I’m getting very excited because we are starting to get more content for our site. Playnormous is teaming up with our friend Jay Drayer, owner of CareFlash. What does this mean for us? Well, Playnormous + CareFlash = more cool animations on our site!
CareFlash is a free service (ah, yes, just like the Playnormous “free philosophy”) that facilitates the communication between friends and family during a health-related event. You can share your story and easily keep loved ones in the loop about your circumstances throughout your recovery process. Public forums provide an outlet to share experiences and get support from others in similar situations.
CareFlash has hundreds of Flash-based 3D healthcare animations on disorders, procedures, and anatomy, all medically accurate and narrated in plain language. Plain language in multiple languages actually. The animations are available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Dutch, and Hungarian. Pretty awesome. They’re also very high quality animations, hence “flashy.”
We’re all about using media to talk about health in simple terms, so we’re adding CareFlash content to our Playnormous library. Starting as soon as next week, we will be featuring CareFlash 3D animation videos which will answer burning health questions like:
Last Friday we had a VERY productive Playnormous board meeting (aka Flash Friday meeting). With all the other projects we have going on for our parent company, Archimage, it has been hard to really nail down dates for all the Playnormous games we want to make.
On Friday Jon, our lead programmer, carefully mapped out a schedule on a large white board, designating different weeks for different project deadlines for different people. He even color coded it. Who knew Jon could use colors? (Just kidding Jon.) Unfortunately, the white board was so jam packed that no one could read it.
So we had to go to Plan B. Now we have this super fancy system of note cards pinned to one of our conference room walls courtesy of Playnormous President, Jerald. Colored note cards too. Fancy, fancy!
With the aid of our super fancy scheduling system, we have finally nailed down release dates for 10 new Playnormous games. Now, from what I’ve read, one knows they are a good corporate blogger when they feel as if they are giving away too much information. Well, that’s exactly how I feel.
So, against my better “you-never-know-what-could-happen-so-don’t-give-out-the-release-dates” judgment, I’m going to share with you what games we have cooking here at Playnormous and when we anticipate their release. But, just as a disclaimer, don’t hold me to these exact dates. You never know what could happen… Oh, and names may be changed to protect the innocent.
We’ve had a little wave of press lately. The month of May must be a lucky one for us. There’s a little something for everyone…
A story by The Houston Business Journal was released on May 23 featuring Playnormous and Food Fury entitled “Houston team rolls dice in health gaming industry.” How exciting to know that reporters like Monica Perin are taking notice of the start-up technology community in Houston.
Didn’t know Houston even had start-up technology companies? Check out THE BEST source in town for all things Houston…and start-up…and technology…appropriately named Startup Houston.
Playnormous parent company Archimage was also recently featured in an article by Gamasutra on May 21. It’s all about our experiences working with researchers and the medical community. Definitely worth a read for those interested in creating serious games for health.
Don’t panic! It’s not the end of the world or the game or anything like that. However, this does mark the end of my series on how to create a casual game for health using the example of Bubble Trouble.
Did I miss anything? Any other details you would like to know about?
And just fyi, our underwater adventure in exercise, Bubble Trouble, is scheduled for release on July 4, 2008. Check back soon to play the game and let us know what you think.
The evolution of the title of the Bubble Trouble game alone is a great example of how casual games evolve.
To quote our VP, Richard, “If there’s no fun, there’s no game.” This may seem obvious to the average online game player. However, when you’re dealing with serious content, like health, sometimes fun can take a back seat.
When things like learning and behavior change goals enter the picture, it’s easy to forget that we’re trying to design a game.
How do we make casual games that are about serious topics fun? Well, all I can say is experience. LOTS of experience. Making casual games for health is a balancing act: balancing something that people will want to play with something that gets a healthy message across.
Ultimately, in my opinion, making a serious game fun involves 3 elements:
I’ve discussed game mechanics and gameplay extensively, but what about the art? We didn’t want just a big orange ball flying around the screen. That’s no fun. And we’re all about monsters, so where’s the monster? Enter stage left our newest monster. An underwater monster to be exact. I find it amazing how Iva, our Playnormous designer and creator of this little underwater monster, can go from sketches on random pieces of paper to a complete such an amazing finished product. Isn’t he cute?!
I think characters, like our underwater monster, have great value in a game like this. There is nothing health-related about him at all. He’s just fun. And without fun, there is no game.