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We're creating the next generation of super-scientists with a game-based app series, starting with Tornado Maker and Tornado Master.
Created by

Outthink Inc.

740 backers pledged $75,630 to help bring this project to life.

Recent updates

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Cheers to you (with game art!)

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When we first embarked on this project, a colleague commented that it was amazing how the passion and vision had drawn an incredible list of guests to the table. Right, I thought, now we just need to serve up the feast.

Well, as anyone who has hosted a great dinner party knows, it requires financial and logistical resources, time, and teamwork. It takes a lot of behind-the-scenes planning, preparation and elbow grease to make it all seem effortless and breezy.  And, since you have been following our progress, you know that preparation for this particular feast has involved many twists and turns and a few changes of menu that have felt anything but breezy.    But with the new tack and the steadfast attention of Tony and Nathan, we are happy to issue the following report from the kitchen:

The main dish is almost finished cooking and ready for consumption. The instruction is in place and Tony is garnishing it now. The Art is in the final stage with a new artist stepping in to get us to the finish. And, Tony and Nathan have come up with such a fun game for the X lab section that some people have suggested it for release on its own.

We wanted to close here with some game art, and a toast to you. Your emails of encouragement and patience during our travails have given us great faith in humanity.  We look forward to cheering all of you properly with a release this summer.

Andrea, Tony, and Nathan

EarthChasers: Mass/Volume Summary with Art

Right now the EarthChasers: Mass/Volume app flows like this:   Science and Technology are the key to ensuring Earth's future safety and you are recruited to be an elite cadet in this super secret organization of scientists tapping the talent of today to solve the problems of tomorrow. 

After being welcomed, you are sent to Mission Control to begin Basic Training.

Mission Control
Mission Control

  Next, you meet Digi, your robot guide to unlocking the mysteries of fundamental science concepts, in this case, Mass and Volume.

Digi sometimes needs YOU as much as you need him!
Digi sometimes needs YOU as much as you need him!

After completing Basic Training for Mass and Volume, you must best Countdown to gather the hydrogen fuel you need to gain entrance to the uber cool X Lab. 

Upon securing admission to XLab, you leave your molecular training behind and extend into real world applications with the MASSively fun, Seek Targets.  (Working title)  Here, you are challenged to use your hydrogen fuel to launch projectiles of varied mass and guide them toward high scoring targets.

The Name Game

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Happy May everybody, 

As we move toward the finish line for a Mass Volume app, discussion turned to finding a name for our app that both fits our current release and our future mission.  We are of course, still targeting the most likely group to save our planet,  kids!  And by creating a place where they can master fundamental science concepts, we prepare them to chase down solutions to the many problems that face our planet.   So, we decided to name the app: EarthChasers, with the first concept release being: Mass, Volume. So EarthChasers is our motherapp and platform, the alliance into which kids get recruited, and the concepts and missions will all be delivered within it.

Consider, in the not-too-distant future, top scientists have joined forces to launch an undercover operation to chase down solutions to the threats against mankind and the planet. They are recruiting savvy super-smart kids from Gen Z to join them. Together they’re called EarthChasers. And they’ve chosen you. First up, Mass and Volume, once you’ve tackled these critical concepts in boot camp, you’ll unlock opportunities to fuel and enter the X-lab, a futuristic holodeck where you get a chance to compete in games against other recruits to show what you’re made of.  Once you’ve earned enough rank, you’ll be promoted to density, buoyancy, wind speed and air temperature and other science concepts, gathering the skills and tools to increase knowledge, rank and privilege within the alliance.

We hope you are excited as we are.  Tony and Nathan have been instrumental in working toward a budget friendly solution that truly delivers for kids.  We are particulaly excited about what we are now calling X-lab,  where conceptual game play allows kids to take the science to the next level.

This morning, Nathan sent me a sweet birthday message, writing,  "Happy Birthday!  We'll make you a present. It's a custom learning app for kids about science. But we're not done with it yet."

He really made me smile.  Later he added that the first look at X-lab (with programmer art) will appear in our new build this week. Since, this was really the brainchild of Tony and Nathan, I am dying to take it for test runs.

Yours in continued gratitude as we approach the finish line,

Andrea

"smoothly and on schedule"

Hi everyone,

We had a great meeting yesterday around design and development progress and things are moving along smoothly and on schedule.  ("Smoothly and on schedule"  might be my new favorite phrase.)  

Tony is currently integrating Jessie's art  into the prototype for Mass and Volume to take that to the next level, while Nathan and Jessie turn to our next module, Countdown (working title).    I  am personally looking forward to fleshing out the character and style of Digi with Derek.  Derek has spent a lot of time in elementary and preschool classrooms...experience that is definitely reflected in his sense of humor!

I also want to give a shout out to the folks at Wiggio.  I am completely in love with how easy it is to use, and with their on the spot conference call generation.  Now don't spoil it for me and tell me that others do this well, I am really enjoying the honeymoon phase. 

More soon,

Andrea and the Outthink team

3-2-1...

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BANG!

We've pulled the trigger and now have an amazing team hard at work again.  

Milestones

The schedule below was created to reflect the design needs for UI and art, and is a good illustration of the pace we are setting until we move from Beta to Gold. While our pivot path required scrapping our earlier code and prototype, the game mechanics and instruction have not changed. Since both have been user tested, the team can move quickly. 

The Team

Nathan Fouts of Mommy's Best Games is joining Tony Garcia, Mike Stout, and Jessie Rauch to complete the design and programming of our game.  It's a reunion and mutual admiration society  for Nathan, Tony, and Mike who all worked together at Insomniac games.  Put these three together with the multi-talented Jessie Rauch, the creative director responsible for all the conceptual art for the first prototype, and we are sure to realize something special. 

We also have an amazing team riding shot gun: instructional designers Melinda Sota and Derek Shanman, along with master teacher Sujata Bhatt, making sure the instructional integrity remains,    Amy Cloud, now a full time Editor at Simon & Schuster, sticking by us to make sure we set the right tone, and fellow backer and friend Mark Kawano, CEO and Founder of the extraordinary storytelling app,  STOREHOUSE , keeping an eye on our UI and design.      We will of course be hitting up Alex Kaminsky who just accepted a full time job as Creative Technology Lead at Wieden + Kennedy to look out for all fellow gamers.  (We know we will always have a piece of Amy and Alex's hearts, so you can be sure we will be trying to lure them back when we successfully raise for platform development.)  

We also want to give a shout out to Lesley Mathiesson and Peter Hastings of Inkling Games. Inkling has been phenomenally busy making games for themselves and others. Still excited by our goals,  Inkling helped us transition to our new Dev team and is staying in the loop reviewing our game docs and builds.   Lesley and Peter have both worked with Mike, Nathan, and Tony. 

And then of course, there are all of you.  We cannot thank you enough for your tremendous patience, and for the emails of support during a year that had a lot more downs than ups.    We are so excited to be back on track and sharing updates with you about what we are accomplishing together.

So, as Nathan emailed all of us at our new kick off....

Let's get this party started!

Andrea

This will be our year

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Welcome to 2014.

While we wish this was our January 2013 update, we are at the same time stoked for 2014. Our team may still be resource challenged but we made good headway despite the holidays, a septic backup, frozen pipes and flooded basements, and freelance! We reworked a few of the game mechanics, tabled one for later, and borrowed the game we had built for density to rework into the mass/volume story. We will need to confirm with user testing that learning is not impacted, but based on how we staged the early gameplay, we don't expect it to be. Derek (Instructional Design), Mike (Game Design) and I are now reworking the design document and spec to reflect complete development needs. Our programmer is still wrapping up a project that went past deadline and we are working to dovetail the two pieces as soon as we can so we can deliver end of Q1.

As if we needed reminding that understanding this stuff matters, Mother Nature caused some serious damage to the U.S. last year. According to a just-released report from the National Climactic Data Center (NCDC), seven extreme weather and climate-related events each caused more than $1 billion in damage. Despite the fact that tornado activity was below average in 2013, with only 900 reported, tornadoes accounted for three of the seven most extreme weather events and were the most deadly of them, causing 54 fatalities.

I also received an email recently that got me all fired up about how important it is for current and future generations to understand the weather and climate forming around us.  I can't imagine any of our backers don't believe in Global warming, but if that describes you, be warned: you may be offended...

Thank you all for your patience and messages of support.  This has not been the journey we expected and I can't express how much we appreciate you continuing to trek forward with us.

Andrea

__________________

Andrea --

When record-low temperatures swept across the country last week, we heard from so many of the usual suspects eager to deny climate change.

Folks like Rush Limbaugh, Donald Trump, and leading climate change denier in Congress James Inhofe all quickly jumped in to declare that the cold weather disproves global warming.

But then something different happened: People who actually understand the science pushed back -- strongly. Here are just a few examples:

-- On the "Today Show," Al Roker took a minute to pull up the entry for the polar vortex from a meteorology glossary dating back to 1959, mocking the notion that the term was some climate conspiracy -- and it was pretty awesome to watch.

-- Politifact gave Rush Limbaugh a "pants-on-fire" rating for his allegation that the polar vortex was something fabricated by the media to try to blame global warming for the cold weather.

-- Matt Sampson and Carl Parker at the Weather Channel filmed a great short clip destroying the notion that a polar vortex could disprove global warming.

That's how you know that, together, we're successfully changing the conversation on climate.

Across the country, more people understand that extreme weather -- of all types -- is happening more and more every year, and it's because our climate is changing.

And it gives me hope that we're getting closer to the day when the reality of climate change is understood by a majority in Congress, too.

We have a lot to do to hold climate change deniers in Congress accountable. Will you forward this email to a friend and ask them to join you in making sure that climate change denial doesn't go unchallenged for a second in 2014?

Thanks for all your hard work -- keep it up,

Ivan

Ivan Frishberg Climate Change Campaign Manager Organizing for Action