If time travel is a dream of yours, it's your lucky day! Let's travel back in time to uncover fun facts and find out how SimplyFun's new Social Sciences & Studies game, Time Jumpers, came to life! This pop culture and world history trivia game highlights some of this era's amazing inventions, people, and more as players take turns moving around the category portal to collect and fill their dashboards with cards to build an accurate historical timeline.
Selecting Time Jumpers
SimplyFun partners with renowned game designers around the world and evaluates and selects which games to produce based on a range of criteria.
Time Jumpers was introduced to SimplyFun by Corné van Moorsel, one of the licensors who brought us award-winning games like Sumology, SavannaScapes, Ocean Limbo, Trifusion, and Triage. Corné is based in the Netherlands and when he introduced Time Jumpers to SimplyFun's CEO Patty Pearcy, she "immediately fell in love." It was originally thought that the game would be able to be produced quickly, however, once the game prototype was in hand the team realized that some of the original content would need refining. A truly "oh my gosh!" moment but one that the development team was excited to dive into.
Refining the Game Elements
Several adjustments were made to the original version of the game that was on Kickstarter under the name Exhibition: 20th Century. One of the biggest changes was changing the original categories from six continents to six topics: Inventions, Discoveries, World Events, Firsts, Famous Figures, and Arts & Entertainment. From here, the development team came up with the theme of time travel and having players use a 'portal' to travel from different years in history, collecting information. This change led to the most significant production challenge of the game.
Early Work with Playing Cards
According to SimplyFun's Director of Product Development, Tiffany O'Brien, "The biggest challenge - and simultaneously the most fun part - was creating the 100 playing cards." Not only does the game include one card for each featured year in history, but these cards are strategically spread out evenly between the six categories. This was no small feat to accomplish!
The reason creating the cards was the biggest challenge is that some of the original cards included topics that were not age-appropriate or that did not embody the spirit of SimplyFun's brand mission. So, those cards were pulled first and the development team got to work searching for new things to fill the spaces of the cards that were removed. During this process, the team dug deep and learned lots of fun new facts about our world's history. It took over three months and "more phone calls and emails than we could have even imagined filling the 100 cards," said O'Brien, but they did it.
Additionally, there was the challenge of copyright laws and permissions around owned IP (intellectual properties). The laws in Europe (where the original game was created) are different from the U.S. Many of the final card details and facts in Time Jumpers required the team to contact those individuals or organizations and ask for permission. This was a lot of work, yes, but it also led to some pretty amazing things, like the ability to 'play it forward', one of SimplyFun's beloved missions. A great example of this was acquiring permission from the National Park Service to feature Smokey Bear. In exchange for using the likeness of Smokey Bear on one of the 100 playing cards, they asked for a donation to the National Park Service which SimplyFun was happy to oblige.
Finalizing the Playing Cards
As mentioned before, creating the 100 playing cards was the most challenging yet most fun part of developing Time Jumpers. There were many cards that were easy to finalize and took the least amount of time and work such as historic events, discoveries, and certain people. So, those specific years and categories were pretty well set. The challenge came with trying to fill in the playing cards around them. The team often found themselves looking for a specific year in a specific category in order to fulfill that empty card space. For example, looking specifically for something that was discovered in 1938. "The discoveries category was the biggest challenge since we needed to fill between 16-18 cards in specific years," commented O'Brien.
Another interesting thing to note was that the Queen of England was included as a Famous Figure for the 1952 card, the year she became the Queen. The sad news of her passing, fortunately, came before the game was completed, so the text on the card was edited to read “She was the longest-governing British monarch in history.”
From Sketch to Finished Artwork
Special thanks to SimplyFun's amazing in-house artist Laine Garrett who methodically drew all 100 images for the playing cards. The work and detail that went into these iconic and recognizable images was an impressive task, to say the least!
The Final Product
From start to finish, the development of Time Jumpers took approximately one year to complete. "One of the other remarkable things about this game is looking at your dashboard each time you play to see the chronological order of things," says O'Brien. You will be surprised to learn how long ago or how recently something happened."
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Did you enjoy taking a peek behind the scenes of Time Jumpers? Then be sure to check out our inside look at early-coding game, Team Digger.