A CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF GAMES WITH PURPOSE

Launchball was commissioned in 2016 by London’s Science Museum to support their updated Launchpad gallery.

Since its launch in 2007, Launchball has become a web classic. Originally built in Flash, and existing both online and in the gallery, the game scooped a plethora of museum, game and design awards including Best in Show at the South by Southwest Conference (SXSW).

Launchball’s critical reception was echoed in its audience response, with unprecedented engagement resulting in over 10 million levels created in the first few months of its life.

Over 10 million games played.

EMBEDDED LEARNING OUTCOMES

At the heart of the game – just like in the gallery – lies a set of scientific phenomena. In-gallery, the comprehension of the science is provided through practical demonstrations and installations, whereas in the game, players get to understand the science by experimenting and witnessing causal effect, in a ‘sandbox’ environment.

The game is played over a series of challenges, and based around the objective of guiding a ball from an entrance hole to an exit. Each level provides access to a selection of scientific blocks, such as magnets, lenses. Switches and fans in order to successfully suck, push, propel and bounce the ball to the level’s goal.

The winning strategy of each level relies on the understanding of the science behind the blocks. By aligning the two – the game’s goal with the project’s learning outcome – the game embeds the learning into the heart of the game experience. Learning is a consequence of play, with mastery of the content enabling mastery of the game itself. All of this makes Launchball a perfect example of game-based learning in action.

Players get to understand the science by experimenting, and witnessing causal effect, in a ‘sandbox’ environment

FUTURE-PROOFING A CLASSIC

Today Launchball remains one of the most visited parts of the Science Museum’s website. To guarantee its ongoing success, the Museum asked Preloaded to reimagine it in HTML5, with a mobile-first approach.

Fans will be pleased to know the new version of Launchball has retained the original DNA.

The design, test and iterate loop that became so synonymous with the game is still there. The on-ramp is still delivered through the warm-up level with the core game challenge remaining in three tranches of puzzles of increasing complexity. We’ve also faithfully recreated all the physical science phenomena in the new technology.

The major changes focus on improvements to user experience, simplifying flows and removing server dependencies to future-proof its portability. The biggest of these changes relates to the wildly successful ‘create and share’ functionality which now allows user-designed levels to be shared via a simple link.

Of course, we’ve also added mobile browser support, necessitating changes to the UI to maximise the grid size on mobile devices as well as the inclusion of new interaction patterns for touch devices.

Finally, the game has had a minor art direction revamp which ties all the improvements together whilst retaining the original’s retro aesthetic.

The major changes focus on improvements to user experience, simplifying flows and removing server dependencies to future-proof its portability.

It's not often you get the chance to revisit a project, but given the success and sustained popularity of Launchball we would have been foolish not to refresh the game for a new generation. As always PRELOADED have executed brilliantly, updating the original game to guarantee its future as one of the crown jewels in the Museum's digital arsenal.”

Tom O’Leary , Director of Learning, Science Museum Group

SXSW - Best of Show
SXSW - Best Game
Museums and the Web - Innovation
FWA - Site of the Day
Flash In The Can - Technical Excellence
Eurobest Gold - Games

Award recognition

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