Blue nose friends : Tatty Puppy was released in the spring of 2013 and marked a new and exciting direction for our client Carte Blanche.
The app is designed for 4-7 year boys and girls and follows Tatty Puppy as he explores the magical world of the Blue Nose Friends. The app is split into 6 minigames, each minigame giving the user a glimpse into that particular Blue Nose Friends’ world. We visit characters such as Coco the monkey and his band on the beach which teaches you how to make a song, Passion the lovebug in her magical garden and Peanut in his hamster house who teaches you how to bake biscuits. The app has been well received with great reviews.
Recently, a toy Tatty Puppy has been released to toy stores countrywide that works with the app. The toy listens, barks and wags it’s tail to encourage young users to meet and interact with the Blue Nose Friends on-screen. We used a technology called sonic chirping to enable the App to talk to the toy. This is a high frequency soundbyte (out of the range of human hearing) that triggers a set of movements in the toy. Fun stuff!
It quickly dawned on us that the majority of our Young play testers were not really interested in high scores or achievements…
Development spanned 5 months and we took initial workshopped ideas into development. As the app was designed from the outset to be made up of 6 minigames, development was split into 6/7 project milestones. With each milestone we rigorously playtested internally and with a group of girls aged 4 -7. This enabled us to incorporate feedback early on the in the project, reduce waste and accelerate production.
It quickly dawned on us that the majority of our young playtesters were not really interested in high scores or achievements but were asking for more variety and the ability to change things in and out, the ability to control their own media. The youtube generation has proven that even casual consumers want more creative control over what they consume but it was very interesting to see that this is now starting so early as children adopt technology at younger and younger ages. In response to this feedback we embarked on shaping the other minigames to better fit our now established pillars of design. These pillars would shape the way we approached the next project milestones and guide further user testing. These pillars are :
Creating activities that enable children to change colours, items, swap things in and out and see what response they get. This taps into instinctual play/learning habits children have.
Experimentation can only be achieved with enough variety. Each minigame was designed to provide lots of different colours, animations, characters and effects.
Low barrier to entry
We observed that children really want to be able to do things themselves and young children easily get frustrated if they struggle how to understand what to do. This usually ends with them wandering off and doing something else! Therefore we kept the amount of interactions to an absolute minimum. Be they drag or drop a tap or a swipe. In the case of Peanuts’ biscuit bake (image above) we had multiple interactions so we designed this with a wizard style progression to pace the learning required.
As children experiment, they are constantly looking to see what feedback they get. Through this process, they begin to learn what is correct and in our observations gain enjoyment from this successful discovery. Therefore you need lots of audio and visual feedback to reward the users for a successful interaction.
Toy and a younger audience formed a new direction for our client Carte Blanche and new life was breathed into Tatty Puppy to become the Hero character for this first step into the world of mobile. Our client was already aware of the huge impact mobile has on kids entertainment. As the brand is already ranked 7th for most recognised children’s characters in the UK we worked hard to understand how best to apply their host of recognisable characters.
Before production began, we spent a lot of time understanding what Carte Blanche’s core audience was and what was the best fit for mobile. We are lucky to have access to a host of very well defined characters to choose from and the most popular characters informed the design process. We took each characters world and shaped the gameplay to hopefully introduce the character better to our audience. Children relate to characters even more than adults so we felt it was a priority for them to get to know the Blue Nose Friends and the magical worlds they inhabit through playing the app.
We built the game in our favorite 3D game engine Unity that allows rapid development. One such experiment was Binky’s Hide ‘n’ Seek (see image above) that uses the gyroscope in the device. This gives us the feeling that we have a “window” into Binky’s world. So as we move the device around, the camera in the game moves, allowing us to seek Binky who’s character is shy. We received such a positive response from testers, we decided to implement this as one of the minigames. It plays to the strengths of the 3D technology and communicates Binky’s shy character in a simple game for kids.