Weapons of Heroes
1.5 million virtual visitors for Tula State Museum of Weapons
Tula State Museum of Weapons - the oldest museum in the country. The collection of weapons has been collected here since 1724 and today includes 14,000 unique and rare items.
Attract as many visitors to museum as possible.
At the stage of pre-production we decided to look at the tasks from a different angle. What if you do not make another mobile application with a description of the exhibits, take a chance and test one hypothesis? Millions of people around the world play military simulators. And presumably, they will be interested in exactly recreated historical weapons with which to interact.
We got the idea to make not just a mobile encyclopedia, but a whole game universe, where users could assemble and disassemble rare instances of historical weapons, shoot them in slow motion and in X-ray mode, learn interesting facts about the exhibits and compete with each other.
The difficulty of this approach was not to repeat and not to make another copy of the popular game about weapons. Our ultimate goal was to make a cultural and educational project and bring people to the museum, so it was important to painstakingly recreate the models and recheck all the facts.
In the process of working on the game, we took hundreds of photos and got real drawings of the weapon, on the basis of which we made 3d models with high details. Collectors and reenactors consulted us and helped us collect unique facts about each exhibit, its creator and historical epoch.
As a rule, an interactive 3D project requires high power, but due to the fact that pistols and machine guns are relatively small objects, we managed to achieve aesthetic authenticity and truly spectacular effects on the user's usual mobile device.
So, by joint efforts we made an application with high details for the audience, which is important for each engraving or special stamp. We recreated the exhibits so accurately that we received positive reviews from around the world.
Interestingly, the project has grown and turned out so thanks to the users. With the help of Google Groups, we were constantly in touch with the players and reenactors, listened to their opinions and suggestions, and also tested our hypotheses on them.
A / B testing passed all the content of the project: texts, icons, banners. This approach helped us to make the most popular application on Google Play and get to the top of downloads without a budget for promotion.
The game was released in 75 local Google Play and Apple Store stores and localized in 20 languages. Interestingly, some of them were translated not by us or the customer, but by the fans of the game.
Focus groups constantly helped us with new releases in the game. An interesting story happened with banners for a promotional site. People from different points of the planet chose what should be depicted on them. The basis of the story became the pages of military history, of which nations are proud, and these stories well showed their mentality. So, if the Koreans were proud of the box-turtles with which they defeated the Japanese in the Imjin War, the French voted for the banner on which the soldiers in the trenches of the First World War.
It was very difficult to select just 10 weapons from 14,000 unique and rare items! But we had done this hard task with museum staff and later added new weapons using users votes for their favorite firearms.
Modeling & Rendering
Project started from thousands of references like drawings, photos and instructions.
On then next step we created 11 3D models in next-gen style with 5 maps for every peace.
Visualization was the most important task, because users used to play in AAA game where weapons looked perfect. So we should produced the same quality or the better.
First of all we published app in few countries with very basic GUI for proofing the concept.
Concept was proofed and results were measurable. We received very valuable feedback from users and change a lot of things in app with the same main idea.
In the next release we added much more gaming features, online competitions and 22 languages and it was the starting point of app boost. In the first month we attract more then 200.000 new users & the app became the most popular museum app in the world.
It was very long way to the current icon via 6 months of A/B tests.
Some of sketches you can see below.
Then we found that app became good enough, we decided to make interesting promo video with motion graphics on 22 languages. It was production challenge, but we wrote script for capture videos from app & scripts for After Effects project for changing videos. Below you can watch English version.
The secret souce
The main achievement of this project is the very active users community. Users made translation into 14 languages, gave a lot of useful advises & promote app everywhere.
The decision to make a museum application in a game format brought great success.
“Weapons of Heroes” is the most popular museum application in the world.
The game helped keep people's attention longer than a mobile encyclopedia could. The game turned out to be much more motivated to learn about the museum exhibits.
Even fans of shooters went into the game to shoot from historical weapons, but eventually they plunged into the study of engineering solutions and historical facts in the setting of a real museum.
The game “Weapons of Heroes” got into the official selection of Google Play along with other gaming applications about weapons and military strategies, while we made a popular application for education, and did not exploit the topic of violence.
To date, the game has more than 1.5 million users worldwide. These figures say that the task to popularize the Tula Museum of Weapons is 100% complete.
We want to believe that this experience will be useful to use in future projects with museums.
After all, multimedia technologies can make different areas of culture and historical heritage interesting for a wide range of people, and most importantly, it is simple and interesting to tell about the complex.