From Kalisz to Camerun - chatbot-based game
The Public Library in Kalisz, the participant of the program "Kultura w sieci 2020" asked us to develop an engaging creative concept and then implement an educational web game that will present the story of traveler Stefan Szolec-Rogoziński.
Creative concept, creative direction, UX analysis, UI and illustrations, animations, script and copywriting, tests, frontend and backend programming
Sparing Digital (UX / business analysis, UI / illustrations, creative direction), Panowie Pro (frontend, backend, tester, PM, comprehensive project coordination), copywriter, animator
According to the main assumption, the game was not only meant to be for entertainment - its additional task was the role of an auxiliary tool for students and teachers of history and geography. Already at the stage of conceptual work, we had to properly balance the proportions of the historical context with the elements of fun, so as to create a virtual experience that would intrigue young and older users.
The main group of users is students of the last years of primary schools and first grades of high schools (13-16 years old). This is a generation for which the virtual world is an indispensable element of the real world - a natural source of entertainment, searching for knowledge, and recently (since the pandemic) also the main channel of contact with teachers and classmates.
To the team working on the game, we invited librarians who are very familiar with the fate of Stefan Szlec-Rogoziński and were able to provide us with many interesting documents preserved in the Kalisz collections. We were also assisted by the Sparing Digital team, which is oriented towards the creation of digital products.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we carried out the project fully remotely - during the workshop we mainly used Google Meets and Miro, where we sorted out the storyline and ideas for features on a shared canvas.
Based on the client's subject matter expertise, we prepared an elaborate script scheme. Bearing in mind the average engagement time that the audience is able to devote to a web game, we limited the story to the most important and interesting threads, interspersing it with tasks that require the player to focus and a bit of dexterity. We divided the whole scenario into four chapters symbolising the four cities where Stefan Szolc-Rogoziński's journey was groundbreaking.
Parallel to work on the script and scope, the Sparing Digital team developed moodboards and proposed creative concepts. The client's team, on the other hand, was responsible for preparing source material and podcast recordings, which, when played in the game, acted as a source of knowledge and valuable tips for the players.
The full case study in English will be continued soon.
The concept is based on the aesthetics of paper, which is a reference to library book collections and historical source materials (diaries, maps). It is also a bridge between the real world (the paper pages of the book) and the virtual world (the online game).
All the characters appearing in the game and elements of the scenography were designed by the illustrator and then went through a post-production stage to make their texture as close to paper as possible.
Together with the Sparing Digital team, we decided to base the journey on the main character's horizontal movement mechanism, using a smooth scroller. We created and adapted a proprietary character movement solution to ensure smooth movement on all supported browsers.
All the movements of the game elements, e.g. plants, flames in the oil lamp, characters encountered, were designed by an illustrator and then pre-designed and prepared as sprites, which we implemented in the game.
The player takes on the role of Stefan Szlec-Rogozinski, who, as he moves between cities, encounters various characters from the period. He communicates with them via a chatbot. In this way, he has a direct influence on how the plot of the journey will unfold. Depending on which of the chatbot's suggested texts he chooses, he receives a different response, which can make his adventures easier or more complicated. Developing the dialogues was one of the major creative challenges - we knew that how we ran the narrative would have a huge impact on the length of the teenage viewer's interaction with the game. The chatbot made the historical context light and engaging.
For a better experience for users using mobile devices, we created a PWA version that makes it possible, among other things, to play the game in full-screen mode on phone screens.
The game was created in Vue JS using the latest version of the Phaser engine.
We used web AR in the campaign to promote the game. When the camera on the phone is pointed at the Kalisz logo, a window with a dialogue from the game launches and the user is encouraged to take a journey in the footsteps of Stefan Szolc-Rogoziński.