Mangahigh.com // August 2009 – December 2009
Beyond its prominence in the maths curriculum, transformations always seemed like a highly-promising candidate for a game due to its visual nature.
Not that that means it was easy; I generated several concepts, including an adventure game where you used magic mirrors and the like to warp around mazes, but none of them quite worked.
Eventually I had the idea of a space-based puzzle game, where you employed cosmic phenomena to reflect, rotate, translate and scale a spaceship through hyperspace to its home planet. Okay, so the plot was a little contrived, but it worked as a maths game.
With the talented Jan Rigerl once again at the helm, a basic wireframe of the game came together quickly. As is his wont, Jan played around and threw in some cool little neon effects, and it rapidly became clear that a vector graphics retro vibe could work quite well for the game (plus save on asset creation costs!).
The spaceships were dropped to be replaced by a strange morphing space entity, with your goal to guide it home to the galactic core. Throw in some superb other-worldly ambient music by Paul Weir (who performed sound duties on many Mangahigh games) and the result was a unique, atmospheric and very popular success.
I think what makes TranStar work so well in the classroom is that students can explore with impunity how transformations behave (a lower score aside), which makes it a valuable learning tool.