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Where to start: budgeting and planning for indie project

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TL;DR: noob non-coding teacher somehow thinks they can build a narrative educational game in WordPress; plz halp how do I games?

I'm mostly a teacher with no coding background--I played with teaching myself Java for a bit but couldn't really code anything from scratch. I'm interested in developing (as a hobbyist) an educational game that would be a sort of choice-based narrative branching storyline, a bit like Fallen London/Storynexus. Because it's so storyline based and I don't need crazy 3d animation, I'm considering just building it as a WordPress site with a couple of gamification plug ins to handle inventory and choice consequences. The unique hook is that the game requires (suggests really) that the player accomplish real world building challenges to accomplish your goals. I.e. Your character has to cross a river? Get some popsicle sticks or cardboard or whatever and build a model bridge. Take a photo of your bridge and upload it to your portfolio to continue (and maybe I don't develop this feature right away).

I'm in this for three reasons: the educational value for families and teachers, the storyline and world I'm building that I'm super excited about, and the fame and massive wealth (just kidding but it has to have to potential to pay for itself).

Before I sink too much of my life into this, I want to know more about what I'll need to do to make it work.

Specifically my questions are:

1) I get that WordPress isn't optimal for developing games. But can I do it or will I have to learn a new engine because I can't make do what I want? (And if so, what's a better engine with low-to-no coding prereq that will still allow me to sell my game?)

2) How do I budget for a project like this? (The link to the Reddit post about legal fees was very useful thank you)

3) What are the additional considerations when creating a game like this intended for children with adult supervision? (Obviously privacy, and I need to cover my assets in case some kid takes "go build a bridge!" too literally and gets hurt with mama's table saw in the garage...)

4) Is this not the forum for this since what I'm talking about is something more like educational narrative fiction and certainly not the spectacularly complex and amazing projects you all are working on?

Thank you for any and all thoughts.

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How old is the audience for this?  From your description of building a bridge from Popsicle sticks, it sounds pretty young.  If this is just for your own students, you should do it as a table top game.  Small children are better off, and learn more, from actually doing it physically as opposed to on a computer screen.  Board game designers use whatever they can find that works for prototyping games.  Lincoln Logs and an Erector Set might work for you.

You get Lincoln Logs, an Erector Set, or both.  Lay it all out on a table in front of you.  Then write a booklet form of table top game that uses the pieces you have to work with.  You can do a single little booklet for each exercise, so the kids aren't confused by anything not relevant to the task at hand.  Whatever you can imagine for them to do with the components you have available is a potential scenario/"rule booklet".

This is a lot easier to do that a computer game if it is for your own students, and actually works better as an educational tool because it is real instead of just images on a flat screen.

EDIT: Games have been used in education and academics for a very long time.  You might use this book, written by a sociologist in 1988, as your own guidebook for how to make your educational game.




Edited by Kavik Kang

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