files/pictures/picture-35.jpgNerd Corps Ent.'s first original property, STORM HAWKS, is making both its online and on-air worldwide launch this week.
Following a successful Friday night sneak peek of a one-hour special episode, STORM HAWKS began airing Mondays, as part of Cartoon Network's new summer programming lineup at 7:00 pm (ET, PT). Other broadcasters that will be debuting the series this summer or fall include YTV in Canada; Cartoon Network in the U.K., France and Latin America; terrestrial broadcaster France 3 and Canadian French-language broadcaster VRAK.
The launch of the series comes on the heels of BRB Internacional acquiring the television, DVD and licensing rights for both Spain and Portugal.
Stormhawks.com will allow users to create their own virtual identities (avatars), and collect crystal points through playing different online games, answering trivia questions and performing an assortment of other tasks. This same avatar can be used across the site -- even from one game to another -- allowing kids to build up their character in several different ways. The crystal points can be used for things like picking up a new vehicle for your avatar, but will have an offline life too, since kids can redeem them for real-word prizes and STORM HAWKS merchandise from partners like Spin Master.
Nerd Corps partnered with Toronto-based online media firm Bitcasters on the project, which will include social networks to user-generated content.
Stormhawks.com will roll out in three stages over the next several months -- starting with a comprehensive show info section, followed by a fun and games section featuring Flash games, social networking tools, wallpapers, ring tones and picture- and avatar-creators and much more. Kids can also make a personalized homepage.
The third and biggest stage rollout will happen later in the year in the form of a new massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG). Based on technology provided by Australian middleware developer BigWorld, the MMORPG lets players race against, trade with and talk to their peers through a 3D interface that mirrors the on-air world of STORM HAWKS. The BigWorld technology allows for realtime game play between thousands of players simultaneously, and has been licensed by more than 45 companies around the world.
Taking a page from popular online sites such as Neopets or Club Penguin, networking will be a big part of the game, with areas for the avatars to socialize and trade, or to just challenge someone to a quick race. Through pre-defined, drop-down chatting, and other features, the game will comply with the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) and other best practices in respecting children's privacy online.
"We wanted to create a unique show with fun, character-led stories and adventures that would resonate with kids around the world," says Nerd Corps supreme commander Asaph Fipke. "As the central spot for kids to immerse themselves in the STORM HAWKS world off-air, we wanted to make sure the online presence was as innovative and engaging, and as much fun, as possible."
"While most shows have websites, we're excited to be going so much further by building an entire universe for kids to explore", said Nathon Gunn, ceo of Bitcasters. "From racing games and duels to collecting and trading crystals with other players this online initiative promises to be one of the most engaging out there."
"When looking for a web partner, we were immediately drawn to Bitcasters for their experience in gaming and in creating an online community," adds Nerd Corps el presidente Ken Faier. "The universe is pretty vast, so it lends itself perfectly to all kinds of interactive media where kids can spend a lot of time exploring and really extend their STORM HAWKS experience. We're very excited about the future of Stormhawks.com and looking forward to our fans being able to have fun with it."
STORM HAWKS is set in a fantastical world where squadrons of high-flying Sky Knights battle to protect their air turf. Five mismatched teens have found the wreckage of legendary sky knight squadron The Storm Hawks, and now, armed with transforming flying motorcycles, these punks are dog-fighting some of the nastiest villains ever to hit the skies. Launching with 52x30 episodes, the series was created by Fipke.
Stormhawks.com has been developed with financial assistance from Telefilm Canada and the Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund.
Nerd Corps Ent. is a full service property development and animation studio based out of Vancouver, Canada. For more information, see www.nerdcorps.com