Ghost Ship Game

Navigating the treacherous River Blyth to win

The brief

Adnams’ Ghost Ship pale ale is their most popular beer. Launched as a Halloween special in 2010, the drink’s popularity has since made it a staple in pubs and supermarkets across the country. To commemorate the ale’s anniversary, Adnams wanted to create a fun experience that engaged their fans and reached out to people new to the brand. They tasked us with creating a mobile game that got people hooked on Ghost Ship.

The challenge

We needed to make a mobile game that was both quick and easy for players to pick up – and super addictive. With two competitions running concurrently within the app, we also needed to build the backend database to generate unique codes and store the gameplay data. On top of that we had to make sure the game was secure against hacking, while still fun – and fair – to play.

The solution

We decided to design a procedurally generated game that balances difficulty and fun, while staying consistently engaging. With Ghost Ship’s inspiration stemming from the haunted waters around Walberswick, Suffolk, we set our Ghost Ship on a course down the nearby River Blyth, drawing in a range of obstacles that players have to steer the ship around. In order to avoid a feeling of repetition, we programmed the obstacles to spawn at random – giving each object both a difficulty and frequency rating. We then modelled out a 3D Ghost Ship and the scenery, drawing in touches of the Adnams’ brand such as the Southwold lighthouse.

The experience

The game involves players steering the ghostly boat along the river to clock up as many nautical miles as possible, while avoiding obstacles and defeating enemies along the way. Players are able to submit their high score and those that finish in the top 20 of the game’s leaderboard when the competition ends will win a supply of Ghost Ship beer for a year. What’s more, there are also unique codes on bottles and packs bought in supermarkets and pubs that, when inputted into the app, enter the user into a prize draw to win a weekend away in Southwold.

Within the first four weeks of the app going live, the game has already been entered 2595 times, with 52,508 games played and 1,441,7882 nautical miles sailed in total – that’s 66.75 times around the world!