Roll up for the magical mystery tour. Got everything you need; satisfaction guaranteed.
The consensus is the 7 Days Bakery build is a winner – and I must say I agree. The sim, textures and colors are visually beautiful, rendered in Maya and imported into SL (for some very good interoperability reasons). The overall feel is a touch Willy Wonka with a lot French country village crossed with a place I want to live. I’ll let others fill you in on the build critique – I’m focused a bit more on the behind-the-scenes.
Involve3D won the 7 Days business, upstaging its competitors, by emphasizing Involve’s ability to enhance the brand, build upon social networking, create entertainment value and interaction while adhering to “low branding,” according to Involve CEO, Drew Stein. They’ve done a good job fulfilling the promise so far, and there is more in this integrated campaign yet to come.
The one thing I zeroed in on is the playing out of the all-important backstory and narrative that was developed as the foundation for the Magic Bakery implementation and to which Involve adheres in every detail. Chef Vivardi comes to life here whose job it is to supply the world with wholesome foods. Without taking any mystery out of your tour, the narrative of the brand – wholesome snacks to fit modern lifestyles – is present without dominating. Most importantly it forms the starting point of the 3D story, framing the entertainment, social aspects and interaction. There are rebellious robots, undeniably adorable machines all around, media textures that add life, and movie-quality voice-overs and music. In my opinion the music just totally makes it all come together.
Stein tells me the pre-production storyboarding, concept art and voice-over scripting took 8 weeks – a bit more than half of the total production time. The 7 Days team were up to their elbows in commitment with the VP of marketing, brand managers and a 6-person team each representing core markets involved in every step of the process. It was time well spent, as the result is a sim that doesn’t tell a story but has the ingredients to support a story. Kudos to both Involve and the 7 Days brand for assigning importance to the key narrative.
The central character is actually the snack factory (although there are others to engage you along the way) where avatars create their own unique pastries each with their own little fun [secret] magic. Avatars are able to share their personal creations with other avatars, and a clever HUD makes it possible to take pastries to other SL lands and to recall and swap them (although they can only be eaten once by any avatar – of course!). Rumor has it the upcoming (Q-1) Flash factory site will be interoperable with the SL factory, so that every pastry ever created in either factory will be retrievable and sharable thanks to the Amazon web services underpinnings.
I do have a wish list, though. The central pastry-making activity is fun, but it is still largely a solitary activity, interacting with the pastry machine (even as the effects are very well-done). Yes, there are plenty of social spaces, and things to share (movie theater). In contrast though Involve’s implementation of the Weather Channel sim is better focused on immersive shared activities (skiing, surfing, biking) and I hope to see more of that kind of interactive experience magic develop here – the ingredients are all there.
What partly makes for interactive “fun” in these virtual spaces includes mastery - something the major activity of 7 Days is lacking. Although avatars can create hundreds of one-of-a-kind yummies, something that takes practice would be even more compelling IMO.
That said, 7 Days is a warm, inviting, satisfying SL experience. Case in point, a Koinup 7Days widget is already available to embed your works into 2D web space (this is user-generated, not part of the campaign).
There is a microsite in the works that will include the Flash factory, a themed orientation island is to come and machinima will be making its way into TV commercials.
I’ll be keeping tabs on 7 Days to see what SLer’s cook up with the whole concoction – that’s the real secret success sauce.
Visit 7 Day Magic Bakery here - it is an SL must see.
October 7, 2008