Nothing beats the feeling of spending time outside, listening to beautiful birdsong, and observing and identifying birds. The more knowledge you gather about the different bird species, the more fun birding will be. That’s why SWAROVSKI OPTIK supports World of Wings, a stunning mobile game with virtual habitats where you can find and identify birds, test your knowledge, learn much about all kinds of bird species, and add them to your life list.
We asked game producer and designer Landon Christensen to tell us more about this virtual way to #gobirding.
World of Wings is the first, truly authentic bird watching experience on a mobile device that allows you to get out and learn when you can’t get out, and also travel to different parts of the world and experience new habitats. From the beginning, we’ve had a goal of bringing people closer to birds, so that they can learn to love and appreciate the wildlife in their own backyard.
We’ve tried to create an experience that is fun and approachable to someone who knows nothing about birds, but also has the depth to allow experienced birdwatchers a fun environment to hone their skills. There are quite a few barriers for the average person to get into birdwatching, so we’re hoping World of Wings can bring people closer to birds and increase their appreciation for them. As people have knowledge about the birds around them, we expect their love and concern to increase, which in turn should translate into greater respect for habitat protection and creation.
One day, we got together with a whiteboard to brainstorm ideas for new games. When I suggested the idea of birdwatching, we immediately had a flood of ideas and the game design fell right into place. We got pretty excited and realized we might be onto something pretty powerful.The biggest challenges? Game development is incredibly difficult – and we are trying something here that has never been done. To start, the gameplay relies on realistic, unpredictable nature of the bird movement. This makes the game very difficult to balance. We built a sophisticated, artificial intelligence to support the behavior of different classes of birds – and then created a system that would allow us to add new regions and habitats indefinitely.The authenticity has also been paramount. Bird species must land on correct perches, in correct regions, and in correct habitats. They must only visit correct feeders. They must fly, land, and eat in correct ways. It took an incredible amount of research and was not trivial.
Players will have the opportunity to travel to parts of the world they may otherwise never be able to visit in their lifetime. It’s exciting to think about the future regions we can add to the game and the exotic birds to discover. The game also provides you with a personal field guide and sound identification tools making it a super powerful way to learn quickly in ways that take much longer in the field.
It’s also quite a relaxing way to connect with nature and develop your knowledge at times when you can’t get outside.
I’m really excited about the song identification feature. For birdwatchers, this is a really powerful way to test your knowledge and gain experience. For those new to birdwatching, the song ID feature makes it really easy to locate hard-to-find species.
The first pair of binoculars I owned were not good. Despite being well-reviewed online I really didn’t know what I was missing with my limited experience. In the game we wanted to give people a great experience – and that means great optics. I searched the market for both the best optics and people that understood and appreciated our vision. SWAROVSKI OPTIK’s products are truly best-in-class and I’ve loved working with the great people on their team in creating virtual replicas for the game.
Yes! Partway into the tutorial of the game we introduce a very user friendly song identification tool. When you hear a call, you just tap the music note to target and view the bird. Your field guide, Julia, tells you about the bird while you listen to its call. Once you are able to identify the bird by song you unlock the ability to play its call anytime from the bird cards you’ve collected.
First we want to hear from our players and find out which features they like most and what they don’t like so we can improve and polish aspects of the game with the most value. Then we want to be able to release a brand-new region on a different continent!
Landon Christensen is a game producer, designer, and artist and has worked on projects with Disney, Warner Bros., and Sony Pictures before founding Vireo Development. He has been passionate about wildlife since he was a child. His sister Julia was his first mentor – and is affectionately featured as the field guide in the game. As a husband and father of two adorable children, he loves to take his family outdoors to care for and experience our beautiful world. “I believe that humanity is at our best when we can slow down and spend time in nature.” He says. For birding and wildlife watching Landon relies on his NL Pure binoculars.