I made the trip out to Startup Weekend Fredericksburg and went to the event not knowing what to expect or what kind of team I would be helping out with. After hearing some great pitches, I went around asking the presenters for more information about their ideas. While all of them were really great ideas, I was seeking out a bit of a challenge, something I haven’t done before as a designer. I met a couple of developers from Silver Spring, MD that pitched an idea about making a Pokemon-style video game that would teach the player how the stock market worked. The idea was a bit abstract but I was immediately interested. Had a nice long chat with the guys and I ended up joining them as a designer. We spent the rest of the brainstorming and figuring out game mechanics, marketing strategy and figuring out our core audience.
Some of the issues we came across early in the game was how to actually implement the whole educational aspect of the game. We decided that it was too big of a task for just one weekend, so we threw around other ideas while maintaining our focus on the educational element of the game. One of the ideas that surfaced was a game where you plays as cats that climb to the top of a tree and the mechanics of it would passively teach you how to manage a credit card. The cats would have to manage an energy bar that drained as you pressed a button that makes the can run faster up the tree. There would also be obstacles along the way that drain your energy bar depending on how much energy you have left. You also had the choice of various cats with different stats that affected their speed and energy bar consumption. The object of the game was not win but to correctly manage your resources and not run out of energy and thus learning how to manage a credit card in simple terms. We realized that we might have something great in our hands so the next course of action was to gauge people’s interest in the game. We gave out surveys and some of our team members went to local shopping centers and even GameStop to ask people if they would enjoy playing a game of this nature. We got a great response from people who listened to us and received a lot of positive feedback. A lot of people really liked the game even if it didn’t have the educational aspect of it.
The second day was the hardest for us, the game had evolved so much from the original idea. We decided to focus all of efforts on making a tree climbing cat game as fun and as best we could in the time we had left before the final pitch the following evening. Our team really meshed well together and everyone had great ideas and skills to bring to the table. I was in charge of the creative direction of the game along with two other volunteers. By the end of the day, we had something that was fun and playable. We all got on social media and started to create some buzz for the game by sharing a link to the alpha version of the game. Through Google Analytics, we saw that about 400 people played the game and played for at least three minutes and some even up to ten minutes!
The third day came rolling around and we make refinements to the game as well as launching a landing page for the game www.kittyklimber.com The site had information and screenshots of the game as well as links to the alpha demo and even a pre-order button for version 1.0 of the game. By the time the final pitch we had created, developed and released a great demo for a game that we spent the last 52 hours working on. We all felt a great sense of accomplishment for completing such a feat. Although we did not win the final pitch, we learned so much from this experience and hope to take this game to the next level.
Whats next for Kitty Klimber?
After the event was over, it was clear that we wanted to continue to put time into refining and ultimately finishing the game.
The game will be released today, January 24. You can get the game here.
We have high hopes for this game to be a success and a doorway to making more games in the future.