As the fastest growing media segment, mobile devices rely
heavily on games and animation. In
fact, Disney reports that games have the biggest appeal on users within
Disney.com mobile. Earlier this
year, a panel of key players (hosted by PGA Mobile Co-Chair John Heinsen) at
the CTIA Wireless conference discussed the producer’s role in developing mobile
games and animation for wireless devices.
The producer is
Panel experts agreed producers are an integral part in
all aspects of game and animation development. "The producer is really the glue in designing,
developing, and producing the game itself,” stated David Postal, Senior
Producer of the Domestic Wireless Disney Interactive Media Group. To develop the "best user
experience” producers must be aware of all devices on the market, as content
should be equally engaging for high-end as well as lower-end devices. To stay
on top of the mobile network, Postal adds, "Producers recognize audience
insight is equally important, as the user experience should be constantly
improved by advancing tools such as touch screens, favorites menus, and the
introduction of additional games that consumers would enjoy.”
Saving time and money are a priority at Disney.com mobile,
so producers utilize existing content several times over to focus on the above
priorities. For example, when
developing a game Disney will utilize and repurpose different pieces of
pre-existing content—for instance, releasing one version of a game with a Hannah
Montana-themed "skin,” and a second version with a Justin Bieber theme.
In the beginning
As mobile pioneers, Animax has been producing mobile
animation for six years.
Through trial and error they
have mastered mobile games and animation by developing projects such as
How to Cook Like a Soprano , ESPN mobile, Hot Shot Photo DARTS, PopZilla.TV,
Little Pim’s Word Bag, and Fun Nugget.com. For a smooth project run, at the beginning of any assignment
Animax producers ask the following questions: Who is the end user?
What are audience expectations?
How will users experience this animation piece? The answers to these questions –
arrived at with as much clarity and specificity as possible – will impact
developing decisions and increase work efficiency.
A journey like no
Lin Tam, co-founder of Digital Munch, shared her four-month
journey developing DJ Music, an iPhone game that is played in sync with music. As expected, there were challenges; most
fell into three categories: technical, design, and production. Technical challenges included coding the algorithm in the
game (the music component made the algorithm extremely complex), the installation
of a cocos2d engine (after Digital Munch invested substantial man-hours building
their own game engine), and finally the optimization, framework, and
performance testing, which took longer than expected, particularly the prototyping
and play testing to determine the final look and feel of the game. Design challenges consisted of
redesigning the game’s appearance several times to fit the iPhone. Producing challenges included staying
within budget parameters, scheduling , managing overseas teams, training new
staff, advising current staff, communicating between technical/design/and
business departments and finally translating those conversations into reports
to upper management in a language management could comprehend.
After all is said and done, Tam’s best piece of advice to
mobile producers is to have a plan for the unplanned.
What does the
The next evolution of gaming will be focus on Flash and
HTML5, social gaming, free primary
game offeringswhichinclude fees as one progresses to higher levels,
virtual currency, and game advertising specifically targeted to the end user.
While the iPad is the most widely-adopted new mobile device of
the past six months, technology continues to advance rapidly. Meanwhile, the relationship between
development and execution bring hurdles such as the need to publishing numerous
times for diverse devices, and unfamiliarity with a game’s target
audience. Future mobile developers
should tackle these stumbling blocks through a focus on developing the ability
to publish one time for all devices, creating faster machines, and increasing
user interactive capabilities.
Tam concludes, "Making a game is not easy. But at the end of the day, when you see
all the pieces fall together, it is well worth it.”
By Gina Traficant