Here we are, back with another developer interview! This time with playpal the creator of keeko.io. Before we start we’d like to thank the playpal Team for participating in our interview and for answering all of our geeky questions! Thanks!
/// Thanks for taking the time to talk to us about keeko.io! Could you kick-start this interview by telling us a little about your studio, yourself, and what drew you into the gaming industry?
Playpal Games is a small independent Gaming subsidiary of Playpal Inc. that loves its indie roots. We aspire to soar to greater heights in the global gaming industry and challenge the current gaming medium with our new take on traditional games, Keeko intends to create mobile games with a strong focus on health, education, and motivation.
I am Sana and I am the Creative Director for keeko. I have always been passionate about “Change” and games are a creative and recreational outlet for most players. Most people play for a chance to suspend reality and enjoy experiences they would not otherwise have time for.
Like many game companies, we started the development process with a creative approach in mind. I wanted to make “Games for Change” and Keeko’s story is inextricably intertwined with our Founder: Eesha Sheikh story. I have been working with my team for the last 1.5 years on the concept and narrative and we wanted to take a fun approach on sedentary lifestyle and eating habits. So, we decided to look at the world from the eyes of a Giant cute Doughnut named Falfa.
Having a design background it was my passion to come up with an art style that is pop, fresh, funk and has a message. So we mixed comic golden age with bronze and pop.
/// Ok, let’s start talking about keeko.io. What are the highlights of your latest release?
Life seems good. Like everyone else she knows, Keeko enjoys streaming movies, eating whatever food she craves, and chatting with friends on her phone. But lately, she feels like there might be more to life than eating and staring at screens. She decides to run. The world is governed by a giant talking doughnut that goes by the name of Falfa, his troops of popsicles, Bonbons, and french fries do everything in their power to have Keeko return home and act like everybody else.
Keeko uses three major gamification modules: App Data, Rewards and Social. The game collects step count data from users’ phones and rewards users with Fitcoins (in-game mana), which they can use to upgrade their character and purchase boosters.
The user is not required to take any extra steps if they don’t want to. The impact intended is to encourage people to take extra steps to earn more Fitcoins for store purchases and character upgrades. Furthermore, you can revive your character using Fitcoins once dead in the game. Every user will have a Fitstats profile where they can see their daily steps, Fitcoins, purchase options, and health recommendations.
/// What was the core idea or inspiration behind keeko.io? And perhaps more importantly, where do you find inspiration for your games in general?
Keeko’s story is inextricably intertwined with the Founder’s (i.e. Eesha Sheikh’s) story. Keeko’s perseverance and resistance toward the Food, her drive to change herself and the world, and her courage to go against the odds form the essence of Eesha’s struggle with weight loss.
After being diagnosed with obesity at the age of nine and yo-yo dieting till the age of 13, she found it impossible to stay healthy. Until her father designed a rewards system where whenever she would lose weight she will get a reward.
This motivated her and her story motivated me into creating Keeko. Eesha founded Playpal, Inc in 2016 intending to provide every human being access to “Better health” because everyone deserves better health.
/// How long was keeko.io in development for? And are there any interesting and/or exciting moments or experiences you would like to share with us from that time?
To be honest the game was in development for a short period of nine months. We wanted to present a simple version of this beautiful story to the world.
We started our first concept of Keeko in 2016, a runner game and failed badly in communicating the message. In 2016, we met an amazing Game Designer from Montreal who came from Canada to Pakistan and worked with us day in and out on the proof of concept.
This was the first time we got an amazing response on our Keeko vs. The Giant Doughnut Falfa storyline. The best decision I took was working with a proper Audio team and in that process, I met Vibe Avenue, the music and sound effects are AAA quality.
Edamame Reviews: You are right, the music and effects are truly top-notch. 👍
/// What software, developer-tools, or black-magic(?) did you use when making keeko.io? Is there anything you would like to share with the developers who read Edamame Reviews?
Unity is our main engine. This was the first time we worked with Wwise for our Audio work, and the results were amazing.
The best tool we built in-house was the integration plugin. The plugin intended to extract step data from google fit and your phone pedometer for rewards in the Game.
/// Is there any secret “developer-advice” you can give our lucky players who read this interview?
My best advice would be to focus on animations. If you want an interactive game make sure you put loads of hours in perfecting the animations and testing and perfecting again. They make all the difference.
/// What can we expect to see in keeko.io or from playpal in the not so distant future? What do we have to look forward to next?
A better version of the game, more playable characters and a lot of cool moves. We intend to move into PC as well. The next version will have integrations with Fitbit and other fitness bands and watches so you can sync your device with your playpal/keeko wallet and on your Fitstats profile, you can see your daily progress and earn in-game currency.
/// Lastly, is there anything you would like to say to our awesome team of Writers, Developers, and Supporters who keep Edamame Reviews up and running?
Honestly, you guys have a great initiative and Playpal Games hope to promote and be a long term supporter. Thank you so much for allowing us to talk about our Storyline, inspiration and the journey behind keeko.