Before I trained to be a teacher, there was a huge shortage of qualified teachers in Ireland; so much so that when I finished my science degree in 2001, just in time for the dot com bubble to burst, I was able to get a teaching position in a school in Tallaght in Dublin. By coincidence, the deputy principal at the time, was (as still is) one of the most respected edtech teachers in Ireland. When he heard of my background in ICT, we decided to create the first ever educational software game that encompassed the entire curriculum. Most of all, it would completely focus on the revised Irish curriculum. The software was called “Who Took the Book?” and it inspired 2 other follow-up games, “Who Stole Mona?” and “Who Nabbed Sam?”
All these games were written using a piece of software called Opus Illuminatus from Digital Workshop. I found that it was a great piece of software for developing simple games without the need for extensive programming ability. The software created from it could be published as a Windows programme and over time, one could produce programs that were based on Flash, though they were quite limited. Nowadays, you can publish software in HTML5 and you can have programs published ready for Android phones and tablets (via the Pro version.)
I haven’t developed anything on Opus Illuminatus for about 5 years and I noticed that some of the resources I had written were no longer working on newer Windows machines so I’ve decided to revisit the software this year and see what I can produce. Opus Illuminatus has now been renamed as Opus Creator (or Opus Pro) and although it looks fairly similar to what it always looked like, I’m going to delve into the new functions and see how it goes.
Do you remember Opus Illuminatus and do you think it might be worth checking out again as a resource for teaching children how to do basic programming or has the world been completely captured by the likes of Scratch and Kodu? I think the great appeal of Opus Creator is that one can make their own programme that can run as a standalone piece of software. With the advantage of now being able to create apps for mobile devices, who knows? It might make a comeback!