Would you like to know how toys are made? Prior to the mass manufacturing, packaging and shipping, many toys are born in a little studio like Melbot's. Discover the evolution from an idea until it becomes real with a behind-the-scenes look at the design process and evolution of Melbits POD.
A Toy Story
In the documental serie published by Netflix "Toys that made us", the filmmaker Brian Volk-Weiss follows the history of important toy lines like LEGO, Star Wars or Hello Kitty. In each episode they go through their development, struggles and what fuels their passion for the great journey that is making toys.
Our history, although more humble, starts pretty much like those toy designers. Like most artistic endeavors, designing toys and games is an iterating and tough process. The craftsmanship that goes into creating a toy could be astonishing. Our story starts in 2017, with two friends looking to blend the open-ended gameplay that toys offer with the immersive worlds of video games.
1. The seed that sparked imagination
Iván Expósito and David Montero founded Melbot with the noble vision of design entertainment that fosters positive values through technology and create bonds with family and friends. Although it is a great vision certainly, it was just that. So they needed to design something that materialized that spirit.
David was the associate producer of a well-known IP based in collecting digital monsters that you can hunt in your surroundings using... a TRAP!
And...Augmented Reality. You can discover more about those sneaky creatures developed by Novarama in our previous post about Invizimals.
Iván had experience too. Designing toys...for pets!
That gave him understanding of the manufacturing process and distributing process of toys. And a great eye for play patterns.
So with both having experience from top Industrial Design and Video Games companies, it made sense to create something that blended the best of two worlds. Something innovative! Something outside the box! Something...like a video game.
2. Meet the Melbits, the digital pixies of the internet
Okay, time out. Let's stop here for a moment. Melbot’s last creation combines the best thing about toys - like their tangibility and open-ended play - and the immersive and multimedia aspects of video games. But before that, a fresh and cohesive IP that weaved the narrative and created an ecosystem of the products themselves had to be created.
Then something odd happened! In our code we found anomalies like this! (Or that's what stories say ;))
Aren't they cute? <3
Those digital pixies, descendants from forgotten fantasy creatures, live in every connected device and contribute to make the Internet better with their good vibes. Melbits still have mysteries to unveil, but in our previous post you can learn more about where those digital pixies come from.
The whole idea cames from wanting to put a contemporary spin on traditional fantasy characters like gnomes, elves or mogwais, and look at how those creatures could protect the digital world from evil forces like viruses, trolls, hackers and so on.
So, with the Melbits joining us and meanwhile we're still landing our idea to mix toys and video games, we developed a cooperative puzzle game called Melbits World. Being a part of PlayStation development program, Melbits World has a twist unlike the conventional PS4 games. It uses smartphones instead of conventional controllers to create a more liquid multiplayer experience.
And also, it helped us to introduce Melbits to the public in a more approachable way.
3. The toys that made Melbits POD
So we released our first game with the Melbits, and we discovered that people love them. So, now it's time to go back to the roots and pick up the Melbits POD project.
As we explained in our post talking about the prototyping process of the Melbits POD, before using 3D Printing and Arduino we needed to approach its creation from the user experience. We made several iterations until we got a concept that satisfied us.
For us it is key to look for references on the video game and toy industries. Tamagotchi or toys to life were one of the main inspirations. You can read how they inspired us in our series "The toys that made the Melbits POD":
- Toys to life like Skylanders
- Digital Toys developed by Toca Boca
- Invizimals saga by Novarama
- The most popular virtual pet, Tamagotchi
And finally, our next adventure along the Melbits has crystallized. The Melbits POD, an egg shaped object that actually works like a real egg to hatch Melbits. We designed a toy with multiple sensors that react to light, temperature and movement and combine online-offline interaction to create Melbits using your surroundings.
You'll have to get creative to hatch and nurture your own tribe of Melbits since each character is different depending on the incubation process. You can also use it to evolve your Melbits and trade them with other Melbits makers.
4.Melbits POD - What's next? Soon on Kickstarter!
After finishing the design and engineering phase some members of Melbot’s team traveled to Asia to start the next production phase: manufacturing. Here, we met Acctron, our technological partner that will help us to ramping up for producing the first batch of Melbits PODs.
However, we'll need your help too. In a couple of months the Kickstarter campaign for the Melbits POD will start and we will need all the support to make this tech toy for kids a reality.
We worked really hard to make this sensor-based gameplay really intuitive and natural, almost in a way that you would be encouraged to explore and have fun discovering new and weird Melbits. We are sure that you will have a blast collecting, caring and trading Melbits.
Stay tuned for the following weeks!