ShadyLogic helped lead a number of critical web and game projects for Spin Master including Teck Deck Live, Liv World and Bakugan Dimensions.
Toys are a special challenge not only in the number of customers, but also the accelerated development timer required and the unique affordances that toys provide. You have to be true not only to the toy’s IP, but also the play patterns of the toy. Online sites and games have to extend these play patterns rather than supplant them.
The Liv World hub was an integral part of the toys vision. Many toys are developed and green lit in a very short development time frame. A toy can go from concept to product in less than a season. The Liv doll franchise was no exception.
From concept to design to launch of Liv World was accomplished in 4 months. This included not only due diligence of partners, but hiring internal developers and developing and testing technology.
The visually stunning Live World hub features video webisodes, activities and games along with a sophisticated registration system designed to make sign up effortless for all ages. This is backed up by a custom content management system designed to keep up with the continuous content updates.
Simultaneously we designed and developed a toy code system that provided secure “guess-proof” toy codes in a very limited number digits to allow easy entry. This code system was later expanded to the entire Spin Master product line to support sales of 10’s of millions of toys.
Bakugan Dimensions was an online MMO featuring a virtual world and turn based battle arena. We extended the Liv World toy code system to in the form of Bakugan DNA codes that allowed users to register each of their Bakugan toys for their online collection and battles.
We performed due diligence on a number of partner studios eventually working closely with Flying Lab Software. Like many online toy companion products, the timeline was very short and Flying Labs established games infrastructure played a major role in getting the product released.
Like Liv World this project also provided a unique insight into the proper structure and team makeup of a brand and content approval process. While brand consistency is critical, it can also be a bottleneck for development. Developing great style guides is a good start, but it is also important to create a parallel path for content approval.
Teck Deck Live:
Teck Deck is an ultra cool aspirational line of branded skateboarding toys that allows kids to experience what its like to be a pro skater even if they don’t yet have a board. Tech Deck Live was envisioned as a way to expand the Teck Deck Universe and play patterns and to expand sales.
We came in during the middle of development to fix a number of technical and development issues with this Kids MMO. During assessment of the game development state it became clear that not only were there technical but also core design challenges.
While the Teck Deck MMO was visually stunning, the core mechanic caused excessive cognitive loading on kids and adults alike making it difficult and not fun to play. Very few players were able to progress causing huge turnover in the alpha versions of the game.
While simultaneously restructuring the game technology, we also designed a new core game mechanic that was not only fun, but easy to learn. It utilized directed gameplay and reduced cognitive loading. The design also tied into a monetization path that encouraged player upgrades and personalization.
In the end it was decided that the redevelopment effort was too challenging for a project that was already well over budget when we were brought on. It is hard to kill a project with potential, but you must be critical of what it takes to succeed. You have to be realistic and cut your losses and wind down products and teams that aren’t going to make it.