Our feature this week is from Susan D. Tiner of Tiner Financial Services and Martin D. Partlan of the Partlan Group, who enjoy developing The Adventures of Gray Kitty story apps for children as a creative outlet outside of their regular work. Martin is a Physics professor at Cañada College and Susan is a Financial Organizer and Consultant. Martin and Susan want to create charming, peaceful stories parents will enjoy reading with their children and that are appropriate for bedtime reading.
It can be tempting to show an iPhone to a toddler for temporary amusement, but what we really have in mind are developing stories that parents and grandparents will enjoy reading together with their little ones. We envision something like traditional print books, but with extra features that the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices make possible, such as support for multiple languages, sound effects, and selective in-scene animations. We intend to keep the interactive features low-key and appropriate for bed-time reading.
In our first story, Gray Kitty Comes Home, shy but curious Gray Kitty encounters some annoying situations in his home environment. He decides to run away only to find even more annoying surprises in the new places he imagines will be better.
We released this first app as a free app in only one language (English) and minimal features in order to test how kids and parents would respond to the story. We used that feedback to plan features and improvements for future stories.
In the second story, Gray Kitty Goes to School, Gray Kitty is excited to ride the big yellow school bus with his friends. He wants to make a good impression on the teacher but didn’t think to bring a gift for her. He feels sad when the teacher thanks the other students for their presents. Sadness turns to happiness by the end of the story as Gray is acknowledged for his answer to the teacher’s question about the reason why we go to school. The app is also free, universal for both the iPhone and iPad, has animated page swipes, Spanish and English narration, and professional sound effects that enhance the multimedia experience.
Our new story, Gray Kitty and the Christmas Kitten (in progress) has an old fashioned, retro look which is definitely the direction we’re heading with future stories.
We have received amazing technical, story and art feedback from a variety of sources and intend to gradually incorporate these suggestions into future releases as we have time to implement them. It’s been an incredible learning experience jumping in and trying to develop compelling stories for kids. As we continue to learn and improve the apps we hope kids and parents will relate to our Gray Kitty character and his adventures. The apps will always be offered free as our ultimate goal is to build a brand based on the Gray Kitty character and offer character-related, handmade merchandise through an Etsy storefront. Imagine sweet, handmade fleece slippers for toddlers with Gray Kitty ears and whiskers, maybe a little bit like these cute duck slippers.
It’s all very pie in the sky at the moment, but that’s our dream. For now, we’re focused on developing and improving our Gray Kitty story apps.
Note: the Droid version of Gray Kitty Comes Home is available here.