August 21, 2017

Happy Skies, A Cultural Game For Kids

Happy Skies indie game

Who likes traveling? No airfare is necessary when you travel UAT’s Happy Skies!

Immersion is a great way to learn about other cultures and Happy Skies is a cool kids game that brings the traveling adventure to you!

Happy Skies is a high flying, adventure, mobile game that allows the user to learn about other cultures in a fun way. Kids can learn which country is known for giraffes, which Presidents are the face of Mount Rushmore or where you could find the Great Wall.

The idea for the game spawned from UAT Game Studios-grown indie game company Terrasect Mobile, LLC., a studio which has released seven mobile games to Google Play in their two years of existence.

The initial concept for game play was a whimsical game where a plastic bag floated around the sky, and this idea later developed a bit further. Currently the user plays as an animal relevant to the historical site and transports from landmark to landmark around the world in a balloon, discovering facts and information. As the user travels around the world, they experience mini games, puzzles and challenges while trying to avoid hazards like flying monkeys, storks, trade winds and powerlines.

Terrasect Mobile working on Happy Skies

Terrasect Mobile working on Happy Skies

The game is made for entertainment, but incorporates educational elements. Instead of teaching facts about a country, this game acts like a gateway for the user to find out more information and do their own research. It’s important for kids to learn about how other cultures live at a younger age and Happy Skies is a great tool to accomplish just that.

Production on this game in the UAT Game Studios has seen about three semesters or one year of development, but at its current build Team Lead Donald Schepis said, “It’s about 30 percent done. The team began development on Happy Skies without a ton of dev experience and made a lot of mistakes, but we’ve learned a lot and just need more time to devote to the project.”

Although Happy Skies is not finished, there have been playable builds the team has demonstrated to the public on a few occasions and received fantastic feedback on the game so far.

Happy Skies Public Demos:

  • Mesa Public Library playtest – Summer 2016
  • Arizona Video Game Showcase at Phoenix Comicon – June 2016
  • Game On Expo – August 2016
Happy Skies demo at the Greenlight Celebration

Happy Skies demo at the Greenlight Celebration

“We find that kids ranging in age 9-12 have the most fun playing Happy Skies. Parents liked the game and even teens were interested, but the aesthetic walked the fine line of too cutesy to hold their attention. It was interesting to watch as many kids returned to play Happy Skies for a second time,” Donald said.

Another group of youngsters from Sunshine Acres came to UAT to test out the game on campus. The kids loved it, but were a little too eager and kept asking for features that are in the works for future plans, but haven’t been developed yet. During the playtest, they competed between themselves to see who could collect the most coins, something that isn’t part of the game, but it was impressive to see such passion ooze from the young play testers.

Happy Skies has been on hiatus for a few months while other projects take priority, but it’s not going away as there are definite plans for completing the game.

Donald has high hopes for Happy Skies, but some things have to unfold before then. “One of my hopes down the road lies in that I’ve been speaking to Angel Investors and VC’s interested in funding another project. Once that project is finished, I’ll be able to use a lot of investor resources to fund development on Happy Skies and get it properly released.”

Happy Skies taught the team a lot of about marketing their game. They handed out media cards for the first time. These cards contained a QR code that led to a survey of the game, a newsletter to sign up for the Beta invitation and email list collection. They also tested out marketing on social media, and by trial and error were able to determine the best way to reach their audience.

Screenshot of Happy Skies game

Screenshot of Happy Skies game with landmark of Golden Gate Bridge

“We discovered that well-thought out posts about the landmarks helped to connect users to the game. Posts that were less salesy seemed to get the best engagement. This just went to prove how important landmarks were to the people interested in Happy Skies,” said Donald.

Some of the needs for future development on Happy Skies are more functionality and art. Stay in the loop with Happy Skies updates on their Facebook page.

When completed, Happy Skies will be their eighth mobile game on Google Play. You can test the beta version here.

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