A disgustingly addictive short story app and creature maker for kids that will blow their minds!
A disgustingly addictive short story app and creature maker for kids that will blow their minds! Read more
About this project
Experience the ridiculous! The disgusting! The downright unbelievable as you wander the long forgotten world of Picu. Create and collect your very own Picu creatures and read their outrageously stupid tales .
This app will give you some serious eye fire!
Picu is a highly addictive short story app and creature maker for 8-12 year olds. Set in a crazy world and featuring creatures made out of junk, Picu is designed to give kids tools for creative play, personal expression and a good laugh.
Picu isn’t a game. It’s a data driven storytelling app designed to make kids laugh with outrageous stories and get them excited about reading on digital devices.
Kids shake the phone to create a creature, then customise its features and read about its adventures on the flip side of the screen.
Good vibes are literally bursting out of this app!
Set in the hilarious world of Picu and featuring creatures made out of island junk, the app is a unique collision between interactivity, storytelling and play.
Aha! This be clever me hearties!
Picu’s unique generative storytelling feature means that the app generates new stories based on how you customise your creature. Giving kids access to over 30,000 words to read!
Better for you than Yak Yoghurt!
Shake the app to create a creature, then customise its features and read about its adventures on the flip side of the screen.
This app gives you awesome brain power! Picu is great way to engage kids and stimulate their imagination with interactive stories and creative play. Picu can also be used by parents and teachers as a tool to explore character archetypes typically used in storytelling, and to work together to create original stories and worlds.
Picu is made possible by a super talented team of people working all across the world with a shared goal to get as many kids as possible, reading and interacting with the app.
To date, we’ve relied on a small pot of government funding and a lot of ‘sweat’ to complete the following aspects of production:
- Narrative arc
- Story architecture
- A stock of over 2000 Creature part (head, wings, legs, eyes… you get the picture)
- Multiple scenes design x 4 seasons x day/night
- Full game GUI design
- And we’re actually half way through the dev (cross platform- progress is at 43%) including the generic creature/story algorithm
- Game wireframes (interactive)
We've also started work on the algorithm that powers the app as well as the multifaceted animation challenge -laying the groundwork for animating the evolving creatures as they shift and change.
But we've still got a way to go. Which is where you come in. Your funds will help us give Picu a final push to bring the app to market in March 2015. More specifically this includes:
- Complete story Algorithm
- Animation of creature assets and intro animation (this is pretty big).
- Finish the story bible (another chunky bit)
- Sound sourcing
- Music design
- Testing, testing and testing
So if you believe in innovative storytelling for kids. If you believe in great reading experiences on digital devices. And that creatures are serious stuff…we’re asking you to get behind this project!
You’ll be supporting an independent app producer, working with us to bring a unique reading experience to kids, and be part of the ever-growing world of Picu!
The core gameplay of Picu is based around a “creature shaker”. The shaker allows a player to shake the phone or tablet to generate their very own Picu creature. The app generates a random creature body that belongs to a specific Picu tribe and the player can then customise the creature by adding horns, tails, ears, changing the length and shape of legs and more.
As well as customising the creature, the player can change other game parameters such as the setting, weather and time of day. They can also explore the Picu Island, read more about each tribe and find surprises in some of the most popular Picu hangouts.
The generative storytelling techniques within the app use the core structure as outlined below. A short story consists of a 3-part installment, each limited to 250 words. Taking into consideration the variables as outlined below, this is a word count of around 30,000 words – a substantial offering for young readers. The intention is to develop Picu into serial content with regular release of new stories. The tribe arcs can be developed much in the same way as a TV season or chapter book series. The story model has been developed to be scalable for the inclusion of more character traits.
The story model has been developed to be scalable for the inclusion of more character traits
The app’s conception and design is led by Mum and Creative Director, Keren Moran with the rest of the team spread from Melbourne to Perth, Vietnam and Argentina.
Keren is co-owner of Spring in Alaska (www.springinalaska.com.au) with Executive Producer, Noa Peer – also a founding member of the Picu team. Spring in Alaska is an award winning creative agency offering end-to-end services across branding, print design, digital strategy and technical services. Spring in Alaska is an Official Honoree of the 2014 Webby Awards for its work on pioneering website, The Reef and has had their children’s app Who Lives Here? (who lives here?) published in partnership with Penguin Books Australia and featured globally on the Apple iOS store.
The Picu development team is led by Technical Director, Chris Lowe of Offspring (offspringdigital.com) - an award winning digital production house specialising in technical design and development for web, mobile, tablet and emerging platforms. Offspring is Australian owned and operated with offices in Hanoi, Vietnam and Sydney Australia.
Picu’s stories are being created by Western Australian based children’s author and editor, Davina Bell (davinabell.com). A former Senior Editor in Penguin Books' Young Readers Division, she has worked with some of Australia's most celebrated children's authors and illustrators. Her writing has twice been selected for the prestigious Best Australian Stories collections, and she has had four novels for middle readers published by Penguin Books Australia as part of the best-selling Our Australian Girl series. Her first picture book, The Underwater Fancy-dress Parade, will be published by Scribe in 2015 and is illustrated by the award-winning book designer Allison Colpoys.
Picu's best of the best animation team are Argentina based Amblagar (www.amblagar.com).
Amblagar was born from a union between an anthropologist who writes stories and a group of artists coming from different fields who all graduated from National University of La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina. These days the studio is established as a space where creation grows in many directions. Videogames, scripts and animation are all part of their daily universe... in Amblagar characters and stories come to life. With more than a decade in the illustration, animation and video games industry they have serviced clients like Disney, Nickelodeon, FOX, NatGeo and Universal. These guys are amazing.
If you’re as excited as we are and have decided to pledge, we’ve got a whole bunch of ah-mazing rewards just over there on the right hand side of the page and some pics below to help you choose. So grab something that takes your fancy and we’ll be sending a whole lotta love your way.
Still got questions? Drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org
$5 or more:Your name credited in the game and a downloadable
pack of 4 wallpapers for your screens.
$10 or more:As above + A creature named after you with a downloadable certificate to prove it!
$20 or more:As above + Become a real live Picu Beta tester
and get a downloadable Picu iron on (3 different designs)
Note the design below is a mockup only and hasn't been finalised
- but we promise the final versions will be pure awesome.
$30 or more:As above + a downloadable copy of our digital 'making of' book
(we've already started work on this tome of fabulous craziness)
+ 5 galumptious Pages of Picu creatures for you to cut out and paste into your world and 3 pages of delicious body parts for you to create your own creatures!
$50 or more:As above plus a set of numbered, limited edition 12 collector cards.
Printed on beautifully thick coated stock these cards feature some of our fav creatures on the front with little story snippets on the back.
$100 or more:
As above + a limited edition, signed A2 printed poster and a set of temporary Picu tattoos.
Note the designs below are not final and the frame is not included.
$180 or more:As above + hard cover Picu book.
$350 or more:As above plus limited edition, numbered and highly collectable Picu figurine. Note the below is a mockup only - final figurine may vary.
Picu is as entertaining for adults as it is for
kids. Find out for yourself by reading one of our short stories below:
Aboard the Centaur
Hoo boy, this is isn’t good. Onboard the Centaur, it’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and the swashbuckling pirate tribe is holding a meet ’n’ greet to recruit new members. The main sail’s raised, the plank is primed, and the grill is a-sizzlin’ for the free BBQ. Krug is in charge of handing out free eyepatches to visitors, who are mostly Delaranchos come hunting for the free showbags and the chilli octo-hot dogs. (Under the Centaurs’ new captain, health freak and yoga obsessee, Squeak E. Clean, sausages are totally out and flossing is totally in.) But here’s the issue… When you have as many arms as Krug, you can kind of forget where your hands have been, get what I’m saying? Especially when you’ve been marinating octopus in hot sauce all morning. ‘GARRRRGHH!’ As the Delaranchos strap on their eye patches in preparation for walking the plank, the remnants of Krug’s morning in the galley chopping chilli hits their eye balls. Now blind and experiencing some serious eye-fire, the Ds are sprinting around the deck, trying to locate the barrel of filtered mineral water that the captain encouraged them to drink on arrival. ‘That’s the spirit!’ cries Squeak E. Clean. ‘Have a runaround and get those hearts pumping! First one to die of cardiovascular disease is a rotten egg! Centaurs, come gather for a round of sun salutes while our guests warm up.’ Eventually a Delarancho bumps into something that feels just like a barrel of water. ‘AMIGOS!’ he shrieks. ‘Over here!!’ Well, it sort of is a barrel of water, except it’s home to Squibby, the Centaurs’ pet white-pointer shark, who’s been put on a wheat-free, lactose-free, protein-free diet and hasn’t eaten anything much of anything for 41 days. Quick, Krug - warn the Delaranchos not to plunge their faces into that barrel! But alas, Krug has no mouth. He’s got wings - he could fly right over and pick that dude out of the barrel. But here’s something else. See those horns? Yup, you guessed it: Krug is a bit of a devil. He sort of doesn’t mind a bit of mischief. Will he save the Delaranchos? He’s thinking about it…
- Screen NSW - for the seed development fund that made the concept development possible in the first place and for being so amazingly supportive. Picu would still be a pile of junk in the back of our minds without your help (www.screen.nsw.gov.au)
- Thanks Platon (www.platontheodoris.com) for helping us shoot the video - you are a star
- Pete - Thank you! for your editing genius on the video (www.peterofilm.com)
- Stephen and Sharon and the kids who took part in our video and patiently read our lines again and again on a beautiful Sunday afternoon when they could have been at the beach.
Risks and challenges
There are always inherent risks with app development but we have a highly experienced team who have already invested heavily in the app’s creation. We are fully committed to delivering the project to market and are well-seasoned when it comes to dealing with the complexities of development, design, writing and strategy. As a guide however, we’re giving you a hit list of the areas that we’re keeping a close eye on.
Picu has a very complex narrative arc requiring enough variables to sustain the algorithm and keeps kids engaged with fresh and exciting content – over and over again. We need to ensure that we find the right blend between narrative architecture, strength of storyworld and storylines, and the end user experience.
Further more, animating the creature body parts separately is a sensitive, complex task. We will have to make sure all body parts come together properly in all unlimited number of creatures. We have already started working on the rules system structure, creating quite a body of work and very much looking forward to putting this to the test when the animation stage gets into gear.
And finally – testing. Just like with any other game, and more so with a generative one like picu - you can never know how long the game will have to remain in beta for. We have an experienced team, working on various games (and client work) and we are confident with our bug fixing, result oriented approach and know how – however, the testing (and beta) period is always a bit of a mystery.
Thanks for taking the time to read, explore, pledge and share.
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