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On making a short game

Last week I released Busy Boroughs: a greek breeze, a short hidden object game that I created out of a greek mythology themed illustration I made.


It was a very informative process - there's definitely things I will tweak on the next one based on what I've learned so far, especially regarding the game development and coding.


But I'm pretty happy with the result! I feel that having the wimmelbilder scene animated, being able to move around and interact with it, makes for a much more immersive experience, which is one of the strengths of this kind of image!


So here are some takeways from this project:


Planning the image


Search and find images are a bit complex by themselves, but thinking of it as game adds an extra layer of complexity.


  • From the start I had to divide the scene in smaller sections with subthemes and distribute important characters and events throughout the image so there wasn't just one area of interest.

  • Layer management was so important here. Not only naming everything to make it all easier to find when sending the images to Unity, but defining what would be static, what would be animated frame-by-frame, what would be animated directly in Unity, and how it all would affect the order of the layers. It's very easy to get lost with so many different elements, so organization was key to make it work.

  • Finding the balance to get a busy image, but not an overcrowded one. I wanted to make sure you could understand the setting and feel immersed in the city, its buildings and paths, but also have it be a lively place, with different people and activities. To get to the result I wanted, I had to work a lot with color and texture to make the scene feel busy while maintaining its readability.



Animating


As mentioned on the previous item, this was an extra step from a regular wimmelbilder illustration and involved layer management and the actual animations.

  • For this search and find scene, I had important characters that I wanted to highlights - the greek gods and mythical creatures. I chose where each would be located while sketching, and drew the final versions in separate layers. After the image was done, I went ahead and made small frame-by-frame sequences for each of them - in the game, the animations start playing when you find the god or creature that's listed as hidden, so as you play the game the scene becomes more lively.

  • I also had non-interactable elements that would be animated. A few of them were also animated frame-by-frame, like the water effects.

  • Most non-interactable elements could be animated directly in Unity, with movement and rotation, or with sinusoid movement for the boats - which required a specific script. All these elements were also drawn in separate layers. And I had to also consider the pivot point for each inside Unity.


Development


Although it's a simple game, there are several small decisions to make regarding the game code and presentation.

  • I divided the game in 3 steps or stages, each one showing a larger portion of the illustration.

  • There's a small tip for each hidden item giving some context on where to find it.

  • Small hidden objects disappear when found, but finding gods and mythical creatures makes them start an animation.

  • The UI was drawn with greek-like elements to have it all be a part of the same theme.


Hope this helped give an overview of how the process went!

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