RPA's "The Catornauts" win big at Oregon Game Project Challenge

Photo by: Josh White

Photo by: Josh White

Redmond Proficiency Academy’s very own game development team known as the Catornauts, recently went to the Oregon Game Project Challenge competition and left with an award for the best Art and Assets. The Catornauts team, consisting of Matthew Steele(author of this article), Azriel Fall, Sage Walden, Beauden Yetter, and Justin Greenstone, spent about 7 months developing a game to take to this competition, and it seems like all that work really did pay off.

So for starters, what is Oregon Game Project Challenge, or OGPC, anyway? OGPC is a state wide game development competition for students in grades 6th through 12th, participants are given a theme and around 7 to 8 months to develop a game to present to the judges. After receiving the theme, this year being “Space Race”, students pair up into groups and form their own teams, within each team people can have different roles. One student may program while another makes art assets, while another student might run a website and keep social media up to date. This competition focuses on getting students into the world of game development early on and get them interested, along with showing student that there is more to game development than just programming and art.

So how did these students within the Catornauts team make their game? “Well our original idea was going to be a Turn based RPG (Role playing Game).” Azriel Fall, lead artist, explains. “But we soon came to realize that the style in which OGPC was held, no one would be able to fully experience a story based game.” Soon the team’s plan changed from a story based game, to a short multiplayer series of minigames. “We ended up developing a two-player space race. The premise was that you had to build your ship, fly it into space, defend your satellite, then land on the moon, first to land on the moon won.” says Azriel. Taking inspiration from games such as Mario Party and WarioWare, the Catornauts team started development on C.A.T Space Program. “The idea was that anyone could come up and play it, then they could bring over their friends and challenge them to our game.” Sage Walden, Social Media and Website Manager, says. “We wanted to make it hard enough that it takes some level of skill, but isn’t so hard it alienates non-gamers. And we did see a lot of people bring over their friends and challenge each other to the game, which was great because that was our hope for the game.”

After the months of hard work and struggle, the Catornauts team finally went to the Oregon Game Project Challenge. “It was a very fun and open environment, everybody was running from game to game seeing what each team did different with this year’s theme.” says Justin Greenstone, team musician. “Luckily we didn’t have judging till later in the event, giving us time to fix any bugs that might have popped up.” The Catornauts team ended up walking away with Best in Show for Art and Assets. “Though we won in Art and Assets that doesn’t mean the rest of the game was worthless, it just means that we had a good working game that had its own fun and unique style.” Justin explains.

The Big Switch: Alma

The login screen for Alma.

The login screen for Alma.

Alma, a controversial switch from the previously used Student Information System (SIS) Focus, may not have the best reputation among students. In a recent survey of RPA students revealed, five of the seven students disliked the change to Alma from Focus, of the respondents most disliked the switch because, their transcripts are unavailable, there is bad phone compatibility, and finally and possibly the most frustrating feature your grades are hard to find and difficult to understand compared to Focus. Here are what some of the students have to say about the subject.

A large majority of students are desperate for the addition of an online transcript to Alma. As shown by Nate when he says “Another reason is the lack of a transcript.” Many students depended on Focus to allow them to view their transcript at a moment's notice. “I hate Alma, it needs a transcript, It is nice to be able know that  your transcript is looking good” reminds Lexi. Getting a transcript on Alma needs to be a high priority concern, and it is obvious that it is when recent knowledge surfaced from Ryan McLaughlin when he said “Alma is coming this January.”

A certain portion of the student population enjoy Alma for the extra accessibility. This is heard when Sylest says “Items are easier to find and access.” Alma is much clearer and offers a better user interface; that is when it is not handicapped by phone accessibility. Accessibility and maneuverability are key features in student information systems and Alma has them.

Students consider grades to be difficult to access. Scrolling thru different classes in this small tab called “Grades” is a difficulty synchronizes with Nate when he says “All grades need to be easily accessible, and shown on the same page.” Considering the fact grades are how a student know how they are doing in school grade accessibility must be a well crafted feature. Without good grade accessibility a student information system will lose some of its purpose.

The shaky state of Alma continues to be an issue for students. Grades can not be accessed with the ease of other student information systems. Transcripts continue to be absent from the entirety of Alma; it’s saving grace being that it will be added in January, all students will be looking forward to that. Alma not being a complete failure has more accessibility for students. Hopefully these issues will be resolved and RPA can continue being a shining star amongst the darkest of nights.


Little Shop; Lot of Work

The RPA Theatre Group has proven time and again that they can put on an entertaining performances. Their plays are such that with each performance enormous crowds are drawn to watch in awe as RPA’s thespians bring the stage to life. This time, the crowds will assemble for the group's newest play, Little Shop of Horrors, and it has been an  effort to create this monster of a play.

By the time Little Shop is performed, the actors will have rehearsed their parts over a hundred hours in class. The Theater Design Class has a tough job as well, they have created and maintained all the props on set, costumes, makeup, lighting and everything else involved.

Sydney Scott explained that “The audience probably knows about 10% of what we do behind stage”. In Little Shop, there are four man eating plant puppets, each with the name Audrey 2. The largest puppet, the true Man Eater, lives up to its monstrous reputation; it is over seven feet tall with three people needed to operate it, and, due to its complexity, the puppet broke and had to be welded back together. Regardless, this was only a small bump and now everyone is focusing on how to put all the parts they have been practicing into one, cohesive piece.

The crew does a lot of work on the show but so do the actors: they are the focal point of the production- many, also are in the Theater Design Class. With over twenty five songs in the production there is potential for mis-sung lyrics, missed cues and misplaced footing. However, they have practiced so much that everyone on set agrees that they are more than a little sick hearing Little Shop’s long list of songs. Their effort has paid off though as the life that the actors bring to the stage. Their acting is amazing and in all the plays from RPA, they never fail to represent their “show must go on” attitude.

Katie Bullock, the assistant director explained she “wants to maximize how cool it can look on stage to distract from the fact that they are in a cafeteria and not in an auditorium. I want our shows to be so good that the audience will forget where they are.” Needless to say the RPA Theater Department, actors and crew alike, put tremendous effort into their shows to make them a pleasure to attend.

Open Enrollment at RPA

RPA has a large influence on the community and many people have an idea of what charter schools because of our community outreach. They are alternatives to traditional education and have a unique set up and a smaller student base. What many people are confused about the “public school status” charter schools have. This in itself is not that confusing but when paired with the idea that charter schools are smaller that traditional schools sometimes things get confusing.

Charter schools are only allowed to have as many students as their district allows. Usually, because of the experimental nature of charter schools, districts prefer classic schools to have higher numbers. If a traditional school grows too big you can give a charter school a higher student limit.

With higher limits comes open slots for the new school year. Those slots are filled by something called open enrollment. Open enrollment is quite similar to what is sounds like as it is an opportunity to enroll as many students as possible within a set number of days.

After open enrollment is done, if there are more applicants than positions then everyone, no matter when they applied, will enter the lottery where the first drawn get positions. If an applicant is not drawn within the number of available areas in the charter school, the order they are draw from is the order the students are put on a waiting list. When a position opens again they are given a spot within the school. RPA’s Sandy Cloud says “If a lottery is needed it will happen March 17th and families will be notified March 18th.”

Because of the student population of Central Oregon is always growing RPA have many opportunities to join. Open enrollment started quite recently here at RPA and is open until the 15th of March. Enrollment occurs more than once but the largest session is happening now, when people can enroll for the new year.