At the home stretch with Nana’s Pettin’ Emporium. I never realized how long this end of the process would be. Art polish, game play tweaks, UI customization and build creation, then there is builds with platforms I don’t even have. So far, there will be a Windows, Linux and Mac OSX build in the works and closed beta folks are playing now.
I wanted Nana to be stupidly simple. Below is a gif of the concept.
The player is an old woman, so she moves slower than her AI ‘puppy’ counterparts. Things cling to the player and thus physics fun is had with three simple buttons: spacebar, left and right arrow keys. The simplicity of the design is intentional as it is to engage the following parties: a parent and their children. Nana is not a children’s game per say, but it is a solution to a problem I ran across while having lunch with my next door neighbor, Alan, his lovely wife Hannah and their daughter Anya. We also can’t forget their cracked out dog, Phinney.
During lunch, Alan gave Anya his phone so she could play a few kid themed mobile games while we ate, but he seemed so disappointed in doing so. I asked why and Alan lamented that he hated giving his phone to three year old instead of her actively wanting to color. I expected the conversation to evolve into technology shortening attention spans, ‘kids these days’ complaints and the death of the old ways, but that wasn’t his response. His disappointment was in the lack of his engagement with her in an activity they both can share in.
Alan wanted a non cellphone, simplistic couch co-op experience with his daughter, but the ‘cellphone’ was on the couch instead. The wheels in my head started turning: how can you give a couch co-op experience on a PC/Laptop? How can you make it appealing for both kids and their parents as well as gamers who want a Cookie Clicker experience? Nana’s Pettin’ Emporium is a test of the concept of co-op intimacy, if that makes sense. I watched a few of the beta testers (my neighbors) play and it made me smile.
I want to work on the art to give a warm, cloth-y feel, similar to Kirby’s Epic Yarn. I like the wood and cloth touches so far, but I’m thinking more fabric for the background and Nana.
Granted, I don’t have kiddos myself, but the joy all gamers have was there. The constant clicking of the buttons, the puppy explosions, the giggles and the ‘Good Job’ affirmations between two humans was consistent to two seasoned gamers playing Halo or BroForce. Despite the obvious lo-fi art and interface, my job as a designer was complete and now it was off to Market-ing.
Ah, Marketing. Bane of game development. What to do and how to go about it?