Cars: Fast as Lightning.
Working with Pixar to write the first mobile game for a billion-dollar IP.
CONTEXTDisney-Pixar’s Cars is one of most popular movie franchises in the world, with more than $1 billion in box office revenue and $10 billion in merchandising sales. The development team at Gameloft wanted to create a fun racing-tycoon game that stayed true to the beloved universe and its characters, while also enabling a successful in-app purchase business model.
WORKAs the Lead Narrative Designer for the game, I worked with Cars creative director Jay Ward. We discussed the core tenets of the franchise and how to approach the characters and the premise of the game. The story guidelines for our Cars mobile game included featuring all the main characters from the first Cars film as well hero Lightning McQueen’s hometown of Radiator Springs.
I was able to use almost all existing elements of the Cars universe from the first two films, so long as the stories didn't overlap with any previous console games. I wrote all of the story elements — premise, dialogue, and copy — which were reviewed and approved by Ward.
To allow players to empathize with someone who had to follow in Lightning’s tiretracks, we also developed our very own main character — up-and-coming racecar Todd Marcus. Previously, Todd had been an unnamed background character in the films, so I had the freedom to flesh out his personality in our game, including writing original lines and crafting his character biography for Cars canon. In Fast as Lightning, Todd is the first unlockable playable character; he comes to Radiator Springs to ask Lightning to be his mentor, and teach him how to be a better racer.
Throughout the development process, I worked closely with the game designers to design macro- and micro-objectives, develop the premise of the story, flesh out playable and non-playable characters, and write the item names, descriptions, and menu/UI elements. I also composed original voice-over scripts, which featured original voice actor Owen Wilson as Lightning McQueen. Additionally, I collaborated with the sound designers and the brand team to utilize existing voice and sound assets from the extensive Cars library.
We conducted user research to ensure that players in our target audience — 5-12 year-olds —understood the tutorial, the gameplay, and the story of the game. I was able to observe players to learn about pain points in the story and gameplay, as well as interview players and their parents to understand their feedback on the game.
“Cars: Fast as Lightning successfully pays tribute to the film and its fans. Younger players will love the varied gameplay, voice-acting, and cartoon-accurate graphics... This game earns its checkered flag.” — 148 Apps Review