Bright eyed and caffeine fueled, the FableVision Extra Life Team assembled at the Boston studio at 8 a.m., on Saturday. An hour later there would be pancakes and games – lots and lots of games.
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Lure of the Labyrinth will always have a special place in FableVision Studios history. At the time we won the project in 2005, it was the largest project we had ever undertaken. It was a perfect balance of an exciting technical challenge--games, back end, teacher tools--and an incredible opportunity to explore a myriad of design possibilities--comics, game interfaces, monsters. And it was the beginning of an exciting and longlasting partnership and friendship with Maryland Public Television and the MIT Education Arcade that yielded the award-winning, online middle-school math game.
WHAT IS LURE OF THE LABYRINTH?
Lure of the Labyrinth was designed to encourage students to use mathematical thinking and problem-solving skills to progress through a graphic-novel story and to give all students a chance to learn and succeed. A safe, educator-moderated game-embedded communication device allows players on the same team to exchange ideas and game strategies, and encourages collaborative game play.
Lure of the Labyrinth continues to be used as a math and literacy teaching tool in classrooms all around the world. From now through June 15, FableVision Studios, Maryland Public Television and the MIT Education Arcade have teamed up to launch the Lure of the Labyrinth Challenge, a chance for students to play the game and win prizes. Students can play at home or at school, in the classroom, computer lab, library, or after-school program. The goal of the challenge is to help examine the role of gaming in the classroom.
THE MAKING OF LURE OF THE LABYRINTH
While more students around the world are participating in the Labyrinth Challenge every day (and more pets are being saved!), we wanted to give our readers a little behind-the-scenes look at the making-of this incredible game and education tool:
One of the things that made this project so amazing is that we had a lot of time up front to hammer out the look and feel. We were able to spend a good month or two just drawing and experimenting. Now, this may not sound like a lot but we normally have to hit the ground running at FableVision- so this was refreshing! In the beginning, we knew the game would be full of monsters, so that's where our artists started. To give you a little idea of how the game came to life, our Director of Art and Animation Bob Flynn shared some of his earlier artistic concoctions:
Here are some of the weirder monsters Bob came up with in the beginning stages of the project. In the end, Labyrinth is not a cartoony landscape. Keith Zulawnik, our Lead Artist took over the design and the story became more of a dark fantasy dreamscape, which fits the story perfectly. Still, there were a lot of monsters in the beginning and everyone fed off each other's ideas.
In another instance, we needed a group of monsters of varying types and sizes for the Cafeteria game. Original concept art for the monsters in the Cafeteria and Iris (below) came from MIT graduate student Kristina Drzaic. Here's one line-up that Bob created:
And here's where Keith landed for the final game design:
When we started getting more specific, character design was the next big thing to tackle. Iris is a mysterious fairy companion who you meet early in the game. She's someone you're not sure you can trust, but you don't have much of a choice.
Here's the entrance pipe to the monster world that Bob doodled with a brush pen on paper in the beginning of the process. It stuck, and made it into the comic!
Some of the comics we drew never made it into the final game. But here are some that did:
From the original sketch, to the final game appearances, artists bounced around designs and concepts like these characters all the time. It was a great example of the type of collaboration we do best.
NOW GO PLAY!
We hope you've enjoyed this little trip down memory lane about the creation of Lure of the Labyrinth. But really, the best way to experience it is to go play yourself! It's fun, it's cool, it's free, it has monsters and you may even learn something:)
Special thanks again to our partners Maryland Public Television and the MIT Education Arcade in bringing the Labyrinth Challenge to classrooms around the world. We couldn't ask for better partners in this monstrous world of gaming in the classroom!
To take part in the Labyrinth Challenge, go here!
To play Lure of the Labyrinth after June 15th, go here!