In education, game design is often used as a means to an end: for example, to learn computer programming. Inspired by the notion of constructional design, or the design of tools to support other’s design activities, we are exploring the use of tools to support learning game design as an end in itself. We present a work-in-progress tool called Tower Defense Generator that allows student game designers to actively, and reflectively, explore a game’s possibility space while developing a deeper understanding of the key features of the tower defense sub-genre, and how those features interact to produce meaningful gameplay experiences. TDG allows learners to use different heuristics to procedurally generate game levels that can then be analyzed, playtested, and modified. We argue that these (and other) features provide for an environment with the appropriate amount of scaffolding to encourage powerful and interesting design explorations in support of learning.
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