5. Gaming for Kids and Casuals
One of the toughest challenges we faced was ensuring this game was accessible by our core audience -- the seven to 10 year olds. The skill level even in this small age range can differ widely, and whilst we have made numerous kids titles in the past, we had not done so with the extent of combat and platforming found in Scooby-Doo! First Frights.
Warner Bros. and Torus held individual focus groups with our target age group to gauge levels of difficulty in the game, and to pinpoint problematic areas, and for most part in the end we got this right.
So why is this listed in the "What Went Wrong" section? In essence, the final game does still contain some rather challenging areas, particularly for platforming, in light of the audience.
Whilst the camera technology does have some bearing on this, the design of these areas left little room for error, and for a young audience, it can mean the difference between having fun and throwing the Wii remote across the room in utter frustration (which we DON'T want!)
Simplifying the jumping mechanic (the trajectory and distance of the jump), widening of platforms, and placement of camera to allow for a clear line of sight rather than dubious jumping angles that are difficult to judge, are obvious solutions to this.
Given that our camera technology was new, some level designers were new to this genre, and the pressures of a looming time-line, the fact that such areas are few and far between is testament to the team, and provides a lesson learned in spending more time during the level map and white-boxing stage.
We need to take an IKEA approach to all design: make it fun, simple (no extraneous design or clutter) and functional.
Some platform areas were challenging for the target audience, due to jump distances, camera position, and angle.
The Torus team are very proud of Scooby-Doo! First Frights. What was achieved and learned in the development cycle has shone a new light on our work practices, encouraged further development in personal skill set across all departments, and has handed us the confidence to move into new and broader ventures.
It's most likely that we won't get the development process perfect every time, but if for every project we can learn as much as we did on Scooby-Doo! First Frights, then the games we develop in the years to come are looking very promising indeed.
Developer: Torus Games
Publisher: Warner Bros. Entertainment
Platform: Wii, PS2, DS
Release date: 22 September 09 (US), 9 October 2009 (Europe, Australia)
Development time: 17 months
Number of full time developers at peak: 64
Hardware: Intel PC platforms, Nvidia GeForce cards, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS and Sony PS2 Development Platforms
Software: Maya, Photoshop, Premiere, Internal tools
Technology: Bink & Mobiclip (DS)
Cutscene Minutes: 64
Lines of Spoken Dialogue: 3132
Languages: English (US), English (UK), French, Italian, Spanish & German
Lines of code: ~215,000
Lines of script: ~100,000