Charlie Brown's All-Stars is the second Charlie Brown TV special ever (after A Charlie Brown Christmas), and originally aired in 1966. It tells a heartwarming tale of a beleaguered Charlie Brown struggling to hold together his truly horrible baseball team — and despite a string of botched plays, missed catches, and broken promises, he manages to earn the love and admiration of his teammates.
By the end of the story, Charlie Brown and his team learn what it means to be a true leader.
Most people in my generation aren't familiar with it — it stopped being aired annually in 1977. Which is a crying shame and national tragedy, because here's the thing — Charlie Brown's All-Stars is funny. Like, Season-3-of-the-Simpsons, original-Muppet-Movie-funny. With cracking one-liners and pitch-perfect performances from Peter Robbins and Sally Dryer, in her first performance as Lucy — which would forever define how sour, sarcastic and hilarious Lucy should be.
I remember laughing out loud in the Loud Crow studio when I first watched it, and was humbled and ecstatic to have the opportunity to turn it into an interactive book. I knew I had an obligation to make the best app I could, if only to introduce to a new generation to one of the best and underappreciated Charlie Brown stories ever told.
Our Design Goals
When we first started All-Stars we had some goals we set out to achieve.
Focus on the story first. Our highest priority was the capture the rhythm, humor and fun of the original special in an app format. We intentionally removed a lot of extraneous features that may limit or distract from the quality of the story experience. While we have plans to re-introduce features like customization and mini-games to the Charlie Brown book line, we want to insure that they complement the story experience in a manner which children enjoy and parents are comfortable with.
Improve graphics, and typography across the board. More and more parents have multiple mobile devices in the home, including HD devices like the New iPad and Nexus 10. To take advantage of this, we upgraded the resolution and details of the graphics. We then changed the overall layout of the book so it looks just as good on widescreen devices as it does on standard screens. We also bumped up the type size and changed the font to improve legibility and readability. The result is a book app that looks as good on an iPhone 5 as it does on an iPad (it might actually look better!)
Combine the dynamism of animation with the thoughtfulness of reading. All of our Charlie Brown apps use a system of tabs, which readers swipe through in order to advance the story on each page. This system allows us tell a relatively complex, dialogue-heavy story such as A Charlie Brown Christmas in a manner that is digestible for kids.
What makes All-Stars unique among our products is our new book engine, Verso. Verso allows readers to control animations like never before. Not only can users control the pace of their reading with the tabs, they can control and discover animation hidden between tabs in the spread.
Imagine reading a comic strip, one panel at a time. Now, by combining tabs and animations, we can allow readers to discover what happens in-between those panels by swiping slowly — or they can swipe quickly to the next ‘panel’. It’s a storytelling technique we’ve developed that combines the fun of animation with the controlled pace and attentiveness of reading.
Why We're Proud of It
All in all, we're really proud of Charlie Brown's All-Stars. We did our best to capture the humor, spirit and charm of the original special.
Charlie Brown's All-Stars. represents an evolution in how Loud Crow plans to tell more complex, interactive stories in the future, and is our first crack at demonstrating what our new book engine is really capable of. Soon, we'll be publishing Brambleberry Tales, a beautiful tab-driven book that combines animated storyboards with touchable illustrations and a host of educational meta-features. Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving is going to push the limits of our engine by combining interactivity with real-time physics to create an even more tactile experience. Finally, towards the end of the year, we will release our most ambitious interactive book project to date and will begin blurring the line between comics, books and cartoons.
It's really exciting to be an interactive book designer right now. I'm glad I'm working for a company that is continually looking for ways to improve the genre and create new reading experiences.
But never mind all that. The number one reason to buy Charlie Brown's All-Stars. is that it’s a beautiful story. It will help you teach your children what it means to be a good leader and a great friend. And I think it’s HI-LAR-I-OUS.
Tracy Tsui, Interactive Designer
Colin Cove, Software Engineer
Fayaz Ashraf, Sr. Software Engineer