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Chemex: Brew Perfect

Newsworthy design and execution to match
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As the host sponsors for the 2019 Specialty Coffee Association expo and design leaders in the field, Chemex Coffeemakers wanted to showcase that position in a way as unique and captivating as their glass brewing carafes.

We ended up with a hit game featuring their eccentric inventor.

The game garnered huge attention and praise inside and outside of the expo - taking over Slack channels, mesmerizing #coffeetwitter, and getting written up in magazines.

But… how did we get there?

Step one was figuring out what form exactly the booth should take. They wanted something totally different to showcase their founding story, something playful for visitors, something eye-catching, and something completely different than what any other exhibitor would have on the floor.

A game seemed like a natural fit, but should it be a physical arcade cabinet game or a web-based game?

We decided on a touch and mobile-friendly site for a few reasons:

  • ease of initial deployment and re-use
  • ability to display at multiple locations through the expo
  • share and playability beyond the physical location

As for the game itself, we knew the usability had to be front and center. This was something people would pick up and play for 30 seconds, tops. They’re just walking by a booth - it has to be attention-grabbing!

For this reason, we went with a simple, single-finger control and super-retro graphics. Objects in the game come down from one direction of the screen - you’re not navigating a very complicated field of information. In fact, you’re only moving in one dimension (left-to-right).

Under the hood, the game is built in Javascript, using the library. It sends high scores to a server with simple requests, and the art and sound are packed tightly for fast loading on phones since people at the expo might not have reliable WiFi and could be on clogged data networks.

My role as sole-progammer was the simplest part of the project. Thanks to my collaborators Alex Reyes doing the animation and Emily E. Meo on sound being such talented pros, managing the project was straight-forward as well.

And of course, designing for something as beautiful and fun as Chemex - well that’s just a joy. I couldn’t be more pleased with how it all turned out.

Hi, I’m Sam. It's nice to meet you.

I’m a front-end developer focused on using my tech skills to serve the world.

I have over 10 years experience creating award-winning web apps and games. From my early years in classroom games to the past few years running a consultancy, I love using my creativity to make tech that drives real change for real people. Let's do good work together.

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