Creative genesis of a kids app: Saari Space Aventure

Of animation , family and literature.


Our interactive storybook Saari Space Adventure is already live in Korea and a few other territories for Android phones and next Sunday it will be launching globally on all platforms. It will be the end of a long journey we started many years ago. I can’t help looking back trying to remember the origin of this project.

Saari Space Adventure

Saari , the preschool animation series premiered on 2009, has been broadcasted around the globe, and has a fantastic fan community mostly gathered around the Saari Facebook page. It was also the first animated series I produced and co-directed with Veronica Lassenius who created these wonderful characters. We were lucky to work with a talented team of artists at Stor Fisk.

Our son Lucas was quite young during the production, and he often brought inspiration and a sort of “quality assurance” to our work. He used to draw the characters sometimes. One day he came up with a bold suggestion for an episode. What if Pulpo, Rikitiki and Pii would all go together to space? He supported his idea with a few great drawings.

It was a big deal, as it would be the first time the characters would leave the island where they lived, but we were up for the challenge.

But, what could the storyline probably be?

I remembered a story:

Walking by the window of a hardware store, almost 80 years ago a young man noticed a cardboard box in the display with the mysterious label “Star Washers”, which inspired him to write a wonderful short story which had very little to do with the actual contents of that box. The man’s name was Julio Cortázar. We decided to pay our personal tribute to the writer with a plot in which Pulpo, Pii and Rikitiki would act as star washers.

Eventually, the idea developed into two of the finest episodes of the series.

Taking our characters to space was a bold move.

What many people don’t know is that much before becoming an animation series, Saari was conceived as an interactive storybook on Flash Lite. Despite our efforts, the world wasn’t ready for that at the time, so we decided to tell the story of these characters with animation.

So when years later at Pikkukala we decided to create an interactive storybook based on Saari, back in 2012, we were just being loyal to the original concept, trying to bring the same values of the TV show to a mobile app.

A whole book could be written with what we learnt in the development process, and a whole encyclopaedia with our mistakes. It was an ambitious challenge for our team with little experience in software development. It turned out making a game is not exactly the same as producing animation.

I look forward to share our experiences and the lessons we learnt about coproduction of games. Some day, if you want, I will tell you about the business dilemas developers of games for kids have to face. For the moment, I leave you with one of the original animation episodes. Enjoy!