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U.Mars globe logo still PNGU.Mars — Encyclopedia

 

Your Instructors:

Lerpz & Copper


When class is not in session, you can typically find Copper in the dorm building lobby.

Your Real Instructor Team:


Office hours:

(by appointment)


Contact:



Help

Need Help?   There is a "Piazza" discussion site available for students enrolled in the ASTRO 001 video game section, wherein you may communicate with your instructors and fellows; please check these discussions as you may find answers to your questions there. The link for the Piazza group will be in your "Lessons" section in Canvas.

For remaining questions, please contact the instructor and development team by or stop by during office hours (left).

 

Playing the game — System Requirements  


You will need the following to run ASTRO 001's video game (the "Astro 1 game") and related components:

  • computer — an Apple running Mac OS X 10.8+, a PC running Windows XP or newer, or Linux-based PC
    (the developers have targeted the game builds towards computers about six- or seven-years-old and newer; most hardware, video cards, etc., within that time frame should perform satisfactorily)

  • a screen resolution of at least 1024 x 720 pixels

  • an active internet connection (to save data to the instructors' database, access the Encyclopedia and supplemental materials, and various Flash applets or movies contained therein)

  • up-to-date Quicktime, Windows Media, and Shockwave/Flash plugins for your preferred web browser, as well as JavaScript enabled. Of course if you would prefer a different media player plugin (instead of Quicktime or Windows Media), that is fine; it only needs to be able to play MP4 and similar common video formats.

Penn State's ITS computer labs meet the technology requirements for this course; see http://clc.its.psu.edu/Labs/ for information on locations and hours of operation. Lastly, if you plan to access Astro 1 Web in a public computer lab, you might want to bring along a set of headphones; some videos you are required to access have audio.


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Instructions for Installing the Game: — Mac OS X computers  


  1. Download and locate the Astro1Unit1Mac.zip file from Canvas.

  2. Unzip the files (double-click on the ".zip" file, and the Mac OS X "Archive Utility" or your preferred utility can do this) to a location you will remember and will be able to easily access on your computer.

  3. Double click the ".app" file in the unzipped folder to start the game. If you see a notice that the app cannot be opened because it is from an "unidentified developer," try the steps given at this link.

  4. Upon clicking "New Game" on the startup screen, enter your PSU user ID as your user ID in the prompt. This is how you will be graded, so you must correctly enter your user ID and not another name. Your user ID is your PSU email address before the '@' symbol. So if your email is abc1234@psu.edu, your user ID in the game should be abc1234.

  5. Select the avatar from the choices given and choose a name that you'd like your character to have. This need not be your own name unless you'd like it to be; please be aware that your instructors will be able to see this.



Instructions for Installing the Game: — Windows computers  


  1. Download and locate the Astro1Unit1Windows.zip file from the appropriate link here on Canvas.

  2. Unzip the files to a location you will remember and will be able to easily access on your computer. If you double-click the downloaded file (it should look like a folder with a zipper) and it does not unzip or ask you to unzip, copy the "Astro1Unit1Windows" folder inside it to a location outside of the zipped folder. This step is important; while it may be possible to run the game without extracting the data from the downloaded .zip file, your progress data will not be saved locally on your computer.

  3. Double click the ".exe" to start the game. If you do not see an .exe file, try the one just called "Astro1Unit1" that's in the folder with "Astro1Unit1_Data" — it will be the .exe file. You may safely ignore ("OK") any pop-up messages about an "unrecognized developer" for the program.

  4. Upon clicking "New Game" on the startup screen, enter your PSU user ID as your user ID in the prompt. This is how you will be graded, so you must correctly enter your user ID and not another name. Your user ID is your PSU email address before the '@' symbol. So if your email is abc1234@psu.edu, your user ID in the game should be abc1234.

  5. Select the avatar from the choices given and choose a name that you'd like your character to have. This need not be your own name unless you'd like it to be; please be aware that your instructors will be able to see this.





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Playing the game — Controls  


On most world maps,

  • use the Arrow keys or W A S D keys to move around, and the space bar to jump

  • use the T key to talk to another character, or to interact with highlighted objects (look for the (!) marker in the bottom-right corner of the screen)

  • use the P key or Esc key to open the Pause Menu, to access additional options

  • use the mouse and button to click certain highlighted fields and on-screen buttons (e.g., "Encyclopedia" links and other functions)


Within dialogue between characters (including during lessons),
  • use the return(/enter) key, or click the right-pointing arrow button on screen, to advance to the next line of dialogue

  • use the Q key, or click the left-pointing arrow button on screen, to back up to the previous line of dialogue.

  • If the dialogue contains a question for you to answer, or a choice for you to make, you can
    • use the Arrow keys to highlight a choice, and then push the return(/enter) key, or
    • use the mouse pointer to highlight and click on your choice, or
    • for numbered/lettered answer choices, push the corresponding number or letter key for your choice (e.g., 1 2 3, or A B C, etc.)

  • If you are instructed to open your "Encyclopedia," a link button will appear on the screen above the dialogue area. Use your mouse to click on it, and your default web browser will open the appropriate link.
    Often the next line will be a question related to the information linked, before, so be sure to read thoroughly the material given!


Within virtual-reality simulations at the underground lab, follow the given instructions.

For mini-games that use a web browser (external to the Astro 1 game), be sure to keep the Astro 1 game active (do not close the program) as you work in the web browser as instructed. Refer back to the game after finishing each task or reading, advancing the dialogue for additional instructions. If you have a large screen resolution and/or multiple-monitor capability (such that you can simultaneously see both the Astro 1 game and a web browser window), this may be helpful at times, but is not strictly necessary.


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Progress through the Game — Saved Data  


Data on your progress through the game is automatically saved at intervals based on the story (typically at the change of major scenes, before and after in-game review quizzes, upon completion of lessons and units, etc.); a "Data Saved" image will pop up in the top-left corner of the screen to let you know when it has updated your save file. It is important to play the game while you have an active connection to the internet, as your game progress data is sent to a remote server.

Should your internet connection be interrupted while playing the game, your data is still stored locally on your computer; the game will attempt to contact the server at the next opportunity (at the next save point). If you exit the game, and select "Continue Game" at the start menu, the game will determine whether your locally-saved data or the latest on the server should be used.

Important Note: As your SaveFile is stored locally on the computer on which you are playing the Astro 1 game, and compared to the server data, you will need to understand how to find and copy this file if you use more than one computer to play the game (e.g., if you log in and download the game onto an ITS Computer Lab machine), you must be sure to recover your updated SaveFile after playing, to transfer to any subsequent computers (especially before logging off a public computer on which personal or temporary session data is not saved). You can then copy your SaveFile into another downloaded game app on another computer, later, to resume where you left off. See instructions specific to Mac or Windows, below.

Do NOT attempt to modify your SaveFile outside of playing the Astro 1 game. The file is encrypted for the instructors. Tampering with the contents of your SaveFile can cause you to lose your record of progress through the game (you may have to start all over!), and may result in missing credit for completion of parts of the course.


Instructions for Locating Your SaveFile — Mac OS X computers  


  1. In the Finder, navigate to your user account's Home "Library" folder. To do this, hold down the Option key while clicking on "Go" along the top menu bar; under "Go," select "Library."

  2. In your Library, open the folder "Application Support."

  3. Inside Application Support, open either the folder "PennStateAstro" or "unity.PennStateAstro.Astro1Game" -- whichever one you find.

    If the folder you opened was called "PennStateAstro," next open the folder inside it called "Astro1Game."

  4. If you have already started a game (have an account) on this computer, then within "Astro1Game" or "unity.PennStateAstro.Astro1Game" should be at least two files, "SaveFile," and "SaveFileUnit[X][userID]," where "Unit[X]" will correspond to whichever unit you were playing through when the data was saved, and [userID] is whatever you entered in the name blank at starting a New Game on the startup screen.

"SaveFile" is the file used by the game when "Continue" is chosen as the game starts up (at the Title Menu). The Astro 001 video game will not allow you to select the "Continue" option at startup without a file called "SaveFile" present in this location.

The remaining files with names beginning with "SaveFile[...]" are archived copies of your game data (yours and/or others', if multiple players are using the same computer). If you wish to switch players (i.e., userIDs or accounts), and only have one copy of the game installed, then you will need to first delete the single file just called "SaveFile" (without any extended name), and then duplicate the SaveFile[...] for the desired player; after copying this file, rename the copy to just "SaveFile" and run the game (choosing "Continue" at the Title Screen).


Instructions for Locating Your SaveFile — Windows computers  


  1. Navigate to your user account's Home "AppData" folder. It may be hidden by default; you can either change your system display settings to reveal hidden items, or try pasting the following path into the Windows Explorer address bar:

    C:\Users\[username]\AppData\ (replace [username] with your user name on this computer)

  2. Once you find "AppData," next open the "LocalLow" folder.

  3. Inside that, open either the folder "PennStateAstro" or "unity.PennStateAstro.Astro1Game" -- whichever one you find.

    If the folder you opened was called "PennStateAstro," next open the folder inside it called "Astro1Game."

  4. If you have already started a game (have an account) on this computer, then within "Astro1Game" or "unity.PennStateAstro.Astro1Game" should be at least two files, "SaveFile," and "SaveFileUnit[X][userID]," where "Unit[X]" will correspond to whichever unit you were playing through when the data was saved, and [userID] is whatever you entered in the name blank at starting a New Game on the startup screen.

"SaveFile" is the file used by the game when "Continue" is chosen as the game starts up (at the Title Menu). The Astro 001 video game will not allow you to select the "Continue" option at startup without a file called "SaveFile" present in this location.

The remaining files with names beginning with "SaveFile[...]" are archived copies of your game data (yours and/or others', if multiple players are using the same computer). If you wish to switch players (i.e., userIDs or accounts), and only have one copy of the game installed, then you will need to first delete the single file just called "SaveFile" (without any extended name), and then duplicate the SaveFile[...] for the desired player; after copying this file, rename the copy to just "SaveFile" and run the game (choosing "Continue" at the Title Screen).



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