Four screen shots of Specimania, the iOS App for The Field of Museum of Chicago
Why Drupal was chosen: 


Describe the project (goals, requirements and outcome): 

VS Board GameCard ExampleMatching GameUnlock Cards

View the trailer here:
Download Specimania on iTunes

Combing forces with one of the largest research-based museums in the world

For The Field Museum's first application, the goals were very clear:

  1. Engage young families with children 2-12
  2. Represent all facets of the museums exhibits/research without affecting the desire to visit the museum
  3. Find a way to involve the incredible scientific staff in the project without overwhelming them with tasks
  4. Reach audiences outside of the museum and encourage attendance
  5. Make learning awesome

Some incredible brainstorming with the New Media team resulted in a digital trading card game called 'Specimania'. Here is how it set out achieving the projects goals:

Engage young families with children 2-12

For children 2-5 we created a matching game. Cards from the game are placed in a 4x4 grid. Users tap and/or scratch the dirt off the cards in order to reveal matches. If a user finds all the matches in the game within 30 seconds, they unlock a new Character Card.

For children 6-12 we created a trading card game. The game mechanics revolve around a deck of characters, boosters that power the cards, and gotcha cards that act to trump normal game play.

Represent all facets of the museums exhibits/research without affecting the desire to visit the museum

We separated the deck of cards into the 4 halls of the museum: Anthropology, Botany, Geology, and Zoology. From that, scientists nominated 12 Characters from their discipline to be professionally illustrated. The scientists were then tasked with coming up with 1-3 paragraphs of text that contained facts and history of the specimen/artifact.

Find a way to involve the incredible scientific staff in the project without overwhelming them with organizational tasks

There are 48 scientifically accurate cards in the game that came together via 2 rounds of sketches, 2 rounds of illustrations, character names, types of cards, halls, trivia questions/answers, challenge names/points, comments and approval status. Do keep this from becoming an organizational nightmare, we turned to our friend Drupal.

Reach audiences outside of the museum and encourage attendance

To help connect outside of the museum, we integrated game center (coming in the second update) so that users can play live against other players around the world. To encourage attendance, there are certain cards that can ONLY be unlocked through special codes found in the museum. To get the most rare and powerful cards, yes you still you need to go the museum.

Make learning awesome

Our friend and Emmy Award Nominee Saxton Moore and his team at Pixel Pirate Studios did all the custom illustrations. The back of each card has a short description about that Character. Users who answer trivia questions correctly get 10 units of power added to their card! More points mean more powerful cards in the Vs game. We've also found that pretty much any age group gravitates to answering the trivia, including 3+ year olds with the help of their parents.


Specimania from The Field Museum of Natural History represents a celebration of our fascination and love for the sciences. Discovery and education can be fun and current and it takes institutions willing to think outside of the box to truly be successful. We hope you enjoy playing!

Who is Eight Bit Studios?

Official Release

Ever wondered what treasures lie hidden within The Field Museum’s vaults? Curious about the creatures that lurk within its halls? Unlock the Museum’s secrets via a new, downloadable iPhone and iPad app that contains collectible cards featuring unbelievable artifacts, animals, fossils, plants and more from the institution’s vast collections.

Explore the deck to learn more about the headline-making history of each card character, and test your new-found knowledge with the Trivia Question portion of the game. Or compete with your friends to see who comes out on top! Younger kids can get in on the action, too, by matching card characters in a memory game.

Why these modules/theme/distribution were chosen: 

We leveraged the following modules which made this application possible:

  • CCK - For obvious reasons :)
  • CCK Count - For limiting length of Challenge names
  • CCK List - For Trivia Questions
  • CK Editor - For descriptions of the back of the cards
  • Content Taxonomy - For selecting what hall the card belonged to
  • ImageField Crap & ImageCache - For placing/scaling images for in game and review
  • Services - Using JSON, we fed information directly into the iOS Application binary so that as we deployed the app to a large testing group, it had all the most up to date information from the Drupal site
Community contributions: 


Team members: 


letsunlockiphone’s picture

Great goals and awesome app for iPhone!

juggaredtest’s picture

this is really a great piece of information. it is worth reading it.