by Anna Suarez @ 29.11.2018
Game code: Interview with Triumf game developers and code masters!
Mobile games seem so easy to play. But is it easy to create them? Especially something as specific as health games for children with serious chronic diseases? We asked our dev team, Pepi and Lea, to answer some questions about it.
Anna: Now you had to design a game for kids. Was it different? What was easy, what was more difficult compared to creating a game for wide audience?
- Lea: Well, as a gamer and developer it is always hard to see the "project" from someone else’s shoes, and trying to be a kid again to analyze, whether it is a fun experience. 31 years old me might think this is really boring, but my 10-year-old version thinks it is great! Also it is easier to create something for a defined audience, having an age range allows you to consider the needs of those exact people, while a wide audience would be very broad and hard to "read".
- Pepi: In a way it is easier to design and develop for a narrow segment, such as this [from author: Triumf’s target group is children between 7 and 14 years old], but of course the content and how it is presented to the player needs to be carefully designed and validated with an expert medical team. Of course, certain core elements from the game are common design patterns or minigames from other kids games or even adult ones.
Anna: It is not an ordinary game, but one related to child healthcare. How was that experience for you?
- Pepi: First of all, I am very pleased to be working on a game that is helping people. I have been developing casual mobile games for more than 10 years but nothing compared to this: a noble cause and clear opportunity to make a change. It is very important to always have in mind the problem you are tackling, since it affects directly game design and UX [user experience]. On the particular case of working on a chronic disease-based game such as cancer, certain kids suffer from depression or do not have long attention spans, or even physical restrictions such as blurry vision – these were totally new factors for me.
- Lea: I am very happy to be developing such a game, after being involved in the gaming industry where everything is money oriented... Usually it is just about creating a title and trying to squeeze every last penny out of the players. It kills the "game feeling", in mobile games lately everything is pay-to-win, so there is no more skill involved; as long as your wallet is full, you are "master of the game". Developing a game (which is what I love doing), while not selling my soul for it (doing the same business trash from nowadays- watch a video to get some extra diamonds... pay 2.99 to get a loot box, invite 10 friends to get a boost and so on) is the dream scenario.
Anna: Where were you looking for inspiration when working on a health game?
- Lea: I have never heard of a "health game" before, and being a hardcore gamer that is quite a statement. Not many places to get inspiration from, I just focus on creating something fun to play for kids, keep them engaged but not addicted (as we want to avoid extreme screen exposure) and that I would say is the biggest challenge.
- Pepi: Mainly from other mobile games in terms of UX. But the core concept of the game is quite similar to other sandbox type, such as GTA but in our case without all the violent aspect of it. Other game elements we needed to design from scratch, sometimes ideas from the medical team, sometimes dev team, but brainstormed and agreed upon together.
Anna: There are always data protection and storage issues when creating health application. How do you address them?
- Pepi: We ensure to handle personal data outside the app and only handle session data within our database.
- Lea: Data protection is a very serious topic. We are compliant with the latest GDPR, everything is encrypted and split in a way that one bit of information cannot be linked to a patient.
Anna: At Triumf there is a strong focus on patients‘ feedback. You have received it from several children and parents. How did you use it? Is it difficult to accommodate all the players’ requests?
- Lea: Patient’s feedback is very precious, because the game is for them and they give serious insight of things that might have been overlooked by our "think like a 10 years old kid" selves, so this keeps us on track. And although it is hard to make everyone happy, we always try!
- Pepi: We were constantly working with the patients’ feedback: from controls to graphic elements, story and minigames. Riin [Triumf’s very own Chief Engagement Officer who is the main contact person for patients and their parents] has made great job collecting their feedbacks which combined with certain analytics allowed us to tweak little by little the game.
Anna: Potentially Triumf is developing the whole platform for games for children with various chronic conditions. Does it affect your current work? And how easy will it be to use the technical basis you are creating now for kids with cancer for other illnesses?
- Pepi: From the early stages we had in mind that we needed to scale and add new diseases later in the project, so it was designed and developed in a way that we could do it easily. Core elements from the game stay, what changes the most are educational & support components. The story of Triumfland and the Disease Monster will stay the same.
- Lea: We are keeping in mind the scalability of the project, and developing accordingly. While in this early versions some things are simplified, we are always paying extra attention in creating strong foundations to save time when we scale it in the future.
With 10+ years work experience, Pepi and Lea have not got scared of the challenge of developing something completely innovative for ill children and dived right in to the task. Now they are bringing to life amazing storylines, minigames, educational components and, of course, superheroes of the Triumfland for children to improve their health. We are incredibly lucky to have such an incredible dev team to make the ideas come true and playable on the smartphones. Let’s code on!