The Beginning of Baum

Oct 29

The Beginning of Baum

We started full time development on BAUM just over a year ago for Dare to be Digital 2014. This being our first blog post in all that time, you could say that “busy” would be a bit of an understatement.

Working on Baum has been a long journey for us. It started in January 2014, three students trying to come up with a game design to take them to Dare. It finished… well it hasn’t quite yet. Because it turns out that being an indie game dev isn’t always as simple as just making a game then getting it out there!

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The original BAUM team consisted of myself (Dom) as an Artist, Kai our Game Designer and a friend of ours (also an artist, who couldn’t take part in the final competition due to other commitments). As part of our final year project at university the three of us had been working in a team of 8 on a group project, that had put myself and the other artists in what felt like a cubist hell! Ok, so that’s a slight overreaction. The game we’d been making was a “space fantasy” set on a world of crystals … for some reason. But boy, was I bored of drawing geometric shapes by the end of it! So for the next game I was adamant that I would make would be something with curvy and twisty, with nice organic shapes and none of that square nonsense!

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Trees seemed like a logical theme to go with. I imagined a game that put the player in a the branches of a huge tree; where they were tiny and things like leaves and mushrooms would tower above them. But I had no clear idea of how this would be turned into a mechanic or how I wanted it to fit into whatever game we would end up making. I wanted a swishy, curvy, flowing something and my brain told me that trees (and water too) was the theme to go with. Because there ought to be an awesome game mechanic in there somewhere, right… right?

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Well as it turns out, coming up with a theme, and trying to fit a game mechanic into that theme isn’t a great order to do things in: especially when the game in question needs to be built in two months, by a team who have never worked together before. This stage in our development was the all-too common “let’s go crazy with ideas” period. It would have been easy to run with all those ideas but thankfully Kai was a better designer than me. He knew that the only way we could get something feasible would be to boil the game down to it’s basics. Having a concise vision of what the game should be and sticking to it would help us infinitely in the long run. So boil down we did!

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We narrowed the idea down to a couple of core “must keep” ideas and worked up.

  • Touch screen specific/Touch native inputs (swipes and taps)
  • An emphasis on the creating the feeling of flow
  • Mechanically based on surface tension of water droplets (Game Mechanics that reinforce the visuals and theme)

Writing out the basics of what must, should and could be included helped us cut the chaff and narrow down Baum to something close to the experience we wanted, and nearer to something we thought we could feasibly make.

The video below is the pitch we created for the submission. Obviously the game changed as we began production but the final product is, to me at least, surprisingly similar to the vision that we had back in 2014.


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