Math it Right 3D Aventure, the treasure hunter game to learn arithmetic and times tables

Of the challenging aspects of building a game there is especially, one, finding what is actually entertaining and pushes you to play more, and two complete a game development project as a finished product. With these 2 goals in mind, I’ve started a new prototype with the intention of completing it this time around.

This new project is Math it Right 3D Adventure a fun educational game for little ones, roughly 5 to 8 years old, around math and especially arithmetic with a 3d treasure hunter twist.

While some say math is fun, getting attention from kids to learn arithmetic and times tables is a steep challenge. So the intention here is to ease the learning task such as memorizing times tables, basic additions, or subtractions of integers as a fun experience. Let’s gamify arithmetic and times tables.

Thanks to the Unity Asset Store there are several solutions that helped to kick start the project with impressive outputs in a short period of time. This is not an exhaustive list but includes the main tools

Gaia 2 - Terrain & Scene Generator by Procedural Worlds: a system that generates terrain with terra-forming and texturing functions. The stamping tool helped me to define the overall shape of the island. The solution includes additional tools and scripts such as a character controller

Kinematic Character Controller by Philippe St-Amand, a set of low-level scripts to help to build a precise and responsive character controller. This requires you to get your hands on the code but get impressive results with smooth and tight control of a third-person character.

The new Input System from Unity helped to build versatile controls between gamepads, touchscreen, keyboard, or mouse. This makes the game a truly multi-platform solution.

Flat Kit: Toon Shading and Water by Dustyroom, the very customizable solution for cel-shading. It gives a nice cartoonish look with great controls on the rendering.

See some video and pictures of the early preview. More to come soon!

For the past few days I’ve worked on the main game loop and mechanics. The treasure hunting for times tables.

First the generation of math equations. Depending on the type of operation chosen by the player, addition, subtraction, or multiplication the system generates a set of operations. Basically for each operation, we have two operands, an operator and a result.

Then the system spawns the world with integers corresponding to the results of the generated equations. The world is divided into 81 areas, a 9 x 9 grid, where numbers are dropped evenly.

The last part of the game loop is to assign an objective and runs a timer based on the distance between the player and the target.

The user interface now includes a mini-map and big map to support the orientation of the player in the world.

In this build there are also few cosmetics changes to simplify the colour palette; and added extra props in the world such as a temple, a farm and a little city.

This is the video of this build

with a bit of gameplay and graphics re-design here’s the new main character, a cute little dragon

So that’s it, the first level of Math it Right 3d adventure made with Unity 3D is fully built. This is an easy induction with low risk and low stake entry. The approach is to start giving confidence to the player to control the cute little dragon and showcase the basics of the controls and gameplay.

Many aspects have changed since the early prototypes.

First, this is not an open-world anymore. Early trials with my boy I realise an open world is difficult to navigate seven when adding visual clues or incentives. This frustrated him and the game lost its fun. This is a game for kids so it should be fairly easy to understand and master. So now back to guided levels and hub world, à la Super Mario classics.

Secondly, the then and characters have moved to a mix of sci-fi fantasy tones. With the premise of a space dragon crashing on a lost and mysterious jungle.

So Math it Right 3d adventure level 1. Also, known as Razzle-Dazzle Banzai Bay.

The player starts the level in front of its crashed spacecraft on a paradisaical beach, surrounded by chill water on its back and sides. Look! There’s a shiny red bouncy chilli pepper in front of you. It looks so good you can’t resist picking up the hot treasure. This will burst in flame and increase the score. Hint number 1, chilli peppers are good. Follow them. Pick them up!

Then the water. The player will quickly learn that this dragon hates water. The only way to touch some water at this point is to move and jump. So the player quickly gets the basics before reaching the first obstacle. Touching water leads to a fiery escape, a piercing screen, and the loss of one life in the life bar. Hint number 2, water is not good (just in this game though!).

Now let’s ride to the giant number further down in the jungle. Let’s pick it up and see what’s going on. The dragon shakes his head and roars. The progression bar increases by one.

And so on and so forth until the first section of Razzle-Dazzle Banzai Bay is completed after capturing five number ones adding up to five. See the below video showing the reward when unlocking a section. Rightly inspired by Zelda Breadth of the Wild. Next, the rest of the level and level 2, Berry Bean Boogaloo Beach!

Level one was done recently, complete, ticked the boxes of an introductory level with tutorial elements and easy ride, a solid vertical slice of what Math it Right is and will be.

Now let’s ramp up the challenge and continue the journey on a game that entertains and educates. Let’s add a twist to keep generating some curiosity and interest in exploring and playing the game.

I’ve introduced two major changes for this second level, named Berry Bean Boogaloo Beach. First of all the dragon is flying and gliding. No jumping or wandering around. Pilipili the dragon follows a defined track, made up of a 3d spline, and explores the paradisiac sandy cove of Berry Bean Boogaloo Beach. For the spline follower, I am using the asset Splines by Dreamteck which is featured in their game LifeSlide.

In effect, the dragon follows a track and adjusts its speed based on boost requests when tapping on him. Collisions with the stage and obstacles also trigger a dramatic change and reversal of speed with a camera shale and visual effects. The player can move around a certain area of the track allowing to move around, pick up items and dodge the dangers. A fun gliding experience.

The second level is the introduction to the first time table, starting at 2. The one table of multiplication does not bring much interest and challenge so let’s just keep it all together. Along the defined track the player encounters a series of about 20 spots along the track when random numbers are displayed. Some of them, and most of them being the correct results of the current progression within the 2-time table; progressing from 2 x 2 = 4 till the end 2 x 9 = 18. The level is completed when capturing correctly all the entire 2 times table.

The last change with the level build is the collectible chilli peppers accumulating between levels now allow to open areas in the hub world. That’s what I found the best way to keep the exploration open while putting some boundaries that can be opened with level progression.

The next and third level is Flip-Out Fishy Fortress; a dangerous temple with flying fish. Stay tuned.

I want to try it on mobile but it’s not available in my country. I want to build something similar to my kids to play. Do you have a template version available on Unity Asset store?