Prototyping Countdown: Origins to Outdoor Toy Awards

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Prototyping Countdown: Origins to Outdoor Toy Awards

When we started on Countdown, our hide & seek electronic toy, we never could have imagined the iterations and refinements that would take us to the product we have today. Through continuous modeling, concept rendering and 3d printing, we've landed on a design that has proven to be very approachable, fun and engaging to all that have been lucky enough to get their hands on it.

Humble (and not-so-pretty) Origins

Initially, Countdown was designed with compactness in mind. As a hide & seek toy, meant to replace adults trying to cram themselves under beds or in drawers, we wanted to make game as compact as possible. To hit that mark, we originally planned on a 'cartridge' style of a flat device with buttons on top. While it worked, it was pretty boring looking to say the least.. only something we at Pressure Games could love. When we introduced it to small cohorts of kids, they didn't think much of the styling, but the bright colored buttons and game concepts resonated quickly and proved that we were really onto something big. 

The 'Bomb' Game

The cartridge style was fun once people started playing it. Laying on a table though, no one gave it a second look as it was quite ugly and not very approachable. So we started on a round 2 design meant to catch the eye. The resulting bomb case definitely hit that mark. Kids (and adults) would instantly pick the game up on sight to start playing. The game interface and buttons resonated well, but there were some interface issues that multiple users reported:

  • The buttons were small and hard to hit.
  • There needed to be a dedicated ok/home/stop the timer button. That also allowed 5 buttons for gameplay elements.
  • The flat, 90-degree angle of the case was hard to use on a table-top.

Our Outdoor Toy Award and Beta Test Design

With feedback and a lot of playtesting experience in hand, we set out to refine the design again. The next release had a lot going for it: Bigger buttons, tabletop play, better button placement, an improved screen and multiple cosmetic improvements. It took a lot of iterations to get this design right, but we've been very excited with the final design and it hits all the marks we originally were aiming for: approachable, fun and engaging.

The image to the left is an earlier revision of this design with a wider (uglier) screen and fully black case. The toy at the top of this post is one of the actual units sent off to the Outdoor Toy Awards!

3 Revisions, Hundreds of Iterations

The images above can't fully express the number of interim revisions on the way to our current design. For each of the pictures above, there were ~30 intermediate builds with variations for screen size, button layout, button size, 'fuse' on top, angled case, battery compartment sizing and more. It's been an exhausting process, but each iteration taught us a huge amount and brought us closer the current design, which we're proud to be entering into the Outdoor Toy Awards.