During the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s no surprise that games like Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing have been incredibly popular for their soothing environments and relaxing gameplay. We wanted to create a game for people who might be struggling during this time that provides that same kind of relaxing environment, but that would also encourage them to think about their daily habits and inspire and enable them with positive activities they can do even if they’re stuck at home.
What it does
Players will be able to create their own soothing space and be encouraged to take part in healthy everyday habits and self care activities. For example, our prototype highlights the cooking minigame, which tells the player about the benefits of making your own meals and walks the player through the steps of preparing a meal, using a real recipe that the player can then try on their own after playing. By completing activities in a virtual space, we want players to feel encouraged and enabled in forming self-care habits in their real lives as well.
How we built it
Zack I designed and prototyped the UI in Adobe XD and used Gimp to create a unique color palette to fit the atmosphere of our game. We also used Trello to keep track of our progress and tasks we needed to complete.
Simone I used domain.com to register our domain and design our website.
Rafa I used Unity Engine as the backbone of the project. In here, I created and modified scripts for controlling the player, User Interface and user experience, and a cooking activity using C# in visual studio code. I also created custom realtime and baked lighting for the project, and learned from scratch how to create a shader that grabs inspiration from toon shaders as seen in games like Zelda Breath of the Wild, or Ooblets. I also prepared a HTML5 compatible WebGL build to let the game run on itch.io to allow our audience to play the game easily, and created a backend for a dialogue system, user interface, and buttons. I also used ProBuilder to create various 3D models through the scene, as well as the room level.
Challenges we ran into
Zack Going from mobile design to designing for a desktop experience was an unexpected learning curve since my reference points and scales were different, but things became easier once I adapted my layout grid to better fit the scale.
Simone Getting acquainted with web development for the first time took some getting used to.
Rafa It was hard to create a videogame in this short time, but I tried to work as efficiently as possible by using tools provided by unity to make the process easier. The cooking activity inside the game was by far the biggest challenge, but I'm glad in the end we were able to obtain a playable result.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Zack I really like how the color harmony ties together the various UI elements and objects in the environment.
Simone Building a functioning and useful website!
Rafa Learning a TON about 3D graphics, lighting, and shaders for applications in rendering a videogames to create triple-A quality graphics for our project. I was impressed with what we were able to achieve!
What we learned
Zack I’ve always wanted to create my own unique color palette instead of using someone else’s, and this hackathon I finally learned how to do it.
Simone How to register and set up a domain with a website.
Rafa I finally learned how to make a videogame project look good, and to start the brainstorming process not by an idea based on a mechanic or concept, but by a real life problem that could help others, and this motivated me to work as hard as possible to work for the project, and taught me how important it is.
What's next for HappyPlace
We’d love to continue to explore new possibilities for our game and ways we can integrate it with current technology. Connecting with fitness trackers to provide in-game rewards based on real-life exercise, providing ways for players to track and share progress with friends, and finding ways to bring the experience to the rapidly developing world of virtual reality.
About our team
We’re a trio of students passionate about creating meaningful interactive experiences, improving the way we interact with technology, and leveraging virtual reality to connect people together.