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Dr. Panda Trucks” is the latest #App game for iOS and Android to be launched by the beloved franchise aimed at preschool audiences. Released on November 22, 2017, the free new game enables kids to virtually drive around a construction site on one of seven unique trucks. Each truck—like a bulldozer, a steamroller, etc.—has a unique job and function. #Children can also construct—or demolish buildings—and play either alone or with friends.

Dr. Panda game designer Onno van Duin recently granted an exclusive interview where he discussed “Dr. Panda Trucks,” its creation process, and more.

Apps, games, creativity, and trucks

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you find your passion for designing #Games and how did you end up working with Dr.

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Panda?

Onno van Duin (OVD): Like many people that have grown up in the millennium, I was exposed to video games throughout most of my life. This, in combination with being a creative person in general, led to the desire of wanting to create my own games. After completing my studies in game development, I found my position at Dr. Panda. During my studies, I was interested in developing educational and video games for kids so there was an instant connection between Dr. Panda and me.

MM: When did you get the idea for “Dr. Panda Trucks” and how long did it take you to design?

OVD: As a designer for kids’ games, you consider the many topics that are loved by them, and there are a lot of little truck enthusiast in the world. This formulated the idea of creating an experience that would put kids in control! It took several months of adjusting the design (even during development) to get it at the stage we felt the game offered the experience we were looking for.

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MM: Why did you decide to focus on construction-like trucks rather than long-distance ones or delivery ones?

OVD: We looked at all the different possible trucks we could add in the game, and for each truck, we looked at what kind of gameplay it could offer users. During the playtests with kids, we found that the construction vehicles were more popular because they add to the big effects that they love: destroying, building, cleaning up, and more. This led us to focus on purely construction trucks.

MM: When did you decide to include the ability to both build and destroy buildings?

OVD: This was added very early on and was a big part of the initial idea. When observing the play habits of children, for example when playing with building blocks, they get excited when their creations topple over, and they begin to build again to try to build a better structure. This is something we wanted to incorporate into this game. Not only can the kids build, but they can also destroy their creation to create a better structure, constantly stretching their creativity.

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MM: Why did you decide to include the little gloves hand prompts that help to direct the trucks?

OVD: When we develop an app game, we test it with children multiple times to see how well they understand the game. We found that at the beginning, many have difficulties understanding the idea of how to construct a building. We experimented with different ways of explaining these concepts, but in the end, we found that pointing to the object we want the player to pay attention to, helped the most.

Children, designs, and the future

MM: What do you like most about the game and what have children thought of it?

OVD: Once children discover how to use the different vehicles to build their creation they can demolish it, adding another element of excitement, that is what I like most about this game. We provide an opportunity where kids are in full control of their experience. As kids discover the multiple vehicles and its functions, this can be a bit challenging, but once they understand the concept, they show enthusiasm while strengthening their problem-solving skills and becoming their own narrator of their story.

MM: Was it challenging to design this game and are you working on any other editions?

OVD: It was a challenge. There are many ideas that we can present to a player, and these must be as clear as possible. Further editions are certainly thought of, and there are still many ways that the game can be updated. We are looking forward to the release and seeing the response of the public to see how we should keep developing Dr. Panda Trucks.

MM: How do you hope to evolve your career as a game designer in the near future?

OVD: Trucks I would describe more like an action and exploration game, and it has been great fun, but I also still have a great interest in developing educational games. I wish to work on a new idea that can offer a wide amount of educational content to a player, and hopefully, we can show more of this idea in the coming future.