From the Designer’s Desk: Behind the Scenes of Busytown Mysteries

What does it take to build an amazing app experience?

It’s a tough question, but one that we strive to answer every day here at Loud Crow. Whether it’s building the next great story app or releasing a new toontale experience, our team of interactive designers and developers are always pushing the limits of their creativity. That includes lead designers Roger Lee and Jayson Kirby, the dynamic duo behind our latest app release, Busytown Mysteries.

In today’s edition of From the Designer’s Desk, Kirby offers up an exclusive behind the scenes look at how the Loud Crow team went about brainstorming, planning, designing and ultimately launching our latest app experience in Richard Scarry’s Busytown.

“One of the first tasks that we tackle has to do with the script. For the Busytown Mysteries app, the script and dialogue was taken directly from preexisting cartoon episodes, albeit a condensed version.

Jayson Kirby, Interactive Designer at Loud Crow“With the help of storyboard artists from Jester Coyote, we were able to put together three different toontale episodes, each consisting of about 12 spreads.

– Jayson Kirby, Interactive Designer

“In the case of Busytown Mysteries, the script and storyboard thumbnails were developed at roughly the same time. This made it easier for our team to picture the story and ensure that the plot would be engaging on both a visual and narrative level. This is one of the most difficult parts of the creative process. Taking a full 20 minute cartoon episode and condensing it down to this bite sized format while maintaining that engaging story arch is challenging.”

Behind the Scenes of Busytown Mysteries - Scripting

“Once the script was finalized, it was sent off to our Audio Producer who then oversaw the voice over actor selection and dialogue recording.

“The storyboard thumbnails are a very important part of our planning process. These sketches provide us with a quick look at how the story will flow, both narratively and compositionally. The thumbnails help us work out any kinks in the dialogue and make it easier to accommodate revisions. Once we are 100% satisfied with the script and high-level flow, we move onto the final storyboarding process.”

Behind the Scenes of Busytown - Thumbnails

“You’ll notice in the thumbnails the use of the term spread. A spread is a main story beat or block sequence of dialogue. Each beat is comprised of tabs, which are further comprised of scenes and dialogue. On average, a spread will be made up of 5 to 8 tabs. Determining where to start or end a spread usually ‘writes’ itself. There are natural instances within the narrative that give us the opportunity to move on to a new spread. For example, when a character delivers a call to action such as ‘Let’s see what else we can find’ this usually requires a change in location or implies travel. At this point we would provide a transitional movement from one spread to the next starting off a new moment in a new location.”

Behind the Scenes of Busytown Mysteries - Storyboarding

“The storyboarding process is where the actual app begins to take shape. This is the part of the process that gives the artists and scripters the information they need in order to begin laying out the art and building the spreads in our Verso engine. If you look closely, you’ll notice a number of glyphs throughout these boards. Each of these symbolize actions that need to be baked into the app. This includes drag and bounce actions (pink icon), blinks (green icons) and special effects (blue icon). Other markup items on these spreads signify camera movement, character poses and other special animations.”

Behind the Scenes of Busytown Mysteries - Spread Layouts

“Once the storyboards are complete, we’re about halfway through our design and build process. Next up, are the spread layouts. This is when designers begin extracting the required art from the source material in order to create the layouts for the finished app. Once the layouts have been finished and exported (this can take anywhere from 3 to 7 days depending on the level of complexity involved), it’s time to bring them to life with animations and interactions using our Verso Story Engine.

“From there the spread is handed off to our scripters who then insert in any custom interactions, voice over dialog and special effects. After a few finishing touches and polish, the app is ready to hit the market!”

Curious as to how the final product turned out? Then download the Busytown Mysteries app for FREE from the Apple Apple Store or Google Play today. Then tell us what you think over on our Facebook page

Busytown Mysteries™ and all related and associated trademarks are owned by Cookie Jar Entertainment Inc. and used under license from Cookie Jar Entertainment Inc. © Cookie Jar Entertainment Inc.

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