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Thursday, January 12, 2006

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MWSF: Tabula Digita's Dimenxion
1:54 PM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

The educational market has been a cobbled path for Apple at best. Looking to inject some new life into this area, Tabula Digita is currently hard at work developing Dimenxion, a 1st-person action/adventure title that integrates Algebra concepts into its play. Unlike the typical education titles that may spring to mind, Tabula's goal is to create a full-fledged game that stands on its own merits. In addition, the learning portion will be tightly integrated into the gameplay, making it a transparent function, with the objective being to "learn math or die trying."

Dimenxion's gameplay is clearly of the FPS variety, though a behind-the-back 3rd person view is possible as well. The segment of gameplay we were treated to included the exploration of a planet, with the objective being to locate and secure several weather stations. By overlaying a grid on the surface of the planet as well as using a graph radar of sorts, basic graph skills could be learned by being given coordinates for each weather station to aid in locating them. One of the clever points about using the graph plotting/location process was that environmental obstacles were used to force players to think differently. For example, the typical student, when given a set of coordinates, would first run along the X-axis until hitting the right value, whereupon they would proceed along the Y-axis. While this would work at the beginning, later weather station locations would be placed on cliffs and such, forcing players to stray of the X-axis and proceed on different trajectories in order to reach the current goal.

Dimenxion also contains a multiplayer aspect that acts as a culmination of the lessons learned while playing. Currently using CTF-like mechanics, the gameplay has players racing to pick objects at the right coordinates, or selecting the right equations in a series of objects. Tabula plans on running a tournament during Macworld involving students from San Francisco-area schools to demonstrate the game in action.

When discussing the educational subject matter, Tabula was quick to point out Algebra as being a natural choice for a first run. Not only is math one of the main subjects both taught and in need of improvement in the U.S., but it's also considered one of the harder subjects to teach, particularly to unmotivated students. By taking an analytical, linear subject such as Algebra and integrating it into a game, the developers can teach it to students by application rather than theory, making it a more palatable learning process.

Dimenxion is currently slated for a release sometime this summer. Tabula plans on releasing a public demo sometime before then, and is allowing interested parties to sign up for the demo when it sees release.

Tabula Digita
MWSF 2006

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