The Story of Rose: Crowd sourced Kids Game!
You should incorporate kids into you game development! Think about it. Kids are brutally,honest, smart and tech savvy. Untainted by culturally bias they are perfect additions to your game dev team (assuming you’re not making zombie assassin 4 or whatever ) As adults we have a tendency to over complicated simple things and forget why we got into making video games to being with. FUN. We want to create fun experiences and who is better than judging Fun than a kid?
As a new game developer I jumped into the industry like most: over ambitious dreams of making the perfect game. So After a few failed game projects (Gigi’s garden & Coqui racers) I told myself I want to make a simple game about cats. In college I learned how much i enjoy making games for kids. So why not make a simple game for kids ages 2-5.
Back in early January at the last minute I heard about Otronicon, an annual technology, gaming, simulation event that comes to Orlando each year. I reached out to the Orlando science center and got a small booth at the event. I went in empty handed no game no nothing. Hours before the event started I figured I would go to Walmart and grab a few things. I thought to myself: What’s the target demo for the event? Well its MLK weekend schools out so its safe to assume lots of kids. So I then grabbed 2 boxes, paper, pencil and crayons and got to work.
I get to the Orlando science center and start setting up.; Im already a bit bummed as I am obviously under dressed to this party. Im in the indie game showcase room and its amazing, The guys at Cherry pie games have a cool booth for there VR game Hollow featuring the occulus rift, the guys at Hamhock games have a huge booth featuring lots of cool demos and visuals everyone had professional signage and demos.
I had an empty table. Very under dressed to this party. But im just happy to be here. I immediately get to work setting up the booth. My idea for my booth is simple. Draw a cat or a monster and I will put it in a video game. I quickly opened flash and made an animated visual aid for the kids. I put the two boxes on opposite sides of the table, set ups all the crayons and paper for the kids and begin drawing signage with my daughter.
About an hour goes by as people just walk past the booth, giving me occasional confused glances.
Arianna was the first little girl that came to the booth. I think we were both nervous, as I was stumbling over words explaining to her the concept. She was quiet at first but ended up telling me how much she loves cats and drew a tabby cat. She was very focused on her drawing! As she was drawing I started up unity and started setting up the prototype for the day.
Now that parents and children see what the booth is about its starting to get flooded with lil artists! They loved the option to be able to draw a cat or monster. I didn’t realize until speaking to different parents that little girls love drawing cats in their spare time. The kids took these drawings very serious! Some even told mom and dad to get lost while they drew!
The day was a blur I spoke to a bunch of amazing kids but a few did stick out, for example I Remember Christian was very educated for his age. Out of 100+ drawings he was the only kid that drew his cat speck” with animation states! He even labeled it jump and “being hit” epic. After talking about the game his father also drew a monsters for the game (a handful of parents drew too) it was awesome to see a father and son duo like this!
One girl named Anna drew a cat with what seemed like lasers coming out of her eyes, I asked about the lasers and she promptly corrected me and said "no that’s blood shooting out of her eyes” ok then!
Here is a Girraffe duck hybrid shooting eye beams
Another girl named Kailey sat for about 30 mins drawing a cat, she said she was an aspiring artist and loved drawing. Her supportive father watching over her as she drew one of the best cats of the bunch.
In general it was great talking to the parents. Its obvious the attitude towards gaming has changed. It just felt more accepted as a path for children to take as far as education goes. I had lots of conversations with parents and children about making games, art, animation and more.
Game design is my passion and that comes with its own set of ambition, but seeing parents face to face telling me good luck was comforting I felt for the first time in my professional career I was on the right path. I knew “making a game about cats” would be a cheap way to get peoples attention (everybody loves cats) but what i didn’t realize was how ecstatic these kids would be seeing something they drew put directly into a video game!
Some of the earlier cats and monsters I immediately put into the prototype. The first prototype featured some simple cats I found in the unity asset store as my main character. At this time I was taking drawings and vectorizing them in flash. It was fun working on my feet like this, very fast paced. I put the cats in unity as simple textures. The initial idea was to simply fill up the background of levels with the kids cats. The magic trick was complete. In my eyes it was crude and ugly but for them it was amazing.
It was great educating parents on the game design process and making games right in front of them. I saw true support from strangers for the first time in my professional career! If anyone I met in January is reading this thank you!!! You need to know you helped a young man continue his dreams. At this point in my life I was a struggling developer with two failed projects under my belt, I was close to giving up. But this event and the people I met at it gave me the fire to keep pushing forward. At the end of day 2 of Otronicon I was exhausted. I interacted with dozens of amazing kids. And talked to lots of parents. One little girl asked “why are you making a game about cats? I told her It was dedicated to my daughter Arielle.” She said that it was cute and would buy the game when it came out"!
My mom was very cool with video games in the house when me and my 3 brothers were young. Some of my fondest memories I have are watching her play Zelda or Chrono trigger. I realized this was special back then and I still do now video games in the 90’s may have been seen as time wasters or evil in the public's eye. Its nice to see that entire mindset has changed, Kids are our future. This may seem corny but it’s the truth. I have two kids of my own now (julyen 4 and Arielle 2 ) and as a game developer I feel it my duty to provide my children fun games that are a productive use of there time. Rose is currently in development by myself my younger brother (music) and college friend (art). We now have a main character some bad guys and a playable demo.
We are working closely with children all the way until release to make sure we still have a fun game. If you would like to learn more about rose and where its at now please check out our Kickstarter campaign and thank your reading! Be sure to check our www.mypurpletimemachinellc.com