uAdventure simplifying narrative serious games development - icalt 2019 (1)
uAdventure: Simplifying Narrative
Serious Games Development
e-UCM Research Group
Víctor Manuel Pérez-Colado, Iván José Pérez-Colado, Manuel Freire-Morán,
Serious Games (SGs)
● Multiple benefits for students regarding learning , as better engagement.
● SGs still not widely used in formal education .
● Drawbacks: High costs: Purchase or develop is expensive.
● Sometimes non-developers have to create the games.
Popularity of free game engines:
● More possibilities for SGs market .
● Still not too much impact in SG compared with regular Games.
● SG Authoring Tools (SGAT) -> Simplify SG development , .
● Accessible for non programmers -> Teachers
● Serious Games Authoring tool built on top of Unity and intended for non-experts.
● Geolocalization features.
● Learning Oriented features (such as Learning Analytics).
Adventure genre for serious games
● "Point and Click" adventure games proven to be effective for SG 
● Interact with the environment (Scene, Items, Characters, etc.)
● Player needs to use knowledge to solve puzzles -> progress
● SGAT free and open.
● Raised and developed to solve the issues.
● Built in java
● Produces Standalone games as Java Applets.
✓ Fits the genre: Point and Click Adventure games.
✓ Reduce the costs: Easy, simple and Free.
✗ Distribution: Java. Issues on Tablets and Smartphones (iOS and Android)
✓ Multiplatform: Major OS, Mobile (iOS & Android), Consoles.
✓ Generic functionalities: Animations, physics, cameras, eﬀects.
✗ Scripting is needed -> non-experts
✗ Environment very complex -> cumbersome for non-experts
Unity Highly customizable
uAdventure on top of Unity
uAdventure (uA) is a framework built on top of Unity with the goal of simplifying the
creation of narrative “point and click” SGs by non-experts.
Why On top of Unity?
● Always supports latest technologies -> Not likely to become obsolete 
● Extending the lifecycle of the games created with uA too
● Narrative model editor
● Simplified scene editor
● Integrated experience
● Simplified Builder
● Learning analytics
Editing area (Chapter scenarios)
Narrative model editor
Heavily based on narrative game elements:
● Scenes -> Where the action takes place, contains the elements
● Cutscenes -> Linear narrative sequences
● Interactive/non-interactive elements
● Tree based editor
● Support nonlinear story if required
Simplified Scene Editor
● Manages scenes and their elements
● Limited to 2D -> more common and way simpler
● Simplified compared with Unity Native editor
● Automatic Camera Control
● Background may have points of interest or barriers
● Unity-Like Inspector -> Affordable for native unity developers
Very important feature -> Multiplatform support
● Each platform require significant tuning:
● Improve performance: Quality, lighting, shaders…
● Video formats and locations
● Select all platforms desired
○ removed non-school feasible such consoles
● Export -> Build'o'matic running!
Transparent Integration of Learning Analytics
● Measure success/failure -> Understand causes.
● Gathering of main relevant events
○ Educational Objectives
● uA uses xAPI -> Profile for Serious Games .
● Tracked Events
○ Element Interactions
○ Scene changes
○ Questions and Answers
○ Progress and state of Completables
○ Scores and completion
○ Changes in Flags and Variables
Unity will evolve following the videogame industry
uAdventure has an extensible architecture to integrate new technologies (i.e. AR)
Two extensions are being developed so far:
● Geolocalization: with augmented maps and location-based mechanics
● QR code: with QR code based positioning and QR scanning.
Testing user experience
Find out the difficulties and issues in uA.
Verify if any user is capable of:
i. Develop point and click game examples
ii. Create nonlinear stories & multiple endings
iii. Use the software autonomously
iv. Build their games
1. Define independent tasks
2. Make users do them
3. Ask users about difficulty
creating a story
Experimental design: users taks
Provided users with: Software, quickstart guide, manual and examples
Users have to:
1. Read the manual
2. Make the examples
3. Complete a post-survey with
a. Narrative background
b. Questions about the manual
c. Questions about their goals
d. Individual tasks difficulty
e. Extra doubts and comments
1. Analyze the results
2. Verify the objectives
3. Release the software
10 people: 2 non-tech, 2 artists and 6 programmers
● 95% of examples completed
● 65% of tasks found simple
● Artists have more difficulty (no dev. background)
Regarding goals 7 out of 10 people created stories & mult endings
Narrative experience → less doubts in the model
Doubts → less simplicity in tasks perceived
Additionally 29 software or manual issues to fix or clarify
Software development has grown, SG not so much.
● uA tries to impulsate SGs -> Simple, Easy and Free.
uA: Unity heavily modified -> Native unity High-level concepts
● Still impossible to hide every unity feature -> Distractions
● Overall results are very promising
Pilot -> non-programmers can create (simple) games.
● Users care about the narrative
● Generate new revision of the manual
Preliminary evaluation of SGAT uAdventure: Evolution of eA.
● uA: non-experts -> start developing adventure SGs
● uA: Simplifies development:
○ Simplifying the model -> easy to understand
○ Simplifying the interfaces -> genre-focused windows
○ uA is neither an Unity Extension or an independent AT but an environment for non-experts.
To improve the AT:
● Formally evaluated with different users.
● Very promising results -> non-experienced people in SG development
● Feedback -> Improved user experience.
● New iteration of the tool based on the analysis and observations
● uA in a formal course on Interactive Narrative for Graphic Designer
● Current Development of uA features
○ Location Based Games
○ Improving Learning Analytics
Games connected with Real World and easy to integrate in the
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To Simplify the development:
● Facilitate high level tasks
● Reduce flexibility in game mechanics -> 1 genre
● Adventure games fit educational games = narrative + puzzles -> learning 
Specific layout that prevents user info overflow
● Adapt the interface to our specific genre
Unity interface hooks = native buttons for our own purposes
● Control what we cannot take off
Automatic asset importing and configuration