Yes, I know... it does seem a bit strange that I would want to make an educational game. The fact is that I have several very young cousins and I have noticed that they all love using touch screen devices and games. The only problem is that all the toddler games that I have found are just plain shit. Just because a game is made for babies doesn't mean it has to look like it was designed by babies.
Here's where my wife Frances comes in. Frances loves to do watercolor paintings (and she is quite good if I'm allowed to say so). For a while we have talked about collaborating on a game where I could utilize her beautiful artwork. If you know Frances then perhaps you didn't know that she was a painter, but I'm sure you knew that she loves animals. So, it seemed that an educational game for small children where they could learn animal shapes and sounds would be a perfect collaboration. I have most of the programming done already (mostly simple matching games and animal sound effects) and we have begun work on the art for the game. Above you can see the beginnings of the art style, starting as sketches that Frances created which I then cleaned up in Illustrator. We will be printing out the "clean" versions on watercolor paper for Frances to paint over, which I will then scan and digitize into the game. Sounds simple enough.
One of the big focuses for the game is to create art that has somewhat exaggerated features and distinct outlines so that children can easily distinguish between similar looking animals (donkeys, horses, and zebras for example). I'm really liking the direction we have taken so far and I can't wait to see what these will look like painted. The art will probably be a slow process, but we hope to have the game out within the next two months. I plan to have a set of 8 animals available for free in the game with an in-app purchase to unlock 24 more animals (price to be determined). I'm not comfortable putting ads in a game for toddlers since that seems a bit shady, but I think parents could find value in being able to unlock additional learning materials for their little ones. I think the market for educational games like this is flooded with crap, so I hope that something special like this can rise to the top of the heap.