Desk research, Story & Concept generation, Art Direction, Illustration, UI design.
Dear as Salt (or Bene come il sale, in Italian), is a web-based game designed to be played by social media users waiting for their food in restaurants. The game was translated from a classic tale of Italo Calvino’s Italian Fables, published for the first time in 1956.
André Calderolli, Bianca Chueng, Dang Trung Nguyen, Fernanda De Alba, Johannes Longardt, Tim Olbrich
Our task was to translate a classic tale from Italo Calvino’s Italian Fables,
published for the first time in 1956, into a new medium. To be able to do that, we had to study and consider the traditional aspects of the fable and its relation to the readers, as well as the new aspects inherent to the medium.
What is “Dear as salt” about?
Dear as salt originally comes from Bologna tells the story of a young happy, beautiful princess caught up in a terrible misunderstanding by stating her love for her dear father is as dear as salt, and of an old impulsive King that loses himself on a whim of emotion.
The cunning Queen solved the problem by inviting him to the wedding banquet with only saltless dishes. At that moment, remembering the daughter who loved him as dear as salt, the old man is overwhelmed with remorse and embraces his girl, happy as if she had risen from the dead.
The first thing we did was to analyze the content and the structure of the tale. Then we tried talking to people about it, by interviewing them on the streets or sending online surveys. Our aim was to better understand the story and its relation to the reader, as well as to find some inspiration for the translation that was to come.
Time & space
Storyline or Rules
Roles & Genders
Graphic and Evocative Elements
Quantitative & Qualitative research
- To find out if Calvino and his folktale “Dear as salt” are known by Italians and foreigners.
- To find out what is commonly related to salt and the phrase “Dear as salt.”
- To know if people regret something and later realize how important it was for them.
- Salt is associated with food or the ocean.
- "Dear as Salt" is not a well-known expression.
- People are familiar with the feeling of losing something and realizing how important it is.
- Despite not knowing "Dear as Salt," people usually heard of Calvino.
- Most of the interviewees don't know how or don't want to change anything about the story.
- For some of the interviewees, the moral is related to miscommunication.
Based on the data we collected through the surveys and online questionnaires, we created two personas, Olivia Rossi and Charle Volk. They represent our target audience, which helps us to understand how our product will relate to the public when implemented and also the need of our target users.
User Journey Maps
We developed two user journey maps based on our personas. They are mapped from the user perspective, describing what happens at each stage of the interaction, what touchpoints are involved, and what obstacles and barriers they may encounter while in a restaurant. That helped us to come up with a refined final concept.
Our goal was to form a concrete and tangible concept to raise users’ interests while still staying close to the tale and our research data. We started collecting all of our findings by putting them into an affinity diagram. It helped us identify patterns and empathize with the user, which was crucial for our design process.
"How Might We" Questions
We picked the most critical research aspects and formed them into groups. It allowed us to work with concrete problems rather than disconnected statements. We formed how-might-we questions [HMW], so we could proceed to ideate around one aspect at a time rather than trying to catch the whole story at once.
HMW let the user feel or experience regret?
HMW includes food or ocean in our project?
HMW highlight the importance of salt?
HMW visualize misunderstanding?
HMW bring the expression “Dear as salt” closer to people?
HMW displays the king’s character development?
HMW translate the essence of the characters?
HMW makes use of Calvino’s importance to the Italian culture?
HMW translate the emotions in the story?
We developed collaborative mind maps by exchanging each mind-map after four minutes and adding connections or building on existing ones. It allowed us to exchange thoughts, and every team member’s voice was heard and had the same weight.
After finishing the mind maps, we rapidly used the crazy-eight method to develop unique concepts. We had one minute for each of the eight cells to develop an idea, a concept, or a variation of a concept. Obviously, none of the ideas were fully developed within one minute, but we ended up with nearly 46 unique approaches to our problems.
Considering all previous research and our ideation processes, we selected the most promising approaches and tried to combine them. By defining the direction and discussing possible paths, we narrowed our selection of concepts down to an online game connected to a brand promotion called “Dear as Salt.”
It is a single-player mobile online game to promote an international chain of Italian restaurants and promote Calvino’s fairy tale Dear as Salt. Restaurant visitors can get introduced to the game and the promotion to win a free dessert if the player reaches a certain score and shares it on the social media platform.
After we did all the research and brainstorming and finally came up with the idea for "Dear as Salt", we started developing the game, which included not only coding but also illustrating, user interface, and visual identity for the game.
In the game, the user plays the king and makes his choices to reign the kingdom as well as possible.
The game itself consists of more than twenty questions related to salt, the most important element of the tale; ten will be selected and randomized. Several characters come with their concerns in front of the player and ask for action. Every decision is followed by a consequence and can be immediately seen and evaluated. If a question becomes too tricky, they have a joker function that will give users hints and some interesting facts about salt.
The leaderboard ranking system motivates players to share their scores and to spread the word about the game and the restaurant's promotion.
The design portrays the different characters as cards that the player can interact with, much like in dating apps. The main game screen also includes an indicator bar on top of the screen that shows the player how well he’s doing. The color choices derive from the colors of the three thrones of the king in the original tale, where black stands for anger, red for so-so, and white for happiness.
The player takes the role of the King in the Throne room and meets many of the characters. They are illustrated based on the original tale (King, Queen, Princess Zizola, Trusted Servant, Cook, Hightower's Prince) or their quests and the facts about salt they provide players (Alchemist, Knight, Merchant, Farmer, Prisoner).
We finally got to the last part. Now we have a game, a story to go with
it and context to wrap it all.
Home & Instructions
Instead of giving a long-text introduction, we made a short, fun comic that clearly explains to players their role as the king; they need to continue governing the kingdom as well as possible by taking care of 10 pending orders with just a swipe.
The game is on. Let's give it a try, and don't forget to be a good, gracious King of our Kingdom.