Posted on Leave a comment

The tomato skier game

Game design is fun actually much complex than imagined. Many people aspire becoming game designers assuming it’s super fun and easy when you play a lot of game. It probably helps, but it’s not enough. Let’s go through the example of designing the tomato surfer game. The tomato surfer game is the first level designed for our educational game Ready Veggie Fruity Go.

 I don’t pretend to be a professional game designer and provide an academic process. This entry is from my own experience as a curious game designer and developer. Which is made up of a long succession of hit and miss of various trials and experiments. A while ago, I was looking at the process of making cell animation.  Cell animation is the old school way of animation by drawing movements frame by frame; think of the old Disney films from the ’50s. This requires an awful lot of talent and time, and I still wanted to give a shot.

So I draw a running carrot, nine drawings of a running carrot to be precise; each picture showing body and limbs in a specific position that would flow naturally with the rest of the animation. I had a vegan theme game in mind and was in a phase of experimenting all sorts of carrot meals – hence the carrot choice. So here we are, a few hours later I had a carrot running.

cel animation of a hand drawn running carrot

I’ve put in on a game scene and started moving it on flat ground. First, I realised cell animation is not the way to go since the animation stutter, are very difficult to generate and flow naturally and takes a lot of time to produce.

Secondly, flat ground is.. well, flat and a bit boring. Having hills and obstacles would make it a bit more exciting. This is where I did some research on generating hills and bumps, with a hint of randomness to get a realistic rendering.

And so I started to generated hills and playing with physics properties until I had the idea of using slippery surface. This led to change the initial concept. I was changing the running carrot to a surfing tomato. I’ve picked up an quick example of a tomato on the net to play with while asking Sofie was elaborating her own a surfing tomato concept.

One of the first prototypes of the tomato surfer, with a 3d snowy slope

So I eventually had a surfing tomato sliding on a snowy slope in the breathy mountains to play with. Thanks to Sofie’s artist talents the concepts became beautiful and visually pleasant. The hand-drawn character and background started to come to like with lovey pastel colours and lively brushstrokes. Additional gears and features allow the character to come to life.

The tomato skier artistic concept

Now was the time to more fun and educational ingredients into the recipe. The idea of the game Ready Veggie Fruity Go is to play a fun game while learning words and letters. This concept was incorporated as a goal and incentive to play with the surfer.

This level is now is beta testing and includes the main features. Here’s a video of the end results.

Ready Veggie Fruity Go by Sofielafée – The Tomato Skier

Posted on Leave a comment

The maze, the puzzle and the riddle

You are probably ending up on this page looking for a solution of the maze posted our Instagram account @SofielafeeStudio. Congratulations this is the right place.  Here is the maze, the puzzle and the riddle.

So what? Why? How? Well I like maze. I like puzzles. I like riddles. 

And so I wanted to combine the three. That may create something interesting. 

The maze 

First let’s build a maze. There are so many different forms of mazes. I would stick to a simple design. 

There will be one entry, one exit or one goal, a series of passages and junctions; and only one successful path and no loop. This is what is called a standard or perfect maze. 

There are many approaches for creating a maze; and especially algorithms can generate layouts of perfect maze. This is brilliant and a quick way to experiment. 

Thanks to this Maze Generator website I could easily try out different shapes like rectangular, triangular, hexagonal or circular. And changes settings to play with the size and patterns.  

I’ve opted for the round maze. It looks pleasant and well balanced. So I’ve generated the below maze as template and layered some paint on top. 

The Maze layout only from Maze Generator
The Maze layout only from Maze Generator

The puzzle 

This is a simple puzzle really, I wanted to experiment with a grid layout on Instagram. The puzzle is a series of nine images displayed consecutively. They appear as a larger image when scrolling the account. 

I like the collage from wild bloom creative and I may try a similar one someday. See the grid-

The maze, the puzzle and the riddle on Instagram
The maze, the puzzle and the riddle on Instagram

The riddle 

The riddle has two aspects, first the quotes. They are all from animated films, mainly Pixar. This studio has so many inspiring stories, characters and graphics. 

Your mind is like water. When it is agitated it becomes difficult to see, but when you let it settle; the answer becomes clear.  – Oogway, Kung Fu Panda 

There is a whole lot more to racing than just winning. – Tex, Cars 

Nobody is entitled to anything. Anyone can become an artist; you just have to make a choice.  – Anton Ego, Ratatouille 

The only thing predictable about life is it’s unpredictability. – Ratatouille 

To infinity and beyond! -Lightbuzz, Toy Story 

As long as we are together; it doesn’t matter to me. – Marty, Madagascar 

‘Greater good?’ I am your wife! I’m the greatest good you’re ever gonna get! – Honey, Incredibles 

I never look back, darling. It distracts from the now – Edna Mode, Incredibles 

Thanks for the adventure. Now go have a new one. -Ellie, Up 

The second aspect is the solution that leads to the main quote.

The maze, the puzzle, the riddle and the quote

See this the full picture of the maze, painted and post-processed including the solution. 

The maze painted and post-processed including the solution - You were born an original, don't die a copy.

Now if you follow the trail of the puzzle, you can read this famous quote from John Mason. 

You were born an original, don’t die a copy. 

This encompasses the quotes above from Pixar, inspiring and spark self-reflection. Tada! The maze, the puzzle and the riddle.

l will experiment with other concepts. Stay tuned on Instagram @SofielafeeStudio and Facebook

If you know any interesting experiments with a maze, riddles, puzzles in social media I would be really excited if you could share them – use the comment section below. 

Posted on Leave a comment

Uploading Your Creations to Instagram from a MacBook

Instagram is so great for sharing visual art, illustrations, pictures or even selfies (!!) But.. Instagram has been designed to work on smartphone .. mostly! At Sofielafée we can be a bit old school and like working on iMac and MacBook. There are so many incredible tools to create and process images.

So wait a minute, how?

Yes you can. Well you could suggest to send images to a mobile phone and do the rest over there. Fair enough, but there is a more simple option. Four clicks.

Open the web browser Chrome and click on the 3 vertical dots on the upper right, more tools, developer tools

Click Responsive on the top and select any iPhone or iPad you ever wanted!

Ta-da! Instagram is now displayed like an iPhone and offer more functions. You can now upload images by clicking the plus button at the bottom.

You enjoy the below original illustration from Sofielafée? Send your love here or on Facebook

Posted on Leave a comment

A journey in game design for preschoolers

Why not creating a game for preschoolers? I will scribble about the experience of creating a homemade educational game.

Learning theory, game design, software development, this all can sound complicated; we all imagine games being created by a pack of highly skilled designers and developers working altogether in big studios. Few of them. Believe it or not there are many passionate independent developers willing to experiment personal creative experience. And why not getting original ideas out there.

The inception of an idea

Let’s go back to the beginning of the story. 

It’s late 2017. Winter is coming. Sofie, artist, graphic designer, had a creative impulse and spent several days drawing cute characters, colourful flowers, funny statements. Sketches and illustrations made up of watercolour, coloured pencils, felt-tip pens, photography, Photoshop, Illustrator, digital drawing. 

This little mouse with a spiky hat, checkered rocket, large ears and big smile looked amazing. Sofie pulled out Rocket Mouse out of her hat. This cute and funny mouse would be a great companion for toddler’s eager to learn and go on an outer space adventure.

Rocket Mouse Original Watercolour
Rocket Mouse in Watercolour

Learn and learn again

There’s a lot to do, I’d put Peaky Blinders, Game of Thrones and other series on hold for now; so I spent evenings reading blogs and watching videos about game design and game development. How to make a game? An interesting game. How to animate characters? How to interact with characters and their environment? Now to brand and give an identity to a game? The game had to be mobile, touch-based, easy to use, guided by narrative voices, pleasing to the eye, personal and fun. Colossal business.

As a matter of fact, we can all learn, learn anything. It takes time and might appear insurmountable. It may fail, it may work, it may be boring or exciting, but why not trying? Have you ever thought of creating your own game or animation?