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The Making of Lexica: A Truly Massive Tablet Game


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Lexica is a massive tablet game (3.5 GB, 300 Staff Years of work) that is designed to get junior high kids excited about reading. In this talk, Jesse Schell gives an overview of it, and details the problems (and solutions) of dealing with such a large game app on iOS.

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The Making of Lexica: A Truly Massive Tablet Game

  1. 1. The Making of Lexica A Truly Massive Tablet Game Jesse Schell @jesseschell GDC 2015
  2. 2. Problem: • Many kids start opting out of reading in middle school. Transformational Goal: •Get them to become lifelong readers.
  3. 3. Lexica Trailer:
  4. 4. Tyger Cadenc e Emma Tom Cheshire Heidi Lumen Marian Nemo Raven Baba Yaga Telltale
  5. 5. The Secret Garden The Secret Sharer The Shadow-Line The Sign of the Four The Song of the Lark The Story Girl The Story of the Amulet The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde The Swiss Family Robinson The Talented Tenth: The Negro Problem The Thirty-Nine Steps The Three Musketeers The Time Machine The Tin Woodman of Oz The War of the Worlds The Warlord of Mars The Witch of Atlas The Woman in White The Wonderful Wizard of Oz The Works of Edgar Allan Poe Three Ghost Stories Through the Looking-Glass Thuvia, Maid of Mars Tik-Tok of Oz Tom Sawyer, Detective Treasure Island Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea Twice-Told Tales Two Years Before the Mast Uncle Tom's Cabin Understood Betsy Up From Slavery: An Autobiography Walden and Civil Disobedience White Fang Woman's Work in the Civil War: A Record of Heroism, Patriotism and Patience Wuthering Heights The Lost Princess of Oz The Lost World The Magic of Oz The Magnificent Ambersons The Man in the Iron Mask The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare The Man Who Would Be King The Marvelous Land of Oz The Master of the World The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes The Moon and Sixpence The Moonstone The Mysterious Affair at Styles The Mysterious Island The Mysterious Stranger The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket The Patchwork Girl of Oz The Pathfinder The People That Time Forgot The Phoenix and the Carpet The Picture of Dorian Gray The Pioneers The Prairie The Prince and the Pauper The Princess and Curdie The Prisoner of Zenda The Railway Children The Red Badge of Courage The Red House Mystery The Red Room The Return of Sherlock Holmes The Rime of the Ancient Mariner The Rise of Silas Lapham The Road to Oz The Scarecrow of Oz The Scarlet Pimpernel The Sea-Hawk The Sea-Wolf The Second Jungle Book The Secret Adversary A Boy's Will A Christmas Carol A Confederate Girl's Diary A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court A House of Pomegranates A Journal of the Plague Year A Journey to the Center of the Earth A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains A Little Princess A Midsummer Night's Dream A Princess of Mars A Study in Scarlet A Tale of Two Cities Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Allan and the Holy Flower Allan Quatermain Allan's Wife American Poetry Anne of Avonlea Anne of Green Gables Anne of the Island Anne's House of Dreams Ayesha: The Return of She Before Adam Black Beauty Captain Blood Captains Courageous Child of Storm Crome Yellow Cyrano de Bergerac David Copperfield Declaration of Independence Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz Dracula Dracula's Guest Dubliners Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon Emma Ethan Frome Fifty-One Tales Finished Five Children and It Flappers and Philosophers Frankenstein Further Chronicles of Avonlea Glinda of Oz Great Expectations Greenmantle Gulliver's Travels Hans Brinker; or, The Silver Skates Heidi Howards End Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Ivanhoe Jane Eyre Jungle Tales of Tarzan Kazan Kidnapped Kilmeny of the Orchard Kim King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table King Solomon's Mines Life on the Mississippi Little Men Little Women Main Street Maiwa's Revenge; or, The War of the Little Hand Martin Eden Mistress Wilding Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Mosses from an Old Manse and Other Stories My Ántonia My Father's Dragon Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass New Arabian Nights Northanger Abbey O Pioneers! Old Mother West Wind Oliver Twist One of Ours Otto of the Silver Hand Out of Time's Abyss Ozma of Oz Parnassus on Wheels Pellucidar Penrod Penrod and Sam Persuasion Peter Pan Phantasmagoria and Other Poems Poems by Emily Dickinson Poems of William Blake Pollyanna Pollyanna Grows Up Pride and Prejudice Prufrock and Other Observations Pygmalion Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm Riders of the Purple Sage Rinkitink in Oz Robinson Crusoe Robur the Conqueror; or, The Clipper of the Clouds Roughing It Scaramouche Sense and Sensibility Seventeen She She and Allan Shirley Silas Marner Snowdrop and Other Tales South Sea Tales South Wind South! Spoon River Anthology Summer Tales of Space and Time Tales of the Jazz Age Tarzan of the Apes The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes The Adventures of Tom Sawyer The Ancient Allan The Arabian Nights The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin The Book of Wonder The Boy Scouts Book of Stories The Call of the Wild The Castle of Otranto The Chessmen of Mars The Chronicles of Clovis The Circular Staircase The Coral Island The Country of the Pointed Firs The Deerslayer The Emerald City of Oz The Every-Day Life of Abraham Lincoln The First Men in the Moon The Four Million The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe The Gettysburg Address The Gift of the Magi The Gods of Mars The Golden Road The Haunted Bookshop The Hound of the Baskervilles The House of Seven Gables The Hunchback of Notre-Dame The Hunting of the Snark The Invisible Man The Iron Heel The Ivory Child The Jungle Book The Land That Time Forgot The Last of the Mohicans The Legend of Sleepy Hollow The Light Princess The Lion's Skin The Lone Star Ranger
  6. 6. Weekly Live Content Schedule
  7. 7. Nine Transformational Methods 1. Immerse them in an engaging story about mindset theory 2. Let them become friends with intriguing and engaging characters from the world of literature 3. Help them build vocabulary, syntax knowledge, and reading fluency 4. Engage them in a story that exercises their reading skills 5. Lead them to gateway books 6. Help them make time to read 7. Incentivize reading (gently) 8. Let them see that their classmates read 9. Let them experience the joy of writing
  8. 8. 20+ APPS 500K LOC 3 GB
  9. 9. Problems…
  10. 10. …and Solutions!
  11. 11. Problem 1: It won’t all fit! Apple has rules… • Apps shouldn’t depend on other apps • Solution: Optional Dependency • Apps shouldn’t communicate with other apps • Solution: • iOS 7: Pasteboard • iOS 8: App Groups • Apps shouldn’t mimic the home screen • Solution: Make it look different
  12. 12. Problem 2: Big Teams Make Big Problems Inter-team communication is perilous Multi-app deployment is a pain Collisions waste time • Daily communication • Clear APIs • Build One Yourself • Nightly Builds • Solid Deploy Tool • Build Excellent Tools • Organize Around Content, Not Function
  13. 13. Problem 3: On Mobile, Time is your Enemy • 36 Months of Development… so far! • A major update from Unity or Apple will happen about every 8 months • iOS 8 is really different from iOS 7 • We started on Unity 3.5 – now on 4.6! • Example: Occlusion culling was very different from Umbra 2 to Umbra 3 • Plan to be disrupted
  14. 14. Is Mobile AAA possible?
  15. 15. Thanks! @jesseschell Slides at