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Odyssey undertaking successful journey through Kickstarter

"Edutainment" may have become something of a dirty word in gaming circles, primarily because the "edu" part of the equation often feels dry and forced, while the "tainment" bits tend to fall short of the intended goal. Indie developers The Young Socratics are seeking to change that perception by fusing the two elements seamlessly together in their upcoming science-based adventure Odyssey: The Next Generation Science Game, which is currently seeking crowdfunding through Kickstarter.

Odyssey tasks players with responding to the distress call of a 13-year-old girl named Kai from one of the Caribbean's exotic but remote and ominously-named Wretched Islands. Upon your arrival, however, you find that the threat of pirates has caused Kai's family to construct barricades all around. And yet, desiring rescue, they have also left behind clues in scattered pages torn from Kai's journal, in which she recorded both current events plus her "intellectual journey across 2000 years of astronomy and physics through Socratic dialogues with Dad, and her own observations and experiments guided by those conversations." As you undertake the "progressively complex scientific reasoning problems" to overcome the barricades, in the process you will also be "reconstructing the creative ideas and arguments of some of the world’s greatest scientists and philosophers."

Inspired by games like Myst, Odyssey is a "first-person explorer game" that allows free roaming through its beautiful 3D island environments, which are on display in the early trailer and in-game footage video. The puzzles you encounter along the way represent the "chronological progression of ideas in astronomy and mechanics," so instead of merely reading about scientific theory and advancements throughout history, players will find themselves actively engaged in "scientific reasoning and argumentation[...] from the ancient Greeks to Newton." This approach reflects the developers' belief that scientific ideas are best learned through a blend of hands-on experimentation and "minds-on abstract thinking" within a storytelling framework, just as they were "invented by the philosophers of the past."

The plan is for the game to include three chapters, ranging in topics from the origins of science, the spherical earth and physics of Aristotle, and the heliocentric universe of Copernicus and Galileo. The third chapter will end "midway through Galileo's physics" and be picked up in a proper sequel, with further topics to include the mathematics of uniformly accelerated motion and Galileo's ideas about inertia and the mathematics of projectile motion. If your head is already spinning, fear not, as learning is meant to be part of the fun. The Young Socratics expect the game to "be played by children aged 11 and above, and adults who are looking to learn about one of the greatest intellectual narratives in the history of human civilization."

Normally for Kickstarter projects, this is where we include the do-or-die line about needing support to be completed. But since we're coming late to the party, the good news is that Odyssey has more than doubled its original goal of $15,000 already. However, there's still time to contribute, with a December 6th crowdfunding deadline and a minimum $10 pledge required to secure a downloadable copy of the game for Windows or Mac. After crunching the numbers, the developers have set May 2017 as their target for the game's completion.

To learn more about Odyssey: The Next Generation Science Game and follow its progress in the coming months, visit the official website for additional details.

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