The Spanish Safari Kitchen: Where Everyone Kisses the Cook!

The heart of a home is usually the kitchen. Not only is it the place where meals are made, but it is also the area were families gather to share their lives. Arturo’s home is no different, and much of the family life (and the learning!) take place in this environment.

As a team, we wanted to create a warm and fun setting for Arturo’s family. We wanted a space that would be inviting for the users and a space that would be conducive for learning. Angie, one of our very talented graphic designers, sketched out the initial idea.  Angie Based her design upon the description of the kitchen in the lessons. She also included items to represent the vocabulary that will be used in the Spanish Safari lessons and added a few ideas of her own.

The Initial Sketch for the Spanish Safari Kitchen

The Initial Sketch for the Spanish Safari Kitchen


 The initial design above is what Vincent, our 3D modeler, based his work off of. Vincent modeled each item inside of the kitchen, using a program called Autodesk 3Ds Max. Once the 3D items were ready, Andrea (Our Lead Graphic Designer) and Daniel (Our Lead Developer) set the environment in Unity.

The Learn Safari Kitchen. Models Without Textures.

Angie then created the textures for the items. The textures are what give items their color and detail. Before they are applied, they look something like this:

Textures for a flower vase in the Spanish Safari Kitchen

Textures for a flower vase in the Spanish Safari Kitchen

Once everything (3D models and textures) were set in Unity,  the team had to go through and “optimize” the space, meaning they had to make it functional, while not having a high poly count (the number of polygons that can be found in a 3D model) which can hinder performance. The goal was to make models that look fantastic, but that won’t slow down the speed at which a game loads.

Vincent was even able to make some of the cabinets and doors open and close, therefore creating a truly interactive environment!

 

The Spanish Safari Kitchen with a model of Arturo in it.

The Spanish Safari Kitchen with a model of Arturo in it.

KitchenFinal2

The final version of the Spanish Safari Kitchen. A few more details with a pop of color were added.

Arturo and his family spend a great deal of time in the kitchen, therefore, the user will also spend a lot of time here. It is a great environment for learning vocabulary, and the user helps Arturo and his family make food, set the table, and even clean up. One thing that’s important to remember, whenever you walk in, you always have to kiss the cook! (Especially if it’s Mamá).

Besos,

Keli Garcia-Allen

Lead teacher and Cook

[email protected]

 

E is for Esteban: A Closer Look at Spanish Safari’s Favorite Elephant

Every kid needs a friend. If they are lucky like Arturo el Mono, they have a few great friends; and there is no better friend than Esteban el Elefante. Esteban is the adorable sidekick in our Spanish Safari game. He pops in just in time to help Arturo teach about the letter E and he becomes one of Arturo’s most loyal pals.

Esteban was one of the easiest characters to come up with. Wanting to teach the vowels, we were looking for a character whose name could start with the letter E. Esteban was the first name our Lead Teacher, Keli, came up with (it just so happens to be her father’s middle name). Even better, the Spanish word for elephant, elefante, also starts with an E. From that simple play on letters, Esteban el Elefante was born.

Esteban was one of the first characters that our 3D modeler and consultant, Usaid, came up with. We wanted a cute and lovable guy who would exude friendliness and trustworthiness.

First draft of Spanish Safari's Esteban el Elefante. #learnsafari #spanishsafari

First draft of Spanish Safari’s Esteban el Elefante. #learnsafari #spanishsfafari

This little guy is beyond adorable! (Some of our staff members certainly thought so). However, he seemed a little too young. This baby elephant might make a great little brother to Esteban, but he just looks far too young to be Arturo’s best pal.

We decided to make him appear a bit older. We gave him a larger body size and head, smaller ears and we even tweaked the eyes a little bit. At one point, we even tried glasses!

Spanish Safari's Esteban el elephant with black glasses.

Spanish Safari’s Esteban el elephant with black glasses.

Although Esteban’s proportions were a lot better, the glasses just made him appear much older than he was. Even though elephant’s are not known for their keen vision, their sense of hearing, smell, and touch (facilitated by their trunk) more than make-up for any need of glasses he may have. In fact, his ears prevented the glasses from even fitting correctly.

 

The biggest challenge, however, was getting his size right in relation to the other animals of the safari. Check out some of the photos bellow to see our “Esteban Evolution.” Trust us, you won’t find the photos “irrelephant.” (Oh I know, terrible, but just give me a break!)

In the picture below, you can see Esteban after the changes mentioned above were applied. Esteban looks older, but he is too small when compared to the other animals.

A line up of some of Spanish Safari's main characters. Esteban looks older, but he is too small when compared to the other animals.

A line up of some of Spanish Safari’s main characters.

Once we decided to make Esteban bigger, we overshot it a little. Esteban even had a hard time fitting in his classroom! So we decided to make him 15% smaller.

The whole gang is once again assembled. This time, Esteban is just too big. We decided to make him 15 % smaller.

The whole gang is once again assembled. This time, Esteban is just too big.

Esteban is having a hard time fitting into his Spanish Safari Classroom.

Esteban is having a hard time fitting into his Spanish Safari Classroom.

This is our final version of Esteban. You can see him hanging out with his other savanna friends. His body was made a little less round and some nice textures were added to make him look more realistic.

The whole Spanish Safari Vowel gang! Esteban has been finalized.

The whole Spanish Safari Vowel gang! Esteban has been finalized.

Esteban’s character is a wonderful addition to the Spanish Safari game world. He is a loyal and talented friend, who loves art and his family.  Although he is known for being a bit of a “scaredy cat,” he reminds his more impetuous friends of the need to be cautious when facing dangerous situations and he never leaves his friends behind. Hope you and your children will enjoy this lovable friend!

-The Learn Safari Team

 

The HQ

The World Explorer’s Headquarters serves as the recruitment office for new explorers and it also serves as home base for the User.

The HQ has gone through many transformations. We wanted to make sure we had an open environment that was high tech, yet visually appealing.

One of the earliest versions of the World Explorer's HQ

One of the earliest versions of the World Explorer’s HQ

An earlier version of the HQ with the acacia tree in the background

An earlier version of the HQ with the Acacia tree in the background

HQ with mountains in the background. But the ceiling looked structurally unsound!

HQ with mountains in the background. But the ceiling looked structurally unsound.

HQ Close up

HQ Close up

HQ at night

HQ at night

The Learn Safari HQ Computers

The Learn Safari HQ Computers

The Learn Safari HQ Stage

The Learn Safari HQ Stage

Learn Safari HQ Technology

Learn Safari HQ Technology

The latest version of the Learn Safari World Explorers HQ

The latest version of the Learn Safari World Explorers HQ

We have gone through a lot of changes. What do you guys think of the HQ? Let us know in the comments!

-Learn Safari Team