Experimenting with Positivity
When given the opportunity (or drawn there through a decent sale), I love browsing the Unity Asset Store for hidden gems and innovative tech. Using new tools for the first time is both challenging and fun—especially when applying someone else’s code to existing scenarios and ongoing gameplay experiments.
Many times, the excitement from working with these new Unity assets leads to the experimental corners of a scene becoming something more than a mere tech demo. by adding a few visual effects and some inspirational music, there is usually a message to be shared, a metaphor to explore, or a beautiful distraction to be created.
The pandemic has caused a lot of fear, worries, and hardships across the globe. Kept apart from family & friends, I find that I am sometimes overwhelmed with empathy. Recognizing the hardships of others, I often feel responsible for paying forward the freedoms and opportunities I uniquely enjoy as an independent developer.
I believe that crafting overt reminders that we are not alone is important. Because one of the studio’s current game projects is a mixture of dark themes (with only brief glimmers of surreal bliss), I appreciate any opportunity to create short experiences that radiate positivity.
The inspiration for "Cooped Up" was derived directly from the destructive wall tech featured in the short video. Dropping their grid-like test arena into a previously-built nature scene set the stage for a sort of deconstructive bliss. As luck would have it, some particularly catch background music was already active in the scene, inspiring the destructive choreography.
Where There Is Hope
In the early throes of the pandemic, I toyed with the idea of collecting radiant spheres that could be launched to become stars in the sky. Riffing off this concept led to what essentially boiled down to an inspiration music video.
Using a dissolve shader, I was able to simulate a population disappearing upon contact, only to reappear after the player launches a single star into an empty cloudless sky. It was a simple concept with a moving piece of music, as bolstered by the sentimental reminders to connect with those you know and love.
Whether launching stars into the sky or blasting apart the walls that separate us, these brief experiments provided much-needed escapes from other more serious development. Intended as productive diversions, both also wound up inspiring major moments in the larger commercial projects. Here’s hoping future creative experimentation leads to similar results!
If the importance of positivity speaks to you, check out this list of industry motivators who inspire us daily to do our best work.