Read about our company,
our work, and our development process in
Our services cover the full range of game and interactive development activities, from concept development to research and writing,
to visual design, illustration and animation, to audio recording and production, to programming and production.
Projects typically range in cost from $25,000
to $250,000 or more. Development time ranges from six to eighteen months.
We take seriously the need to measure the quality and impact of our
projects and have conducted evaluation programs independently and in
collaboration with outside evaluators.
We firmly believe in a collaborative development process with our clients, and find that such a process results in a superior end product and user learning
experience. We usually have an initial face-to-face meeting for concept development, followed by frequent contact through email and conference calls throughout production.
To facilitate collaboration, we set up a wiki for each project, which becomes the home for all design documentation as well as visual designs, scripts, and prototypes.
Building on established interactivity and game design practices, we have developed a structured learning game design process that produces a blueprint for production:
- Audience and Goals: The first step in the planning process lays the foundation by defining the project and its goals: describe the audience in terms of age,
expertise, and environment, identify the institutional and project goals, and define the desired learning outcomes.
- Concept Development: Framing a Big Idea distills the myriad themes and ideas into a single coherent statement that serves as a touchstone for all
subsequent development. A strong affective concept helps make the experience immediately meaningful to the target audiences. With this concept, we then brainstorm the
types of gameplay that will engage our target audience, provide meaningful interactions, and achieve our learning goals. Based on those discussions, we develop a concise
design sketch for review and further discussion.
- Design Document: We now delve into more detail, describing content, functionality, and interfaces in detail. Here we also review the content requirements
in terms of specific assets (visual, audio, text) and make a plan for the necessary content development, ultimately producing a full-fledged design document, including
sample scripts and and interface designs for each key type of game interaction.
- Visual Design: Based on the wireframe layout designs and discussions with project staff about the desired look and feel, we develop an initial set design
comps. We revise these through several rounds of review and discussion before producing a complete set of graphic designs.
- Paper Prototyping: Using draft text and wireframe layouts, we test our design with typical users. We usually do several rounds of testing, first refining
the interactivity, then focusing on content. We have found (and usability research indicates) that small samples are highly effective at revealing structural and usability
issues, so each test usually includes 4-6 users. We typically conduct these informally, without the effort (and cost) of a fully developed testing protocol and analysis,
as we have found this approach yields an abundance of valuable information.
- Digital Prototype: We first select key functionality and develop a digital prototype to test game concepts. These prototypes are revised after internal
and user testing until we are satisfied that our core mechanics are solid and effective. We then start creating assets—images, illustrations, animations,
audio—with which to populate the prototypes.
- Alpha: Much of the overall development time and effort goes into building the alpha version of the interactive, which contains all major functionality,
but may be missing some assets.. The alpha version has many bugs, which must be identified and fixed in the next phase.
- Beta: We develop a series of betas as we test the interactive for engagement and effectiveness. We are devout believers in the importance of user
testing and have worked with top evaluators in the museum field, including Minda Borun, Selinda Research Associates, and the Institute for Learning Innovation. We often
conduct informal user testing ourselves, applying what we have learned from the experts when the evaluation budget is limited. Throughout the beta phase, we identify and
fix bugs to ensure a smooth user experience.
- Release: The entire website is completed and delivered to the client, ready for launch.
- Post-launch maintenance: Even with concerted testing and review, websites often have minor bugs at launch. We include a post-launch maintenance phase in
our budget to ensure that we fix these bugs promptly.
We are devout believers in the importance of user testing and have worked with top evaluators in the museum field, including the Institute for Learning Evaluation,
Selinda Research Associates, and Minda Borun. We also conduct user testing ourselves, applying what we have learned from the experts when the evaluation budget is limited. We
have access to youth from several nearby schools and will test the game with these youth, as well as half a dozen adults, to identify usability issues that we can solve in the
final versions of the game.