It’s a very exciting day in the Crow’s Nest. After a lot of work and much waiting, our new app, Little Red Riding Hood, is finally on sale. You can find it on the App Store here for an introductory price of $4.99/ £2.99, and watch a trailer above.
I feel pretty happy saying that this is the best app we’ve ever made. It’s an entirely new take on the fairytale classic – for the very first time, you can create the story of Little Red Riding Hood yourself.
You can choose which paths Little Red Riding Hood takes through the forest to get to her grandma’s house – and the decisions you make will not only affect what options are available to you later on, but also the eventual outcome of the story: how will you defeat the Big Bad Wolf?
Watch the Big Bad Wolf’s version of the story:
We’ve never made an app with such a non-linear narrative – or one which has been built with so much interactivity in mind. There are nine unique mini-games throughout the app, taking advantage of tons of brilliant iPad and iPhone features – you can see yourself on screen using the front facing camera, blow into the microphone to sound a whistle, tip the screen to pour honey into a jar, and drag, swipe, tap and zoom to take part in the story and explore more of every scene. And don’t worry – if you get lost, there’s a map to help you find your way…
Like our other fairytale apps, Little Red Riding Hood features brand new animation, voicework, original music, text highlighting for early readers, and stunning artwork by Ed Bryan:
We really think you’ll love this app. If you do buy it, we’d love to hear from you – you can get in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter, by email or by leaving a comment underneath this post. And if you like Little Red Riding Hood, please do consider leaving a review on the App Store – it really makes a difference!
Keep an eye on the blog tomorrow, when we’ll post a new character trailer for the app, and a brand new competition. And enjoy Little Red Riding Hood!
There are some intriguing clues in this rather beautiful forest scene by Ed Bryan, the illustrator and animator behind Little Red Riding Hood. What’s the significance of the empty jars? Why are there thistles everywhere? Who’s that shy-looking fellow hiding behind one of the trees? I particularly love the sunbeams that have broken through the canopy.
We’ll be sharing all sorts of exciting things from Little Red Riding Hood over the coming months – keep watching this space!
While we can’t give away all of our secrets, we thought it might be fun to share a “behind the scenes” look at how part of our Cinderella app came to life. In this video, Ed Bryan, Head of Apps-Creative and the illustrator and animator of Cinderella, explains how he created Cinderella’s moonlit garden.
That’s right, Cinderella, our next 3-D fairytale app for iPad and iPhone will be available starting September 13! Needless to say, we’re very excited.
It’s taken a bit longer than anticipated, but I assure you, it’s well worth the wait. We’ve built upon the functionality in our Three Little Pigs app to make Cinderella a truly magical experience.
Cinderella combines Ed Bryan’s beautiful illustrations and animation with open-ended activities that actively engage children in the storytelling. As the story unfolds, readers can gather items for Cinderella’s fairy godmother to transform into the coach and horses, select the dance music at the ball, and help everyone try on the glass slipper. They can even choose the style and colour of Cinderella’s gown!
And those using an iPad2 or iPhone4 can see themselves in the fairytale.
We saw The Three Little Pigs app entertain and delight young readers. Parents sent us videos of their children reading along and talking about the story. Cinderella takes this engagement to a whole new level. As you can see in the video trailer, reading Cinderella has inspired some children to dance!
Who knew that a picture book app could get children to dance?! Well, we didn’t. But that was just one of the wonderful surprises at the shoot for our Cinderella app video trailer.
Cinderella is the second app in our series of 3D Fairy Tales, and we’re just a month away from its release. So while brothers Ed and Will Bryan are putting the finishing touches on the animations and coding, it was time to make our video.
All along, we’ve felt that our Cinderella app is enchanting and magical. And dare we say, it may even be a step up from our Three Little Pigs app! Ed’s illustrations are beautiful, the characters’ comments are insightful and funny, and we’ve incorporated new interactive features that truly involve children in the story. Kids can drag things across the kitchen to help Cinderella clean-up; they can catch mice in the garden for the Fairy Godmother to transform into the carriage’s coachman and horses; and they can even change the colour of Cinderella’s dress.
But we hadn’t expected the reaction we got from these girls – the second Cinderella and the Prince hit the dance floor at the ball, THEY were dancing too!
And we always thought reading was more of a sedentary activity…
Stay tuned for more news about the final weeks leading up to the launch of our Cinderella app.
Today’s a big day for all of us at Nosy Crow: our The Three Little Pigs app app is the Number 1 New and Noteworthy app in the UK App Store. It’s on the homepage! This is a real recognition of the app’s quality and innovation. The Three Little Pigs is Nosy Crow’s first app, and it has already been reviewed amazingly well, as you’ll see from the list of reviews in the Media Mentions section of our Media Kit page.
The Three Little Pigs has
appeared on the home pages of 12 continental European countries already it’s great to see it here in the UK App Store. Not only is the UK a really important market for our apps, but it is also “our” store: the one we buy our apps in ourselves.
The app also tops the “What’s Hot” list in book apps on the UK store:
Here’s a quote from the review: “…(The) app’s animations, original music and interactive elements bring a new type of spark to this age-old story, making it one of our favorite ebooks. ….So is it worth $8 — easily the cost of a print edition? We think so, if you’re in search of a premium children’s ebook.”
The past two months have been a whirlwind of activity on the apps front for us. After nearly 8 months of planning, developing and testing, we launched the iPad version of The Three Little Pigs on Feb 17 and the iPhone/iPod touch version on March 4.
As new app publishers, we thought those launches were the key milestones… and, of course, they were important. But in some ways the real fun began when we started to hear from reviewers and from customers – parents, teachers, fellow app developers, and children – from around the world. To date, we’ve heard from over 400 people. This direct feedback has been enormously important to us. We’ve been able to find out, in a very (cheering and) direct way that people are enjoying our app and their kids are too. And we’ve also been able to find out how they use it, when they use it, how old their children or students are, and what they’d like to see us offer in our next apps. We’ve always felt that our internal app development process was collaborative – but now we are collaborating with customers too!
We were always aiming high with The Three Little Pigs app: we wanted to create something that was a really new kind of reading experience, that looked and sounded as good as it possibly could, and that was truly interactive. Nevertheless, the success of the app has exceeded our expectations.
Some highlights for us have been:
Featured in iTunes’ New & Noteworthy category in 12 App Stores: Belgium (#4), Denmark (#4), Finland (#4), Greece (#4), Italia (#4), Luxembourg (#4), Nederland (#4, )Norway (#4), Portugal (#4), Spain (#4), Sweden (#4), Switzerland (#4)
Featured in iTunes’ What’s Hot > Books in South Africa, Thailand, Brazil, UK, Russia, Turkey, New Zealand, Ireland, Austria, Norway, Canada, Denmark, Hong Kong
Glowing reviews in many parenting and children’s technology publications – both online and in print, including being listed in “Best Children’s Books for iPad” in the Gadgetwise column in The New York Times and mentioned on television as great app for kids on The CBS Early Show.
Lots of interest from other non-English language publishers which has led to apps co-edition partnerships for versions in French and German. This is a new sort of business model, and it’s exciting to be at the cutting edge.
But this is no time to pat ourselves on the back. There’s work to be done: we have lots more apps to plan, develop and test. We’re in the middle of creating our next release in our fairy tale series, 3D fairy tale: Cinderella. Here’s a sneak peek of two beautifully illustrated scenes (click each image below to see it larger) by Ed Bryan. These are works in progress – you’ll need to wait until June to see the real thing!
Now iPhone and iPod touch owners can experience our highly-acclaimed fully-animated, interactive version of The Three Little Pigs fairy tale app. We’ve spent the past two weeks making sure it looks and works just as well on small screen iOS devices as it does on the iPad.
For more details, including a video, click here
You can click on the App Store logo to download it:
And once you’ve got the app, be sure to try:
Flicking the characters to make them jump, spin and speak
Blowing on the screen to help blow down the pigs’ houses
Helping the pigs build each of their houses
Tilting the screen to reveal more of the scene and to find hidden characters
Chasing the pigs down the road in the wolf’s van
Dropping the wolf down the chimney and celebrating with the pigs
What’s it like to make an app? We thought you’d never ask! Recently I talked to Ed Bryan about his experience creating our debut iPad title: The Three Little Pigs. Ed’s background is in video games and before joining Nosy Crow as Head of Apps Development – Creative, he was an Art Director at Rare Ltd (Microsoft Games Studio). For the past 15 years Ed has worked on a variety of successful games titles as a 3D artist, animator and illustrator, including Kinect Sports, Banjo-Kazooie, Viva Piñata and Grabbed by the Ghoulies.
1. What sort of products have you developed in the past and how does creating an app compare?
The games I’ve worked on in the past have all been made by more than two people! The first Banjo-Kazooie game for the Nintendo 64 was built with 14 of us, whereas my last game, Kinect Sports had a team of around 70!
As the teams get bigger and bigger, you find yourself doing less hands-on creative work and more leading and directing. With The Three Little Pigs (TTLP), I was back to doing everything, which is scary and exciting.
Something that TTLP has in common with most of my previous work, is a focus on characters, and a younger audience. I want to make things that are beautiful,, charming, funny, have high production values and attention to detail.
2. What was the biggest creative challenge of this process?
The scariest thing for me was having to draw and colour in so much art! The technical challenges of building the app are things I understand well. But proving to myself that I was up to the job of illustrating the whole story on my own was something else!
At the start I was determined to try and produce art that had the look and feel of a picture book. I wanted new poses for each character as they appeared throughout the story. Everything had to be unique. I didn’t want it to end up looking like a video game. Against this artistic desire was the constant thinking about how on earth I was going to take the art and turn it into the 3D scenes that appear in the app, and how I should draw the characters so I’d be able to animate them well.
3. How did you approach the illustration? Was there a character you drew first and then the rest flowed from there?
In March 2010, when we had our first conversations about making apps, we made a quick mock-up of the wolf knocking at the door of the brick house. Amazingly, he changed very little; I think for the final story I just gave him a new pair of trousers!
A very early version of the sister pig (Pig 2) appeared in the demo too. But she was initially a boy!
When work started properly, I worked through the story and sketched how I thought each scene would look. Once we had all settled on that, I was able to start illustrating.
The first complete scene was the pig family at home. This was a good place to start as it gave me a chance to get most of the characters out of the way and get the feel for how the app would look.
For all the other scenes, I took the original storyboard sketches, worked through what interactions would take place and started to build up the final art on the computer. I had to remember that in the app you can look behind objects, so I’d had to make sure that I coloured in everything, even if you couldn’t really see it in the original 2D illustration.
4. Do you have a favorite character or scene?
Truthfully, I love them all. I think we were able to create individual personalities for each character, not only with how they look, but also the way they move and the way they all talk.
I like how the older brother pig (Pig 1) heads the football (soccer ball) in the final scene; how the sister pig dances a lot; how the confident little brother pig (Pig 3) builds his brick house, and how poor Mr. Wolf gets stuck in the chimney – these always make me smile. It was a lot of fun putting it all together.
My favourite scene? The football (or soccer) scene worked really well, and gives a little nod to Banjo-Tooie, a game I worked on a long time ago. I think the way the houses blow over came out rather well too.
5. What was the hardest part to draw or animate?
Getting the wolf up the ladder was tricky. No matter how I animated him, it never quite looked like the image I had in my head.
I had a few scary weeks where I put off illustrating the third little pig’s kitchen. I’d already had one go, but it was dreadful. I spent some time doing other bits and pieces for the app, but eventually I had to face the fear, and get on with that last scene.
6. Have your children seen the app along the way? How have they reacted? Do you incorporate their input?
Yes, both of my children saw the app taking shape and always wanted to see the latest build. It’s always tricky showing unfinished work to anyone and having to explain that the bit they want to play with isn’t working yet, or is broken at the moment.
The watershed moment came when my eldest son, who is five and a half years old, was able to read through from start to finish for the first time. Seeing him with the app made me confident that other children would enjoy what we were trying to make.
What I found very reassuring was that both children would always be asking to read ‘Little Pigs’. My eldest would offer advice too, such as putting a big arrow pointing up the chimney, so the reader would know where the wolf was going to come down!
Towards the end of the project, both children helped to test the app too. It’s remarkable how quickly a 2 year old can break a piece of software! This final stage of development is vital, and having children using the app regularly helped us to tune and polish the final product.
Our first app, The Three Little Pigs is available on iPad (there’s a Lite version too), and will be available on iPhone in the first week of March.
The gestation was longer and more complicated than we’d thought, but I really think the result was even better than we’d hoped.
We thought it was great… but we would, wouldn’t we?
What’s been very encouraging, is that, already, after just a day or so, other people seem to think so too. We’ve just had our very first online reviews:
Pad Gadget wrote: “Do your kids act like the Big Bad Wolf and try to huff and puff and blow the house down? If so, give them the perfect iPad app and let them go to town. A new version of The Three Little Pigs app just hit the App Store and kids will love it… If you and your kids love an entertaining app with lots of interactive features, this version of The Three Little Pigs is a wonderful choice
Fun Educational Apps wrote: “The version [of The Three Little Pigs] from Nosy Crow, is simply one of these app you need to have.There are just so many plus points with this app; the best is for you to give it a try. Here at Fun Educational Apps, we all loved it and are really looking forward to see more apps from Nosy Crow.“
Digital Storytime wrote: “[The Three Little Pigs] is interactive in unique and fun ways that make the story feel more ‘alive’ than any other ebook I’ve read with my chid… It’s a multi-media reading experience you and your kids won’t soon forget.”
The Literary Platform wrote: “on opening the app, I found myself thinking, ‘well if you can’t get this digital publishing thing right, what hope for others?’ Thankfully Kate and her talented team have got it right… The voices of child narrators are beautifully complemented by original music (adding real drama to the chase scenes) and a flurry of inventive iPad features.”
Kid Lit wrote: “What an app this is! It’s Nosy Crow’s Three Little Pigs, A 3-D Fairy Tale… This is a breathtaking app with beautiful art and really rich user interface.”
IPhone and Kids Forum wrote: “This app features sophisticated animation, original interactive music, child narrators and hundreds of interactive touch points. Kids will want to read it again and again. It’s never the same twice.”
There was a great and positive buzz on Twitter too, with lots of positive mentions for @nosycrow and @nosycrowapps (we tweet using both). We even had a hashtag spring up.
On the App Stores int the UK and US, there are already several reviews (for the Lite and the Full versions:
Awesome – ★★★★★
by Summer dolly – Version 1.0 – 16 February 2011
Best kids’ storybook I have seen on app store. Looks amazing, and just makes you smile on every page. My 7 year old picked it up and engaged straight away, and I loved it just as much. Bought the lite version to try it and loved that, but the proper version is at just a whole new level. Not cheap, but for once, an app that’s worth the money.
Brilliant app for kids! – ★★★★★
by Emma Wells – Version 1.0 – 16 February 2011
Wow, this takes children’s apps to a whole new level! My children, 5 and 9 years, love The Three Little Pigs App. There is so much going on and they find something new every time they use it. Easy to navigate, great to look at and really good fun. Highly recommended.
Best interactive story app – ★★★★★
by Rebecca Smart – Version 1.0 – 17 February 2011
From the professional opening animation to the end of the story this interactive picture book app is wonderful. Easy to use, beautiful and clever artwork and animation. Lots of lovely details which give a sense of a great deal of care and attention having gone into this work. Natural children’s voices provide narration. Fun interaction with the characters throughout. Best children’s story app I’ve seen.
An immersive, entertaining and charming pop-up – ★★★★★
by Lylers – Version 1.0 – 18 February 2011
There are some pretty tough app critics in my house, but The Three Little Pigs got a unanimous thumbs-up! The 3D technology is so immersive, you really feel like you’re going on the journey with them! We loved the subtle and fun interactions like the spider. If you want an iPad book that can KEEP them entertained and engaged, I highly recommend this kids’ app.
A beautiful, playful, interactive experience – ★★★★★
by Harry Robinson – Version 1.0 – 18-Feb-2011
This is quite simply the most charming rendition of The Three Little Pigs that I have ever experienced. The illustration is stunning, the music delightful and the overall package a sublime use of the iPad’s strengths. An absolute must-buy for anyone with children or for someone seeking to reignite their inner child.
Perfect – ★★★★★
by Lev Parikian – Version 1.0 – 19-Feb-2011
My son’s review: “It’s great!”
My review: This app gets it right in every way. Children reading the story, fantastic illustrations, great and fun animations, hidden stuff that you don’t discover until you’ve read it a couple of times, excellent music. Nosy Crow haven’t put a foot wrong with this – look forward to more great ones in the future.
Charming and fun – ★★★★★
by Tania:) – Version 1.1 – 19-Feb-2011
The classic Three Little Pigs story gets a makeover in ths delightful app by Nosy Crow. Packed with goregous illustrations, charming voiceovers and plenty of interactive fun, this is everything an app should be. We especially enjoyed helping the wolf blow the houses down and spotting the rabbit, but there are plenty of other hidden exras.
With options to read and play, read alone or have the story read out loud, The Three Little Pigs is perfect for confident readers as well as the more reluctant reader. A big thumbs-up from me and my daughter.
The Lite and the Full versions are currently number 1 and 2 on the UK App Store’s book section of New and Noteworthy apps, as you can see from the picture.