Rosa’s Garden is a calm and poetic flower game about gardening with roses. Dig little holes in the ground, find seeds, plant them and watch how slowly a rose grows. By combining fully blossomed roses, you can breed new seeds. There are over 40 combinations available and each rose is named after a famous women, paying a small tribute to their lives and achievements.
Lily suffers from an unfamiliar disease. The player interacts with the flower, unfolding leafs or moving bodyparts. The more traumas Lily gets, the more insects start appearing. Each creature represents an illness a child could get later in life when exposed to trauma. The goal is to find and collect all creatures to learn about Lily’s obscure sickness.
Based upon Charlotte Madelon’s own experiences and the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, Lily is not a serious game but a socially engaged entertainment game to create awareness about this public health problem.
In september 2014 I started working on my graduation
project. This time I wanted to create a game with a systen (like
chess for example), instead of linear experience like ‘The Free Project’ or
The whole project turned out to be a failure but I learned some valuable lessons. I recorded every prototype and collected them in this ‘museum’. You can walk around freely or follow the line that will guide you along the design process.
I think I learned two things that can be used by other
1. Don’t start with the mechanics but
with the aesthetics.
I think my
biggest hurdle was practicing a design theory based on the Mechanics-Dynamics-Aesthetics
Framework. This theory argues that at the center of the game lie the mechanics,
which result in dynamics when you play the game. On top of this system, like a
coating, are the aesthetics. So to make a good game system and not a linear
experience, I thought I should start designing the mechanics first and lastly
understand now that the MDA Framework approach to making games is very academic
and (for me) not a practical one. A mechanic in itself, like moving, clicking,
jumping, opening, etc., doesn’t say that much. I believe the object (or world)
that is already designed by animations, colors or sounds, cultivate
mechanics that express your ideas, feelings or thoughts much better. Knowing
that a character for example doesn’t have any arms, will give you a lot of information
how this character behaves and what kind of mechanics will suit. Without arms
it is more difficult to keep balance. This could make the character constantly
look for balance or it could influence jumping and running around. Working from
only placeholders will give you abstract and general game mechanics, while
mechanics with a ‘personality’ will give you more substance and direction.
2. The player creates the composition.
design process you will encounter moments where it is unclear what you are
making and what to do next. My mistake, in that moment, was to do more research
and answer questions about the concept. This resulted in me constantly tweaking
and adding elements to the game. For example I added more objects inside and outside the drawer. I added rules to those object to scale, multiply, throw them or change their colors. Later I added a mirror to the game, which gave a new concept to the player. I added a neural network the player could design that added a whole new set of rules. I tried to guide the player by adding or tweaking architecture in the space.
took place at a theatre school and I learned to create games with a similar
view on how to make theatre, which is called dramaturgy. This study teaches
“about the dramatic composition and representation of the elements on the stage.”
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dramaturgy) Basically I learned how to ask the
question ‘why?’ a lot about every element in your work.
of a theatre play adds elements to the stage like characters, colors,
furniture, another sentence, light fall to high-light something, sound effects,
etc. Then he or she composes those elements in such a way to
make it understandable for the audience. There are ques for light, characters and music. The stage assets are chosen and placed in a position that explain a certain time period. Language can be used to explain a culture. The connections
between those elements are structured and this structure gives meaning. A character standing in the rain without an umbrella gives another meaning than a character standing in the rain wíth an umbrella. The connections, suggested by the creator, create meaning for the audience.
the experience is linear, these structures are mostly one-dimensional. As a game
designer, when you make a linear experience (like I did in ‘The Free Project’
or in Cover Me) you have a much bigger freedom to add and tweak elements in
your game and change the composition, without making the game too confusing for
players. During my
graduation project however, I wanted to create a system that was not linear
(like checkers for example). The connections between the elements in a system
are not structured by the designer but vary by the decisions of the player. In
a way, the player is making the composition. Therefore it is important to not
add too many elements because it can make the system very complex. If the
structure creates meaning and the player can create hundreds of structures, you
give the player a very messy and complicated experience.
the design practice from my theatre making peers, but did not yet fully
understand that the player is the one who makes to composition. Whenever I got
stuck in the design process, I took a step back and reflected on the concept.
It resulted in me changing and adding elements, which did not help to create a
better game. Looking back now, what I should have done in moments where I got
stuck, was to finish the game and play around to see the structures that would emerge
from the placed elements, whether I knew the meaning behind it or not.
Cover Me was made in 2013. It is an experimental, dreamy like game that wanders about the shaping and validation of things. You are a piano player walking to the stage. When you enter the curtains, things are starting to change. Objects appear, move, dissappear and eventually explode. My intention was to discover what was possible with Unity3D. My approach was to avoid conventional gameplay like using words, hints, score bars or pointers.
Justin & Dana is an interactive installation inspired by the story of Romeo and Juliet. Spectators are tempted to take part in the instrallation and thus influence color, sound and light.
What do you experience?
On december the 12th 2012, Dana Martin was arrested for plotting a murder targeting Justin Bieber. The obsessive fan with a tattoo of the young popstar on his leg, could not express his love in an other way than to kill him. Just like the dramatic story of Romeo and Juliet, in this tale love turns into death. How can you kill for love? In this project, the creators tried to find an answer to this question. What experiences someone when his love becomes an addiction and he or she gets stuck in a world of disillusionment and despair?
What is it?
Justin & Dana was made in 16 weeks by second year students Interactive Performance Design of the Utrecht School of Arts. Made with plastic strips and 200 LED lights we created a small space where two visitors can interact with the installation.
Meet the team
Charlotte Madelon: Content creator and project leader.