bad one (I mean, if your AC is red, then something is taking it down, if it's green, something is buffing him up).

However, when it's time to learn a grammar, things get a little more complicated - but it's prefectly possible, I mean, we all learned how to speak, didn't we?

You know, my father is an English teacher (main language here is Portuguese), and when I first started programming games, he said that one of the teories of teaching a second leanguage was to have the person following orders in that second language. So, you can have a game where you tell the player to "Turn Right", "Turn Left", and so on, and from that you can start to have more complex orders like "Follow that car" or "Turn in the next corner". I never actually coded anything like that, but I really think that it would have worked.

EDIT: also, a lot of my knowledge of English comes from playing computer games, the internet and etc. I can't really tell you how much was the influence, because I took regular english classes as well, but it was certainly a big help.

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Fenryl    176
I really like the idea, it gives more educational value to a game.
After you played the game you can say "hmm, I had a good time playing that game and I learned japanese..." - and thats a good thing, not only for the game industry...

But like algumacoisaqualquer said: I don't think its a very good idea to have the whole game in japanese at the end, that would be too hard...



- Fenryl

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Alpha_ProgDes    6935
Quote:
Original post by Fenryl
But like algumacoisaqualquer said: I don't think its a very good idea to have the whole game in japanese at the end, that would be too hard


Really? I thought that a gradual move toward vocabulary would make it easier. Learning through repetition. How much of the game would you have in English toward and at the end?

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Captain P    1092
I think that how much it should be in that other language at the end should be determined by playtesting with various people. But a total transition would probably go too far, unless you stick to basic constructs and vocabulary. It also depends on how much reference material a person has - German isn't too hard to learn for me since I'm Dutch, but an African langauge would be much more difficult, since I can't use any language that I know as a reference. I guess there's more factors that play a role too.

Perhaps some sort of 'difficulty' setting, that allows you to play through the game without requiring too much grammar knowledge, and just a basic vocabulary, and then try again on a harder setting, which essentially will learn you more? That way, people can go through a familiar setting, so they can build some reference material by playing on an easier setting first, while still picking up new words.

Of course, you can't force a player to learn, but I guess this game would appeal more to those that already want to learn, so I'd say, let's give them various learning curves to choose from.

Oh, and an in-game 'recorder' sounds usefull. Sort of a dictionary that automatically keeps track of what you should've learned. Should you forget a word or two, then you're never far from learning them again. :)


Nice idea bytheway. :)

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Agony    3452
Well, the gradual part of it is fine. It's just the duration of the game. Even if it were a 100 hour game (rather long for most games, especially when measuring just a single play-through), I don't know how many people could pick up a foreign language in just those 100 hours enough to be able to understand entire sentences of a sufficient variety for the whole game to be the new language by the end. But perhaps I'm just pessimistic, or a slower-than-average language learner.

Otherwise, though, I agree that it'd be a cool idea, assuming the plot was engaging and would help keep people wanting to progress. You'd need to make sure that understanding the language was absolutely vital to gameplay though, and not allow people to play, die, play, die, repeat, until they figured out the sequence of events and can get through the level without understanding any of the language aspects. But it'd also suck if people felt continually blocked due to not picking up on the language quickly enough. The best way would be to have people play through the game, and learning the language was almost an accident. Once they're done, they're like, "Gee, I actually recognize a decent amount of that now. Cool." Sounds like a hard, but potentially rewarding, concept to pull off.

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Fenryl    176
Quote:
Original post by Captain P
I think that how much it should be in that other language at the end should be determined by playtesting with various people.


Yep, thats what I think too :-) + learning curves like Captain P already suggested is also a good idea.

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frus    128
Make it a Sims-like game. The player needs to learn some new words and grammar and phrase a sentence to get his reward (eg. Buy something from the grocery store, talk to a lady). It would only make more sense if the game resembles reality.

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cdoty    733
Great idea, this is close to the idea used by the Rosetta Stone software. Although, they don't use English, but represent everything with pictures.

I agree, it would have to be a Sims like environment, or a free roaming type game. If people would use Rosetta Stone (and they do from what I've read), they would also play a game like this. You almost have to de-emphasize the end of game goal, and focus on language level.

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Imgelling    222
How about planning a Quadrilogy or so, and make it kinda like in highschool, i.e. German I,II,III and IV or what not. Each game could be its own level of learning, and by the end of the quadrilogy, the whole (or near whole) game is in the new language.

EDIT: Well, highschool here in the states. Not sure how it is else where.

[Edited by - Imgelling on May 7, 2007 2:58:56 AM]

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Avatar God    1072
There's a difference between making a game with the purpose of teaching a language, and making a game that also teaches a language. A Sims style game might be the most effective for the former, but that wouldn't necessarily make a good game. (That is, it's not a bad idea, it just seems offtopic here)

I love the idea of playing a spy game where you learn bits of the language. Even if everything at the end was spoken in Japanese, you probably wouldn't need to understand all of it, but if you hear "bomb" and then "cafeteria," "CIA," and "noon on Thursday," you'll be able to get what you need.

There's a lot to be worked out, but generally a great concept. Cool [grin]

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Avatar God    1072
Apparently English Training for the DS is selling well, so maybe a Japanese game that teaches English would be more successful [smile].

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Benjamin Heath    925
Very interesting. You learn the language by starting small and progressing to the end. The obvious problem is, What if I already know Japanese? Woo-hoo, I've got a one-up on the game now! The designer had better put some really big bosses in my way early on in the game, then...

I'm not down-grading the idea, I like it. It's just that if the language is supposed to be learned progressively as a skill, then the potential use of that skill has to be equally progressive (granted a few hidden bonuses, maybe), and that means other avenues have to be taken at the beginning (violence being one option that might or might not be desirable).

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Garin    122
About a month ago, I think almost same thing. My idea was entitled 'Survival in American Disaster'. Literally, a korean tourist who know english as player know run into danger of horrible disaster (earthquake, deep impact, super volcano etc) in america. And he/she confront danger with other americans. If player can't understand their english, they kindly say more easy word and expression (even body language). Learning by horribly dangerous experience, how danger :)

Player can learn not only english, but several survival skills.

I can't make it right now. (As you see, I'm neither skilled english speaker nor designer. How clumsy english writing and idea description! ) But I hope you gonna make it good.


Plus it, I think it should be better to be a continual game like online game or sims-style as others said. Story or level based games like spy game are too restrictive, so player can get bored easily. Even more it is expected to long game. Even more it is to learn other language.


Good idea.
Good design.
Good game.
Good luck.

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Alpha_ProgDes    6935
Staying with my spy scenario, I was thinking having japanese spoken in the beginning as well. But following the japanese would lead to side-missions, which alters how the player progresses in the game. Obviously, the first run-through you don't understand everything. The second or third run you'll know some words and pick up on something you heard in the beginning. You follow that lead and deal with another mission. Or even find that the side-mission made one of the main missions unnecessary.

Example: You're at the embassy and you hear the premier (in Japanese) say that the delivery is due at noon. You follow the lead and stop the delivery (as a side mission). This affects the main mission in Level 3 because the delivery was a nano-tech component needed to complete a particle inverter. Since you already stopped the delivery, level 3 is no longer about shutting down the inverter but capturing the scientists and schematics.

See?

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Benjamin Heath    925
Quote:
Original post by Alpha_ProgDes
Staying with my spy scenario, I was thinking having japanese spoken in the beginning as well. But following the japanese would lead to side-missions, which alters how the player progresses in the game. Obviously, the first run-through you don't understand everything. The second or third run you'll know some words and pick up on something you heard in the beginning. You follow that lead and deal with another mission. Or even find that the side-mission made one of the main missions unnecessary.

Example: You're at the embassy and you hear the premier (in Japanese) say that the delivery is due at noon. You follow the lead and stop the delivery (as a side mission). This affects the main mission in Level 3 because the delivery was a nano-tech component needed to complete a particle inverter. Since you already stopped the delivery, level 3 is no longer about shutting down the inverter but capturing the scientists and schematics.

See?
Interesting! I like this idea.

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Avatar God    1072
If the game was structured along the lines of some serious replayability (Majora's Mask), you might be able to flesh that idea out even further. As you learn more of the language, more options become apparent to you - and only once you've learned a good deal of the language will you be able to proceed to the final scenes. *

And, that doesn't ask the player to voluntarily play the entire game again to experience new content.

* Majora's Mask was a Zelda game that featured a 72-hour period ending in the apocalypse of a world through the declining orbit of a moon. The game allowed for time travel, allowing the player to escape just before the apocalypse and start the 72-hour period again. Only by acquiring new knowledge (songs and masks, in this case) in multiple play-throughs is the player eventually able to stop the moon from destroying the planet.

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frus    128
Well, speaking back about the Sims idea, I'd imagined it to be more than just learning languages through scenarios. Instead, the player can also learn more about the culture (e.g. Japanese lifestyle) and traditions. The player is basically learning not only the language but being & living like a japanese in general. What drives the player to explore & absorb more really depends on the player itself.

Though, I'd agree that it is definitely more of a simulation + educational game meant for learning purposes rather than playing.

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kryat    685
Thanks to battlefield 2142, if i am ever caught in a russian firefight, I think i'll be alright.

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Johnny123    115
Haven't read all the posts, so sorry if I'm repeating anything.


What about more casual gamers, with not a lot of time on their hands; or those times when you get interrupted and you go days/weeks before picking the game up again.

That happened to me while playing FEAR (among other games, especially GTA's), half way through I stopped, and it was 2 weeks before I continued, this ruined the story and current objectives a little, and I had to relearn/remember what was going on and had to adjust to the game/controls.


This could be instant death to your game, players would be less inclined to pick it up again if gone too long without playing.

With lot's to learn, the game would have to be long and gradual learning curve, however:

From experience (my experience, don't quote me here), the longer the game takes to finish, the _less_ straight continues uninterupted hours you put into it.

ie, HL2: you know it'd only take 10 or so hours to finish, so you'd belt it out in a day or 2, playing it straight through, story/experiences alway fresh in mind.

Oblivion: You know this is a Big and very very long game, so you'd prolly just play a few hours a day, in between other games and not burn yourself out. And/or like most gamers, after about a month of solid play, and no end in sight, you give it up for a while, before the urge to play more sets in, which by then you've already forgotten a lot of the story.

But, that's just my main concern about this. I love the idea of the object being to actualy learn another language. (I've learned quite a bit of German and place names, etc from playing WWII FPS alone, to the extent I passed my high school history assignment without ever studying ;) )

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Trillian    410
How about a game to learn a PROGRAMMING language?

For example, to learn C++, you start off and everyone speaks english. But further in the game you see enemies talking in speech ballons saying "if(mainPlayer.isComing()) delete mainPlayer;". And then they shoot at you saying "while(gun.hasAmmo()) gun.fire(mainPlayer);". And when you die you see "g_GameOver = true;". And when close the game, "return 0;".

When you get to the end of the game you are a fully qualified C++ programmer. ;)

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cdoty    733
Quote:
Original post by Benjamin Heath
Very interesting. You learn the language by starting small and progressing to the end. The obvious problem is, What if I already know Japanese? Woo-hoo, I've got a one-up on the game now! The designer had better put some really big bosses in my way early on in the game, then...

I'm not down-grading the idea, I like it. It's just that if the language is supposed to be learned progressively as a skill, then the potential use of that skill has to be equally progressive (granted a few hidden bonuses, maybe), and that means other avenues have to be taken at the beginning (violence being one option that might or might not be desirable).


The same thing would happen when playing it a second or third time. Maybe you could 'hide' additional information in the language, so that a player playing it again would know about hidden areas or something.

That's no different than playing UT against someone who has played it day and night for weeks on end. You get your butt handed to you for awhile, then you start to improve.

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Alpha_ProgDes    6935
Quote:
Original post by cdoty
Quote:
Original post by Benjamin Heath
Very interesting. You learn the language by starting small and progressing to the end. The obvious problem is, What if I already know Japanese? Woo-hoo, I've got a one-up on the game now! The designer had better put some really big bosses in my way early on in the game, then...

I'm not down-grading the idea, I like it. It's just that if the language is supposed to be learned progressively as a skill, then the potential use of that skill has to be equally progressive (granted a few hidden bonuses, maybe), and that means other avenues have to be taken at the beginning (violence being one option that might or might not be desirable).


The same thing would happen when playing it a second or third time. Maybe you could 'hide' additional information in the language, so that a player playing it again would know about hidden areas or something.


See this link.

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