Industry Process in a Fun Way – CostMaster for Nokia
Industry Process in a Fun Way – CostMaster for Nokia
The challenge was brought to us by Nokia’s TCO team. They wanted to find a solution that would help the professionals at Nokia understand Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) by each and everyone in the whole organisation. To make this happen Nokia’s TCO team had come to the conclusion that they need to elevate existing training materials to a whole new level. We were happy to help make that happen.
First Steps & Crazy Ideas
We started out by wrapping our minds around what is the subject matter we’re dealing with. We talked with Nokia’s professionals to understand what TCO means to them, how they train people now and identify the main pain point. Our job was to listen attentively and ask a lot of questions. After understanding the mindset of Nokia, we went to our drawing board to solve the main pain point and came back with a few crazy ideas.
Building the Solution
We went on to present our ideas to Nokia. They got excited about one in particular. A mobile game that combines board games and card games. During the development we kept communicating with Nokia to make sure we’re all on the same page and the game content is factually accurate.
We ended up calling the game CostMaster. After all, that is what the desired end result of the game is for the player. CostMaster takes the player through the whole TCO process of a product from design to manufacturing and sales all the while drawing attention to how different decisions affect product costs on all three levels. CostMaster intertwines challenge with increasing knowledge.
Understanding Total Cost of Ownership
“Hey, could you turn our process into a game that makes it fun to learn and easy to understand?” This is how Maarit, our customer from Nokia‘s Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) team, started to pitch their idea. It was a challenge we were happy to take on.
Often it is hard to truly understand a process if you’re not doing it yourself. It is always the first challenge for game designers like us, who work on various industries. The topics we face are not simple. They are often deeply rooted in everyday life or complex ecosystems. This is why we want to have a workshop style kick-off. At the beginning of the project, we spent hours and hours aiming to understand the big picture with all possible contingencies. We sat down with Maarit who walked us through the steps and metrics they use in their work.
We get, not just a glimpse, but a deep understanding of how things work. In addition, we get to know our customer better which is important to us in making sure our collaboration is and stays smooth. Kick-off sessions and constant communication with our customer are crucially important, as they lay out the basis for the whole game. We learn complex matters and then filter out the most important parts with our design team to form the core of the game. The result: an educative mobile game that draws heavily from board and card games.
Forming a Company-Wide Game
For Maarit and her team, it was important to be able to use the game company-wide. Because of this they did not want to use their own product, base stations, as it would be too close to the players and knowledge levels on different matters would likely vary a lot. They wanted the focus to be on the process, not a certain product. This is why the featured item in the game is a commonly familiar appliance, a fridge.
What we learned from our kick-off session with Nokia’s TCO Team is that the core of CostMaster is about understanding the whole process. From design to manufacturing all the way to sales.
With many things to consider in the complex process of TCO, how did we approach the subject after our initial talk with Maarit? How did we turn this idea into a game concept?
After presenting multiple ideas to Nokia, one concept was chosen. Maarit and her team had fallen in love with the idea of throwing a virtual dice, walking on a game board, and a set of randomly selected events. Based on this feedback, we chose to design the game in a board game style. Board games are easily accepted and don’t appear too complex for the players but provide an excellent tool to make a complex process easy to understand.
From Concept into A Product
When working the concept further, we quickly crafted a paper prototype. This was done to make sure the core game mechanic and logic works throughout all the different phases (design, manufacture and sell) of CostMaster.
The paper prototype really nailed down the concept. It was clear what worked and what needed to be tweaked. With the core pieces in place, we moved to making a digital game. Playing a physical game is always different compared to digital, so the first digital prototypes were essential.
In CostMaster your main challenge is to design, manufacture and sell 100000 fridges – the trick is to do it as effectively as possible. You start by designing functionalities and components. Based on the information the game board and cards give you, you compare decisions to market wishes and product cost. You also have a rather strict budget and time frame. The design phase in CostMaster is followed by manufacturing in which you choose the best-suited factories to build your fridges and develop the required software. After finishing and testing the product, you try its wings on the market. All the while you need to focus on TCO savings, sales margin, and profit.
CostMaster is easy to approach but hard to master. It takes a bit of time to learn the underlying structures and formulas. You also need a bit of luck to get the right kinds of cards in your hand. But luck in CostMaster is often a combination of patience and cleverness. Games like CostMaster make it possible to focus on action and see immediate results. This is because you learn by doing in a controlled environment.
CostMaster Gameplay in Short
Start the game by designing functionalities and components for the fridge. You balance your decisions between market wishes and product cost. You also have a rather strict budget and time frame.
The design phase is followed by the manufacturing phase in which you choose the most suitable factories to build the fridges and develop the required software.
After finishing and testing the product you try its wings on the market. That is, you sell the product you have designed and manufactured. You need to focus on TCO savings, sales margin, and profit.
LudoCraft Way of Working
We could never describe our collaboration as well as Maarit from Nokia’s TCO team. That’s why we asked her to do just that. Check out the video for a glimpse on what it’s like working with us.
Our process of making games is always iterative. We go from prototypes to early versions, to the final product. We develop and refine different styles, colors, UI elements, game mechanics, etc.
Because we want to make sure the developed game serves its purpose, testing is an integral part of the process right from the start to the end. First, we test with the customer and our own development.
We always ask the customer to include a team of their own professionals to take part in the testing. The testing crew is growing with the product. After the initial phases, we include our own testing team and more of the customer representatives or other relevant target groups.
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