As a Canadian, I grew up with Chirp, Chickadee and Owl magazines, so I was tremendously excited when our friends at CBC and Switch asked us to come on board to build a digital media component to coincide with a Chirp TV show. Over the next 2 years, we worked with the great folks at CBC to build our studio’s first pure HTML5 game. We are incredibly proud of what turned out to be a collection of nine Chirp-themed preschool games. Check them out online here, and we’re in the process of app-ifying them for iOS and Android.
Our driving vision for Chirp was to let kids play with the show’s core characters as if they were friends in the same room. The tone is welcoming and inclusive, with Chirp, Tweet and Squawk calling out to you and encouraging players to jump in and have fun. The core cast of characters are with you in each game, inviting you to try something new and maybe even learn a few things along the way.
To bring the characters to life, we pushed HTML5 in a couple ways. We created a lip-sync engine that reads audio files and animates each characters’ mouth/beak as they speak. This works regardless of language or dialogue, as it reads the audio file’s waveform in real-time. We also made an eye-tracking system so the characters’ eyes follow the player’s cursor while they choose a game on the main menu, which manages to be way less creepy than it sounds. We think these touches, although more work development-wise than they might seem, give the games a sense of personal friendship that’s hard to capture in web games.
*A huge thanks to the CMF Convergent Stream/CBC/OMDC for helping us finance the project and thanks to folks at Owl Magazine, Switch and Sinking Ship for introducing us to Chirp.