Starting university can be pretty scary. The campus is ginormous, there are overwhelming numbers of people milling around, and assignments stack up one on top of another…and then on top of another. And, of course, there are the stacks of instant noodles you end up eating because – well, because they’re only $1 a packet.
Universities help students make the transition by offering O-Week, and providing students with pamphlets detailing what to expect in their first semester.
But what if you could actually experience university life and go through the process of juggling finances with your social life, while still keeping your lecturers and tutors happy? It’d probably be less daunting, that’s for sure.
Late last year 2and2 began working with Curtin University, a leading university in Western Australia, to create Campus Quest – an online game that focuses on developing aspirations towards university among groups and individuals that are currently under-represented in higher education.
Campus Quest – bringing university life to life
Designed to give players an accurate experience of university life from O-Week to the end of their first semester, Campus Quest is a vibrant and engaging world where players explore, meet and interact with support staff, academics, housemates and friends.
Played over a 14 week semester, players are presented with a different set of challenges each fortnight and must make decisions that affect their overall university life.
With a limited amount of ‘moves’, each fortnight the student has to make choices on what quests to address and prioritise their time, money, and social standing. Helping a friend with their university work, for example, means losing out on time but increasing social standing; meanwhile, working all the time increases money but loses both money and social standing.
Some sketches of characters that players will encounter during Campus Quest.
The ultimate goal of the game is for future students to understand how to achieve a balanced university life, as well as to make them aware on how university services can help students to overcome common problems in order to reach this goal.
Creating a realistic and beautiful university world
In order to create a believable and vibrant university experience, our art team designed an interactive isometric world which changes throughout the course of the semester. Stands appear for O-Week and disappear as students start bustling around campus, and bright pixel art made university life seem fun and exciting – not daunting or scary.
Our art team took inspiration from photographs of Curtin University’s campus, and began the process by creating simple 3D isometric art using Sketch Up. This helped them with the layout of the world of Campus Quest.
Curtin University’s campus in Perth.
Curtin University’s campus in Perth.
The campus layout, created in Sketch Up.
Once happy with the layout, our artists then took to Photoshop to create a lively pixel university world, using clear labelling to help players recognise which building was which. The end result is a bustling campus in O-Week and beyond:
Campus Quest during O-Week.
Campus Quest during the semester.
To make university students and campus staff seem more accessible, our writers created a script that was humorous and casual, and that would resonate with high school students.
A diverse range of characters appear throughout the game, making the campus experience vivid and realistic, while also providing useful information on university services and the various decisions students will face during their first semester.
To give Campus Quest a go, visit www.campusquest.com.au and register. Let us know what you think!