We met up today to touch base and start making some design decisions so that we can start creating the visuals for this game. The first decisions we made were to do with the eco systems we wanted to design and those that we wanted to include in the pitch for the game but not necessarily fully render. Rainforest, desert and coniferous forest were the three that we decided to design because they provided a good variety of eco system structure that would make for interesting gameplay and visuals. We also decided that the game would include Arctic Tundra, Savannah and ocean. The number of ecosystems that are possible to unlock is something that would be subject to evolution adn form part of the legacy of the game.
We also got thinking about the name of the game and how we might approach that. We soon settled on WWF's Earth mark 2. This just seemed very communicative, straight forward and had a level of poignancy that relates to the cause that the game is about. We started sketching out the interface of the game and looked at the tools the home screen might have, such as a 'panda purse' for the currency gained during the game. The home screen would also have social media links to the instagram hash tag that would allow people to gain points by doing everyday things more sustainably (as mentioned in the previous post). There would also be a donate button on the home screen. However, to avoid the feeling of distrust created by any in game purchases, these donations will not buy you anything. However, there would be prizes for the advancing in the game, such as sustainable gifts and tools and for the highest ranking player, the chance to go and see some of WWF's conservation efforts.
Roz sketched out how some of the purchase pages might be laid out. We wanted to maintain a sense of scale with all of the animals and be as accurate and informative as possible without loosing the playful tone of voice we are aiming for.
We also talked about how the very start of each eco system would start and which eco system would be the best for a beginner. We decided this would be the coniferous forest because of the density of flora compared to fauna, and the way that this would help the player to understand the importance of a strong plant foundation to any eco system. We decided that the player would start with one pine tree that would in tine (possibly 30 secs) release pin cones (seeds) these seeds can be sold (seeds are the only thing that can be sold or swapped between players) the player can then plant more trees, for which they gain an hourly addition to their panda purse (like an hourly rent of kinds) and this allows them to buy more plants and eventually insects and animals. Once one carnivore is successfully supported for 2 days the next eco system is unlocked.
This got us talking about the time frame of the game and we agreed that we wanted the light levels to reflect actual time so that nocturnal animals would only come out at night and so maintain some parity to an actual eco sytem.
We talked about the animation and talked about the tone of voice we wanted to construct with the illustration and animation style. We wanted a playful, open but also with a hint of seriousness tone of voice. While discussing how to achieve this through the illustration we considered botanical etchings and the way the black outlines created beautiful texture. However, this was not practical when you consider animation, vectors are really the best way to construct a reliable visual that has a low file size and can maintain good visual appearance on screen. We then got thinking about other animation and how this could inform our decisions.
One point of inspiration was the film Fern Gully. The way the animate the plants growing is beautiful and very realistic. The shape of the plants dictates the way they grow. So, for example, large daisies burst open in a sudden pop and more slender orchids slowly open in layers. This speaks of a respect and understanding of the plants. Although this animation may not be something that we can achieve in time for the competition submission date, we can include it in our considerations to help give the design a rounded feel. This background detail gives strength to the overt design decisions that will be acted on for the submission.
Another animation that came up in conversation was a children's animation called Nerds and Monsters. Although the premise is fairly dull, the animation style is fascinating in the way that it creates depth through the simple use of outlines. The background is created through the use of block colour and texture without outlines and the same tonal value is used to easily unite the aesthetic of the animation. This is something to consider with our animation because although it is important to have a certain amount of realism, it is also important to cultivate identity and tone of voice through this medium.
We also found this great example of an interactive and animated map. It does a lot of the things that we want to do but it is not a game in the same way we are planning ours but it is a great resource for further inspiration.
At this point we are already talking about the different roles that each of us will play. For example Roz probably has the most diverse drawing skills which could translate over to the animals in the game. I could work on the icons and the backdrops and plants for the ecosystems because plants are something I feel very comfortable drawing. The next job for me is to start looking at all the functions the game needs to perform and how icons and buttons might be developed for this.