Turn love into a cooperative game mechanic in The Game Bakers & # 39; Haven

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When you think of love in games, genres like dating simulations and romance options in role-playing games immediately come to mind. But that's not what The Game Bakers, the creators of the head of independent successes. FuriI wanted to focus on when they set out to do Refuge A game about a stable relationship.

"We did it Furi It was a very challenging and hard experience and we wanted something different later. We wanted to tell a love story, "said The Game Bakers cofounder Audrey Leprince.

"There are not many love stories in the games at this time, it is about going out, breaking or trying to avenge your dead wife. We wanted to portray a modern couple that has been together for a while. We know they are intimate."

Refuge is what The Game Bakers call a unique mix of Person Y Travel. Follow a young couple who escapes from a powerful group that we don't know much about yet, and combine a floating game, driven by exploration, where you glide across a lost planet and fight infected creatures with everyday activities such as cooking and resting.

The interesting thing is that these day-to-day activities and combat sequences are divided in half, with a player controlling each character (or a single player controlling both if they do not have a second player, then that player has to manage the time to two different indications). Each player has different buttons to attack, protect and pacify corrupt enemies. Both players must coordinate and work together in combat and in daily activities to make the most of the game.

Refuge originally started as a prototype that focused on the Travel-like floating exploration, but the divided controls for other segments of the game were a decision made at the beginning of the process. "It was almost the first decision when we decided to make a game about a couple. If it was a game about love within a couple, we had to play both characters," said creative director Emeric Thoa. "It helps make the game unique. When we designed the combat system, it made sense in terms of entry. I always design entry-based mechanics. Pressing and holding down the facial buttons and the rhythm d-pad feels good."

Transmitting love as a system in the game is more than just dividing these different mechanics in two, it's about making sure that the whole game is about being together. That is why both players have to agree on the dialogue options before continuing, a disagreement is difficult to deal with since both players can select the dialogue when the menu appears.

At this time, sliding mechanics is the only main element in the game that is not controlled by both players at the same time. Thoa and his team originally wanted everything in the game to be divided, but it made no sense for the game design.

"At first we tried to get both players to control each character, but this quickly becomes impossible to play because there is only one camera," he said. "I didn't want the split screen, it's a game about being together. Dividing the screen makes the experience less visually exciting and generates a lot of problems, and it doesn't help create the feeling we wanted to achieve: sliding together, like skiing together, following the trace of the other. "

"If you keep both characters on the screen, your controls become relative to the character, pushing the joystick on the left does not necessarily mean going to the left and you don't necessarily see what is in front of your character," Thoa added. "Unless both players go in the same direction, it's not working. We tried many different systems, but eventually, the best thing for the experience was to have an advantage and a follow-up, which you can exchange whenever you want."

A similar problem arose when deciding how each player would control his character when in the Nest, the spaceship of couples away from home where they complete most of the game. Person-activity of activities.

"Walking in a small space, the camera, everything felt awkward," said Thoa, who thought he could show the issue of privacy more clearly with a third-person camera that floated freely. "It's not fun just to move a character in a small interior location. There was no challenge or game mechanics. We solved that by making the player a kind of third eye in his cozy little house. You see them in the kitchen in the living room of being, being there. "

While The Game Bakers could not divide everything in the game between two players and still make the game enjoyable, they believe that the current configuration conveys the idea of ​​living together as a couple. But this divided mechanics, which also includes resource management and elaboration, only worked if the narrative supported it.

"The biggest challenge in this type of game is on the side of the story," Thoa said. "The game begins to feel like a complete experience only when the elements of the story are inside, which is when the game is basically performed. The sliding and combat can work perfectly, but as long as they are not linked to the story, it feel incomplete. "

Therefore, Thoa and his team must be happy that everything does not come together and feel complete until later in the development process. "At the moment, for example, the beginning of the game is excellent, since most of the elements of the story meet and complement the mechanics, but the second part is still in progress," he added.

Of course, there is also the challenge of making sure that the story and the two protagonists are attractive and authentic. Several people from The Game Bakers team have long-term stable relationships and have tried to apply what they know to dialogue and plot.

"From what we have seen, the players really relate to the characters. This is a fun thing to share with someone, the dialogue especially because it is easy to relate and intimate, people feel really involved in decisions that would otherwise be quite mundane, "Thoa said about the practical demos at events like PAX West. "If a king asks the heroes in a cooperative role-playing game to save the world, even if the bets are huge, the players don't care, they won't discuss that option on the couch. But if the question is & # 39 ; what should we have for dinner & # 39 ;, I can assure you that a conversation will begin. "

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