Charlotte Madelon

Rosa’s Garden

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A calm gardening game

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.

Developed by Charlotte Madelon
Audio created by Martin Mathiesen Kvale

Get it now on Google Play and the App Store!

Rosa’s Garden was one of the standout titles in the selection: an enigmatic game of growing, breeding and discovering new breeds of roses.” Big Boss Battle

“Rosa’ Garden is simply a beautiful, relaxing little game where you can learn a little about various famous women along the way.” Indie Games Plus

“Do I get to just sit back and enjoy good coloured weeds being chill and calming? Yes, yes I do.”  Rock Paper Shotgun

Fact check: I strive for accuracy and fairness. If you read something that isn’t correct, email me at contact@charlottemadelon.com!

You can download an older version of the game for pay-what-you-want on itch.io.

Lily

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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.

This game is based upon personal experiences and the Adverse Childhood Experience Study, to create awareness about this public health problem.

Find out more about the ACE study here: The Adverse Childhood Experience Study

Or listen how this new perspective on childhood trauma is solving this obscure problem: Ted-talk: How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris 

During Control Conference 2017 I gave a talk about the design process of Lily.

This video is a collection of all the prototypes.

Malm – a reflection on my design process

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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 Cover Me.

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.

Download the game here on itch.io

A short essay of reflection:

I think I learned two things that can be used by other developers.

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 the aesthetics.

I 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.

In every 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. 

My bachelor 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.

The creator 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.

Because 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.

I adapted 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

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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.

You can download Cover Me here on itch.io

Justin & Dana

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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

CharlotteMadelon

Charlotte Madelon: Content creator and project leader.JimStrolenberg

Jim Strolenberg: Project manager and audio designer. Visit: www.destromboli.nl RichardVanDeLagemaat

Richard van de Lagemaat: Hardware designer. Visit: www.re-code.eu RonaldWerkhoven

Ronald Werkhoven: Software designer. Visit: www.hyrne.nlSebastiaanHenssen

Sebastiaan Hensen: Interaction designer. Visit: www.sebastiaanhensen.weebly.com

‘The Free Project’

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My first game created in march 2012.  It is a very weird and trippy project made in Unity3D.It is a very weird and trippy project made in Unity3D.

Download the ‘The Free Project’ here on Itch.io

About me

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I am a game developer currently working and living in Utrecht, The Netherlands. My current projects are Rosa’s Garden, which I released in march 2019 on mobile, Lily, which I am still working on, and some smaller game projects. I work within the semi-collective/co-working space called the Boomhut.

In 2016 I graduated cum laude from the Utrecht School of Arts in the bachelor Interactive Performance Design. In recent years I have focused on creating games as an indie game developer, with funding from the Creative Industries NL and the municipality Utrecht. My work has been exhibited at multiple festivals like the EGX Leftfield Collection, Day of the Devs and the European Showcase at GDC.

Recently I also started to organize Women in Games meetups, monthly meetups for our collective and occasionally a small games exhibition in Utrecht.

Right now I am looking for work! For a job anything in 3D modelling or Unity3d would suit, remote, located, freelance, part-time or fulltime. But I am also interested in organizing a games exhibition or other meetups or festival related stuff. Feel free to contact me if you think I can do something for you!

E-mail: contact@charlottemadelon.com

Twitter: @CharlieMadelon