First Person Tutor


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TrickyFirst Person TutorThere are those that say that standards of spelling and grammar are vital to proper communication; that without following them, untold consequences of miscommunication will result. Others hold that only the content of ideas that matter, and that fascist adherence to arbitrary rules misses the forest for the trees. However, Witherworth University Professor Nathaniel Paynuss takes a third tack: that proof-reading is meant to be a weapon to get back at those snotty collegiate brats making fun of him on "The Face Book". In First Person Tutor, an, uh, "educational" arcade word game developed by Big Blue Boo Labs for the 7 Day FPS Game Jam, you play the role of beleaguered TA to the evil professor, held captive by a huge pile of student debt. You have a stack of papers to mark, and a score of professorial grudges Paynuss would be happy to settle by GPA proxy. You know what you need to do.

Using the mouse, scan the submitted paper and mark off all spelling and grammar mistakes by clicking. Move up and down the page by directing the mouse, or use the [WASD] or [arrow] keys. Each mistake spotted will lower the student's grade by a certain amount, with quick spotting leading to combos. Your boss will be vaguely satisfied with handing out a C-, but true success will only come by delivering a total failure. The inherent premise of First Person Tutor should appeal many on the internet, but its dark satire of college politics should give it wider appeal. The papers cover a nice variety of Wikipedia-swiped topics, though one suspects that the more esoteric errors true grammarians may spot may not be recognized. (Curse you dangling participles!) Still, the concept is so unique, and the presentation so polished for a Game Jam work, that players will be surprised how fun it is to get a high score by giving out low ones.

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32 Comments

Nice concept, but the asinine controls make it more annoying than one of Professor Paynuss' lectures.

Grade: F-

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Excuse me but ... but a Her with a capital H in the middle of a sentence is not correct.

The arrow keys do not seem to work to move around the page either.

Someone that wants to create a game like this, needs to 100 percent sure of their own grammar and spelling before release.

Withholding judgement here, for now.

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Since you mentioned it:

Someone WHO wants to create a game like this needs to be 100% sure of their own grammar.

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JustMe beat me to it, but it was inevitable that someone would end up invoking Skitt's Law.

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Skitt's_Law

Getting back on topic, I think the game could benefit from a 'relaxed' mode that removes the timer.

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I enjoyed the concept very much! I think it has a lot of potential, but it needs some refining to reach that potential.

I didn't like feeling as rushed as I did in the game, and at some points I felt that there were more mistakes in later paragraphs than in the beginning of the paper. I never reached the end of a paper, though I guess I got somewhat close in an early level.

Some problems I noticed:

I noticed that in many of the levels, "The Face Book" screenshots overlaid the last line of text in the letter.

I don't really think it's fair when they make names into mistakes, especially if it is a name that is the first thing on the paper.

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neo1973 Author Profile Page June 27, 2012 7:13 PM

Hilarious concept, would love to see this shined up to address the minor concerns mentioned above.

Would be nice to be able to review the paper afterwards as well, without the over lay of the grade.

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SirNiko Author Profile Page June 27, 2012 8:01 PM

I would love to have a more generous version of this game that gives more time to grade earlier papers and has more emphasis on explaining why each item is incorrect.

The more difficult levels towards the end with less obvious errors and less time could be reserved for players intentionally going to an advanced level of difficulty.

The obvious misspellings detract from the more subtle errors in grammar and repetition. The developers could and should consider levels where the writer makes similar errors throughout, like a level with mostly misspellings of less obvious words, or more grammatical mistakes like the infamous "who" vs "whom".

I would even pay money for something with a similarly slick presentation and more thoughtful design towards teaching grammar and speed reading.

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Carny Asada Author Profile Page June 27, 2012 9:11 PM

@Justme: Close, but not quite. Should be: "Someone who wants to create a game like this needs to be 100 percent sure of HIS own grammar."

"Their" is frequently used in casual spoken English as a singular pronoun when gender is uncertain, but it is technically plural and grammatically incorrect in this sentence.

You could also fix it: "People who want to create games like this need to be 100 percent sure of their own grammar."

And also: Fix the controls in this game. I need to flunk more students, dang it.

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haikiba Author Profile Page June 27, 2012 9:48 PM

The time constraint is just a bit too stringent, especially when they're asking for grammar corrections that aren't easy to scan for.

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When I think about it, these students really do deserve failing grades with such blatant errors in their papers.

The fact that your professor is a neurotic egomaniac willing to pay you obscene sums to grade them is just a handy coincidence.

I managed to get below $90k and finished the final level. With some practice and memorization, I think I can still do better...

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@SirNiko you have no idea how hard I am agreeing with both of your comments right now. After reading this review I was hoping that I could link it to my little sister to help her learn, but quickly realized this game could not be used in this manner.

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I kept getting marked as Incorrect for trying to fix things it didn't acknowledge as mistakes.

The game creator doesn't seem to understand that grammatical errors are not as obvious as spelling errors. One actually has to read it first to determine whether something is being used incorrectly or not. There's barely enough time for a cursory glance.

And speaking of cursor-y glances, the controls are rather ridiculous, and I keep missing the target.

Made in 7 days, and it shows.

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Wait, in exactly what school system can you get below some sort of negative A? What school system lets you grade below a 0 in the first place?!
But it's a fun game.

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I like the concept. However, the implementation leaves much to be desired. The time limit seems particularly ridiculous.

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Cute idea. Hate the timer. 2/5 for annoying timer. It made the game infuriating, and lost its fun appeal.

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[strongbad]
Not good enough, F minus minus!
*BZZZZT!*
[/strongbad]

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A cute idea that doesn't quite work because the less-obvious targets aren't necessarily recognised, although the tight time constraint is clearly designed to prevent detailed scrutiny of the text. So it gets a 4 from me.

@Carny: As for using "they" as a singular pronoun - there is nothing wrong with that; it is far better than using "he" or "she" when gender is uncertain. But I agree that it is often more sensible just to recast sentences sometimes; that's becoming something of a lost art in these days of instant responses.

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John259 Author Profile Page June 28, 2012 8:41 AM

This is an excellent idea but IMHO the implementation is poor.

The time limit should be removed and the number of mistakes reduced so as to make them trickier to spot.

With spelling there's the vital question of whether the program uses US, UK or some other country's variant of English. There's also a need to restrict the grammatical and punctuation mistakes to those which the majority of teachers would agree on, and avoid boldly going (!) to those which are questionable.

I also had problems with losing the cursor.

Let's hope an improved version is released in due course.

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sonicscrewdriver Author Profile Page June 28, 2012 12:55 PM

Dr Paynuss... heh heh.

Took me a while, but once I got it, I'm easily amused.

This game speaks to me. I hate bad spelling and grammar with a blazing, unholy and disproportionate passion. I also hate that wretched hive of scum and villany, The Face Book.

Just call me Dr Paynuss.

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Haha, I managed to give out a -3% grade on stage 6... ouch. =P

This was a lot of fun, if a bit rough around the edges. Love the concept.

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abacus55 Author Profile Page June 29, 2012 5:44 AM

"$8 million dollars" is apparently a grammatically correct phrase. Who knew?

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colin.d.howell Author Profile Page June 29, 2012 2:23 PM

My guess is that this program works by taking the original text of the Wikipedia source article and making certain well-defined edits, such as spelling changes, duplicating certain words, etc. Of course this assumes that the original text is grammatically correct. If it isn't, as sometimes happens in Wikipedia articles, the program isn't smart enough to detect the existing errors, so it won't correctly handle the player fixing them.

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billyswong Author Profile Page June 29, 2012 9:07 PM

Nice idea, but the control is very bad. The "aim" may be an artistic touch for the developer, but a major slow down to the player. It is pale in colour and slow down my already slow reflexes. The time constraint are also too tight. Getting past the levels becomes a matter of luck, whether I clicks the correct positions fast enough.

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Elijah2200 Author Profile Page June 30, 2012 7:10 AM

This game is freaking brilliant.

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Carny Asada Author Profile Page July 1, 2012 12:01 AM

@Tricky, @Scurra: In formal written English, "they" is a plural pronoun, not a singular one. Trust me; I do this for a living. I would say, "Just call me Dr. Paynuss," but @Sonicscrewdriver has already claimed it.

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@Carny - plural 'they' has been in use since the late 1400's - it's used by Shakespeare, in fact. And it's generally accepted as properly formal in English academia, even if it's not always (there are debates) in American.

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elle Author Profile Page July 1, 2012 3:10 PM replied to Kadi

I agree. It's not a case in which incorrect grammar is causing a confusion of communication. In fact, using they as a generalized singular is more streamlined than the very awkward he or she and most people are not comfortable with the simple, albeit correct, he in such cases. We all recognize changes in the language as necessary; yet, for some reason, this one pronoun instance is where prescriptive grammarists dig in their heels.

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Vanessa9 Author Profile Page July 1, 2012 5:39 PM

I really like the idea, and I appreciate how it keeps to the simpler errors like duplication and switching two letters around within a word. Every middle school student needs the skills promoted in this game, but most lack them. (At least, they do in _my_ little back-woods school!) The stampy-hand-pen thing was a cute idea, but it's hard to move around and words are easy to miss.

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Vanessa9 Author Profile Page July 2, 2012 7:32 PM

I also thought that it was really funny at the end when the "Paynuss final bonus" started tallying into the thousands, but suddenly changed to $50. Was this a glitch or did the creator of the game mean that to happen?

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Vanessa9 Author Profile Page July 2, 2012 7:38 PM

Okay, sorry for three different comments, but also: now after restarting the game "Paynuss final bonus" will not leave the screen. :(

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