This was a group project that took place over the course of 3 months at the beginning of an MSc Computer Science degree at Bristol Unversity 2015-2016, (by Jamie Birch, Sarah Carter, Ching Chi Chan, Matthew Ellams, Sam Grant, and Alex Lorimer). The brief was to address the question, "how can computing concepts be demystified to a new audience?", with a focus on Key Stage 3 students.
CodeAColony is a prototype game that gives players significant control over a colony of bees. This colony can exhibit complex, collective behaviors determined by player-constructed algorithms. Targeted at Key Stage 3 level students, the aim is to develop and reinforce computing skills that have become a statutory part of the UK curriculum as of September 2014 (with a significant focus on the application of logic and algorithmic problem solving).
We have designed the game to allow players to experiment with custom problem solving/swarm intelligence algorithms, within a graphically rich, interactive context. The bees have an intuitive API, and are endowed with a small amount of memory along with an ability to conditionally interact with both their local environment and with neighboring bees. The controlling algorithm is constructed and manipulated by the player graphically, represented as visual connections between selected nodes (which represent functions) within a graph. The player’s objective in CodeAColony is to design and build a sufficiently complex algorithm to allow their colony to survive for as many years as possible. This will require the bees to explore, to discover and collect resources (enough to brave the winter), and to communicate information to other bees, while also fending off enemies and responding to environmental threats such as rain and snow.
Formal Academic Feedback
"The unanimous response of the panel to the presentation was that it was flawless. As well as covering all the expected topics, it had a seamless story line, professionalism, good humour, interest, pace and excitement."
"(If we could work out what went right with your team, maybe we could bottle it and sell it!)"
"...a truly excellent project."
As a requirement of the MSc software engineering module, this game was programmed in C, using the SDL graphics library
The trailer below provides a comical overview of the majority of game features
(with a few inside jokes directed at our cohort and professors).