The Case – Summary
The game publisher Developlay approached us, their ambition was to grow into a publishing company for high-quality children’s games. We became the first development studio to develop such a game for them. In this project the joined forces of expertise on kids, education, psychology, research, literature and game design came together. There was a heavy focus on research, brainstorming and testing.
This project allowed us to excel in our craftsmanship and the end result, the game Nott Won’t Sleep, was showered with awards and positive reviews. This game is the foundation of our client’s reputation as a publisher of high-quality children’s games.
The Case – Full Story
How it Started
One fine day the two founders of Develolay, Norah Gouw and Seth van der Meer, approached us. Both of them are parents with small children. During a school holiday they noticed that they had a really hard time finding some good quality games to keep their children entertained. They quickly understood that they weren’t the only parents who struggled with this, so they decided to start making those games themselves. Or to put it more precise: they started a publishing agency for high-quality children’s games. The only thing they needed now was a development studio that could actually make those games. Both because of our vision on game design and the stunning artwork of Liselore Goedhart, they decided to approach us.
Science and Art
The foundation of the game was a scientific paper published by the The Trimbos Instituut (the largest Dutch research centre for mental health) called The Seven Principles of Happiness. In this paper the most important factors of human happiness are described. After a few brainstorm sessions with Norah and Seth, the theme Sleep was chosen and the target group would be toddlers.
Since the study was mostly done with adults, we worked together with Pien Oijevaar, who is a celebrated Dutch child psychologist. She translated the part in the study about Sleep to what it means for children.
Once we had that, we could work on the first game ideas. In this phase we were joined by one the most famous Dutch novelists, Renate Dorrestein. She wrote several story arcs that we could work with and implement in the game. This phase of the project was dominated with brainstorm sessions. This resulted in a very powerful story-psychology-(game)design triangle, where every idea was tested and reviewed by every stakeholder. When everyone was happy with an idea, we could make a prototype out of it and test it on the target group. Only when they liked it, we would incorporate it into the final game.
The End Result
The end result is a beautiful and adorable iPad game for toddlers, age 2 till 4. In this game you play as little Nott who has to go to bed, but doesn’t want to. There are still three objects missing in the bedroom, so you will have to go and collect them. The many details in the game proves the power of the abovementioned collaboration. Just to name a few:
- The name Nott refers to the “no-phase” many toddlers are experiencing. But it is also the name of the Nordic goddess of the night.
- The game is design is such a way that you cannot do anything wrong. There is only progression.
- With every level completed, Nott becomes a bit more tiered. Until all three levels are completed and Nott is so tired she herself decides to go to bed.
- And many, many more.
The game was launched in the autumn of 2013 and has been showered with prizes and positive reviews. With this, the first high-quality game by Developlay was a fact. Partly due to all the positive attention the game received, Developlay became the quality brand for children’s games that they wanted to be.
We worked together with the following professionals:
Developlay – Client
Monobanda Play – Gameplay and interaction design
Lizzywanders – Lead visuals and design
Rajiv Krijnen – Lead programmer
Renate Dorrestein – Story
Claynote – Music and audio
Pien Oijevaar – Child psychology
Iwein Visual Performance – Animations
Koen de Graaf – Junior artist
Digital Ehon Award 2014 – Winner
Indie Prize Europe 2014 – Top 5 Critics Award
Kirkus Best Book Apps of 2013 – Winner
ADC Best in App Awards 2013 – Winner
Dutch Game Award 2013 – Winner
Mom’s Choice Awards – Gold
And many, many more. See the full list here on the official Nott website.