Slowly but surely, Maive’s island is starting to come together. The models for Clifftop Campsite were added into the Unity build this week, fleshing out the environment even more than before. This includes hammocks, logs, campfires, and sweet hanging lanterns that make one of our more open areas feel very cosy.
Having this area ready meant that Garveet could be moved into his starting position in the game: trapped under his cart of splendid things at the campsite. Placing him here means that playtesting feels a bit more natural and contextual – there is no longer a raving peacock in the middle of the town complaining about being stuck under a cart that’s nowhere to be seen.
Smaller forest assets were created, like casual flowers and mushrooms. Special bluebell flowers were also added as the team agreed they are visually beautiful. We are going to use these assets to form natural/magical visual secrets within the forest.
We also made some tweaks to our terrain (again). With models being added frequently, it’s starting to show some errors in affordance and accessibility that we hadn’t noticed previously. For example, the incline that runs from Calico Cove to Clifftop Campsite was barely visible. We found lots of playtesters believed they were confined to the first area, when actually they were free to explore the whole island.
We also added a secret cave behind the waterfall. Missing the cave won’t be detrimental to the player’s understanding of the narrative, but exploring it will add nice flavour to the world – hopefully it will be a nice reward for the more curious and inquisitive players.
Alongside all of our other work, we have been working with a musician to build a soundtrack for the game. The music is organic and folky, mostly acoustic, and full of emotion. Think Outer Wilds meets Animal Crossing, and you’ll start to get a feeling for what our soundtrack is shaping up to be. Our musician is tackling the main music, however we are working with our narrative designer’s dad, who is also a musician, to create some bonus content that won’t be featured in the game. This includes a rock version of Maive’s main theme, some lo-fi hip-hop beats and more. But one piece of music that was supposed to be an extra has worked its way into Maive’s world. It’s called “Busking”. We’ve decided to turn this into an in-game interaction, wherein Maive can talk to three buskers in Calico Cove and they’ll play her this song.
Naturally, we had to design the buskers to go alongside this idea. We also did some quick concepts of Lennie’s parents, who will be available to talk to should the player want to. This, like the cave, is extra detail, fleshing out a world that, while populated with lots of environment models, is void of people. These non-player-characters will give life to Maive’s little island.
A few changes were made to our Camera System, instead of having static cameras we now have more dynamic Free Look Cameras which would allow players to look around the environment at their own pace instead of a camera directing them towards a direction. We also added another feature to our cameras which allows the camera to seamlessly always focus on our main character and avoids any obstacles that are in the way.
This week we attended a Women In Games event in Southampton, which gave us the opportunity to network and playtest. We met some truly amazing creators in the industry, and had such a diverse audience playing the game that in turn the feedback was diverse as well. It’s been a real boost to our confidence to have so many people respond to the world we are creating, and that includes everyone who has given us feedback in person or online.