Since I got my domains secured, I’d like to talk a bit about my first and new game I’m currently working on. I never built a game in my life and this is my first try at building a world and interactive experience built for the sole purpose of entertainment. No objectives of productivity, no monetization strategy, no optimization of user experience; only entertainment and storytelling.
That’s my unknown territory: Interactive Storytelling which is basically a description of Video Game. I did build a lot of interactive stuff like interfaces and mobile apps and I’m sure did my part of storytelling through my shortfilms and branding designs, but blending both of them for the sole purpose of entertainment sure looks like a challenge.
But I want the challenge to be more difficult!
NO TIME FOR “ONCE UPON A TIME”
I will be building a mobile game. It’ll be on Windows Phone first followed by Android and iOS. Once Ubuntu runs on my Nexus 5, why not include it since it looks so awesome! The problem with a mobile game is that you’re stuck doing 2 things:
1) Build a great story, but you lose the “poop-friendliness” of a quick open/play/close type of game because you want to tell a story and you just can’t with a fast-type game.
2) Build a fun and quick game, but you don’t have the time to tell a story since the game runs so fast to be super accessible and addictive.
As you imagined, I want to do both.
I want a rich story, a whole world and universe, while making sure you can get in seconds in a game playing trying to beat your high-score.
No long cut scenes, no chapter based organization, no text to read; just a big PLAY button. I found 2 solutions that makes me quite confident that I struck the best balance for what I want to achieve.
Art Direction and Active World Development.
DEFEND CATOPIA, MAKE FELINEGRAD PROUD
Space Kitten is a simple fast-paced game that plays with your reflexes and lets you develop your own strategy to survive as long as you can.
Even though the game is simple and quick, I made sure to create a full backstory, play with the character design and just the overall look of the game.
You are Commander Muffin from the Kitten Federation Space Command. You are stationed in the city of Felinegrad and your objective is to defend the Kitten planet of Catopia. Your crew is there and makes sure that when you eject you get ready for launch as soon as possible. You start in your Hangar at the Space Command and you launch in your ship through the atmosphere where the evil mice are trying to stop you from reaching space where the angry dogs are preparing their full attack on Catopia.
Glimpses of the story, clean design/art and extremely short cutscenes when you reach key moments (also to give you a tiny break) of the game will simply unfold the story and your mission. It’s fun to play a game, but it’s nicer to understand that you gotta defend a whole planet of kittens and even if you fail, you got your crew to back you down there and get you back in the fight!
I find it fun to not just play the game, but experience the backstory of it. Kinda like in Titanfall where you don’t really have a full story and campaign (and it’s a shame because it could be an amazing new story), yet when you play you know who’s the IMC and the Militia and it adds something when you play the IMC and you’re yelling “fucking rebel piece of shit, you think you can fuck your corporate masters” in front of your screen. Just quickly playing, but still knowing why you play and what’s around it is nice. You may say that most people won’t care about it and that is 100% true thus the reason to not waste time telling a story and just passing cues of it between the gameplay with great art direction and subtle mentions.
Another thing I want to explore is off-game content like videos, pictures, new art, etc. It keeps the story going and immerses you even more when you will go back to play. Why not get some story going outside the game with Twitter and Facebook. Content about the game, art or just messing with current events to get the conversation going about your game. In my case, my canvas is kittens and space so it’s pretty easy to get fun stuff going on the side!
Yes, the perfect mobile games are the one you can quickly open, play and close. Plants VS Zombie can be an exception to this rule because of its awesome art direction and storytelling that is quickly condensed. Anything longer would be too much. A problem occurs when the game is fun, but there’s so much story that you never want to quickly play the game and when you have the time to do so… you’re in front of your PC, your Surface or with an Xbox One controller in your hand so why in the world would you play a mobile game (looking at you Halo: Spartan Assault!).
But it’s not because it’s a quick and simple game that you shouldn’t have a story around it.
It’s like when I’m building an interface: Why is it a rectangle and not a rounded rectangle, why does it need to be sharp, what does it represent for the interface, why do you need to show that it’s so minimalist that you can’t even make it safer and round the corners…
Everything visual, a painting, an interface or a video game, should have a story behind it. You just feel when there’s that magic glue that hold everything together and it feels great!