Mangahigh.com // June 2013 – July 2013
In the summer of 2014 I returned to Mangahigh.com (in a freelance capacity) to help with the design of its first foray into HTML5 gaming: Jetstream Riders.
The goal was to create something that was simple both in terms of gameplay and mathematical content, that focussed on competitive multiplayer, and that played well across as many devices as possible.
To this end, the maths was obvious: restrict it to basic numeracy and time tables, something that’s accessible to players of almost ages and abilities.
The basic gameplay concept was originated by Toby Rowland, Mangahigh’s CEO, and started out slightly more complicated than that of the final game: originally the idea was that addition and multiplication sums would give you lift, while subtraction and division sums would reduce height. There was also a combat element, where players could target other players and monsters with apples and daze them with a well-timed lob.
During development, it became clear that this was all a bit too much, so the apples lobbing was dropped and answering any sum gave your balloon a boost, with gravity pulling you back down to earth. Other than that, the game is largely pretty much as specced: keep your balloon within the jetsteams and race the other players to the finishing line.
Placing well earns you cash that you can then spend to upgrade your avatar and/or balloon, something made more compelling thanks to the terrific, imaginative art.
Jetstream Riders is a simple but terrifically addictive game, and is always a popular play choice with students.