Coloured Life is a 2D persuasive game aiming at emphasizing the importance of healthy daily routines and work-life balance by requiring players to manage attributes in game such as happiness and fatigue. The design connects game aesthetics and mechanics to provide visual feedback and achieve persuasive purposes. Game assets are all created by myself except the background music.
Game Theme and Simulation
"By creating a simulated environment, the player is able to step away and think critically about those problems."(Mary Flanagan, 2009) The life in the game presents only portions of our real life via scenes and activities at home. Emotions and healthy conditions are simplified and represented by two attributes: Fatigue and happiness. Players are required to watch those two numbers carefully in order to finish the game.
In ColouredLife, players can choose what to do from many different activities such as playing computer games and working remotely. Each activity will have a direct impact on the character’s attribute. While facing these decision makings, players will have opportunities to consider their preferred daily routine in a virtually simulated world and reflect on their habits in real life.
Design Rationale - Colours
Colours play an essential and irreplaceable role throughout the game. I got some inspiration from the design of the game Everyday the Same Dream. (Easter egg: everything in the game initially is black, white and grey except a family photo.)
If the character remains in certain healthy conditions for several days, a portion of game objects will become coloured. Eventually, the character will colour himself, which acts as one of the game endings. Players can still finish the game without colouring anything.
Game objects are coloured manually with crayons during the creation instead of auto-filling the colours with the help of software. Via creating a hand-drawn colouring style in Coloured Life, I want to create a metaphor between life and a colouring book. One’s life can be enriched or changed by details such as daily habits and work-life balance. Just like one of the images in a colouring book can be transformed from just scratch to a masterpiece through colouring each detail. When players play the game and discover the colour change, they may have the feeling that they are colouring a person’s life with their hand instead of just going through a simulation.
Game System - Time & Attributes
The speed of time in the game is not a constant number and it varies when the character does different activities. For example, when the character plays computer games, the time will fly faster. On the other hand, when the character works on his job with the computer, the time will go slower. Through this mechanic, I intend to simulate people’s psychological feelings when doing different things in the real world. When we are enjoying something that we like, such as playing games or watching our favourite TV series, time seems to be always not enough, which is totally the opposite when we do something boring or suffering. Players can more likely be more engaged when they discover this connection between their realistic experience with the game world.
There are four attributes in the game, which are fatigue, happiness, potential and bank deposit. If fatigue exceeds 100 or happiness drops below 0, the game is over. Players will also fail if they can’t afford daily costs. The potential affects the character’s salary. A simple system was programmed to manage and store all attributes. Corresponding functions will be called after receiving keyboard inputs to change attributes during different activities.
Animations and Event System
The event system in Unity was applied in my project. Colliders of each game object such as computer and TV are functioning as triggers. Whenever the game character enters the zone, a UI menu of available actions will be activated and appear. Then keyboard inputs will be detected. Animation controllers were also created to manage transitions between animation states.
Reflections and Possible Improvements
More scenes and possible actions could be added to the game. For example, going out of the room. Game complexity and replayability could be improved by adding extra challenges instead of only focusing on 4 attributes.