Muvimi #DevBlog: How we made our debut app!

Our debut app, Muvimi, is all about creation. Whether you're dressing up stylin' actors, setting up scenes with props and staging items, or editing and sharing your amazing creations, the whole process challenges you to be creative. But how did we actually CREATE it? Here's a little behind-the-scenes peek at the development process for Muvimi...

Team BIGUMAKU!

Team BIGUMAKU!

Muvimi came about as an idea to make a theatre-style app, with both dollhouse and editing mechanics. The key aim was to democratise the animation process and make it less intimidating to teens and young adults. You only have to take a glance at YouTube to see the amazing explosion of animated and story time content. Why not make a tool that makes this easy to do, even for those without animation skills?

The animation team prepping actions and clothing for implementation

The animation team prepping actions and clothing for implementation

We built the app around some core 'pillars': an avatar creator, a set designer, and a recording/editing studio. We also prioritised the idea of sharing from the outset, as we knew a young audience would be keen to share content with their friends and family.

First, we set user stories - hundreds of them! We thought carefully about everything our users could possibly want, then built a realistic plan and game design document. This was followed with concept art and setting up pipelines. Key decisions to be made included the nature of the rigs for the actors, the perspective of the backgrounds, and so on. We worked with a few artists in-house and freelance. Stylistically we knew very early on that we wanted to do something with a 2D cartoon edge that felt contemporary with the sort of cartoons on TV at the moment.

Here are some notes from one of our artists, outlining how to select colours for backgrounds. Recognise some of these props from the finished app?

Here are some notes from one of our artists, outlining how to select colours for backgrounds. Recognise some of these props from the finished app?

Around this time we were also setting up the basic skeleton of the app using Unity. There were a lot of challenges posed by the development of Muvimi, with some of the biggest being screen recording and syncing with the mic, and complex sharing capabilities. Luckily, we had our 2-man dev dream team to get everything sorted on time.

Our team is organised using Agile methodologies, which means organised sprints with certain goals in mind - and a lot of Trello cards! We spent a short while each morning establishing progress and discussing issues that came up, and planning the day ahead. BIGUMAKU is currently a team of 10 in the studio, so plenty of organisation and communication was needed to keep everyone on the same page!

Game developer Joan bringing the splash screen to life!

Game developer Joan bringing the splash screen to life!

All in all the process took 8 months. After the basic artwork was complete (i.e. we only had extra accessories, hairstyles and so on to add), and the architecture of the app was all in place, we soft launched in April and May 2018. We also tested the app with groups of teens, watching how they used it and asking questions about what they'd like to see added in future.

With all of this feedback, we worked our socks off to produce a launch version we were all super proud of... And that's what you'll find on the store now! 

We're still working on Muvimi - we've got updates on the way, and of course the Android version is in the works! We can't wait to share it with even more creative souls around the world. If you want to keep up with the latest news, do follow us @BIGUMAKU on social media, or subscribe to our email newsletter here: eepurl.com/dcY4ir