Microrangers: Keeping The Balance is an augmented reality game that will have museum visitors playing as a MicroRanger-in-training, going from exhibit to exhibit solving “MicroCrises” threatening the Museum’s imagined biodiversity levels. How it works is that you scan a character card with the iPad, and a scientist will seem to pop up off the card, explaining what you have to do next. The MicroCrises are presented as a concerned citizen explaining what’s going wrong, such as a glass-bottom boat guide complaining about colorless (bleached) corals. Going to an exhibit will lead to a couple of “MicroGames” the visitor identifies the problem and then proceeds to solve it.
As an intern at the American Museum of Natural History, my role in the design process was to come up with the “Meta game”, essentially figuring out what players will be doing in between visiting each site, and how that all ties in into one big game. The meta game was heavily inspired by Forbidden Island and Pandemic, with players having to keep track of how close a site is to being lost, and having to select which site to go to next to minimize damage and get a step closer to victory. After creating a non-digital prototype, I had to regularly test and tweak variables in order to create the best experience for a museum visitor. When the game was nearing completion, I was called on to balance the mini-games that users will be playing at each site, and make sure they’re intuitive and engaging while having modifiable difficulty levels.
The game has been released, and is downloadable on the App Store and Google Play. Microrangers is only fully playable at the American Museum of Natural History, as it requires the scanning of site exhibits. The game was designed alongside game designers Nick Fortugno (Diner Dash) and Barry Joseph (Games for Change), and microbiologist Susan Perkins.
Microrangers: Keeping the Balance
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