The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) wanted an interactive online iPad game and web application to use in educational sessions at ZSL London Zoo for students aged 11-14. The game would allow users to drag and drop organisms into their correct places on an illustrated food web while learning about them.
Although the game’s initial launch was aimed at simulating the ecosystem of the Gir forest, we suggested that the application could be re-used for multiple ecosystems and set out to make a customisable game engine that could be changed easily by members of ZSL’s in-house team. In order to account for this flexibility in images, messages and animal collections a configuration file management system was made which allows for species and a world to be defined with images, descriptions and connections between species. This configuration file is read when the application is launched and automatically constructs the food web (powered by a custom D3.js visualisation) and game.
Additional sub-game functionality (such as showing what happens when vultures are removed from the ecosystem) was also implemented. This was also built with flexibility in mind allowing custom sub-games to be added and toggled through the configuration file.