Suit-Up with Iron Man 3 is an online treasure hunt that takes place within Google maps. Players follow clues from social media to locate and collect as many of the 43 Iron Man suits hidden around Australia & New Zealand as possible. Those that collected the highest number of suits entered the running for some amazing prizes from Marvel/Disney. In a nutshell, Disney asked us to create a game that would work on desktop and mobile, that would allow a user to be able to fly around a satellite view of Google maps, as Iron Man. Users would have full controls over the direction Iron Man flies. The locations Iron Man could go were limitless, meaning users could fly him anywhere in the world, just for fun, however the game itself would feature only AU & NZ.
There would also need to be the functionality to start from your current location and to be able to ‘jump’ to any given co-ordinate/location at any time. An additional feature was to be able to get a user to be able to walk around Google Streetview as Iron Man, allowing the user to control his direction, and also the direction Iron Man is looking. At all times the illusion of seeing the world from inside IM’s helmet was required to be maintained by an overlay of a HUD display.
The key drivers of the project were to create buzz and excitement around the launch of the Iron Man 3 movie. The strategic hiding of 43 Iron Man suits at predetermined geographic locations around Australia and New Zealand that would not move or change location and be common to all users was the essence of the project. A series of clues on twitter and Facebook would help users identify secret locations to fly to, looking for Iron Man suits. Understanding how this project, including a game and a microsite, would fit into the broader launch of the Iron Man 3 movie launch was critical to our success.
As this project was breaking new ground, there were of course a lot of questions. We needed to identify early on where the line crossed between usability and quality. This drove core game functionality scope. Marvel/Disney & Newpath were keen to push the limitations of the technology and create an exciting and new experience, but had quality at our core when defining what was going to be launched.
There was significant technical exploration, looking for what was possible and enhancing the overall experience. Can Iron Man be animated whilst he flies? For example, can we shoot jets from his feet, arms and body movement as he turns etc. Can he have a shadow on the map as he flies? How fast can we allow Iron Man to fly before the experience degrades? How would this speed consideration work in terms of game controls? Can we zoom in or out on altitude and map zoom level? How much/little Google map default functionality would need to remain on screen? Can the map itself be altered in any way such as a colour filter or a 20% black overlay placed between Iron Man and the map to make it appear darker? Can the user change suit to a different skin?
Can Iron Man have ‘special moves’ such as pressing left three times for a barrel roll? Newpath worked through all of these questions and more with Disney and critically, with Google Maps engineers. Over the space of a number of months all of our questions were answered, prototypes built and tested and built and tested again, and an eventual version approved for launch to the public with great excitement.
The game was a huge success. Hundreds of thousands of users took up the challenge. Social media buzzed with clues as well as users sharing their progress and inviting their friends to give the game a shot.