#5 The Puzzle Boxes: In-Game Toy Box Tutorials

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#5 The Puzzle Boxes: In-Game Toy Box Tutorials

Postby goofyspaceranger » Thu Jun 23, 2016 12:09 pm

Glossary post #5 for "A Toy Box Tale: Recapture the Spark!"

The Puzzle Box
In the story, a "Puzzle Box", or "Blueprint Box" would be an in-game tutorial Toy Box used to instruct players how to build various Toy Box games with the various Creativ-Toys & Gameplay toys, and perhaps unlock the Template(s) associated with each game genre supported by the Toy Box Engine. The set of puzzle boxes could be provided by Disney Infinity's new owner as part of the Introductory storyline, or could be a separate playlist dedicated to building instructions. New puzzle boxes would be added to the respective playlist as Creativi-Toy enhancements are made to the Toy Box Engine over time.

The Unused Templates & The Incomplete Hub
The 3.0 Toy Box Hub has a great design, showcasing lots of what the Toy Box can do. But its tutorials on Creativi-Toy programming only provided instruction on a small subset of the Creativi-Toys, so the Hub emphasized more about what you could play, not so much as to what you could build. Toy Box Templates are really cool, providing an early look at "design patterns", combining various computer science constructs together to provide the algorithm in solving a particular problem... ahem, I mean, each Template makes it easier to create the type of video game that you want ;). But they were not leveraged much; there was a disconnect between tutorial videos, in-game exercises, and the templates themselves. With the reboot storyline, the Templates could be the special unlocks of "Puzzle Boxes", the "Blueprint Boxes" of Infinity's "Architects". Each of these Puzzle Boxes could provide an in-game tutorial on how to create a specific Template from scratch so that they'd be better understood, and help showcase the depth of the Toy Box engine. Unlocking a Template could also unlock a corresponding search filter, so that you could find all kinds of themed games based on that game type. The Templates don't currently have a 1:1 correspondence with the suggested game genres - you could have several similar Templates bundled in one Puzzle Box or simply have several Puzzle Boxes to complete before unlocking the overall Game Genre Library Shelf.

Corporate Citizenship Volunteer
I would LOVE to make (or assist in making) these Blueprint Boxes myself (at no cost, as a fan) - it would depend on what the new owner wanted available with their launch, when they would launch, whether the new Creativi-Toy functionality necessary could be made available early, non-disclosures signed off, permissions by all brands, etc., plus the fact that there are dozens of Templates to cover - ideally the entire set would be part of the reboot storyline. This would pay homage to the Avalanche Software team on what they created, and showcase the Toy Box Engine's function to new Infiniteer subscribers. Total understandable if the new owner wanted to develop them in-house; they're really fun to make. But Imagine - the new owner could leverage IBM's pre-existing advocacy of the Toy Box's educational value in computer science in this fun new way. Imagine gameplay videos of all the Puzzle Boxes going on the IBM ODC YouTube channel, extending the set of tutorial videos that are already there 8-). Imagine the extensions to the new Think Infinity app here: http://thinkinfinity.mybluemix.net/ through IBM Corporate Citizenship that provides online documentation on the Creativi-Toy interfaces that links back to those gameplay tutorial videos. That would be fun. Here are the links to the THINK #Tutorial Toy Boxes (ironically, the proposed Blueprint Boxes would likely obsolete these):
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... 7FcSS-VhTm
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... 3mv_3yqhFz
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... uzN2yDPJEc

Incremental Instructions
The very first Puzzle Box would start very simple, with say the Action Button (very few input/outputs) and the Party Cannon (similar to the start of the Innovation Isles #ToyBoxTutorial). From there it could have a progression of in-game Creativi-Toy tutorials to create one of the Collection Game Templates. Upon completion it would unlock that Template, and unlock the next Puzzle Box. This could transition to a Puzzle Box/Template including Locator connections, then a Template including Actor Connections, then a Template including Path Connections. Once all types of Connections were covered, and perhaps some fundamental set of Creativi-Toys, perhaps all Puzzle Boxes could be unlocked, and you just choose which one you want to do next. Another advantage of providing in-game tutorials that unlock Creativi-Toys at the beginning, & Templates at the end (and sometimes unlock entire Toy Boxes as well) - players don't get overwhelmed. The 3.0 Toy Box already has an enormous number of toys. The reboot needs to anticipate new Infinity players, and anticipate what it's like for them to experience this Toy Box engine for the first time. Providing a reboot storyline with a no-additional-cost unlock progression allows you to showcase everything from game types, themes, characters, etc. in phases, with many choices according to player preferences along the way.

Here's a handful of enhancements that would improve the Toy Box engine's ability to support in-game tutorials of its own function, & more specifically to support these "Puzzle Boxes". This manages the licenser's investment cost, as it's still a single game engine, and allows fans to provide that in-game instruction:

Get Back in the Swing of Things: The last update (at least on the PS4) broke the Swing property on the cameras. The cameras are great at focusing on pre-set toys being explained, and the Swing property helps the player keep track of the relative position of everything. And it would be really nice if the game Options to disable hints would disable the note about turning off cameras. That "hint" messes up the tutorial visual to a certain extent (and also goofy music videos) :?. It's also worth repeating that the upper left corner DI logo on the console gameplay recordings obstructs the text of connections in tutorial videos - hopefully the reboot licenser could add their logo in a less obstructive way. As a reference for in-game tutorials using swing cameras, see the tutorial videos on the community YouTube channel at ibm.biz/toyboxclub for Innovation Isles, Programming Plateaus, & Holocron Heuristics.

Connection Monitoring: A lot of our tutorials use a Logic AND toy to monitor when this, and this, and this have happened, then shoot off fireworks. That positive reinforcement from something as simple as a Party Cannon is really effective (side-note: wish the Party Cannon had a Property to disallow kicking it for the show). The tutorial programming could be more specific to know that the exact connection had been made (be it Logic Connection, Locator Connection, Actor Connection, or even Path Connection). The Connection Monitor Toy would connect to a toy for a specific desired input, and another toy for a specific output, and would trigger when that connection between those two toys was made. Its connections would only be seen from the Connection Monitor toy, not from the toys themselves. This way, its monitoring connection would not be seen in the tutorial. You could have lots of Connection Monitor toys with lots of combinations to accurately monitor how the tutorial progresses.

Properties Matching: There's a lot of Toy Box programming functionality from toy Properties, and it would be cool to be able to provide in-game tutorials for them too. Let's say there was a Properties Matching toy that worked similarly to the Connection Monitoring toy in that it would connect two toys from a single direction (the second toy would be a second instance of the same Creativi-toy/Gameplay toy for Property matching). Its own list of Properties would be Property #1 matched/not/not-applicable, Property #2 matched/not/na, Property #3 matched/not/na, etc. In order to provide a tutorial for say, the Target Camera, you'd put one in clear view & hide the other one. The Properties Matching toy would have logic connections of "Comparison 1" and "Comparison 2", and it would trigger whenever the Properties were adjusted in-game for its set of Properties to match. This would have a high level of granularity for step-by-step tutorials in Properties settings (or a simpler version would just require all of the Properties to match). Either way, it could help in-game tutorials a lot.

The Challenge of Toy Box Programming: It's a cool feature that the Challenge Maker disallows the use of the wand while a challenge is in effect. But this is problematic for a Toy Box Tutorial "Puzzle Challenge" where it's all about using the wand! The Action Enforcer is cool for the Celebrate option. Perhaps the Action Enforcer could also get the "Big Celebration" so that the Infinity logo could be included at the completion of an in-game Toy Box tutorial.

It is very understandable that these enhancements were not added to the Toy Box engine before now. The Hub provided some excellent in-game tutorials, but only a small subset. A reboot that focuses on the single Toy Box engine, a reboot that is dependent on Community involvement (especially one based on subscription pricing) could really utilize these enhancements to showcase its own function. And I'd love to help. 8-)

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Use the Force in Holocron Heuristics to program with more Creativi-Toys!
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