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Smile More Studios - Our First Game - Our First Show

by Scott Martin on 06/03/15 02:15:00 pm

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Our First Game

When we first got the idea for CarQuiz, we were on a hike together in the Pacific Northwest.  Maybe it was the abundant oxygen in the forest, or that Seattle's weather is conducive to game development.  Whatever the inspiration, we came back from the hike to work on our game idea and start our new company.  Smile More Studios is a father/daughter indie development team working to blend education with entertaining gameplay. 

Practicing Multiplication in the City Track

Practicing Multiplication in the city track.

Smile More Studios has just published its first game on the App StoreCarQuiz combines elements of a racing game with learning math.  We wanted to make a game that was both fun and educational.  CarQuiz challenges players to solve mental math equations as they race down a track.  With each correct answer, players earn a token and accumulate tokens to unlock content.  Before we launched, the game tested very well with both kids and adults.  We are thrilled to have made it to the App Store!  What a journey it has been!  Now it's time to turn our attention to updates, getting the game on more devices, and marketing to get the word out about the game.  The marketing task is daunting!

Power of Play 2015, Our First Show

We recently attended the 8th annual Power of Play 2015 expo.  It was our first show for our first game.  We heard about the event from the GameDevCollective.  Power of Play was a great opportunity to show the game!  We put together a table setup that included a looping movie of CarQuiz gameplay, big prints of our number monsters, informational fliers to hand out, and our Smile More Studios logo stickers. 

We showed the game to a lot of people over the week-end.  We had great feedback and support from fellow developers as well as attendees of the show.  Adults at the show understood the concept of the game right away, and enjoyed playing it.  There weren't many kids at the show, but we did get to test CarQuiz on a few. Leading up to publishing on the App Store, we tested CarQuiz on dozens of kids and the majority of them liked it a lot.  We've also been getting great feedback from parents. 

CarQuiz Math Game co-designer playing Skyling on a retro arcade machine!

CarQuiz co-designer plays Skyling on a retro arcade machine. 

The coolest part of #PowerofPlay15 was going around to play different games.  Both Mariah and I went around to several exhibits to try the games and talk to other indie developers. There were PC games, mobile games, console games, and VR experiences.  There was even a table for 3d printing that was very popular!  Some of our favorites at Power of Play were Skyling which was on a retro arcade machine; Flip, a strategic one-on-one fast paced challenge; Distance, a racing game developed by Digipen students; and Lamper VR, a fast traveling bug who flies through tunnels of vines and flowers to collect items.  The game uses no controls - only your head movements, and it is played on a phone with a lightweight VR headset!

Our game was one of few educational games at #PowerofPlay15CarQuiz builds skills in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  It has 3 levels of difficulty so players can start out slow, and work their way to bigger equations.  We are also building a support site to include Mental Math Tutorials and a YouTube channel that will soon have voiceovers to share with everyone to explain how we solve mental math equations.  In the video, I'll play the game, and for each equation, will talk out loud how I solve it.  We are trying to set the stage for a successful support system once our marketing efforts take effect.  We want players to be able to do well in the game and we hope players will be open to learning new ways to solve equations.

Racing through the Desert Track.

Practicing Multiplication in the desert track.

CarQuiz features mental math equations that are solved without pen and paper.  The game gives you a few seconds to solve each equation.  We believe these kind of math skills are important for several reasons.  A solid foundation in basic math skills is essential for all other math classes during our education.  Plus, math is around us all the time in everyday life.  It's helpful to have strong math skills when running your own business, and when buying or selling anything. 

Indie Development Challenges

One of the challenges for us is convincing people that are generally uninterested in educational games to give CarQuiz a try.  How do we make educational entertainment entertaining and inviting?  Another challenge for us as a small team is working with a limited budget - one that does not allow for a test group.  Both Media4 and Smile More Studios have been testing the game.  Media4 is our dev team who also did a lot of the artwork for the game.  Like many indie developers, we have a limited marketing budget too, so getting the word out about the game is going to take time.

You can read more about the development of CarQuiz on our Smile More Studio's Dev Blog.  And if you know any kids who should be sharpening their math skills instead of fending off zombie armies, give CarQuiz Math Game a try, and let us know what you think.  We'd love to hear from you!  CarQuiz Math Game is currently designed for the iPad and iPhone.  We'll soon create a version for the Android market.

About the Author

Scott Martin is the game designer behind CarQuiz and a 20 year industry veteran.  In addition to developing CarQuiz, Scott works as a 3d artist on several projects including FigurePrints' World of Warcraft printable figurines, and the upcoming film, Beta Test

More information on Smile More Studios can be found at www.smilemorestudios.com :)

 

CarQuiz Math Game app icon

CarQuiz Math Game is made with Epic's Unreal Engine 4 and designed with Autodesk's 3DS Max.  More information on the game can be found at www.carquizgame.com

 

 


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