Child Of Olwen
Child of Olwen is a 2D Precision Platformer with an atmospheric twist.
In the game, you play as the spring spirit clearing up the snow lingering and waking up bears from winter past.
The game is quite an expression, and no text or dialogue is used to convey the story.
- Single player platforming game
- Created in 8 weeks - 4 hours a day
- Using custom in-house engine
- Approximately 20 min of gameplay
- Game Design
- Level Design
- Original Modular Soundtrack
Anton Pilmark - Level Designer
Victor Rasmussen - Level Designer
Johannes Bengston - Graphical Artist
Elinore Sanders - Graphical Artist
Tomas Tagesson - Graphical Artist
Albin Nilsson - Programmer
Kasper Esbjörnsson - Programmer
Oliver Andersen- Programmer
-Breakdown of the reference game-
We wanted to have minimalistic complexity in the gameplay and wished to be spring clearing out winter.
From there on we looked for a reference game and found Dust Force.
Dustforce had a lot of things we liked; it was about cleaning, much in the same way we wanted and were about platforming.
After we had chosen Dustforce, we noticed a lot of things that needed to be cut from it to make it work for us. So we sat down and carefully picked the design of it apart, we analyzed what each of their mechanics did, how it did it and most importantly, why it did it. This in combination with our strive towards having minimalistic gameplay made the game manageable in a situation with limited resources.
Precision Platforming Vs. Atmosphere
-Tech limits and spaceplanning-
Our biggest challenge and shortcoming of Child of Olwen were our conflicting desire to make a calm atmospheric game with precision platforming. I think we succeeded but the genres inherently clash a bit as precision platformers want momentum and fast fluid gameplay and the atmospheric games need the slow pace.
We also had a problem with the theme we chose for our editor. We were working in tiled but wanted to do organic environments in an engine that inherently uses blocks.
As coherent and holistic our gameplay was we, unfortunately, forgot our visual expression, which led to weird scales and the player not always feeling like there was a consistent scale of our environments.
-A holistic approach to design-
Victor and I were both interested in making a more systematic approach to level design and agreed upon approaching each level with Kishōtenketsu in mind. Kishōtenketsu is a 4 part Japanese storytelling technique that has been applied by Nintendo in a lot of their newer Mario Games. The structure is like so;
Introduction -Development -Twist-Conclusion
This meant for us as designers we would want to come up with one thing that would define each level. We succeeded in the most of this and carefully planned what each of the acts in our levels should be.
We also agreed that we didn't want to divide our work but have both of us work on everything.
This resulted in an unexpected holistic approach to level design as we would each be the 'lead' designer on our levels but having the framework and handing the levels back and forth between us made us able to help each other in achieving the goal we had set for our levels. Breathing new creativity into the levels when you had stared yourself blind on the work you were doing.
-Mood and setting-
Child of Olwen was the last game I made music for on TGA as work picked up and this was made in my spare time. It was particularly interesting cause we decided to do the soundtrack in a modular fashion. This meant exporting all instruments out on different tracks which were a long process.
The fascinating part about making modular music is that we as designers had control over how we could enhance the mood of a particular section of the levels. For example, the clarinet would only play at the end of each level, signaling to the player that they were at the end
Child of Olwen has been one of the best games I've worked on in terms of learning and evolving a method of how to design levels along with other designers.
Our use of kishōtenketsu created a language which we could use to talk about our levels in a way we hadn't been able to before. This resulted in us being able to fluidly and efficiently iterate and feedback on each other's levels, cause we knew what we were trying to achieve in every section of every level.
The game has shortcomings, but from a pure level design point of view, it's the game project of which I'm the proudest.