Jumpy Paws… ¿Por qué dos juegos?

En los últimos meses, hemos decidido transformar nuestro juego Jumpy Paws. Pasará de ser un juego casual, móvil y Free to Play (se descarga gratis) a ser dos juegos: uno premium (se paga una sola vez) para PC y uno móvil más simple. ¿Por qué tomamos esta decisión? En los siguientes párrafos divagaré un poco al respecto y espero poder explicar la respuesta en el camino… 😀

Jumpy Paws, el comienzo…

Cuando comenzamos a desarrollar Jumpy Paws, no teníamos realmente muy claro qué es lo que queríamos hacer con él. Comenzamos centrándonos en el mercado móvil porque, en mi ignorancia, me pareció que era algo más “simple” de desarrollar en 6-8 meses.

Obtuve el primer financiamiento de Gobierno en Julio 2018 y la idea era generar un MVP en 6 meses. Dado que ni mi equipo ni yo teníamos experiencia, decidimos hacer un juego móvil Free to Play. Ahora, 2 años y medio más tarde, creo que no fue la más sabia decisión.

¡Mírenlo! Tan feliz 😀

El proyecto ha cambiado MUCHO si comparamos el MVP creado en 2018 con el producto que tenemos ahora. Cambió el nombre, el equipo y los objetivos. El diseño ha pasado por muchas modificaciones también… Y nosotros, como equipo fundador, hemos llegado a la conclusión de que los juegos móviles Free to Play no están cerca de lo que queremos hacer o hacia donde queremos avanzar.

Tuvimos esta conversación antes durante el desarrollo, pero creo que en ese entonces la idea de hacia dónde quería ir con Raincup Games no estaba tan clara en mi cabeza. Ahora, después de conocer el mercado un poco más, lo entiendo mejor.

Cuando el Free to Play no es para ti

La principal razón para escapar del modelo Free to Play es el contenido. Los juegos F2P necesitan tener contenido virtualmente infinito. No se puede mantener a los jugadores interesado en tu juego si solo les ofreces 2 horas de gameplay. Esto se vuelve aún más importante si te bases en ganancias por compras dentro de la aplicación (IAP). Un juego como Jumpy Paws necesita que los jugadores AMEN a los personajes y también la experiencia de juego para que quieran invertir dinero en personalizaciones y cosas como esas.

También está el hecho de que el modelo F2P en sí mismo no es algo que nos guste. Después de definir una ruta orientada a los recién descubiertos conceptos de “cozy games” y “wholesome games”, no se siente como que el F2P sea el camino correcto para Raincup Games.

Esto, por supuesto, no es una crítica a todos aquellos que hacen juegos geniales en el formato Free to Play. Es un tema de gustos y también capacidades.

Conoce tus debilidades

Desde el comienzo fue evidente para mi que hacer niveles para este tipo de juego no es mi fuerte. Y me costó mucho crear los niveles básicos que serían parte del primer MVP. Gran parte de esto se debía a mi falta de experiencia y conocimiento en temas de level design; otra parte se debe al hecho de que no soy una jugadora hardcore de juegos plataformers, por lo tanto no tengo tan presentes los elementos necesarios para crear uno increíble.

Por otro lado, también está el hecho de que el juego que yo tenía en mi mente cuando comenzó el proyecto era muy diferente al que estábamos haciendo en el momento en que me puse a hacer niveles. Pero sin duda uno de los principales problemas que tuve que enfrentar era mi muy fuerte auto crítica. Nunca estuve feliz con algún nivel hecho por mí. Por supuesto los primeros… no sé, ¿100? niveles que hice eran realmente malos… Pero después de eso algunas cosas buenas aparecieron. Sin embargo, para mi nunca fueron suficientes. Y así me atrapé a mi misma en un círculo vicioso de hacer y re-hacer niveles una y otra vez…

Captura de pantalla de Jumpy Paws.

He logrado aceptar mis niveles más ahora y también me propuse dejar de apuntar a “la perfección”, dado que eso es algo que realistamente nunca se logra. Pero de todas formas, la velocidad en que puedo crear niveles hoy en día no está ni cerca de la velocidad requerida para generar contenido para un juego Free to Play.

Siendo Raincup una empresa pequeña y sin contar con financiamiento, me es finalmente muy claro que el Free to Play no es el camino a seguir para nosotros. No me malentiendan, hacer un juego de PC tampoco es una tarea simple. Pero creo que es más aceptado presentar un juego corto y bien pulido, mientras tenga un precio justo. Y así es como se puede entregar una buena y corta experiencia a quienes se interesen en ella.

Y de esta forma la idea de separar el contenido y transformarlo en dos juegos llegó a mi mente. De cierta manera, parece ser la respuesta a una de mis mayores preocupaciones durante el desarrollo… La molesta idea de estar haciendo un juego muy diferente al que realmente quiero hacer.

Los juegos que Raincup Games quiere hacer

Nunca fue mi idea hacer un “clon” o un juego “fuertemente inspirado” en Donkey Kong, sin elementos narrativos y con mecánicas F2P, apuntando a explotar la ternura del perrito con el fin de extraer el dinero de los jugadores. Por tanto, la idea de tomar todo el contenido de exploración y plataformas y transformarlo en un juego corto para PC, con un hilo conductor narrativo y sin la presión de tener que hacer a los jugadores “adictos” resulta MUY atractiva.

Por otro lado, había otros elementos a considerar: ya habíamos desarrollado un módulo con generación procedural para el módulo de endless runner que agregamos a Jumpy Paws hace poco; además la experiencia móvil siempre ha resultado muy atractiva para jugadores muy jóvenes (entre 5-10 años de edad) y también estaba la idea de la Mascota Virtual que había sido dejada de lado.

Así todo parecía calzar perfectamente. Al menos en mi mente 🙂 Y así, Jumpy Paws se transformó en dos juegos.

¡Jumpy Paws, la franquicia! (jajaj)

Jumpy Paws – World Adventures es la versión para PC. Con niveles hechos a mano y una historia simple para guiar al jugador.

Jumpy Paws – Run & Pet es la versión móvil. Una mezcla de mascota virtual con endless runner. Nuestro ideal es no usar ni publicidad ni compras en la aplicación, por lo tanto estamos pensando subscripción o incluso el modelo premium. Aún estamos decidiéndolo. Pero nos gustaría alejarnos lo más posible del modelo F2P.

Esta historia, por supuesto, no ha terminado aún y continuamos trabajando muy duro para descubrir si esta decisión es la correcta o no. Agregar el módulo de mascota virtual ha sido mucho trabajo extra también, especialmente para el Departamento de Arte… Pero tengo confianza en que valdrá la pena hacer los esfuerzos necesarios para generar un (o dos) producto(s) que nos enorgullezca(n).

Si quieren saber más acerca the Jumpy Paws y su desarrollo, visiten el sitio web oficial 🙂

https://www.playjumpypaws.com

Jumpy Paws… Why two games now?

During the last months, we decided to transform our game Jumpy Paws from a mobile casual Free to Play title to two games: a PC one and a simpler mobile one. Why did we reach this decision? I’ll rant about it during the next paragraphs and hopefully explain the answer in the process… 😀

Jumpy Paws, the beginning…

When we first started developing Jumpy Paws we didn’t really have a clear idea of what we wanted to do with it. We started aiming at mobiles because, in my ignorance, I thought that was a “simpler” project to develop in 6-8 months.

I got my first Government funding on July 2018 and the idea was to develop the MVP in 6 months. Given that I didn’t have any experience and neither did my team, we decided to go for mobile free to play. Now, 2.5 years later, I think it wasn’t the wisest decision.

Look at him go! So happy 😀

The project has changed A LOT if we compare the MVP developed on 2018 to the one we have now. Name changed, team changed and goals also changed. The design has gone through a lot of modifications as well… And we, as the founder team, have come to the conclusion that mobile free to play is nowhere near what we want to do or where we want to move towards.

We discussed this earlier during development as well, but I think that the idea of where I wanted to go with Raincup Games wasn’t so clear in my mind back then. Now, after getting to know the market a little more, I understand it better.

Not fitted for Free to Play

The main reason for running away from F2P is content. Free to play games need virtually endless content. You cannot keep your players engaged and interested in your game if you only have 2 hours of gameplay. This is even more important if you rely on IAP revenue. A game like Jumpy Paws needs players to LOVE the characters and the experience in order to decide investing money in customization and things like that.

There’s also the fact that the F2P model in itself is not something we have come to like. After steering the wheel towards the new-found concepts of cozy and wholesome games, it doesn’t feel like the right path for Raincup Games to follow.

This is not a critique to everyone making great game for Free to Play, of course. It’s just a matter of tastes and also abilities.

Know your weaknesses

Right from the beginning, it became apparent for me that making levels was not one of my strong points. And I struggled a lot creating the basic levels to be part of the MVP. Big part of that is my lack of experience and level design knowledge; other part of it is the fact that I’m not a hardcore platformer player so I don’t know as well all the elements that make a platformer great.

There’s also the fact that the game I had in my mind when starting the project was very different from the one we were developing at the time of me making levels. But one of the main problems I had to face was my own self criticism. I was never happy with the levels I made. Of course, the first… dunno 100? levels I made were reaaaally bad… But then some good things appeared. I, however, never judged them worthy. And so I was stuck in an endless spiral of making and remaking the first levels over and over…

Jumpy Paws screenshot.

I’ve managed to accept my levels more right now and also stopped trying to reach “perfection” as that is something that will never be achieved in reality. However, the rate at which I can create levels is still nowhere near the rate needed to generate content for a Free to Play title.

Being Raincup a small team, with no budget I finally understood that Free to Play is not the way to go. Don’t get me wrong, making a PC game is not an easy task either, but I think it’s more accepted to present a short well polished title, asking for a fair price and deliver a sweet and short experience for those interested.

And that’s how the idea of separating the content appeared in my mind. In a way, it was the answer to one of the greatest concerns I’d had during the development… The annoying idea of being making a different game from the one I really wanted to make.

The games Raincup Games wants to make

I didn’t want to make a Donkey Kong “clone” or “heavily inspired” game, with no narrative whatsoever and Free to Play mechanics, aiming to exploit the puppy’s cuteness in order to suck money from players. So, the idea of taking all the exploration and platformer content and making it a short PC game, with a narrative spine and no pressure to keep users “addicted” to it was REALLY attractive.

On the other hand, there were some points to be considered: we had also developed some procedural content in the endless runner module we added to the original mobile Jumpy Paws, the mobile experience has always worked really well with very young players (5-10 years old) and also there was the original Virtual Pet idea that had also been left behind.

So everything seemed to fall perfectly into place. At least in my mind 🙂 And just like that, Jumpy Paws became two games.

Jumpy Paws, the franchise! (lol)

Jumpy Paws – World Adventures is the PC version. With hand-crafted levels and a simple story to guide the player.

Jumpy Paws – Run & Pet is the mobile version. A virtual pet – endless runner mash-up. We aim not to have IAP or ads so subscription or even premium could be the way to go. Still deciding on this one. But we want to stay away from the Free to Play model as much as possible.

This story is not over, of course, and we continue to work hard in order to discover if this decision is a good one or not. Adding the virtual pet mode has also been a lot of extra work, specially for the Art Department… But I’m confident it will be worth it as we are making all the efforts to generate a (or two) product(s) that will make us proud.

If you want to find out more about Jumpy Paws and its development, consider visiting the official website 🙂

https://www.playjumpypaws.com

Also, our social networks. We publish a lot of sneak peaks there!

Women Game Jam (español)

Nota: también pueden ver la versión en Inglés de este artículo aquí.
Note: to see the English version of the article check here.

La semana pasada tuve la oportunidad de participar en la Women Game Jam 2020. Me uní a la versión chilena, pero dado las circunstancias sanitarias mundiales, la Jam se hizo online por lo que tuvimos la opción de ser parte de una experiencia internacional.

Women Game Jam Chile en Facebook

El crear más juegos y ganar más experiencia puliendo mis habilidades de diseño de juegos es uno de mis principales objetivos para los meses venideros. Con eso en mente, participar en Jams se ha vuelto un tema de mucho interés para mí últimamente. Nunca había participado en un jam antes ¡así que está fue mi primera experiencia! Y resultó ser una bastante atípica, por lo demás.

Experiencia Personal

Parte del desafío que me puse a mí misma en esta aventura fue hacer el juego yo sola, usando solo assets de la tienda de Unity para completar las habilidades de arte y sonido que le faltarían a mi equipo unipersonal.

La Jam empezó el mismo día de mi cumpleaños, por lo que asistí a los eventos de inauguración pero no pude realmente quedarme a respirar la emoción del primer día. Sí pude escuchar el tema y, luego, mi familia me acompañó a una pequeña sesión de lluvia de días como parte de la celebración de cumpleaños 🙂

Inner Colors – ¡mi juego para la Jam!

El tema: juntas aunque separadas

Tuve suerte y el tema me permitió explorar un concepto que había tenido en mente por un tiempo antes de la Jam y, aunque salieron algunas opciones bastante entretenidas de la lluvia de ideas, el concepto que finalmente usé fluyó naturalmente hacia mi mente ¡así que no me quedó más que hacerlo!

Así es como nació Inner Colors, aunque no tenía ese nombre al comienzo. En este juego, exploré la idea de re-encontrarse con tu niña interior, la cual puede parecer distante (en el tiempo) pero en realidad siempre está ahí para ti si realmente quieres comunicarte con ella.

Mi visión del tema y cómo lo enfrenté

Como aspirante a diseñadora y desarrolladora de juegos, he llegado a comprender la importancia de la creatividad. Como Ingeniera Informática, constantemente siento que mi creatividad está dormida o casi atrofiada para dar espacio a que el lado lógico y analítico del cerebro tome protagonismo. Por tanto, en el camino hacia reconectar con mi propia creatividad, he llegado a apreciar los locos e incluso ridículos mundos que yo misma, cuando niña, creaba y disfrutaba. Hay muy pocos momentos en la vida en los que se llega a ser más creativo que cuando somos niños. Los niños no saben de restricciones, disfrutan de las cosas más simples y son capaces de crear mundos enteros a partir de un simple osito de peluche o muñeca Barbie.

He recordado esto últimamente en especial al ver a mi sobrina jugar e inventar sus propias historias. Yo, por supuesto también fui así alguna vez, como cualquiera que esté leyendo esto. Esa creatividad y la libertad de pensar en ideas sin criticarlas o desecharlas en cuanto nacen es una característica infantil que considero fundamental para desarrollar una carrera creativa como adulta.

Inner Colors

Este es un tema mucho más profundo, pero logré pensar en una forma simple de expresarlo en un juego corto. Inner Colors es la historia de Kira, una mujer adulta cuya vida se ha vuelto monótona y gris, hasta que un día algo le hace click, su salud no le permite seguir trabajando al ritmo que lo ha hecho hasta ahora y colapsa a causa del exceso de stress.

Entonces decide (o le aconsejan) visitar a su abuela en el campo donde podrá descansar y disfrutar de la naturaleza. Ella además solía visitar a su abuela cuando era pequeña para pasar los veranos ahí, jugando e inventando historias mágicas.

Ese es más menos el prólogo no contado. El resto del juego se trata del viaje, ligeramente mágico, que Kira vivirá al recordar sus historias de niñez, reparando lugares icónicos del paisaje y reconectándose con su niña interior.

Esto es condimentado con algunas mecánicas audiovisuales tales como la “visión con ojos de niña” que está disponible una vez que ella acepta la naturaleza mágica de la experiencia que está viviendo. Esta habilidad cambia drásticamente los colores y música para emular la forma en que la versión niña de Kira vería el mundo. Por otro lado, la mecánica principal del juego es recolectar objetos para reparar edificios e instalaciones.

Visión de niña vs. visión de adulta

Cómo salió todo…

El resultado final está lejos de ser perfecto, como cualquier juego hecho en una jam. Sin embargo, estoy bastante orgullosa de él por varias razones. Primero y sobretodo, porque me atreví a entrar a una jam y pude completar de manera existosa el juego y presentarlo en la jam.

Segundo, porque pude crear una experiencia completa de la nada. Comenzando por un concepto y transformándolo en una historia interactiva. Para mí, ¡ese es un gran paso! Especialmente considerando que mi principal interés está en crear juegos narrativos que dejen un mensaje profundo y memorable.

Y finalmente, pude poner a prueba mis habilidades técnicas de manera exitosa. Decidí probar nuevas herramientas tales como FMod para la música y sonidos y Yarn Spinner para los diálogos y pude crear algo realmente robusto con ellas en un corto tiempo. También pude palpar cuánto he avanzado en mis habilidades como desarrolladora en Unity y cuánto he aprendido hasta ahora, algo que no es tan claro cuando se trabaja en el mismo juego por mucho tiempo. Esta vez, pude comenzar un proyecto de cero y generar un juego para PC en menos de una semana 😀

Usando Yarn Spinner para los diálogos.

Y… ¿qué viene ahora?

Sigo entusiasmada por toda las cosas que pude lograr y las que podré lograr en el futuro y en Jams futuros. Sin embargo, me estoy esforzando por no dejar de lado el desarrollo de Jumpy Paws ahora que se acercan importantes hitos muy rápidamente.

También puede que en el futuro escriba algunos artículos sobre temas más técnicos de los aprendidos en la Jam.

Gracias por leer y quedan invitados a jugar Inner Colors en itch.io y dejar su opinión. La traducción en inglés estará disponible pronto 🙂

Inner Colors by raincupgames

Women Game Jam

Note: given this game jam is mainly focused in Latin American game devs, I also posted this article in Spanish. For the Spanish version please check here.
Nota: dado que esta game jam está enfocada principalmente a desarrolladora latinoamericanas, escribí la versión en Español de este artículo. Pueden encontrarla aquí.

Last week I had the chance to participate in the Women Game Jam 2020. I joined the Chilean chapter but, given the global health circumstances, the Jam itself was online so we had the chance to be part of an international experience.

Women Game Jam Chile Facebook Page

Creating more games to gain more experience and polish my game design skills is one of my main goals for the coming months. In that spirit, participating in Jams has become a strong topic of interest lately. I had never participated in one before, so this was my first experience! And a very atypical one as well.

Personal Experience

Part of the challenge I set to myself on this quest was to make the game on my own as a solo developer, using assets from the Unity Asset Store to fill the art and sound gaps my 1-person-team had.

The Jam started the same day I was celebrating my birthday, so I attended the inauguration events but couldn’t really stay to breath the excitement of the first day. I got to hear the jam theme, however, and my family joined me in a little brainstorm session while celebrating my birthday 🙂

Inner Colors – my WGJ submission!

The theme: together even apart

Luckily, the theme allowed me to explore a topic I had had in mind for some time prior and although I got very fun ideas from the brainstorming, the concept naturally filled my mind so I had to do it!

That’s how Inner Colors was born, although it didn’t have that name at the beginning. In this game I explored the concept of reuniting with your inner child, that may seem distant (in time) but is actually always there if you really want to reach it.

My view on the theme and how I tackled it

As an aspiring game designer and developer, I’ve come to understand how important creativity is. As a software engineer, I constantly feel that my creativity has fallen asleep in order to let the logical and analytical side of my brain dominate. So in my journey to reconnect with my creativity, I’ve come to appreciate the crazy and even ridiculous worlds that I, as a child, created and enjoyed. There are very few moments in life where you can be more creative than as a child. Children know no boundaries, enjoy the simplest things and are able to create complete worlds from a simple teddy bear o Barbie doll.

I’ve remembered this lately watching my niece play and invent stories. I, of course, was like that as well as everyone probably was. That creativity and freedom to think of ideas and don’t criticize them the second they are born is a child’s trait that I consider fundamental to develop a creative career as an adult.

Inner Colors

It is a much deeper topic, but I thought of a simple way of expressing it in a short game. Inner Colors features Kira, an adult woman whose life has become very monotonous and gray until one day something clicks inside of her, her health doesn’t allow her to continue working as hard as she is used to and she has some kind of burnout event.

She decides (or is advised) to go visit her grandmother where she will be able to rest and enjoy nature. She used to visit her grandma when she was a child and spend the summer there, playing and inventing magical stories in the fields.

That’s kind of the half-untold prologue. The rest of the game is about the journey, a slightly magical one, Kira will experience remembering her childhood stories, repairing some important landmarks and reconnecting with her inner child.

This is spiced with some visual mechanics such as a “child lenses view” that becomes available once she embraces the magical nature of her experience. This skill drastically changes the colors and music to emulate the way the child version of Kira would see the world. Also, the game main mechanic is collecting some items in order to repair some buildings.

Changing between “Child view” and “Adult view”.

How did it go…

The final result is far from perfect, of course, as any jam game is. However, I’m very proud of it for several reasons. First and foremost, I dared to enter a jam and was able to successfully complete it and deliver my game to it.

Second, I could create a complete experience from scratch. Starting from a concept and transforming it into an interactive story. To me, this is a big step! Specially considering that my main interest is in creating narrative games that deliver a deep memorable message.

And lastly, I was able to put my technical skills to test and successfully passed that test. I decided to try new tools such as FMod for music and Yarn Spinner for dialogues and could create something really robust with them in very short time. I was also able to see how much of Unity game dev I’ve learnt up to this point, something that wasn’t so clear while working on the same game for a long time. This time, I could start a project from zero and deliver a PC game in less than a week 😀

Using Yarn for dialogues.

And… what’s next?

I’m still excited for all the things I could accomplish and the things I think I will be able to accomplish in the future or in future game jams. However, I’m working hard not to leave Jumpy Paws development behind as a milestone is coming to me very quickly!

I might also post some dev blogs on more of the technical stuff I learnt later 😉

Thanks for reading and please check Inner Colors at itch.io. The English translation will be available soon 🙂

Inner Colors by raincupgames

Atypical Soundtrack Design

A second aspect that has been relevant in my Death Stranding experience is music. To me, music is one of the main aspects in life and in games as well. Almost all of my most memorable experiences with games, movies or series are highly tied to the music that was playing in that moment. I have a tendency to relate songs to experiences in life, to people and to game situations. I exercise this mostly as another source of fun as it gives me great pleasure to find a song with lyrics that fit perfectly the story or moment in a game I’m playing. Death Stranding however, is very particular on its way of using music and, therefore, I think it features an atypical soundtrack design.

GameSpot

Just like in a movie, musical moments in this game are carefully crafted by Kojima (or the designers in general). The game has, in my opinion, an incredible soundtrack. It introduced to me the wonderful band Low Roar which is right in the middle of my kind of favorite music but for some reason hadn’t appeared on my Spotify radar so far. And this incredible soundtrack is meant to be another character in the story. Key songs make their appearance in key moments to create a more deep and lasting memory of those events. “The first time I reached X place this song played…” “When Y happened to Z character this perfectly related song played and it was incredible” (even more so if we consider some end-game spoiler events). This is, of course, a very effective technique for people like me who enjoy relating songs with events. It means however, that all the rest of the playtime happens in absence of music (except for the diegetic music played by the structures, if customized that way).

Obviously the emotional impact of the first time we hear “Don’t be so Serious” would fade away if I played it 24-7 on every moment of my sometimes annoying travels. Also, I guess this aims to help getting a better immersion and a somewhat more realistic feel of the world. As someone in a GDC talk said, when we walk into a room in real life, no matter how dramatically we do it, an orchestral soundtrack doesn’t play that exact moment to enhance the experience (although it could and it would be awesome!)

wccftech

I learnt to live with this concept in another great game I experienced a couple of years ago: Zelda Breath of the Wild. A lot has been said about this masterpiece and I can only say I really love it. But something that disappointed many and certainly surprised me was the soundtrack choice. Previous titles of Zelda had such incredible soundtracks and memorable songs that it was hard for me to imagine a Zelda game with a soundtrack such as the one BOTW features. However, once you get immersed in that world and you really “breath the wild” it becomes apparent that this was the way to go. I don’t think the players could have felt the freedom and wildness of trekking or exploring such a vast world if a classic Zelda soundtrack had played during the whole time. This is not to say that BOTW doesn’t have great music tracks. Just like Death Stranding, the songs that are really present in the game are so good that they leave you wishing you could hear them in other moments as well, at least in my opinion.

I heard rumors about people eager to build mods for Death Stranding PC version that would include a music player to take with you at all times. I agree and also would love to have something like this, but I’m curious about how this would affect the overall experience.

Are there any memorable soundtracks you always go back to? Are there some games that would have been better without constant music?

Social Interaction: in-game vs. real-world

Some months ago the cyberbullying topic was very present in my mind because a Japanese female wrestler, Hanna Kimura, committed suicide after being attacked on social networks for her behavior in the Japanese reality show Terrace House. My husband and I had started watching said reality show on Netflix as a way of discovering more about Japanese culture, which I like a lot. We were watching the very same season that featured Hanna and were only some episodes behind when the news struck. We were very shocked about it and it felt really sad and bad to have been part of the “fan base” that created this toxic environment for someone reaching to that point where people wished her to be death an such…

Cyberbullying is something we as individuals know exists although sometimes it even surprises us when you encounter very aggressive people on Twitter or Facebook. However, we have never been the target of such hatred and have never been part of a community that actively practices it. That’s why it was such a shock to inadvertently being part of a community of viewers that created this kind of damage for someone we saw on tv a couple of weeks prior.

Communities as a mirror of games’ values

This abuse and aggressive behavior is, of course, very common among gaming communities. Part of the main reasons that the authors of this article mention as an interesting reason to create cozier games is the fact that “better” communities emerge from them. People are more considerate and nice with each other as they tend to extrapolate the main values the game requires to their online relationship with others.

Game Revolution – ”I Was Relentlessly Nice to Overwatch’s ‘Toxic’ Community and Here’s What Happened”

This, as everything in life, has exceptions and some well-known cozy games representatives sometimes have rotten apples. I’ve seen this with Animal Crossing. Being a new player in the franchise I haven’t experienced the other games and I also haven’t been part of the communities around them. Now I follow many Animal Crossing related twitter accounts and it has surprised me to see how there are some practices that really defeat the purpose of the game’s social aspect and go against every principle of a cozy community. Things such as: people visiting other islands just to destroy someone else’s “property”, scammers on twitter offering fake things or just attracting attention to insult AC players and, finally, the “experienced” players that know the franchise very deeply and constantly complain against how boring the events are, how Nintendo didn’t release “a complete game” delivering updates the players “deserved earlier” and many other things.

This just comes to show that the coziest of games can also attract toxic players. However, in my opinion, it’s always worth it to go the extra mile and make an effort to build a nicer community instead of just encouraging everyone to be jerks against each other.

I’m also part of a Death Stranding group on Facebook where the topic of toxic communities and highly competitive users has been mentioned more than once. People on that group are always amazed by the supportive and nice community the game generates and how everyone is there rooting for each other, never competing or bragging. As I mentioned, this is other of the key aspects about Cozy games according to the literature I’ve read and it’s another point to the Death Stranding as a cozy experience “crazy” theory.

Every game is a social game

Finally, for me, games have always been a source of social interaction even when they are single player completely offline. And this is because I’ve always shared the gaming experience with my family. First, it was my sister who has always liked to sit next to me, watch as I play and help with strategies and plans to solve puzzles and such. At some point my father and mother were also involved, as the jokes and experiences we live in games have always trascended to the rest of our life and those who are close to us cannot ignore that fact. Right now my mom is part of the key audience together with my sister. I normally play story-heavy RPG or ARPG games that are completely suitable to be shared as a movie. My mom and sister would sit next to me and we would comment the events in the game as if it were a very long and interactive (for me) movie. During quarantine, this became a streaming where Death Stranding is the star and we get amazed together by the surprising plot twists and exciting events that occur (even if it’s with a little delay or lag).

Characters and specially main characters always become part of our family, we joke about them in different moments of life, love some more than others, sometimes someone even loves the villains or hates one of the main party characters. Now, my husband is also part of the jokes and the events that occur in each game are always part of the daily conversation equivalent to the “how was your day” dynamic.

This way of sharing games is just another instance of the more common statement about a game only being fun when played with friends or online. In the end it’s not always about the literal social interaction in games, but how you perceive it or generate it outside of them.

MMORPGs use this to their advantage a lot. Just to quote an example, I remember how Maple Story had a very notorious social aspect where people would go online only to sit on a chair in the middle of a city and talk to their friends or meet new people. Leveling up or completing quests was completely irrelevant to them.

All that meta gaming has always been part of the experience for me where memorable in-game events always become a strong experience that me and my family share. This is another aspect in which games become a social and sometimes even bonding experiences depending of the type of player you are.

Social Coziness in Games

As I mentioned in previous posts, lately I have been interested in the topic of Cozy Games and coziness in general. At the same time, I have been actively playing two games: Death Stranding and Animal Crossing. While these activities could appear almost ironic and hugely different from one another, I have been surprised to discover how they do not differ that much.

Coziness Using Social Mechanics

It’s a given fact that Death Stranding doesn’t emphasizes or centers around coziness. If we consider the main ideas behind Tanya Short’s bible on Cozy Games, most of the points that prevent a game from giving that vibe are present in Kojima-san’s latest creation. There are very few safe spots or places the player could feel like home, most of the environment is always dangerous, and things only tend to get worse the more we continue advancing on the story.

However, there is another aspect on this that has caught my attention: the subtle social interactions that the game promotes. It’s not a MMO game, nor a multiplayer game, in fact you (almost) never see another soul while travelling through the vast and barren locations, however the game has its own techniques to always make you feel supported by the rest of players. It uses a system based on “likes” and the world has turned into some kind of huge social network where even the dopamine generated by the social approval of the rest has its own name. And for those of us who are not such fans of social networks this may sound a little ridiculous, however the effects this has in the gameplay are very interesting and set the mood for the creation of very wholesome communities many cozy games could envy.

Polygon

Just like in Animal Crossing, an important part of the daily routine is socializing with your neighbors and building the best island for them (and for you), Death Stranding encourages you to establish connections with other mostly anonymous players and build in-game structures that will eventually make the road less painful for the others (and for you as well). One of these days I spent most of my playtime building the ultimate zip line network to connect all the last location preppers (trying hard no to spoiler here). This meant a lot of time and effort, many very annoying fallings on Sam’s part and BB’s crying but when it was finished it was totally worth it. And, ironically, the feeling I got when I traversed the difficult terrains mostly flying through endless zip lines was remarkably similar to the one I get when I finally finish fulfilling my Animal Crossing’s island vision.

Reddit

These social interactions are obviously highly encouraged by the game, which gifts you “likes” (one of the game’s most desirable collectibles) every time other players follow your paths, use your structures or deliver cargo you lost on a dreadful BT encounter. That awesome feeling of being useful and approved by a lot of strangers that during their playtime will be grateful for your contributions as you are of the ones that built some roads before you, is another kind of reward not directly related to the story or your progress in it but arguably equally important.

Anonymous Social Interactions

This kind of social interactions has greatly interested me ever since I played Journey. I tried this game with no prior information or investigation about it, and therefore my first playthrough was a complete exploration and discovery experience, I met some people along the way and up to the last moment I was completely sure those people where NPCs carefully placed there by the developers. When the credits rolled in and the list of other players, I met along the way appeared it was a complete experience changer for me. Now, after having made some research on the topic, this feeling reminds me of the concept of Kishoutenketsu, the narrative technique where one of the steps is about the Surprise or Twist element. There are great resources (such as this and of course this) that explain this thoroughly but one of the definitions states that the surprise element is meant to provoke a different point of view on all the story retroactively. Learning that the other characters I saw along the way were real people, and their support to finishing each level was someone else’s legit effort to help me/us, was really what I remember most fondly about this great game.

Softpedia

I feel Death Stranding implements this is a AAA kind of way, with a lot more content to support the concept but aspiring to reach the same emotional connection.

There is something very human about being alone in a dystopic world working to make it a better place for the rest. Regardless of the real motivations of the main character, many players (me among them) make it their personal mission to finish building ALL of the roads, fixing every useful structure and making the world a better place not only in a figurative way but also for the other human being that is experiencing the same as you.

Are these unusual social interactions something that evoke coziness for you when playing a game? Are there other fundamentally anti-cozy games you feel at home with?

Raincup Games and Coziness

Cozy Games

The first time I heard the term cozy games was very recently, when someone mentioned it associated with Animal Crossing. I entered the world of Animal Crossing very recently as well, being New Horizons my first one in the franchise. And I can totally picture the meaning of cozy games if I think about Animal Crossing and its core mechanics.

According to the literature found about cozy games, a key point about its design is the concept of wellness and abundance; the feeling of being safe and comfortable in a place that belongs to you. This is achieved, for example, via personalization, music or ambiance in general. Although the concept was unknown for me, it turns out to be pretty close to what we expected “Raincup” to represent.

Animal Crossing knows best.

The Raincup Concept

Raincup is a made up word that comes from “teacup” + “rain” and it’s meant to evoke that cozy feeling of staying at home, playing your favorite game and entering a completely different world full of adventures while it’s raining or at least cold outside. Raincup was also founded during our country’s winter (July) and for us – since we don’t get any snow because we live by the sea – winter is more about rain. That has changed over the years, though, and every year we get less and less rain… 🙁

At Raincup we aim to create games that represent a memorable experience and that make people feel good. We have nothing against war themed games or games where the main goal is to kill or defeat other people, however it’s not our cup of tea (shameful pun intended). What we want to create goes more along the lines of “nice games”, if there is such a thing… And cozy games is a concept that surprisingly includes many things that we would like to present to our players.

Our first game, however, is not so close to the editorial line that we have in mind. Being a mobile free to play, its design strayed away a little from this emotion evoking goal we are talking about. Nevertheless, we have worked hard to keep it as close to those concepts as possible, featuring a cute character, delivering the experience of exploring and also including a safe space where the coziness is the star.

Our Future

In the future, we want our games to have a stronger narrative component and specially, to deliver a memorable emotion. That could be accomplished by having a great story or through gameplay. As I mentioned before, the cozy game concept has a lot of possibilities to deliver this cozy feeling; possibilities we are exploring in order to help us better define and better design our next project.

As a new company, we are in the stage of defining our personality, so to speak, what we want to be recognized and remember for, what style of games we want to specialize in, what platforms are the best to accomplish these goals, etc. It’s a long process and this quarantine months have really favored the reflection of our team about it.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned to find out more about our creative process and the challenges we are facing. 🙂 Follow us on social media!

Our Story

Why Games?

Raincup Games is born from a dream dreamt for a long time. I’ll tell you a little bit about me and how does my experience relate to our game company’s story. My personal story with games starts when I was probably about 5 years old or less. My dad has always been a technology enthusiast and with little effort, a variety of gadgets and machines could be found in our home. That’s how I got to try an Atari 800XL. The first games played were Pacman, River Raid, Jungle Hunt and some others. At first, my father used the computer while my sister and I watched in awe. I don’t remember exactly how or when the transition happened but the next memory I have with the Atari is us enjoying countless hours of gaming and also trying a little of “programming” with Logo Writer (“the little turtle” in our words).

Pic from Wikipedia.org

After that, consoles and computer games became one of the most exciting parts of my life. I have very fond memories related to the arrival of newer, more powerful computers, trying our first Tomb Raider and Star Wars games and very specially receiving a Nintendo 64 as a Christmas gift. The strongest feeling that comes to mind is the indescribable sensation of curiosity and fascination when I first explored the Kokiri Forest in Ocarina of Time.

Fast forward to a more recent time, when the time came for me to choose a career path it wasn’t a easy decision. I thought hard about the things I liked and the things I thought I was good at. Since my first choice – Astronomy – turned out to be a little far from my skills then, the next strong interest was in videogames. That’s how I decided to study Computer Science, since that was the closest to developing games at the time, at least from my point of view.

Taking the Long Path

My University was – and still is – strongly focused on Science and technical skills. I found people there with very similar interests (anime and videogames), something that had been rare for me up until that moment. Among the students the interest for developing games was a shared one. And that’s how some groups and organizations started to take form. Meanwhile me, being shy and having little confidence in my potential skills, kind of missed the opportunity to participate in those groups. When I realized that was something I ‘should’ be doing, it seemed like a done deal and I couldn’t find the guts to participate.

In University I was lucky enough to meet Juan Manuel, who is now my husband and partner in crime 🙂 We started being very close friends and then became a couple that did everything together. He follows my crazy ideas and I follow his, so supporting each other’s dreams is part of our deal.

Hi! That’s us 😀

After we finished University, and even before graduating, we both found jobs on IT (on the same company). And with that, inadvertently, I was almost definitely leaving my interest in game development behind. Or at least I was putting it to sleep. We worked for that company for about 7 years. I realized the job I did there was not something that made me happy or made me feel accomplished long before leaving, and kind of carried on with that frustration for a long time. This frustration was shared with my husband who somehow felt the same way. We felt a little trapped and saw our dreams from afar, regretting every new year how we hadn’t done anything to change our lives, again. I looked at my former classmates, most of the same people that participated in the game dev group I didn’t join, and admired the work they were doing and the bravery of being working on their dreams.

My IT job, of course, gave me a lot of good things. For starters: money which game stability and allowed me to accomplish many great things (getting married, traveling to amazing places, acquiring goods that now make our life a little easier, etc.) and I also learnt a LOT of things. Most of those skills were completely transferable to the game dev world, although I still have trouble believing or acknowledging that 🙂

The Trigger

When 2018 came I don’t really know how or why exactly but my husband and I were completely sure that this was the moment to – finally – change our lives and start working for our dreams. I contacted some of my former university classmates (those that were working on gamedev), asked for advice and support. Some stars aligned and exactly during that time a Government Funding for creative women opened its application process. I applied and won!

This funding was a crucial part of the transition and a key point in our game company’s story. I said to myself that if I got the funding, I would quit my job and work full time on my dream. And that’s exactly what happened. That little opportunity was the last push I needed to start really working for something that made me proud. This was also combined with other life changes, unbelievable opportunities for my husband and other things.

So that’s how Raincup was born. The project that we applied to the funding was “Patiperro”: the story of a puppy that had been accidentally separated from its owner and needed to travel the world to go back to him. The development started on July 2018 and the project suffered many transformations during the process. Right now it’s called Jumpy Paws and we are working hard to see it become a quality product that represents all the hard work and life changing experiences that we went through to give it birth.

Showing our eaaaarly prototype in Game Dev Planet – December 2018.

And that, as they say, is that…

And this is the moment when the flashback ends and the story reaches present time. From now on, Our game company’s story is being written with the help of people like you who are reading this post. Please continue to follow our story and see what surprises await us. The fastest way to do so is by following our social networks listed below.

Thanks for reading!

Welcome to the blog!

Thanks for visiting Raincup Games’ blog. I’m not really sure yet what kind of things we will be posting here, but hopefully the posts will help you get to know us better and dive into our game development process!

Stay tuned for more 😀