ARTICLES | July 14th, 2007
Tronji, The Children’s MMO Coming Spring2008

Developer: Nice Tech Ltd
Genre: Children’s MMOG
Number of Players: Massively Multiplayer Online
Platform: PC

Nice Tech, the leading MMO and virtual development studio, with its groundbreaking AliceServer technology, is making excellent progress on a unique Children’s MMO based upon Ragdoll’s latest children’s programme: Tronji. With only a 12-month development programme, Nice Tech is on schedule to complete the game for Spring 2008, to coincide with the broadcast launch of Tronji on CBBC.

Ragdoll, BBC Worldwide and CBBC have selected Nice Tech to produce and develop an MMO children’s world that will complement the forthcoming CBBC children’s programme. (As custodians of the Tronji IP delete) By endeavouring to maintain the unique conceptual elements of Tronji, Nice Tech enjoys a fruitful working relationship with Ragdoll Productions. Paul Baker, CEO of Nice Tech, explains: This is a complicated development process which incorporates a series of approval benchmarks. We really respect the success of Ragdoll and are keen to emulate its design quality and high production values. We will implement the highest of development standards to rise to the challenge of doing justice to this innovative new programme. We have drawn up tight development processes, specifying regular milestones, detailed design levels, asset lists and test processes. We have reviewed our production systems to ensure that the development process can be continuously tuned, tracked and improved.

While Tronji, the programme, continues to evolve in post-production at Ragdoll, Nice Tech is developing the complementary online Tronji world in parallel. New builds are released and auto-updated every Friday, ensuring that no-one involved in the development and approval process is more than five working days behind when a build is reviewed. This ensures a near real time tracking process. Nice Tech believes that all parties should be able to provide immediate feedback, which is particularly important when working with such strong client led IP, where clarity and accuracy are essential. Ben Simpson, COO, commented Working alongside an award-winning production company with a global reputation has been a positive challenge for us. We have been keen to learn from their experience and streamline our own working practices. We feel we have really grown through this partnership ? and in such a short time!

The Tronji MMO is now ready for its first testing sessions, which will involve many children over the next four months. A pre-alpha testing strategy was adopted to allow early feedback and to ensure that the development meets its tight deadlines. The team at Nice Tech is able to rapidly re-think any design issue that needs addressing based on the feedback from the young testers. Ben Simpson added This mid-development, pre-alpha, core gameplay testing ensures that we get critical feedback from the players at an early stage. We can conduct online testing and follow what the players are doing and enjoy, and use metrics to discover what’s working or requires modification.

About the AliceServer Technology
AliceServer is a general purpose, networked, virtual world modelling system. Assets for applications are scripted separately from the engine and hence all code is reusable in future applications, cutting development risk, costs and timescales.

The development philosophy behind AliceServer is fundamentally bottom up and biologically inspired. The development process programmes for structure, not behaviour, permitting the complex realities of virtual environmental models to emerge without having to be programmed. This allows the development of virtual worlds where players can do what they would expect to be able to do without the programmer knowing what this is in advance ? i.e. sophisticated user generated content and entertainment is possible that does not ruin the context of the world. It will also produce plausible procedurally generated environments and superior artificial life and virtual non-player characters.

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