About the game
Den is about the soothing simple life. Home is a sandy wolf den, and it's up to you to make it even cozier. Explore the beach to gather sea shells and strange treasures, and use them to fill your den with seashell-themed decorations. Make the fanciest island den that you can! What will you discover around your home? This game is played with an Xbox controller, but can also be played using the keyboard.
I made this game along with fellow game designer Rudro De.
This game was made from start to finish in 48 hours for Global Game Jam 2019.
To find out more about the game through their website, visit our Game Jam Page.
The game in its current state can be downloaded by clicking this link! (Hosted by the Global Game Jam site)
Concept Art & Design Development
Our plan for this game jam was to come up with an idea as fast as we could, and get started with whatever that was! The theme for Global Game Jam 2019 was "Home", and I'd been really obsessed with (and still am) casual collection and growth games. Rudro had picked up a huge free animation pack from the Unreal Engine marketplace for wolves, and we ran with the idea of collecting seashells on a beach to decorate the pack's own wolf den!
I put together a quick a simple menu for Den, trying to highlight the cuteness and warm feeling I would like the player to feel! When hovering over a button, the button shrinks inwards, for a little "boop" effect.
In Den you play as a wolf--all the models and animations for the wolf came from an asset pack. We based our art style on that wolf, using simple colors and lower poly models for our other assets.
Up in the right hand corner is the player's seashell count icon I made, and this is what the player can spend to build seashell furniture!
On this sandy island, there are seashells hidden all over! This was a fun experience in setting up traditional 3D platformer mechanics, such as leading a player along a path with these little shells.
I modeled and textured all the in-game seashells and pickup objects. The white outline is a slightly larger mesh duplicate of the original object, with the face normals reversed.
Above are the models I made to decorate the wolf den, all essentially made from re-purposing the seashells I had made earlier. The seashell bed was my personal favorite. There were plans to make more models, but as our team consisted of two artists and medium-experience programmers, we focused on the programming to make the game interesting.
I have a decent amount of experience using Unreal Engine 4's blueprint system, so I wanted to try using what I knew to create this game. My teammate is also very familiar with blueprints, so even though we are both primarily artists, we figured we could totally pull together a game with our programming skills combined. We separated on different aspects of the game, with him having more of a focus on designing the map, and programming the specific puzzles found within the game.
My focus was more the den decorations programming, the single AI that evaluates player progress, and the UI & game menu. I also placed a lot of the map objects, designing some spaces myself.
This is the blueprint that "sells" the player a decoration by spending seashells. It first checks the required shard cost against the player's own count, based on the instance editable variable.
Because some furniture requires special trinkets, I then check if the player has the specified one. In the event the player doesn't, the tool-tip changes to reflect what they are missing.
If the player does have everything that they need, then the specified furniture piece is added to the game! This blueprint was represented in the game world as a golden seashell. The den was then filled with them, and each one had its own settings for what object it would be if the player purchased it.
While we idealized filling the island with other wolves, we settled on making one wolf--the Alpha. This wolf serves as our scorekeeper, judging the beauty and completion of the den.
When the player approaches this wolf, and presses the Interact Input, the evaluation widget is added to the viewport that scores the player on how many decoration objects they have built, as well as how many seashells they have collected so far.
This is part of the master pickup blueprint, the parent of all pickup shells placed in the game world. It's pretty simple: Add the value of the shell to the player's inventory of shards, update the player's Heads Up Display of shard count, and delete the pickup from the game world.