not approved
Aedou - the Language Learning Game
Current Project Status
Unfunded
Amount
Received
$0
Amount
Requested
$104,000
Percentage
Received
0.00%
Solution

Aedou is a free collaborative multiplayer game, designed to learn & teach languages together in engaging, safe, active & explorable 3D-worlds that are built, governed & inhabited by the community.

Problem

Learning a new language is either hard or expensive (money & time). Access to educational material & job opportunities is heavily dependent on your language. It’s hard to find language tandems.

Impact / Alignment
Feasibility
Auditability

Team

3 members

Aedou - the Language Learning Game

Please describe your proposed solution.

"Aedou - the Realm of Languages" aims to be the first digital game that supports diverse & innovative learning & teaching experiences in safe, active and engaging 3D-environments that are built and governed by the community through DAOs and leveraging PRISM-DIDs/VCs on the Cardano blockchain.

Aedou is a free collaborative multiplayer game (MMORPG/Sandbox) to learn languages like you would do while traveling a foreign country in a supported, structured and guided way (customizable to your preferences). Learning occurs through immersing yourself in your language of choice - hearing, reading and speaking in a contextualized environment with other people. The biggest difference is that all content is adapted to your personal language proficiency. This means that you always have manageable content to interact with and use in your surroundings, preventing you from being overwhelmed. This differs vastly from most formal education approaches that abstract away most of the context and leave you alone in a fixed system to sink or swim.

Each language has their own world, experiences & levels, where active use of language is the magic that you need to interact with the environment. Through learning and exploring, you progress in the game and narrative, and vice versa. As the active usage of a language is the main mechanic to play the game, you need to get better to progress, resulting in intrinsic motivation and self-directed deep learning. The game is providing you with attainable bits of language to learn and progress in your target language while remaining immersed and without translating into your first language. Learning outcomes are coupled to game outcomes, so you need to progress to learn.

The international target audience mainly consists of…

  1. gamers
  2. everyone that has tried learning a language but stopped a few weeks in due to a lack of engagement and motivation
  3. people looking for practice partners and tandems
  4. pupils that do not feel safe going to school or have limited access to high quality learning material
  5. teachers searching for creative, active learning

All worlds and their contents are built, inhabited, governed and curated by independent DAOs consisting of first language (L1-)speakers, language professionals and high-level players (the latter need to succeed in an assessment first). This is made possible through distributed & modularized creation, enabling you to only contribute what you do best in a shared creation process. We are building the most intuitive Level Builder, which splits the creative process into individual parts and removes most of the complexity for creating a level.

We are also integrating Atala PRISM DIDs into our DAOs to independently prove your learning progress, language proficiency and in-game reputation/membership via VCs in- and outside the game. At this point, we are thinking of creating our own emergent trust registry to protect against sybill attacks, meaning that DAO members need to verify new members in a personal chat and thus vouch for their proficiency and for them being humans, not bots. Emergent trust is build up from a person-to-person network and does not rely on KYC-services and support of your government. We got funded in Fund 8 to build a first DID-prototype for Aedou (scheduled to start in August).

We will collaborate with RootsID as our identity wallet provider once things are ready for this step. RootsID is the most promising open-source identity wallet for Atala PRISM, funded through Catalyst. https://www.rootsid.com/

Aedou is designed with low barriers in mind and to provide a safe space for vulnerable groups. This includes private and anonymous participation, highly customizable button mapping and interfaces, integration of accessibility controllers/interfaces for disabled communities (e.g. playable as only-audio/only-visual).

Games & Learning - why we believe that games can be ideal learning environments

  • Good games are designed to learn, practice and apply knowledge/skills in a meaningful context. Games are creative, multi-sensory and intrinsically motivating experiences that allow for moments of flow with just the right amount of challenge to stimulate curiosity and avoid overload. This is crucial for deep learning, prolonged interest and continuous improvement. Also, you are only participating on your own free will, which is the core defining criteria for games in general (& having a set of rules).
  • In games, failing isn't bad, but an existential part of the path to mastery and almost necessary for finishing a game. Try anything as often as you want, get stronger and eventually overcome your challenges. Experimentation, a.k.a. freely trying out stuff on your own, is not included in most formal curricula. In Aedou, experimentation is encouraged as you learn through actually using your new knowledge in a failure-safe environment. Games are almost always designed to be achievable, meaning that everyone has a fair chance of success (not true for real world).
  • MMORPGs (Massively-Multiplayer-Online-Role-Playing-Games) are dynamic and active narrative learning environments for social and collaborative (or competitive) experiences, where content and places are clearly structured and open to self-paced exploration, on your own or together. Players are encouraged to organize themselves in social groups. Sandbox games use the power of the community to create and manage vast amounts of content and interactions. Exploration of deep, rich and interactive content in an interconnected, personal narrative is a key design criteria for both of these genres, and thus they are ideal for situated learning of complex topics in an immersive world, e.g. languages.

Languages

The current choice of starter languages is heavily influenced by the spoken languages in the Catalyst community as a representation of the Cardano ecosystem & our available resources. We hope that this enhances the reach of Aedou and its relevance to Catalyst greatly. With this, we are profoundly lowering the barriers to start learning a new language, be it for communication, private or professional purposes. We hope that this results in an enhanced connection between Catalyst members and increased diversity & appreciation of languages in the Cardano ecosystem. Languages that were not included are open to join if there is sufficient interest (after we finish the MVP).

For the MVP, we are focusing on English, Japanese & Swahili as our smallest set of globally important languages with lots of available resources across Catalyst to give us a smaller and more manageable focus of work. We added German just because half of our team is German, and it's therefore closest to us and easiest to check for factors like correctness, complexity and fun, which we believe to require the intuitive perception of a first language speaker.

After building the MVP, we intend to add four more languages every two months to its supported content to make sure that the MVP works as intended for diverse languages & to adjust things early on. This is important for us to slowly grow the MVP capabilities in lockstep with the amount of supported languages and rising complexity.

The budget for the language ambassadors is already included in our approved fund 8 proposal.

  1. MVP (September 2022): English, German, Japanese & Swahili
  2. October 2022 (Fund 9 start): Arabic, Mandarin, Spanish, Amharic
  3. December 2022: Portuguese, Indonesian, French, Vietnamese
  4. February 2023: Italian, Ukrainian, Polish, Hindi

All blockchain components are optional - but offer lots of value

  • We plan to have our own native token as an additional in-game currency that fuels the DAO-system. All revenue streams are automatically exchanged to ADA via Smart Contract and redirected to the game's treasury. You can burn your tokens to redeem your fair share of the treasury, splitting up the ownership & profit of Aedou to the community, not one centralized actor.
  • As a requirement to earn tokens, you first need to become a member of a DAO with your DID and thus verify that you are a human being. This is necessary to protect us from bad actors that want to game the system. You earn tokens through meaningful contribution, e.g. creating quality content, curating/playtest proposed content, vote on DAO decisions, or simply by playing and learning a language. You can also play and learn without verification, but you will also play without the added blockchain-benefits in that case.
  • Reputable members of the DAO get a small plot of virtual land for free to cultivate and build on top of, verified through a PRISM-credential for reputation. The land size increases depending on your rank and reputation inside the DAO. The DAOs grant its reputable members these land plots and can therefore revoke their ownership if members loose their reputation through trying to game the system or not respecting our Code of Conduct. These land plots can also be rented out by their owners to create additional revenue streams for them, but the main idea is to give everyone the opportunity to represent themselves and to link to their existing real-life services and goods. This provides a huge incentive to be a good actor, helps the DAO foster & flourish, and makes each world unique according to the cultures
  • We offer education credentials as a proof of progressing through the game and thus learning basic communication in a new language. As PRISM-credentials are verifiable, other parties (e.g. school, university, employer, …) can trust that you have made the effort. Through joining a DAO, you get a credential to proof your first language as that is a requirement to join the corresponding DAO. If you join the DAO by playing through the game content of that language, you get an honourable credential and also become part of that worlds' DAO.
  • All items can be minted into NFTs (e.g. mounts, pets, cosmetics, collectibles, …) which you can mint on our platform and trade on other marketplaces. This process is also reverseable. In that case, an in-game item is bound to your NFT-ownership (not applying if you have earned that item through playing). We will integrate with open source wallets like GameChanger, Nami or CCvault.
  • We love the philosophy of SSI (Self-Sovereign-Identity) to own and control your own data. Likewise, you can choose to monetize your anonymized data through including them in a data set/package that stores learning/language data. Researchers and companies can then buy a data package to use in their researches, while you earn the generated revenue.

Market

Godot is the biggest open source game engine in the world with a market share of 5%. Minecraft, the most-sold game in the world with 238 million copies, is building an education series for formal education in classrooms (same is true for Roblox). Games like Minecraft, Roblox or Fortnite, that also offer user-generated content, an own in-game economy and currency, report several hundred million monthly active users each.

Please describe how your proposed solution will address the Challenge that you have submitted it in.

  1. Aedou is a 100% Catalyst-funded, meaningful and inclusive game on the Cardano blockchain that has massive potential to adopt millions of gamers, students, teachers and researchers from outside the blockchain space with a globally unique & novel use case. Through combining informal education with gaming, Aedou is enabling radically new ways of innovative blockchain gaming with more sustainable business models & practices.
  2. One unique opportunity is to become the first game that successfully combines "playing" with "education". This has been tried by many with gamification or so-called "serious games", although the results are mostly standard educational approaches in disguise, resulting in the infamous chocolate-covered broccoli problem - a feeling of being cheated and thus being neither entertained nor educated. This is due to a lack of expertise in games by project leads and a vast underestimation of the potential of games, belittling multiple genres with billions of users to only a "waste of time" and "useless by definition". Aedou is designed by life-long gamers & learners that know the worth of a true game & what it needs to be a good game. All while having the nice benefit that you actually learn a new language and play cooperatively, not competitively, to get additional, undebatable value from playing a game while possibly spending hours inside of it. There is NO fully functioning game yet that deals with learning languages. This is a huge chance to achieve mass adoption for Cardano and Atala PRISM (Minecraft & Roblox are trying to get into the formal education sector).
  3. Most gamers know that the NFT-craze and "play-to-earn"-metaverses are receiving lots of hate and pushback from the global gaming community, and rightfully so if they are solely used to raise exclusivity & competition. Cardano needs wholesome and meaningful games that include rather than exclude. This is why we do not press blockchain features onto people that just want to play and learn and do not want to get involved with blockchain in any way. All earning functionalities are optional and only activated once you become part of one of the DAOs of the game on your own accord. We do not want to give players exclusive ownership of their assets and make them rich through speculation and greed. Our focus is to connect people from around the world to share, learn and communicate with each other while earning off of the game's general revenue and helping each other grow. We want gamers to benefit as much as content creators while not raising any unnecessary barriers, but instead connect them more deeply with one another and give users a say in the direction of Aedou's future.
  4. Aedou has the potential to attract new users to Cardano that have no connection to (or even heavy biases against) blockchain technology. This is why all blockchain components are optional for playing, but easily within reach for every user to explore at their own leisure, and only if they decide for the massive benefits on their own.
  5. Every part of Aedou will be made open source, so it will benefit all game developers on Cardano and related projects (e.g. treasury smart contract & very accessible level editor). The final Aedou version will run on distributed hosting & computing services (e.g. Arweave & NuNet).

What are the main risks that could prevent you from delivering the project successfully and please explain how you will mitigate each risk?

  1. Godot engine development delays resulting in game development delays. Godot has launched their tenth alpha for the upgraded Godot 4 version. Our team is highly experienced in the Godot stack and can already work efficiently with the current alpha as we have already built our Playground v1 in it. As there are no features that we are waiting for, we should not be impacted by delays of the Godot Beta.
  2. Obviously, the development of the Cardano protocol & Atala PRISM capacities are crucial for enabling cheap and efficient smart contracts & handling of PRISM credentials & DIDs in connection to DAOs. The general lack of an identity wallet to store and manage DIDs could result in a blocker at some point, but we have great trust in the many capable people that are working feverishly on that solution. As all blockchain components are optional for the gameplay itself, we can focus on developing the gameplay part first, no matter the blockchain state, and keep most of the blockchain side for a later development stage where we hopefully have the sufficient capacities & best practices regarding treasuries/smart contracts in general.
  3. Another risk would be a lack of partnerships & collaborations on the language and blockchain part. The same is true for community engagement & adoption. We are hiring a social media manager to grow the Aedou community. The development of our Aedou website is currently in progress (scheduled to be launched before voting), where we want to manage community contributions and engage/inform new users. We believe that the website together with our developed MVP (September 22) will raise our chances of getting a partnership significantly.
  4. The risk of creating boring content is mitigated by extensive research into game-and-learning design & playtesting a lot with both inexperienced & seasoned gamers, as well as L1 & L2 speakers to achieve the most engaging outcomes for all.

Please provide a detailed plan, including timeline and key milestones for delivering your proposal.

Plan for Fund 8 proposal (ongoing):

  • July:
  • Aedou Website v1 (gamified to inform & enable basic contribution/engagement)
  • Playground v1 (basic level builder to place assets, attach & test interactive dialogues)
  • Hire PRISM pioneers
  • Onboard four language ambassadors (English, German, Japanese, Swahili)
  • Close out Fund 6 proposal ("Play-To-Learn-And-Earn DID-Platform")
  • August:
  • Start PRISM DID prototype (funded separately in Fund 8)
  • Aedou Website v2 (content contribution pipeline, explorable information on Aedou, engaging with other community members)
  • September:
  • MVP (Playground v2, basic levels & tutorials in English, German, Japanese & Swahili)
  • Whitepaper v1
  • Close out Fund 8 proposal ("Aedou - Realm of Languages")

Plan for Fund 9 proposal: Development Phase 1

  • October - December:
  • Development of tools & mechanics to add to the MVP for improving/simplifying community contribution & creation of content (level builder, narration tool)
  • October:
  • Add four languages to the MVP (Arabic, Mandarin, Spanish, Amharic)
  • hire extended team
  • November:
  • Start integrating PRISM prototype into website to link accounts to DIDs
  • December:
  • Add four languages to the MVP (Portuguese, Indonesian, French, Vietnamese)
  • January:
  • Creator Mode v1 (Enhanced MVP with more tools & game mechanics)
  • Mechanic/Level-Testphase 1
  • February:
  • Whitepaper v2
  • Add four languages to the MVP (Italian, Ukrainian, Polish, Hindi)
  • Mechanic/Level-Testphase 2
  • March:
  • Creator Mode v2 (full functionality to create complex levels & quests, integration of ProtonGraph for procedural 3D-generation (funded in Fund 8: "procedural 3D assets generator"))
  • Mechanic/Level-Testphase 3

Educhainment got funded in Fund 6 & 8 for the predecessor proposals of this one. As they are directly related to this proposal, they do not conflict with this proposal, and we can fully concentrate on developing Aedou. The fund 6 proposal "Play-To-Learn-And-Earn DID-Platform" will be closed out in July with the first playable prototype for our level builder (Playground v1). The fund 8 proposal "Aedou - Realm of Languages" will be closed out with the MVP and Whitepaper v1 in September prior to starting the next development phase. The fund 8 proposal "Aedou DIDs prototype" is scheduled for close-out in October as a requirement for including DIDs and building up our own emergent trust registry. The work for the DID-prototypes will be done by newly hired PRISM pioneers that will assist the Educhainment team. Gilles & Julian got funded in fund 8 for the proposal "Procedural 3D assets generator" to port, refactor & extend ProtonGraph. We cannot give a precise estimation on when this will be achieved, but it will most likely be finished until the end of the year at latest.

Mike has also been funded in fund 7 to "Build out 14 digital language hubs" and has designed Mulca-Hub as a result of that, the multilingual hub to inform about Cardano & connect with other people in the language of your choice. Mike is not actively working anymore on Mulca to focus 100% on Aedou and has therefore given full control over Mulca to Mulca's ambassador for Swahili, Evans Kisanga (@babaelliot). Mike never did and does not lay claim to any of Mulca's funds as they are only used to grow Mulca and pay the Mulca ambassadors.

Please provide a detailed budget breakdown.

In previous funds, we only applied for the bare minimum to cover our basic living costs. We & Catalyst are now at a point where we feel confident enough & comfortable to apply for fair wages without taking up a too large percentage of the challenge budget.

The budget below is calculated for a 6 months timeline.

Current Team:

Mike: Game/Learning Design & Research, Music/Sound, Project Management:

  • 600h * $25 = $15000

Gilles: Full Stack Game/Godot Dev:

  • 600h * $25 = $15000

Lucca: Graphic Design & Illustrations:

  • 400h * $25 = $10000

Marie: Linguistic Design & Language Team Coordination:

  • 400h * $25 = $10000

Julian: UX/UI & Full Stack Web-Dev, Tool-development:

  • 400h * $25 = $10000

We will hire additional people for:

Language Learning Design & Research:

  • 320h * $25 = $8000

DAO Design & Development (PRISM + Plutus):

  • 320h * $25 = $8000

NLP / Data Science:

  • 320h * $25 = $8000

Social Media Manager:

  • 240h * $25 = $6000

Additional Godot Dev:

  • 240h * $25 = $6000

Community incentives (content contribution on website):

  • $500 * 16 languages -> $8000

Calculation: (2*$15000) + (3*$10000) + (4*$8000) + (2*$6000)

-> $104000

Please provide details of the people who will work on the project.

  • Mike Dietrich - has kicked off the Educhainment-collective and is responsible for game design, game/learning concept & research, audio/sound design, managing/driving the general development process, blockchain concept $ funding. He is a first-cohort Plutus (+PRISM) Pioneer, Cultural Scientist, musician, lifelong gamer, Catalyst Boost grad and a big proponent of game-based learning. https://www.educhainment.com
  • Gilles Rivière, better known as HungryProton, is an experienced software engineer and full stack developer, mostly responsible for the game development and procedural 3D-tech components. He has deep knowledge of the Godot engine and his previous public work for the Godot developer community includes tools like Scatter and ProtonGraph that extend the engine's design capacities to enable non-destructive, procedural 3D-modeling. He draws lots of inspiration from some of his favourite game series (Zelda, Nier Automata, …) https://github.com/HungryProton
  • Lucca Maia is responsible for general graphic design, UX and media strategy. He is an accomplished visual artist and holds a degree in Social Communication and Media. He has long years of work experience in graphic design & illustration, working both in small and big teams. Likewise, he is addicted to creating and a game enthusiast. https://www.lucartspace.com
  • Julian Bauch is a versatile Software/Web-Engineer & UX/UI designer. He holds degrees in Computer Science and Design with diverse work experience as a Full Stack Developer, UX/UI and real-time generative art projects. Time and again, he's inspired by possibilities and loves to ask questions and innovate. https://iuilan.art
  • Marie Tronnier is Educhainment’s linguistic backbone and in charge of coordinating the language teams as well as developing the language acquisition concepts for the game. Being a language enthusiast, Marie is constantly curious about studying and analyzing new languages such as Malay, Turkish, Norwegian, Russian and Hindi. She holds a master degree in linguistics and intercultural communication.

If you are funded, will you return to Catalyst in a later round for further funding? Please explain why / why not.

We are 100% Catalyst funded and are incredibly grateful for the opportunity and trust that was given to us. Even though we had no prior experience in managing big projects on our own, the support of the community and Catalysts' iterative funding system has provided an immense learning opportunity and is constantly giving us heaps of new insights and possibilities. Similar to learning in a game, the Catalyst funding system encourages trying out new things and making mistakes as a valuable learning experience (not as failure), only to eventually getting it done and leaving stronger. This has only strengthened our resolve to build Aedou, and we will continue to do so, no matter the outcome of this proposal (although not getting funding would slow down our progress considerably). We will definitely apply for further funding once we have passed the next development stage (this proposal) and when we are in a position to set the scope for the next development phase and have realistic assumptions/goals. This is the only way, as there are no proven approaches for building games for learning, so we will have to return with greater insights.

Please describe what you will measure to track your project's progress, and how will you measure these?

We will take qualitative feedback from playtesters of the MVP to see what works well and where we need improvements. This will be done in a short survey that we are handing out to the playtesters and will be actively pursued in our three testing-phases (mentioned in roadmap).

We will measure the number of levels that are successfully integrated into the MVP, with the goal to raise this number to 10+.

Similarly, we will measure the number of supported languages in the MVP to validate if our ideas are working for diverse languages (together with the qualitative analysis), with the goal to raise this number to at least 12.

We will measure the activity on our new Aedou-website every month and track the number of registered users & the number of contributions/engagement to see if the website is working as intended over time. Similarly, we will track engagement on our socials by the number of followers with the intent to at least double our followers.

We will share our updates & progress regarding these measurements in the monthly progress report of Catalyst. Additionally, we will give a monthly update on the Aedou-website & our Twitter account in the form of an update-blog/post.

What does success for this project look like?

At the end of this proposal, we will have a clearer picture on the applicability of our developed game mechanics & levels to diverse languages in the form of an extended MVP that will feature at least 8 levels in at least 12 languages. In these levels, you will be able to learn how to introduce yourself, give simple statements about yourself, your well-being & surroundings, as well as counting to 100 & reading the alphabet of your target language.

This will provide us with insights for the usability & intuitiveness of our Creator Mode (where you can build level components & complete levels). The goal is to make the creative act of level building as accessible as possible to ensure participation of people with diverse non-technical backgrounds. These insights will be summarized into the updated version of our Whitepaper (v1 to be written in September 22, v2 in February 23) which will be another major outcome of this proposal.

We will also have taken first steps to creating language DAOs for Aedou with PRISM DIDs with the goal to have at least 25 Aedou-associated DIDs in March 23.

Please provide information on whether this proposal is a continuation of a previously funded project in Catalyst or an entirely new one.

This is a direct continuation of our previously funded projects in fund 6 & 8 for concept, MVP and DID-prototype of Aedou.

https://cardano.ideascale.com/c/idea/401098

https://cardano.ideascale.com/c/idea/367037

https://cardano.ideascale.com/c/idea/404974

It is also related to porting & refactoring ProtonGraph, which also got funded in fund 8 but is not exclusively intended for the development of Aedou (although we plan on using ProtonGraph as well).

https://cardano.ideascale.com/c/idea/404305

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