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  • Student Postmortem: Bloom

    - Daniel Nordlander
  •  As part of a six-week game design course, eight students from Futuregames Academy in Stockholm, Sweden, were tasked with creating a ten minute vertical slice for a game pitch. This is the story of what happened, what didn't happen, and what we learned when we did a Quality Assurance project on ourselves.

    During six short weeks in May and June of 2010 we, five aspiring 3D artists and three potential game designers, were given a brief to create a demo for a game. The demo, together with a presentation, would form the basis of a sales pitch to a jury of industry professionals.

    The brief was simple and straightforward: In six weeks, put together a playable concept demo using the indie version of Unity; the game has to utilise a third person camera; it must be playable with a Xbox 360 gamepad; and the theme of the game has to be forbidden fruit.

    The Game

    Approaching the prescribed theme in a very literal-minded way, we set out to create a game about the original forbidden fruit, framed in a classic fairy-tale setting, i.e. complete with famine, conflict, and strife. The player assumes the role of a teenage girl born into an ancient, mysterious order, tasked with safeguarding -- in utmost secrecy -- the remains of the original garden of Eden. The jewel in the collection is a small, gnarled tree that still bears fruit. These fruits possess great magic, but the order refuses to intervene in secular affairs, choosing instead to isolate themselves further.

    Our heroine, who is a teenager, sees things differently. She steals the ancient tree of life, and strikes out into the world to set things right. The overarching story follows our young heroine as she travels across the world, collecting saplings from sister orders, and expanding the capabilities of the ancient tree for the final conflict between good and evil.

    The gameplay revolves around utilising various "fruits" to achieve common goals: One fruit will create a moving platform, allowing you to climb over obstacles; another works like a grenade and lets you defeat enemies and blow things up; a third allows you to traverse water. The goal of the game is to successfully navigate levels using these fruits, while combating enemies and solving environmental puzzles. Each level you clear adds a fruit to the tree, giving you another skill or ability.

    In terms of gameplay, what we wanted was an easy, straightforward experience for a relatively young age bracket with a focus on platforming and puzzling. It should be easy to understand and pick up, with clearly defined gameplay goals.

    While the brief dictated that we incorporate the concept of forbidden fruit, we felt that the mechanic of the tree and the fruits afforded us a certain amount of freedom to extend the game


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