Local 3D animation studio Mediafreaks has produced hundreds of projects ranging from animated cartoon series to television commercials to CGI, medical and architectural visualization work. This time, they are working on a virtual world for kids aged 7-14 that would be more like a Role-Playing Game (RPG) with social aspects thrown in rather than a virtual world like Habbo Hotel or Club Penguin. The Travels of Wiglington and Wenks Virtual World will be launched this Christmas.
In their words:
“The Travels of Wiglington and Wenks promises an experience in which players would be able to travel to factual and mysterious places around the world, travel through time and space, meet famous people from the past, play dozens of enriching and fun games, make new friends and party with them, buy exotic islands, build culture-inspired houses, wear clothes from different countries, explore secret locations, solve mysteries and puzzles and become a legendary traveler!”
View this very short video teaser:
The storyline of the virtual world is actually adapted from an apparently popular children’s book series so we can be reasonably assured that it is attractive to kids. Aimed at providing an ‘immersive learning’ environment, Wiglington and Wenks allows kids to learn about historical figures and landmarks as they play the game for these characters are all part of the storyline.
Wiglington and Wenks will not be competing directly against Habbo Hotel or Club Penguin – where users enter the virtual worlds mainly to play and chat with friends – but against PopTropica and NeoPets, where games come before the social networking. Currently, it seems like Wiglington and Wenks will be most similar to PopTropica, where the player also navigates storylines and does quests. There is even an ‘island’ in PopTropica with the time-travel theme where players learn about different periods in history. The difference is that Wiglington and Wenks has taken the time-travel theme and extended it to the entire game.
The virtual world will be in English but they are already planning Spanish, German and Mandarin releases.
A futuristic game scenario.
The revenue model of Wiglington and Wenks are threefold: premium subscriptions, micro transactions and sponsorships of virtual locations in the virtual world. This is standard play but it remains whether the virtual world will be compelling enough for the first two parts of their revenue model to be viable. As for the third, as long as the storyline is sticky enough, their main job would be to market the game so that the player base will grow quickly and large enough to warrant brands to come a’knocking.
Even though they’re still months away from launching, they already have “thousands of signups”. So this means that Wiglington and Wenks will most likely have at least a good initial base of players who will play the game, but it’s what happens after they start playing that matters more. Nevertheless, the team has done a good job of marketing the virtual world and generating hype.
The Singapore scenario from the game.
The team behind Wiglington and Wenks is headed by Aldric Chang, founder of Mediafreaks. Now a 30-man strong company, Aldric has moved on from his professional music writer and producer days to animation and seems to have made good in this as well. (He has written
and produced songs for Ho Yeow Sun!)
How the idea of Wiglington and Wenks the virtual world came about was when Aldric thought that there were very few virtual worlds for kids that had really good graphics and a “truly imaginative world”. With his team’s award-winning animation background, he thought that with the right storyline, a great-looking virtual world for kids could result. It would also provide them with a good inroad into the B2C space as Mediafreaks’ B2B model was “slow to profit”.
Then, Aldric stumbled onto John Bittleston and Eliza Quek’s The Travels of Wiglington and Wenks, and with the backing of the two authors, The Travels of Wiglington and Wenks Virtual World came to life.
The graphics and storyline certainly seem promising, but we’ll have to wait till Christmas to make a proper verdict!
View another video teaser for the virtual world, with parts of the storyline revealed [Edit: This was the original storyline, but has been adapted for the virtual world and casual game]: