Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bunni Sneak Peek

I had an immensely good time collaborating with Andre on Fishing Girl earlier this year.  He was looking for a new project and so we started idly chatting about random ideas. One thing led to another and he is now nearing the finish line on a new Flash game called Bunni.  I thought Andre might enjoy a little bit of public encouragement as he enters the final stretch.  

I've been wracking my brain and I don't know of another game out there that is quite like Bunni.  Imagine if Animal Crossing had a long lost mutant sibling that coalesced out of a creative flurry in a mere four months.  There is no clever twist on shooting, block stacking, or 2D platforming. It is not an innovative music game.  Nor does it involve playing with time or bizarro spacial dimensions.  If there are any puzzles, I apologize since they weren't intentional. In fact, it isn't a very hard game. I've yet to find a single hidden object, probably because there aren't any.  Despite lacking all these critical things, play tests end up lasting for hours. 

I don't want to give away too much about the game, but I can share a single, mildly cluttered screen shot.  Yes, that is a pirate bunni.  And no you can't have one unless you are very, very special. 

Bunni: First Screenshot. Likely to change in inexplicable ways. 

Oh, and as a bonus, here are some t-shirt designs. Let me know which ones you like the best.  (I tossed together a storefront as well just for fun.  The internet is so awesome.)

Broken Hearted

Bounce

In Love

Long road to love

take care
Danc. 

19 comments:

  1. Ha! Looks very interesting. Reminds me of the old "work is hell" book by Matt Groening... Actually, this is nothing like that, except that it's bunnies. I can't wait to see it! Take care.

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  2. I haven't wanted to play a new game from a screenshot so much since Thief 3! Looks so cute it hurts.

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  3. Cuteness ... bunnies ... things to "get" ... places to explore ... a store ... ZOMG, my kids are going to be all over this. Looks pretty neat to me too, and I like the odd t-shirt designs even more.

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  4. I have had an even sneakier peek (as Andre's brother) and one of the best features is the way the bunni's move around the screen.

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  5. All I can say is, if this game doesn't make you hate deer, I don't know what will.

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  6. Addicting cute game. I enjoy my self-volunteer 50 hours++ beta testing.

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  7. Long road to love == AWESOME

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  8. Awesome designs! :D

    The games looks slick too, really looking forward to it!

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  9. Great looking game!

    I was thinking of the Fishing Girl Game this morning on the drive to work and this line in your specification in particular:

    "There are no more fish left in the ocean. There will never be any ever again."

    That made me think of what is happening across the world to the bees (news story example this report from BBC Scotland) with the catastrophic colony collapse. The wider implication to anything that needs pollinating is at risk of not doing so well.

    I expect you have a million and three things in mind for your next game design challenge... but I figured I'd fire that story at you to see if it inspires you in someway, as the whole balanced ecology idea made it in to your design last time, albeit as a bonus.

    Great blog anyway, looking forward to your next entry.

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  10. It is actually kind of funny that you mention this. Bunni has some elements of ecological disaster in it. You can over harvest and then reap the (very mild) consequences of a starving population.

    Even with an extraordinarily simple ecology that is very easy to manage, people consistently over harvest. And then they get pissed when it collapses. Really pissed...the world reacted in an arbitrary 'unfair' manner. At no point is the situation their fault.

    Watching people play, it occurs to me that the dynamic of ecosystems are completely alien to how people think about the world. As soon as you add in secondary effects and longish feedback loops, players are unable to predict and none of them stop and *think*.

    It's a basic design principle, but it makes me realize just how screwed the ecology of the world is in general. :-)

    take care
    Danc.

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  11. You know, if you could pace the introduction of gameplay elements in a way that teaches how to manage that ecosystem, it could be very beneficial.

    If the concept of ecosystem management is, as you describe, alien to most people, then wouldn't it be great if they could leave the game with a better understanding of it? Using this difficulty to your (our) advantage :)

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  12. I agree with Jotaf, that would be great.

    The hardest part for me was in recognizing that such complex dynamics existed in the first place. Once I knew it was possible to create a self-replenishing ecosystem, it wasn't too hard for me to figure out how to do it. Just a hint that it's possible would help a lot.

    Maybe a couple ecosystem-related quests?

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  13. I'm sure if one would spend more than 2 hours on the game, they will see how trees and flowers regrow if there still at least one left.

    It is sad that time over time, people more prefer entertainments that doesn't make them think, that doesn't have rules.

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  14. Bunni encourages stripping the land of resources completely to build infrastructure which isn't the most positive ecological message. The protagonist in the game is forced to cause horrific ecological damage to Bunni Island in order to fill it with 'love'. So the message is a bit mixed to say the least.

    It's not really a game about sustainability. It's a game about doing what you must to reach you goal and the ethical choice isn't a clearly defined one. You don't have that feedback, or a point in the game where you choose between good and evil. You are not given a choice to live in harmony with deer; the choice is destroy, or be destroyed. The game is too linear in it's narrative to encourage players to postulate in depth questions. And even though there is several right answers they are too subtle for the average player.

    To make ethical choices interesting in a game it is important that there is clear feedback and more than one gameplay option that delivers playable yet different results. It's for the player to decide if the choice they made was the correct one by evaluating the resulting feedback.

    I don't personally think it is the game developers position to dictate what is right and what is wrong, but instead to present 'cause and effect' so players can come to their own conclusions and partake in their own ethical journey.

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  15. So you have us all waiting in eager anticipation. When do we get to see it for ourselves?

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  16. You can measure how bad for the environment it is to extract a resource by counting how many there are around that resource (when it's about to be collected).

    Based on that number you can devise a rule to subtly "warn" the player of the impact of over-harvesting (maybe the bunny is visibly saddened, or pops up a balloon saying "these are the last ones"; or the ground starts looking like it's dried up with no grass). A more explicit rule would make these resources count less when extracted (diminishing returns). But maybe that's too explicit.

    As most people here agreed, it's better to give a nudge in the right direction but ultimately leave the most interesting choices up to the player, instead of gearing your game so that an optimal strategy that looks to no consequences makes you win the game; but OTOH if the nudges aren't enough for most people new to the subject, the more explicit diminishing-returns rules should be used. (right?)

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