Santa's elves in online Flash game

With a treadmill, a solar panel and a bit of puff power, Milky Tea's Christmas Elves game hints at sustainable ways of generating energy

Milky Tea's characters have a similar cheeky appeal to the Santa's helpers in Aardman's new feature animation, Arthur Christmas.

Liverpool-based illustration and animation studio Milky Tea has a wealth of cute 3D character designs in its portfolio, and its latest project for Scottish and Southern Energy continues the trend with an online Flash game starring a quartet of merry Santa's elves. "Our main aim was to create an engaging character aspect, and it was this that we focused most strongly upon," says Milky Tea project manager Lizzie Leadbeater, who worked on the interactive promotion with art director Jon Holmes, along with four 3D artists and two Flash programmers.

Milky Tea's artists made initial sketches of the wide-eyed, rosy-cheeked elves, which were then worked up as greyscale images in 3ds Max. After lighting and texture detail had been added, the artwork was passed to the programmers. The final game invites website visitors to control the elves as they generate energy using a treadmill and solar panel. Winching one elf into the air before dropping him successfully onto another's stomach releases the puff of air required to illuminate a set of Christmas lights and open up an entry form for a draw to win an iPad 2.

The agency worked to a tight four-week timescale to make sure that the elves were delivered in time for Christmas. Although the characters will also appear in related SSE promotional materials, Leadbeater sees further potential for them in the interactive realm: "I would really like to explore the possibilities of developing such a highly interactive project using HTML5 and open up the stage to mobile and IOS platforms," she says.