Behind the Design: Where Cards Fall – Discover

Behind the Design: Where Cards Fall – Discover

  • Apple
  • July 10, 2020
  • No Comment
  • 69
  • 12 minutes read

The protagonist stands on a block of cement in the middle of the pink forest from where letters fall, with letters at his feet.

Betting your future on a house of cards may not seem like the best idea for a career. And yet Sam Rosenthal gave himself a winning hand with his studio game, Where the cards fall – more than nine years in the making. “Where the cards fall it was a love job for most of my life, “he says. -in a winner of the Apple Design Award 2020.

“It simply came to our notice then [Where Cards Fall] go, ”he says. “We were confident that we were doing something special, different and interesting.” Despite the first rejections from the publishers, Rosenthal and his collaborators cut a stacked platform against them to make the kind of game they wanted to see more in the world.

The world of On the cards fall.

Growing up, Rosenthal had an early passion for games and game design. But he found little that he could share with his friends or family, who were not so interested in the medium. “There weren’t many experiences they could really relate to,” he says. So Rosenthal set out to create some. In college, he dreamed of the idea Where the cards fall – a story about growing up and “the mess of life” – while listening to Radiohead’s “House of Cards”.

The mechanics of the game are intentionally simple, using common system gestures on each platform to explore the story and its card-based puzzles. Both are a key part Where the cards fall and the founding principle of the Rosenthal study The Game Band: make beautiful games that resonate with the world.

Where black and white protagonist cards fall into the forest

“We’re creating these little exploration boxes for people,” Rosenthal says. “Small places to discover something that can delight them or that can teach them something about themselves.” In Where the cards fall, people explore the memories of the protagonist, an aspiring architect. These memories are described without words through exquisitely designed sound, music, and 3D spaces, along with the game’s eponymous cards, which offer a look at the past as you build them into structures, doors, rebuilt spaces, and bridges.

The architectural motif of the game, in many ways, illustrates all of Rosenthal’s philosophy around game design, which describes an invisible art. “When you walk into a well-designed building, your way of navigating space is not an accident,” he says. The design of the game also provides the player with this structure, giving him the framework to experience feelings, ideas and interactions within a living story.

Often the invisible arts are the ones that affect us the most, or they simply change our perception.

Sam Rosenthal, creative director of Where Cards Fall

In elaborating the mechanics and design of Where the cards fall, Rosenthal and his team were inspired by both games and the art world. Games like Portal, The witnessand the Zelda The series helped the studio as it explored the incorporation, pace, and structure of the game’s puzzle. Inside i Journey brought new ideas to the team to create an “unforgettable atmosphere.”

Working where the cards fall

Art director Joshua Harvey designed the moving and temperamental work of art of the game, which is partly influenced by the Bauhaus movement, a celebration of the mathematical basis in shapes and lines. The art is designed to work in conjunction with the game’s interface, combining everything to create the perfect atmosphere while providing a useful guide for the player.

“We often think of the user interface as a separate layer on top of the game’s artistic style, but a successful artistic style is both beautiful and functional,” says Rosenthal. In Where the cards fallforest grass tips and city tiles are specifically designed to help the player see the grid to plan their structures, while the brick on the sides of certain platforms provides subtle clues to help players discern heights .

Three scans of icons where black and white cards fall, game color, and adaptive color
The icon of the game further stylizes the protagonist of Where Cards Fall during the current winter forest of history.

The icon of the game further stylizes the protagonist of Where Cards Fall during the current winter forest of history. “He’s not someone who’s lost in the past, but someone who may have learned from what happened, reflected and looked at what he might be,” Rosenthal says.

The hand-drawn aesthetic of the game is also related to the main character’s interest in art and architecture. “The drawing is [their] way to process the world and imagine what it could be, “says Rosenthal.” It gives the player a stronger connection to the protagonist and the passion that drives it. “

Despite the many influences the team took advantage of to create * Where Cards Fall, the game has its own unique style and tone, in part due to the work they did to stay aligned with the game’s mechanics, sound , music and artistic design. “We thought it was crucial to create a set of internal rules so that we could stay cohesive,” says Rosenthal.

Letters and their puzzles were an important part of creating these guidelines. “At first I thought the big, long puzzles would be intriguing, but I quickly realized that the little ones created the most interesting challenges,” he explains. “Once I had a general style, I started to develop smaller rules: a lot of cards should be used in at least two different places, otherwise it feels weird. And players should never restart a puzzle, as this discourages experimentation. “

Initial sketch of Where Cards Fall showing the placement of blocks and railings
Early sketch of where the cards showing the elements of the card fall in a 3D environment
Early sketch of Where the letters fall showing the protagonist drawing a world in existence on graph paper

The card interactions went through multiple revisions during the development of the game. The team used a physical deck to experiment with physics and the interaction of card-based structures, exploring both single-card draws and a distribution of multiple cards, the last of which became mechanics. basic game. (It even had precedents within iOS: at the time, the Photos app allowed people to spread their images schematically from a stack with a pinch and spread gesture.)

“Players tend to interact with platforms the way they’re used to, especially if they don’t play a lot of games,” Rosenthal says. They followed the same philosophy when they moved Where the cards fall on Mac and Apple TV, identifying platform-specific gestures that would be easy for a player to adopt.

One drawback of platform-specific adaptation: the player has to re-learn how to interact with the game. Fortunately, Rosenthal and his team had come up with an excellent tutorial and game system. They created a hand-drawn overlay to animate future paths, controls, and actions, and used the main character to physically communicate possible destructive interactions: a shake of the head when trying to knock down a card structure, for example.

An urban landscape built with letters

The music and soundscape provide their own clues as the player progresses in the game. The letters have distinctive sounds and flutter as they build and collapse (audio director Kristi Knupp bought stacks of cardboard to find the perfect tone), while the background combines the natural and physical noises of the surroundings. forest and cityscape with the score of Torin Borrowdale. “It’s very easy to manipulate people’s emotions with music,” Rosenthal says. “But we wanted the experience to be the main one that was marking the emotional weight.”

However, Where the cards fall tells its story through the player’s journey. Avoid audible dialogues or on-screen text for similar reasons. “There’s a lot of empty space for reflection,” says Rosenthal, a central theme of the game.

Rosenthal sits down with his collaborators on The Game Band

Now, Rosenthal, The Game Band, and their Snowman publishing partner have a chance to think about winning an Apple Design Award. “It simply came to our notice then [was] beyond my wildest expectations, “she says.” There are so many different hands that touched her and each one put her personal stamp on it. “

Your advice to fellow creators? Find your partners and move on, even when it seems impossible.

We are all working hard to make things beautiful.

And it’s a very, very difficult thing to do; to truly believe in something, especially when it is something that is not obvious. Right? Many times, when you’re working on something, you know it has to be out there. You know what its value is. But you have to convince a lot of people that it’s going to be valuable, especially when it’s in its early stages and it’s still not pretty, but it will be.

Sam Rosenthal, creative director of Where Cards Fall

Where the cards fall

The Game Band


Download Where Cards Fall a Apple Arcade

Read more about Where Cards Fall in the App Store

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