Monday, August 3, 2009

An award neglected. A Sprout** and some.

This one is for Rhymes and More, in lieu of the award she so generously awarded me, and which I find myself unable to pass on, because -

Just because.

Just one word to cover too many. Internet connection down. Phone company strikes. Maids who don't come on time. Cooks who leave. Summer which is too hot. Child who falls sick often and then some. Simple words like papa ill. Difficult words like cancer of the brain; emergency surgery; radiotherapy and chemotherapy; a median life span of 14 months after full treatment. And then, school restarting, homework and projects.

In the middle of everything, there hasn't been any time for myself. Occasionally reading up my favourites, but writing? When no one ever reads me anyway? What difference does it make?

But. Someone somewhere thought this worth reading. Someone liked this enough to pass on an award, to let others know - and that is what I write for, after all, for letting others know. Unlike the other kiddie blogs I read, mine is not current: this is no voyage of discovery I am charting in real time. This is a treasure chest I want to share, stuff I have found and saved, for what else can I do with it? So, thanks R&M, for bringing me back to life.

So, in keeping up with that mood, here is today's game all about restoration of life, about germination and propagation - Sprout. Created by Jeff Nusz, a flash and web programmer, this is a pretty simple game calling for some persistence, some logic and knowledge, and some intuition. It is not really a kiddie game, designed or featured on a kid website, but nowadays it is 'in' at our house, so I have no choice but to include it here :)

The game features a single bean shaped seed which has to travel from an island on the sea to an oak grove, across varying landscapes including hills, a village, a desert and a mountain. How does it travel? Simple. It converses with various other plants it meets on the way, and imbibes their character, magically transforming into a coconut, a dandelion or an apple (and others), as per the need of the hour. Your task is to choose the right plant or tree for the seed to sprout into, so as to get it to its destination.

Those of you who are familiar with the world of gaming will no doubt find the technique rather old, but to me, so far only surviving on the kind of kiddie games meant for pre-schoolers, it was almost a revelation. The landscapes are beautiful, pastel or crayon like, the animation simple and elegant, the music and background score very appropriate and soothing, and the idea great fun! My only complaint is that it is too short, and perhaps a little short of educational content - which is unfair considering that it wasn't meant to teach! But I still used it to convey the differences in plants, shrubs, vines and trees, and to talk of the various ways of propagating seeds :)

Jeff Nusz has a website called Custom-logic, which led me to the following cool links as well - all designed by him -

Cloth simulation: a piece of cloth, whose size and other parameters you can change, billows in the wind. You can anchor its points if you wish, and it behaves pretty realistically. A very simple illustration actually - not a game, but I am thinking it shall come in fairly handy in physics lessons sometime in the future. And it took up some minutes to explore anyway, which is all I needed to get the dal in :)

Rigid body simulation, complete with gravity and bounce and damping - another useful little tool or distraction.

And the Kaleidoscopic reef, in which you get the chance to rebuild a destroyed reef from scratch, with the help of some eco-savvy fishes of course. This game, however colourful, was still too difficult for a pre-schooler, and I have not the patience to sit and play all levels, just in order to demonstrate how it works... So, reluctanctly I have shelved it, and not explored further regarding its possible usage in an ecology lessson about pollution and oil spills and the like.

There are also other games listed, of which I found the Webworm game promising, but I couldn't find the actual link either at the website or the site of New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, whose campaign to combat the GypsyMoth this had been a part of. The others are not suitable for the very young, or even the young ones but teens no doubt will like to fight zombies and explore imaginary wonder lands with Anika.

Be warned that although the links I have given for individual games are ok for kids, the sites themselves are not designed to be kid friendly and parental supervision is required at all times to prevent the wrong ads or links from being clicked.

The urls -

Sprout -
Custom-logic -
Cloth simulation -
Rigid body simulation -
Kaleidoscopic reef -

P.S. Here is a little poem I liked from Nathalie, at 'Word of the day!' She posts a new word each day, and with it, a little rhyme or some phrase or sentence to illustrate its meaning. Such a lovely way to meet new words. (It could be argued of course that I am just footling, reading blogs, but it is still fun!)

Twitter faces, Twitter faces
Why do you footle so?
My prose can’t be that fascinating
Why can’t you just let go?

Should I declare myself charmed
By the attention, the following
When I truly suspect other motives
Behind your cloned proffered fascination?

Twitter faces, Twitter faces
Why do you footle so?
My prose can’t be that fascinating
Why can’t you just let go?

I think I’d better let you know:
While I am sure you could be human
Maybe, perhaps, and not really a spambot
Don’t ever expect me to follow.

Twitter faces, Twitter faces
Why do you footle so?
My prose can’t be that fascinating
Why can’t you just let go?
And now, adios! See you soon I hope.


spacedlaw said...

Thanks for the mention, Swati.

Swati said...

It is my pleasure, and thank you for visiting!