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Case study: The myths are repeated, the game story of Finbo

Myths are repeated. It was a phrase that always crossed my mind while working on the Finbo project. Finbo was a map-centric mobile game inspired by the story and characters of ancient Greek mythology.


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kosar khonakdar

4 months ago | 18 min read
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Myths are repeated. It was a phrase that always crossed my mind while working on the Finbo project. Finbo was a map-centric mobile game inspired by the story and characters of ancient Greek mythology.

From Babolsar to Melbourne

It was around three years since I started working in Unierr as a product designer, the story began in March of 2018. On a random day, Mohammad (Unnier’s CEO) asked me “Do you still want to be the most passionate designer in the world?”, while being filled with excitement I listen to him talking about our partnership with the Finbo project.

According to Mohammad, Finbo was a mobile game in which players had to walk around the city during the game to find the balloon that was flying in the sky and win the balloon’s prizes.

All our projects before Finbo had been in the web industry and this was supposed to be our team’s first experience in the game industry. Because of that, it was instantly our favorite and most challenging project thus far. some of the first challenges that we came across were:

  1. We never had any game design/development experience
  2. Our target users were on a different continent and different country that we didn’t know anything about
  3. The story of the game was extremely crude and did not pursue any goals.
  4. Nobody knew where the balloon came from and why they should go looking for it.
  5. The game had no business plan to create cash revenue.

Satoshi Tajiri’s Insect Collection, the beginning of Pokémon Go

Well, as I said, this was the team’s first experience in game development. That’s why we had to learn everything quickly in a short and limited time before making anything. One of the things that helped us a lot along the way and gave us a better understanding of the challenges ahead was the analysis of our competitors.

Of all the similar games, Pokémon Go was the most popular and most downloaded map-based game.

So I started researching the game. Pokémon Go’s original idea was inspired by the childhood of Satoshi Tajiri, who was very interested in collecting insects. The game quickly became popular due to the use of Pokémon's nostalgic characters as well as creating a platform for socializing and meeting new people.

Players spent an average of 43 minutes a day playing Pokémon Go, which resulted in men burning 1,800 calories and women burning 1,500 calories during a game with Pokémon Go. Also, the existence of poke stops in commercial and entertainment places and historical and tourist attractions had made these places more prosperous and increased the popularity of the game.

But in the face of all this popularity, various problems arose for this game, which reduced the popularity of the game and even banned it in some countries.

Examining Pokémon Go and similar games revealed some of the obstacles ahead right from the start, and now I had to look for a way to avoid them.

Some of the risks that became obstacles for Pokémon Go were the experience of stealing, kidnapping, accidents, and other dangers for players while playing. Sometimes players would walk the streets looking for Pokémon even after midnight or go to dangerous and secluded places.

It was even reported that players who entered other people’s homes to find Pokémon were attacked with firearms. To avoid these dangers, I limited the balloon path to time and space. I also designed a hypothetical range for the balloon so that players could enter the finals only by being within the balloon range.

On the other hand, the balloon did not go into different houses or places and made it easier to reach by flying in the sky.

But the presence of the area around the balloon allowed several people to find the balloon at the same time, and this made it difficult to identify the winner and even made the game easier than intended. Therefore, players entering the balloon area had to play a simple game first, and the first person to successfully pass the balloon challenge had to access the content inside the balloon.

Target Users

The next challenge I faced was not knowing the target users of Finbo. In the first step, I started researching the Australian people, their culture, customs, interests, language, geographical location, specific behavioral habits, and so on. I needed to answer the following questions based on my research and analysis:

  1. What are the culture and customs of the Australian people like?
  2. How much time do they spend using their mobile phone during the day?
  3. What percentage of people and what age range spend their time on mobile games?
  4. How popular was Pokémon Go in Australia?
  5. What historical or cultural events are valuable, nostalgic, and important to the Australian people?

Because Australia is a highly immigrant country, it has many different nationalities with diverse cultures. Before British colonization, the majority of Australians were Indigenous peoples who had lived in Australia for 50,000 years.

After British colonization, various nations immigrated to Australia and brought Christianity and new customs with them. After a while, 70% of the people declared that they had chosen the Christian religion, and other people, under the influence of Chinese, Indian, and Middle Eastern immigrants, converted to religions such as Buddhism or Islam.

That’s why Australia is full of different cultures and customs. But Indigenous music and culture also survive among the Australian people and their festivals, among which we can mention the Digirido instrument.

Didgeridoo is a Bedouin instrument made from the stem of a eucalyptus tree pierced by termites. In their celebrations, songs, and storytelling, the natives imitate the sounds of animals and nature by blowing in the instrument, and in turn, become one with nature.

Among the things I read about people and their culture, simplicity, intimacy, and composure were among the most commonly used to describe Australians. They also attached great importance to sports, and Melbourne was called the most sporty city because of the many sporting festivals it held throughout the year.

After collecting this material, I had to do some research on what percentage of the data I collected was really accurate. That’s why I did a few interviews with my friends living in Australia, and I also became a member of various social media groups of people living there and spent some time socializing and getting to know them better.

The world of mobile games in Australia

Most players played video games because it helped them learn and practice different strategies, keep their minds active, make more friends, improve their social relationships, and even be separated from the real world.

67% of Australians play video games, of which 46% are women and 54% are men. 77% of players are over 18 years old and the average age is 34 years.
89 minutes is the average of the total daily game for all players. 98 minutes is the average of the total daily game for men. And 77 minutes for ladies. Twice a day, 10 minutes, playing time is a normal game, and 1 hour a day is deep playing time.

84% of the players believe that they have improved their mental skills and 78% their dexterity with the game.

٪ 59 helped to manage and deal with their pain and illness by playing. 90% increased their mental mobility, 80% fought dementia, and 54% increased their mobility.
34% used games at work to improve their job knowledge, and 26% used games at work to learn safety and health rules.
Parents also believe that video games can be 71% effective in educating students and 50% used by their children in the school curriculum.
The 20% increase in digital game sales in Australia was between 2013 and 2016, and 76% of people think that digital games are helping the Australian economy a lot.

In 2018, 67% of all Australians played video games. This is while in 2014 this figure was ٪ 65. It is interesting to know that the fastest-growing new population in games is people over 65 years old.

If we divide the ages into three major categories; Life stages (childhood, working-age, and retirement age), we see that 76% of children under 18, 65% of adults of working age, and 43% of people 65 and older play video games.

Suggested citation: Brand, J. E., Tod Hunter, S. & Jervis, J. (2017). Digital Australia 2018. Eveleigh, NSW: IGEA

Suggested citation: Brand, J. E., Tod Hunter, S. & Jervis, J. (2017). Digital Australia 2018. Eveleigh, NSW: IGEA

After studying four polls taken from a total of 4,000 people across Australia, I found out that 47% of Australian online players played Pokemon Go. The addiction to the game was so great that even 15% of the players were playing in the bathroom.

This addiction to mobile games, especially Pokemon Go, as I said, caused many problems such as accidents, theft, kidnapping, fatigue, and so on. For these problems not to be repeated in Finbo, I had to limit the conditions to prevent such problems by creating a series of rules and changing the strategy and story of the game.

Beginning of A Journey To Greece

As I said, in the beginning, Finbo did not have a specific story and did not pursue a specific goal. So after studying the persona, I started looking for a specific topic that is nostalgic and important to Australians, and most of them remember and understand it.

Most Australian cultural events and festivals are influenced by the UK and royal events. So at festivals held by the natives, I looked for an old story or concept so that I could be inspired by the story of the game.

Unfortunately, I could not find any myths or stories that could catch my eye. So I decided to use Digirido and local stories but I still could not write a convincing story.

I was still researching old legends when Muhammad said that future versions of Finbo might be published in countries other than Australia. This changed my thinking and research on myths. Now I had to look for a legend that:

  1. Be complete and comprehensive.
  2. Most people of all cultures and nationalities can relate to it.
  3. Everyone should have a general acquaintance with him.
  4. There are many resources available.
  5. Readers will love it.
  6. Does not limit me in creating a Hero.

I first thought of Harry Potter. Hogwarts and the characters in the magical world were nostalgic and tangible to most people.

But then I thought it was very teenage and raw. Then I wanted to use Iranian mythology. Shahnameh's stories are full of fascinating heroes and legends that can be addressed. But it is unknown to the whole world.

One day while I was resting, I was thinking about different legends, I posted on Instagram that Ariel, the daughter of Triton, is the granddaughter of the god of the sea, Poseidon, and the cousin of Hercules.

Since I was interested in both Disney and Greek mythology, this post caught my eye. Almost all people remember hearing about the ancient Greek myths or the name of one of its gods and goddesses, and in a way, Greek myths are full of heroes and various characters with superhuman powers. So I decided to research Greek mythology.

Cover art by David Salehi, Character design by Mohammad Ali Peimani Fard

Heracles or Andromeda

Heracles, or Hercules, is a Greek warrior and son of Zeus, the god of thunder and the skies. And on the other hand, Ariel is the daughter of Triton and the rotten granddaughter of the god of oceans, rivers, and waters.

According to legend, in order for Ariel to be able to exchange his fish fins with human feet and go ashore, he gives his voice and his father’s cane to the witch of the Ursula Sea.

First, I decided to work on this story and make Heracles the main character of the game, so that the king of the sea asks his father Zeus for help to rescue Ariel. But this story was still raw and no reason could be found for the balloon. Or answer the question of where the balloon came from.

That’s why I started researching other legends when I met Andromeda. Andromeda is the name of a galaxy that is two million light-years away from the Milky Way, moving toward Earth and possibly colliding with Earth in the future. But Andromeda is also rooted in ancient Greek mythology.

In Greek mythology, Andromeda is the daughter of Cepheus and Cassiopeia, king and queen of Utopia, North Africa. His mother claimed that he was more beautiful than the mermaid Nerid (children of Nerus).

That’s why the Nereids complained to Poseidon. Encouraged by his vengeance and revenge, Poseidon agreed to their request and summoned Catus, the terrible sea monster. In the form of a huge whale, Katus immediately began his mission and wreaked havoc.

Terrified people gathered and asked their king to save them. Apollo the fortune-teller told the king and queen that this calamity would not go away from you and your people unless you sacrificed your daughter Andromeda to the sea monster.

As a result, Andromeda was stripped naked and chained to a rock in front of a monster. But Perseus, the son of Danae and Zeus, sees Andromeda flying from there, rescues her from the clutches of the monster, and marries her.

This story caught my attention and I started reading about his characters and writing and reading about each of the mythical characters of ancient Greece. To be able to write a new story for the game, I had to know all the history of Greece and its adventures so that I could easily use different characters as the pieces of the game. In legends, the stories of these characters are tied together.

Story of Finbo And Its Rules

Part I: Introducing Andromeda

Exactly 2 million light-years away from our planet Earth, there is the Andromeda Galaxy with inhabitants with extraordinary powers. Among the people of this galaxy lives a girl named Andrea, who is the daughter of the king.

Part II: Sacrificing Andrea

The king wants to sacrifice his daughter Andrea because of the prophecies of the devotees to avoid the decaying wrath of the god of the sea.

Part III: Savosh and Zeus

If Andrea is sacrificed to the god of the sea, it increases his power, so Zeus, the god of the sky, decides to stop this sacrifice. Zeus sends his son Savosh to fight Poseidon. Poseidon plunges the world into the curse of darkness to confront Savosh.

Part IV: The beginning of Amphitrite’s Plan

In order for her husband to come to power, Amphitrite decides to make a plan to sacrifice Andrea anyway.
Note 1: Amphitrite is a sea urchin and the wife of Poseidon and the mother of sea urchins.
Note 2: Nymphs are the same as mermaids.

Finbo Story Line

Part V: Amphitrite’s Plan For Sacrificing Andrea

In this way, poor Andrea was chained to a rock on the edge of the shore to be swallowed by the sea guard monster.

In order to prevent Andrea from being saved easily, Amphitrite enchanted Andrea’s chains and placed her key in the enchanted balloon offered to her by wise Arsha, and lit it with the fire of the sun’s wheel to go away from Andromeda forever.

Who is Arsha?
Arsha is the ancient Archimedes who gave the first idea and science needed to make a balloon. In our story, he offers a balloon to Amphitrite, the goddess of the sea.

What is the meaning of the sun wheel?
At that time, the sun and the moon were gods who carried the sun and the moon in a carriage. Legend has it that the first fire that Prometheus gave to man was taken from the wheel of the sun.

In this way, he secretly pulled a special tree stick to the wheel of the sun carriage while the gate was open in the morning, made a fire, and sent it to the ground. In this way, he created the first fire temple that can never be extinguished.

Art by David Salehi

Part VI: Where did the gates on earth come from?

The Andromeda Galaxy is moving toward the Milky Way at a 140 kilometers per second pace, and scientists estimate that the two galaxies will merge 4 billion years from now. In the story of Finbo, because of this movement and the approach of the two galaxies to each other, gates have been created on the surface of the earth.

This is due to atmospheric changes in the orbits and due to electricity and the existence of orbits, living organisms are not able to pass through it. The balloon is on the ground, but because it has passed through a supernatural gate, we cannot see it with the naked eye, and it is flying on the ground in a virtual world.

Part VII: Humans become heroes!

Because the gods are not able to pass through these gates, then someone on the earth must find the balloon and reach the key to the other side of the gate and into the hands of Savosh.

And what better person than humans. If a human being can get the key, he will become the hero of Andromeda and enjoy the blessings of Zeus. That’s why there is a rivalry between the players over finding the key and rescuing Andrea.

Part 8: Game flow

Humans have to look for balloons on earth and in the streets. And find the key inside the balloon and pass through the gate.

Why should humans look for balloons?

Because the living beings and the gods are not able to cross the gate, something or someone must send the balloon on this side of the gate, or at least the balloon key to that side of the gate (Andromeda). And so humans are the only wise living inhabitants of the earth :)

How do humans see balloons?

Zeus, who asks humans to find balloons, has given them the gift of seeing magical tablets that can see the earth in another dimension that supernatural beings and objects that the human eye cannot see. (They are able to see the virtual world with a tablet).

How can humans use tablets?

The tablet is a divine gift and ordinary man is not God, so they must use it by a force called syrup.

Syrups are special fuels that are provided to players in the form of tanks, and as long as these tanks are full of syrup, players can use the tablet, or in other words, play. (The idea of ​​syrup was inspired by the popular wines of the ancient Greek gods, called nectar and ambrosia.)
How can humans find a balloon?

The tablet that Zeus gave to humans acts as a kind of guide and shows the direction of the balloon to the hero, as well as sensitivity to the distance and proximity to the balloon. Also, the Hermes stone, which was sent to the human world with the tablet of Zeus, helps the heroes and helps to navigate players.

Stone of Hermes by David Salehi

How do humans break a balloon spell after finding it?

Once humans find the balloon while keeping their distance from the balloon, they must solve a challenge so that they can break the balloon spell and return the key to Andromeda.
These challenges are different from the challenges that arise during the game.

What happens when the key is found?

If someone holds the key, they win the game. First, they see a video of the key returning to the gate and rescuing Andromeda. And after the hero‘s address and information will be taken to send gifts.

Part IX: The Game Challenges

To make the game more interesting, various challenges, powders, elixirs, and bombs, each inspired by one of the gods or goddesses of ancient Greece, were placed in the way of the players during the game.

Some of these challenges were posed to humans by mermaids.
Note: As I said, no living thing can pass through the gate. Now the question that arises is how do mermaids interfere in the game process? Mermaids are actually the descendants of sea urchins that exist in the modern world, and legend has it that they can turn their fins into legs and walk on land.

That is why mermaids are the best choice to create various challenges for the heroes of the game. In addition to the challenges of the game, the players themselves can use the various powers that they either buy from the game store or gain along the way (or find or settle in locations under the game contract to receive gifts.), challenge each other, and prevent other players from reaching the balloon.

Part X: The Temples!

There are temples for players in the city where they stay out of the reach of mermaids and can rejuvenate. The syrup tank also charges faster in temples.

Where are these temples?

Some shops, markets, stores, or other places can sign a contract with Finbo, and the players who buy there or receive a service can receive a gift code or barcode through their purchase. By scanning or entering the code in the game, they can receive the desired gift. These gifts can be coins, power, elixirs, etc.

Art by David Salehi

Part XII: Safe Zones

A series of temples together form a safe zone. In these safe zones, the batteries needed for the game are charged faster, and also the fairy attack is reduced.

Part XIII: Puzzles

During the game, there are pieces or lost objects on the ground that belongs to ancient Greece, and players can find them, collect them, and put them in their bags, and if the pieces reach a certain level, or When the pieces of objects are complete, the hero receives coins in return.

Part XIV: Leveling

Players climb based on the distance they travel or the amount of time they spend playing.

What is the effect of raising the level?

The higher the hero level, the more effective the powers he uses.

Part XV: Castle

Players can enter the location of their real home in the game and that location appears on the game map as a castle. They also have the ability to upgrade and reshape their castles. With the idea that: step out of the castle, collect a series of things and upgrade your territory :)))

Game Graphics

Well, now that I have written the story of the game and the rules related to it, we had to write a series of rules for the design and graphics of our game before we started designing, so that all three designers (me, David, and Mohammad Ali) had the same output after design.
Some of the rules that must be followed in designing Finbo:

  1. All game elements must be pasty.
  2. The lines should be curved and soft.
  3. Shadows and light should be soft.
  4. Use shadow and light (darkness and light) for the texture of objects. (Includes hair texture, face texture, wood texture, etc.)
  5. For hair and beard texture (generally hair-shaped texture), use light in the hatch to create hair texture.
  6. Use a noise brush for face and skin texture. (For both shadow and light)
  7. For metal, use a noise brush.
  8. Use matte brushes for wood texture.
  9. Law of Gravity: The game world has gravity, but the virtual game world is far from the ground, so objects appear to be levitating.
  10. In the game, objects are levitating at a certain distance from the ground.
  11. When objects are within the player range, they move up and down.
  12. We do not have a light reflection in the game.
  13. For glass and metal, we can use broken and sharp lines.
  14. Map material: Buildings and roads are on a stone game map, and due to the curse of Poseidon, the whole city is plunged into darkness, and the roads are illuminated by light pulses reflected by the player’s bird. Objects on the map are levitated in a place at a certain height above the ground and can be collected when they are within the player’s pulse radius.

Art by David Salehi and Mohammad Ali Peimani Fard

A few steps before creating Finbo :)

After defining the rules, each of the designers started working on their tasks. Mohammad Ali designed the characters of the game, including the male and female heroes, Zeus, Andromeda, and other gods and goddesses who were involved in the story.

David also made a blueprint for the rules of the game, as well as a three-dimensional design of the game’s powers, elixirs, and materials. I also had to draw a map of the city and the clouds. Early on in Finbo, we were supposed to use Google Maps to make everything two-dimensional and simple.

After a while, this decision was changed to a three-dimensional map with real clouds, and after a while, with the addition of the curse of Poseidon’s darkness to the story, the clouds were removed. (Finbo’s story was not complete from the beginning. During the design process, we sometimes encountered bugs or questions that we had to go back and complete the story.)

Since I had learned user experience design and user interface design by experience and self-reading at the time (I explained it in my previous memoir), I did not know many different methods and techniques.

And I just tried different routes depending on my needs. The first thing I did was to specify the path of the pages and different elements depending on the needs and the story of the game.

After that, I designed a series of different elements such as Bakchos power, Janus challenge, Tiresias bomb, etc. in plain and black and white in Adobe XD to use in the game’s wireframe.

Next to it, for Wireframe, in Photoshop, I drew a series of buttons made of stone, paste stone, and jewelry. At first, it was difficult for me to give a little dimension to the elements and create stone or jewelry.

So during the work, I started to learn the basics of painting, and first I tried the volume, then shadow and perspective on paper, and finally I designed a diamond and then I tried to implement it in Photoshop.

After drawing the elements, it was Finbo’s wireframe turn. Since I had only designed web applications before, I had no idea about game development. For this reason, I designed the whole Finbo more than three times to reach our desired wireframe :))

The evolution of Finbo from wireframe to UI.

When the wireframe was finished, David and Mohammad Ali gave me the 3D objects and characters they were designing, and I used them to turn the wireframe into a UI.

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kosar khonakdar

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Crazy UX Designer!

If I want to describe myself in one sentence; I am a tasteful designer who does not stop trying even in her most frustrating moments. I have always had the taste and energy of my work environment and helping my teammates and interacting with my users. Solving the problems of the products that I work on, always makes me happy. I have never stopped learning and I always welcome helpful advice and tips that teach me more. With good design, I like to transfer the different tastes and energy that I have, to my users by creating a good experience. on the other hand, I really love nature and always looking for design thinking in the middle of nature.


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