Historic Royal Palaces is an independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace and Kew Palace. The Tower of London is one of the Britain’s most iconic venues attracting several million visitors a year, and in Summer 2011, Calvium worked with Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) as design partners to create the Escape from the Tower iPhone app.
The curators at HRP were keen to understand how apps might be used to engage younger visitors and enhance the visitor experience. Specifically, they knew which stories they wanted to tell, wanted to engage family groups and teenagers, and wanted to know the most popular locations and movement patterns of their visitors.
Using Apps in the Heritage Industry
Working together with the curators, Calvium filled in the knowledge gaps and the idea for a location-based game was suggested, one that would take players around less visited areas of the Tower of London and engage them with it’s colourful history in quizzes.
Calvium helped to provide the knowledge and technical know-how, leading to:
- Idea generation
- Testing game mechanics and technologies
- Interaction design
- Development process
Fast Prototyping and Testing On Location
Using AppFurnace, an initial prototype of the game was developed and written by HRP themselves, including sample content provided by HRP. Then, utilising the Calvium Player utility app, Calvium helped create a working prototype and jointly tested it with several family groups, on location at the Tower of London. Acting on feedback from the user trial, we refined the game and HRP commissioned professional script writers and media producers to hone the experience and produce quality audio.
Taking it Further
We were also keen to make sure players had a great experience when they were using the app:
- HRP installed a wifi hotspot next to the poster advert for the game, so downloading the app was quick and painless
- An “no-location” interface was added, so the game can be played by visitors that didn’t finish the experience whilst they were on site, as well as on the iPod Touch
- A High-Score interface was added to the HRP website, allowing users to enter monthly prize draws and give feedback about their experience with the app