Learning Agreement

For the Extended Major Project, I will be creating a 2D side-scrolling platform game inspired by the Japanese tradition of Hanami. Around the end of March every year year, it is customary for the Japanese to spend time outside enjoying Sakura or Cherry Blossoms, which bloom and fall within the space of one or two weeks. This period is a social time, where people gather to celebrate in parks and along streets where the cherry blossoms bloom. However, I was inspired by the return to normality which must occur at the end of these celebrations. Does the world feel calm again once the festivities end? Is there a sense of emptiness or loneliness when people return indoors, and the blossoms fall from the trees?

My game will be set in a Japanese themed world, just after a Hanami style celebration. The outside world will be vacant of people, but full of drifting blossoms. The object of the game will be to collect blossoms in order to progress through a series of levels. Levels will be unlocked when the player collects a certain amount of blossoms, and progression will be achieved by finding the pathway. Each level will have its own unique theme and colour-scheme, based around typical Japanese artefacts.

2D platform games prove ever popular with players of all ages. Recent releases such as Limbo, Super Meat Boy and Rayman Origins have all received critical acclaim while portraying the genre uniquely in each case. While each game adheres to the characteristics which result in this genre classification, differences in objectives, physics and visuals set each game apart. I also aim to produce a unique game in this way, with its own game rules and visual style.

The objective of this project is to provide a contemporary game based on more traditional methods of development. Backgrounds will be constructed from tile-sets, which were traditional used when technology was not advanced enough to handle large objects. 2D sprites will be used for characters and game objects, and frame-based animation will be used to make characters and objects move. I will be using a “pixel-art” graphical style for game elements and interfaces, inspired by traditional 8-bit styles. I will be looking to implement typical gameplay characteristics and functions specific to the “platformer” genre. The emphasis of this project will be on “play” and “player experience”, rather than in-depth narratives and complicated dialogue. While visuals are important in communicating the type of game being presented to the player, my main aim is to create an enjoyable game based on the way it is played.

I will produce all concept art for the game, which will mainly be based on hand-drawn sketches and digital paintings. The final game imagery will be created in pixel-art creation software Graphics Gale and Adobe Photoshop. My visual research will focus on found images of Japan, as well as common tile-sets and pixel-art techniques.

The game’s soundtrack and all sound effects will be provided by a separate individual or acquired from the internet. I will be using sites like freesound.org for royalty-free sound effects for the game.

All game elements will be brought together using Game Maker to create an executable for Windows. Within the software, I will be using Matt Thorson’s Grandma Engine, a physics template which has been designed for the development of 2D platformers. I will code all other aspects of the game using Game Maker’s GML (Game Maker Language).

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