At the beginning of our AI English Teacher bot, I developed this prototype mixing comics and chatbots for a fun English Language Learning app.
Based on the prototype we raised seed funding from ChinAccelerator and 500 Startups for Rikai Labs, and I moved to Shanghai to launch the service.
Adventure games are a great format for language learning, because talking to and understanding the characters is fundamental to progress in the game.
The design was a mix of comics and chat adventure games.
To talk to in-game characters we started with easy multiple choice questions. As players progressed we'd use "magnets" to build a sentence from parts of the sentence. We would gradually introduce smaller chunks, and 'red herring' words, to increase difficulty. Eventually players can progress to free-form text input, and fully open-ended chats with a real teacher.
Some dialogs would feature easily confused words, so the player would have to pick the right word in the given context.
We would hint about 'clues' in the current game and also had simple "hidden object" mechanics to find items that would reveal further clues to progress in the game.
The task list reminds the player what they should do next, so they don't get lost, and can see progress through the lesson. This also allowed a non-linear flow if players wanted to go and explore and do the tasks out of order.
The Health bar you lose a heart for each wrong answer - too many and you'd have to restart the lesson! The stars also showed how many clues you found on the current play through, motivating players to try again and get a perfect score ("mastery")