Fun just got dialled up to 11 thanks to Chris O’Shea’s ingenious new app Makego. It allows kids (and big kids) to combine their real-world creations with an interactive race car, boat or ice-cream truck complete with sound effects and animations. It’s a brilliant idea, executed with a real feel for unleashing imagination and we particularly like how it soups up traditional children’s past-times rather than trying to replace them. Charmed beyond belief – we spoke to Chris to find out more…
Where did the idea for the app first come from? How long did it take to develop?
It just seemed like a very logical idea to me. Rather than control a toy car with a phone, what if the iPhone was the toy car? More and more toys (like Hot Wheels cars) are getting cameras and screens built into them now.
Instead of bringing out a plastic toy car that people could buy and put their phone in, I really wanted to facilitate creative play between a child and their parent. Building things together with their hands, out of cardboard or LEGO, then putting in the app and playing with the characters on screen inside their vehicle shell.
It took about four months to develop from start to finish. I became a dad during that time though, so that slowed things right down as I took time off. This is my first app, so there was a big learning curve for me.
How did you approach the aesthetics of it?
During the concept stage I was doing sketches in my book of vehicle ideas and characters. Part of me wanted to get an illustrator to do all the graphics, but another part of me wanted to have a go myself.
It was also a low budget project, so getting others involved was tricky. In the end I did all the graphics myself. They are a little rough around the edges, but people have commented on the style, saying it looks like a child has drawn them, so the outcome was ok.
The sounds and music were created by Repeat to Fade.
What were the main challenges involved?
Really my main challenge was resources and time as a solo developer, learning how to code for the devices, manage assets and memory, making it work on different devices, doing the graphics. If I had a company with even a very small team I could have done it in a month.
Did you do some testing with kids?
Yes but not as much as I would have liked. I’ve a three-month-old son, too young for this. My friends have you children who let me test with them, and also on my extended family.
I knew I was on to something when I had the racecar working and my five year old nephew kept going back to the app. I will definitely do more focused testing next time.
How do you see it developing moving forward?
The more people that buy it the more of the development costs will be covered and I can continue to work on the app. I’d like to add more vehicles, and some features to the existing ones.
I’ll be updating the website too with more help on how to build vehicles, with printed cardboard plans. I’d really like to see parents uploading photos and videos of their vehicle creations using the app.