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New savings app brings home the bacon

It pays to listen to what’s going on in the industry as Tec Hub founder member Alister Lam can confirm; having his ear to the ground lead to him recently working with one of the top animation companies in the world, makers of Wallace and Gromit, Aardman Animations.

Founder of Frugal Spark (frugalspark.com), Alister specialises in 2D and 3D applications and games for mobile, tablets and web platforms. His considerable skills were just what Aardman Animations (aardman.com) was looking for when creating Pigby’s Fair, a new game commissioned by NatWest (natwest.com).

 “I heard on the grapevine that they [Aardman Animantions] were looking for Unity games developers so I contacted the producer directly,” said Al, talking about how he got involved with the project. “After an initial telephone chat, they invited me over to Bristol and the rest is history!”

Pigby’s Fair is a smartphone and tablet app designed to help children learn about saving and money and is the first game of its type to be launched by a UK bank.

Al worked for several months’ on the project as its Technical Lead, working alongside Aardman’s creative leads, producer and artists. His role was to scope the technical boundaries of the game and assets, such as the size of the game world, the number of characters and stalls, level of detail and the in-game behaviour of characters. On top of that he also developed the main 3D game world and the piggy bank lobby from the 3D models that the artists created, while ensuring the resulting game worked on both iOS and Android platforms across a wide range of different mobile and tablet device sizes.

The free-to-download app features NatWest’s new animated savings characters, Pigby and Friends. The user plays as a boy or girl pig character running a stall in an animated fairground. Pigby’s friends run other stalls so players can check how much they have saved and what they’re saving for. The user is guided by Pigby through a journey where he or she starts by selling ice cream at the fair to earn money and then faces opportunities to spend or save, with saving bonuses being offered at various points.

“It was a fantastic project to work on,” said Al, who joined Tec Hub back in April. “I worked with the Digital team within Aardman – they create interactive digital experiences for household brand names. They are a really great team, so incredibly creative and fun!

“Very few companies have their genuine people focused work ethics and style. There’s a great deal of respect that they have for one another over there – definitely a company to admire and support!”

He added: “It’s great to also be a part of something that will hopefully inspire children, too.”

Pigby’s Fair is free to download for everyone (not just NatWest customers) on both Apple app store and Google Play.


For more details on this story or to find out more about Tec Hub and the Recreate programme, contact Lucia Blash at lucia.blash@eastleigh.gov.uk

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