Be it a gym membership, piece of exercise equipment, or tracking device, the biggest problem facing most people in their fitness goals is that of consistency. After just a few months, memberships go unused and equipment and devices start collecting dust as motivation fades. With City of Epic, we’re tackling this issue starting with augmenting activity with fleshed-out game dynamics and story line. We’re also adding in-game features to help players stick to their goals, such as cooperative challenges with friends, surprise “attacks” that encourage trying new activity, and regular in-story fitness tests to monitor progress; in addition to lending variety to gameplay, these features will keep players more engaged in their own workouts.
We’re confident that the proven benefits of tracking combined with actual fun will make sticking with your routine that much easier.
From early on, we knew that the look of the game was going to be important in drawing players in and keeping the game fun. Based on the most basic concept for City of Epic, a game to make you more awesome in real life, we knew that we wanted it to look bright, lively, and fun. When we first started sketching out the graphics for City of Epic, a lot of the initial concepts were heavily 8-bit/eBoy inspired; we were taking a lot of structural cues from classic video games, so adapting the graphics to that aesthetic at first seemed only natural. Through several iterations, however, these images were still looking a little stilted.
For all of the game graphics, I’m working with a Wacom Intuos tablet that I previously hadn’t been getting much use out of; I’ve been an artist and illustrator for a number of years (with more emphasis on the latter recently), but I’ve always worked in traditional media. Most of the work I’ve done digitally has either been color correction or graphic design. I eventually realized that trying to create illustrations for the game that were completely outside of my normal process and style obviously wasn’t making much sense–it was just reading as derivative in the worst way.
So, after some discussion with Kelly, we decided to go with a more cartoony, hand-drawn style for the game. It didn’t nod quite so much to the Platonic Ideal of console gaming, but we hope it will create a more distinctive and recognizable environment. We’re still making stylistic tweaks, but I’m much more enthusiastic about this direction. And with the traditional avenues in the illustration market tightening, it’s a great opportunity for me to find a new application for what I love doing.
Indie game developer BitBot Media is adding some nerdy fun to fitness with City of Epic, an exergame that’s, well, actually a game. City of Epic brings real-world exercise into an RPG storyline set in a quirky urban environment, letting players earn rewards, team up with friends, and face challenges while developing better exercise habits and working up to the office of Mayor. So, instead of just training for a 5k, you’re preparing for a looming zombie apocalypse. Instead of a mere 100 push up challenge, you’re helping a grad student neighbor subdue the hoards of bees swarming from the floorboards. And instead of just bettering your bench press, you’re taking down the Kraken.
Whereas many exergames function either as workout videos led by digital characters, or arbitrarily assign points to activities, the developers believe that a more fully game-like format will encourage long-term involvement. Participation won’t require any specialized equipment– though mobile apps and fitness tracking device integration are in the pipeline–so anyone with a computer or smart phone will be able to play.
City of Epic is planned to enter a closed beta early this summer, and the only way to gain access is to back their Kickstarter campaign running through June 15th. Check out http://kck.st/mcf2Y6 for more information and to watch a very special infomercial explaining the project.
About BitBot Media
Co-founders Kelly Maguire and Katherine Ramos teamed up in 2010 when they started getting competitive with Foursquare gym check-ins. When looking at the other exergames on the market, they realized that they wanted a more compelling system for “winning” at working out. With Kelly’s programming skills, Katherine’s illustration experience, and a whole lot of hours of gaming between the two of them, they formed BitBot and set out to develop a sufficiently geeky system for getting into better shape. You may have already seen some of Kelly’s work; she was briefly internet-famous for her hardware hack creating a “life size” Katamari controller.
It’s been an incredible first week for our Kickstarter campaign! We’ve just gotten to 40% funding with 23 days left to go, and are hugely thankful for our great backers. We’ve also been delighted to receive some exciting press mentions. Rock, Paper, Shotgun covered us last Tuesday, and we’ve since had some great writeups in The Escapist, Tecca, and GameSetWatch.