Incredebooks: Disney Edition

Disney Imagicademy via Incredebooks

Game Design, Game Development, Server Development
PlayStation Mobile, PlayStation VITA, Android

The good folks behind Incredebooks stopped by for another visit, and this time they brought their friends Olaf, Mickey and Donald. Karman and the Incredebooks team joined forces once again to bring a new set of augmented reality books to life featuring an assortment of Disney characters.

Karman loves a good challenge and this project did not disappoint. Besides the immediate challenges presented to us, we would have to overcome a few unforeseen ones. Poor marker detectability was causing our AR content to appear shaky, bugs in Vuforia (the 3rd party computer vision library) caused the UI to disappear, and a few unusual performance issues.

The Incredebooks team was happy with the Disney Edition of the app. The AR content looked better, performed better, and tracked more accurately.

Challenges

  1. A single app that supported multiple downloadable books. In previous Incredebooks releases, every book had a separate companion app. However, this time around a single app to house all books was required.
  2. Manage downloadable content. This presented a new challenge such as the need to manage downloadable content and allow players to delete book content if they ran out of storage space.
  3. Improve the visual quality. The AR content and add the ability to change aspects of the app without the need to submit a new update to the app stores.

Delivered

To address the need to change aspects of the app without submitting an update, Karman created a simple to use CMS. At each launch, when there is an internet connection, the app checks for new configurations from the CMS and downloads them. This small addition saves weeks of going through the app store review process and cuts out the need for developers to be involved in minor updates, saving both time and money.

Unlike the other Incredebooks apps, the Disney Edition app had a significant amount of functionality outside of the actual AR experiences. We opted to disable the Vuforia system and camera when the player wasn’t viewing a book resulting in an overall gain in performance and battery life. Out of the box, Vuforia expected to be running all of the time so it took some serious problem solving to implement a solution that would allow it to be enabled/disabled as required.

Our contributions to the project didn't end with development. Throughout the project we were looking at the overall product and provided input whenever we saw an improvement that could be made. At one point, there were problems with some pages not tracking very well. When bound into a book the pages curved which compromised Vuforia's ability to track them. Having exhausted all of the design and software-based solutions at our disposal we started looking at physical solutions. After doing some research into common binding options we discovered "lay-flat" binding and immediately suggested that it be used to bind the books.

When complete, the Incredebooks team was happy with the Disney Edition of the app. The AR content looked better, performed better, and tracked more accurately. They had a single app platform to continue adding books in the future and the ability to easily make configuration changes to the application without the need for a developer. We're looking forward to seeing where the Incredebooks team takes this app next!

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