Cbeebies approached us with a vision for an innovative 'interactive-comic-book' game format, allowing players to live the adventures of Super Numtum, the Numtums' show-within-a-show Super Hero.

Aims

We were tasked to deliver three games that would each be based around a unique comic book adventure starring Super Numtum. Each would call on the player to help him overcome various obstacles and progress through the story.

Because Numtums is an educational brand with a focus on teaching pre-schoolers numeracy skills, we wanted to make sure the gameplay was going to mirror these goals. We devised each story to focus on a different numeracy skill and teach the player as they went along.

Challenges

Keeping the comic-reading sections feeling just like they do in the TV show meant building large comic pages that allowed us to zoom into a single panel and retain the visual fidelity we needed. This is a memory-heavy task which required a fair bit of memory management trickery to keep this running smoothly on mobile devices.

Making sure the interactive elements didn’t feel a like a barrier between player and story, instead making the player feel like Super Numtum needed their help in helping him foil Fluffy McTuffy’s plans. A careful balance between passive and interactive experience was required, with neither getting in the way of the other.

This interactive-storytelling concept was a fairly unique idea amongst a lot of the established Cbeebies games, so we wanted to keep a close-eye on pacing and make sure it sat well with the audience. Regular user testing helped us sense-check our direction.

Results

A suite of games that sit together harmoniously, as an adventure comic trilogy. Each one allows the player to play a pivotal role in an exciting and immersive story in the adventures of Super Numtum.

User-testing and usage stats show the format has went down a storm with players. The interactive game elements draw the player in and make them feel like a critical part of the story, moving the offering beyond the passive experience of a digital comic.

The educational aspect of the games has been very successful, with the story and the presentation getting the player invested in the outcome before presenting them with the learning aspect of the experience. This allows the learning goals to be met without the player ever feeling like they’re learning number skills.

Technically, the games are accessible on a huge range of devices and browsers, using standards-compliant HTML5 Canvas approach, and even making use of WebGL-powered effects and hardware acceleration where available.

Part exciting adventure story, part super hero action game and part educational tool, we enjoyed being part of this new format of story-telling and we hope we get to work with the much-loved Numtums brand again.

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