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  • Designing A Game Without Words: Challenges And Opportunities

    - Daniel Gizicki
  • I. Who?   

    Lead Artist Łukasz Sałata and Chief Game Designer Daniel Gizicki of My Brother Rabbit - an upcoming exploration adventure and puzzle game from Artifex Mundi that mixes reality with the surreal world of a child's imagination. Both of them have previous experience in creating hidden object puzzle adventure games that until recently was Artifex Mundi's specialty. After releasing more than 60 games in this genre, the company has decided to branch out and pursue different genres in the triple-I segment.  

    II. What?   

    In this post, we wanted to talk about the development of My Brother Rabbit and share with fellow developers the process and challenges of creating a game that has no verbal communication. We hope that sharing our experiences will provide the community with some valuable insights.

    To give you some context, this is what the game's about: a loving family discovers that their daughter has fallen ill and while her parents set out to get her the treatment she needs, her determined older brother turns to the power of imagination to help them cope. While the outside world offers a harsh reality, these innocent children create a surreal fantasy world that gives them the play and comfort they need. The player embarks on a grand journey to five different lands filled with puzzles featuring incredible robo-moose, floating baobabs, giant mushrooms, and clocks melting to the rhythm of passing time. 

    III. Why?  

    When asking this question, one needs to realize that there are many factors and consequences that need to be considered before answering it and that this simple question splits into several different ones. 

    So why would one want to design a game without words? 

    We wanted to create a game that is accessible to everyone, regardless of their age, the language they speak, or their cultural background. This idea was based on our belief that the world of imagination speaks though images rather than words, and we wanted to create a game that shows this is real. Obviously, not having to pay for writing and voice overs was also saving us money, but this was never our chief consideration.

    The other question is: does your game actually need text and VO? 

    If this is a classic point-and-click game paying homage to LucasArts and Sierra, then probably, yes, you would at least need the dialogues. But if your game is more focused on exploration and puzzle solving, then not necessarily. Many successful games fared very well without using too much text (or any for that matter) - the prime examples of which are Tiny Bang Story and Amanita Design's games.

    When we approached the design of My Brother Rabbit, we already had a certain vision in mind: to create a game that will use universal language and the sort of intuitive understanding that is rooted in human imagination but especially visible in how children perceive the world. You can actually notice how similar children's drawings are, regardless of the culture of the place they grew up in the world.

    Our vision keeper and Lead Artist Łukasz Sałata observed his children in how they interact with the "grown-up" world and how they perceive it through their eyes, creating a kind of imaginary world in the process. That was fascinating, and we wanted to make a game about that. When it comes to budgeting, not having to pay extra for voice actors and VO directing was nice, but in the case of My Brother Rabbit, it was never a chief consideration.


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