Redefining Swedish Christmas for the third year in a row.
This app marked North Kingdom's third in a row Holidays-experience for Swedish public TV's yearly Christmas calendar - Julkalendern. The mission, to support the 24 TV episodes broadcasted through out December leading up to Christmas Eve, was solved through a magical experience where users got to travel in time and visit historical houses reaching from the 11th century up until today. Unlocking one house per day, users were invited to prove their historical skills and earn time accurate clothing and furniture to decorate their very own caravan with.
By mixing education with entertainment and adding a big chunk of magic, this app delivered not only a supportive story to one of Sweden's most highly valued traditional TV events, but also created it's own little universe where cross-era decoration and a versatile character creation tool helped users to express their own feelings about Swedish history.
I was both art directing this experience, designing almost all of the assets and handling the overall creative concepting myself. Together with two developers, one UX and one producer we managed to pull of production within a three month time frame, offering user the opportunity to play the game on iOS and Android mobile devices, tablet and desktop.
The app included over 500 time accurate, historical items to decorate your room and dress your character with. Creating all of these assets required a dynamic production pipeline with a solid file naming system and the opportunity to easily render out one item from 3D and having it automatically produce a set of PNGs in different formats. Using Photoshop’s place-function helped a lot as files in comps then were updated without active interaction, and could be saved out in multiple sets in one click, using custom scripts.
To me, an important aspect of the project was to from the start work with deciphering any outdated norms and values that we might encounter. With kids aged six to twelve being our target audience, we had a responsibility to take conscious decisions about how to treat moral issues in production – like how to portrait historical views on gender equality and cultural hierarchies – that would in the end have a big impact on the users. We worked hard with creating an avatar that would be appealing to all children, disregarding gender or cultural background. To achieve this we gave users a gender neutral base body to customise as an initial part of the experience, allowing for skin colour control, choice of mood, choice of hair style and a set of modern clothing.
The app was tightly nested into the children’s show on Barnkanalen where the episodes were broadcasted in the morning. It was fun to see it come to life in walkthroughs done by the hosts and galleries where users could send in photographs of their own creations and have them shown in live TV.
-Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. As users made progress on their journey through time they would always meet their own avatar in each house, only dressed in time-specific garments. By using this setup we were hoping to achieve the feeling of you, as a player, travelling in time -getting a glimpse into the everyday life of another person just like you, living in a different age.
Working on this project really was a creative joyride. I appreciated the learning aspect of the game, working with kids a target group again and having the opportunity to add my preferred layer of magic on top of it all. There were so many opportunities to add details and love into the little world that we created, that we literally had to pull ourselves from our computer screens when it was time for launch. I believe that all of us on the team could have continued working on the project for at least a month more, if there would have been more time. Luckily for our friends and families, you can't push the Holiday Season.