An animation to celebrate and support the NHS through the height of lockdown has progressed into a fully-fledged NHS Mobile Game called NHZOOM

The Backstory


During the peak of lockdown, the animation guys wanted to show their support for all the great work the frontline workers in the NHS were doing. The way we decided to tackle this was to do, you guessed it! An animation! Working with our talented 3D department we produced a short looping animation that you will see below. Through the success of this animation and the response it gained, we collaborated with Mobile Games Studio Zap Pop Pow to develop this small concept into a fully-fledged NHS mobile game where users could also donate to the NHS to help with COVID-19 relief efforts.

The Animation


Our jobs don’t involve risking our health every day to help others. That’s something that we should all admire, as we all know the NHS is doing a sterling job in the fight against COVID-19.
To show our appreciation, we’ve used our animation skills to create this fun and uplifting animation of an ambulance driving through the streets of London for all the superheroes on the front line.
We wanted to evoke the fun of a game in this animation and from the beginning, we knew that if given the chance we wanted to partner with a game studio and turn this idea into a fully-fledged free NHS mobile game that would help raise awareness in the younger generation and help support the frontline workers by enabling people to donate.

Development


When putting the animation out into the world we made it clear from the outset that we wanted to collaborate with a game studio and turn this into a game. With this in mind, we chose a style of assets that would support being put into a game if needed. On the left, you can see examples of some different characters and items that we used to develop the final animation. The support we received for the animation on social media and within our industry was beyond our expectations and the universe provided what we needed!

We partnered with established mobile & desktop game studio Zap Pop Pow, to produce a mobile game following along the same lines as our animation. This being our first foray into game design as a studio, we were very excited about the whole process and worked closely with Zap Pop Pow and their talented artists to create the finished mobile game. On the right you can see a selection of characters we created for the animation to represent the peoples of London coming out to clap for the NHS.

Interview with the Game Studio


Stuart De Ville is CEO of Games Studio Zap Pop Pow and was one of the first people to reach out to us about creating a game together. We wanted to interview him and get a few words from their side of the project.

Stuart, firstly can you tell us a little bit about yourself & ZAP POP POW?

I’m Stuart from Zap Pop Pow and originally, many moons ago now, I started out looking for a career in game development looking to be character artist in a AAA studio. And it just turned out that it’s such a hard industry to break into, especially, if you’re self-taught. I was entirely self-taught, so I came up against a few main barriers. One is that I needed some experience in the industry and the other one being that I needed to have a certain number of shipped titles which makes it a mystery, how anyone gets in at all as a new artist!
I became aware that I could do it myself to a certain degree. I was like, well, if I’m going to get something for myself, then I’ll go and build it. So I built my own team and do the indie game studio thing. So that’s us right now. We’ve had a successful mobile game and now we’re now making a game console unannounced tactical turn-based RPG with a team of 17 people.

What was it that initially drew you to the project?

When this whole situation hit and I saw your post on LinkedIn, I thought, obviously a lot of big companies are jumping in and doing stuff to support the NHS. And I was just kind of sitting here thinking ‘I wish there was something that I could do, but I’m just a little indie studio, I can’t think of anything that I could do to help.’ And when I saw your post on LinkedIn asking for support to turn the animation into a game I was like, can we do this? Yes! I’m going to dive in and see if we can do it together. That’s kind of how it came about really, my desire to want to do something, to help. And the fact that obviously we are well-positioned to make games.

What were some of the initial steps your team took on the journey?

It was a pretty slimline process. I started asking just a lot of questions. What was the polycount of the models? How it was structured? I then had a look at one of the files, so I can look in detail how it was all set up. And for a mobile game, obviously the quality of animation that we had from you guys was very high in detail and very highly polished. So, it looks fantastic when it’s rendered animation, but a mobile game A. doesn’t need it. and B. It can’t really handle it! So we had a few discussions and the animation guys artists went to work on reducing it down, breaking it up into segments. So obviously as it’s one whole animation, we need the individual parts for us to make it into a game. We had to turn all of that one scene into smaller assets that a game engine can spit out and replicate along the endless street you drive on. The game engine will select buildings and pull them out when they need to, especially for a games engine, repetition is part of what it needs. So it was really smooth actually.
It’s just about stripping back how much work the engine needs to do and making it all kind of streamlined so that you work smart, not hard

NHZOOM video game

What about the next steps after that?

I’m the studio owner, so what I mostly did was direct between the artists and the programmers and even just in some cases, just get out of the way and set up a conversation with them to have and let them have it. And then it was just keeping an eye on it from a top-level, point of view, really. I only had to really come in and make these top-level decisions. Then it was just simple design stuff, like the UI layout. Fortunately, we had a couple of conversations with you guys about the UI Layout and we had you guys make a like a really nice couple of images for it, which I think polished it all off. Otherwise, we would have done it in the engine and then we would have been wasting the fact that we’ve got this amazing art team The Animation Guys on hand.
Programmers can do stuff, but artists make that stuff look good.

One of the biggest parts of game development is iteration and games testing, how did that go for NHZOOM?

We didn’t have to go through too much iteration. The one thing we’ve learned from doing this particular project is that we had to really simplify this. From me thinking of how it was going to be made, to how a programmer decides to make it there’s always a little bit of a difference.
We probably could have knocked something out within two weeks and have it sorta look good because all of the assets you guys made look good, but instead lets spend a bit more time and make it play better too. There’s just this little, extra loving care that you can take and spend a little bit more time on it to make it all a little bit smoother. And then it took even a little bit longer than even that because of this current situation that we’re all living in with remote working!

NHZOOM video game

The game is up on the play store now for people to download, yes?

We will get it on the apple store eventually, we just need to work with them as they’re cautious for anything COVID related as they don’t want to spread fake news which is understandable. It is up on the play store now, and it works. Everyone can go and download it right now and they should because its really fun!

The Finished Game


The end result of months of collaboration through a pandemic, lockdown & months of uncertainty has shown that even in the darkest of times, people can come together out of the kindness of their hearts and show their support for a cause that is greater than themselves.

We want to continue improving & adding to the game as time goes on to make it the best it can be!

If you have an android phone & 10 minutes to spare, head to the google play store now, download the game, and give it a go.

Let us know what score you got and let’s see if you can beat the people who made it!

Download Game

What our client Said


“The Animation Guys are wicked”

Andrew Pym

Marketing Executive at LexisNexis Risk Solutions

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