XPBLOG: Instant metaphor, just add title screen – 7/19/21

Published on Sunday, July 18th, 2021

Hi there! We’re Team Napoleon, part of MassDigi’s XP2 program. We’re making a heartwarming bubble shooter about a teddy bear protecting a child from nightmares. Team Napoleon is a ragtag band of coders, artists, and Greg (the wonderful sound dude). We’re striving to create puzzles you can solve quickly in a dreamlike-yet-cozy atmosphere. 

Team Napoleon

Clockwise, from the top left: 

  • Hannah Kim (Rhode Island School of Design, Illustration, 2021) – an enigmatic artist who won’t show us her doodles
  • David Wu (Fitchburg State, Game Design, 2023) – a programmer who works too darn hard
  • Taylor Feld (Northwestern University, Theatre, 2021) – a sleepy gremlin of an artist
  • Liam Day (Quinnipiac University, Game Design & Development, 2021) – a programmer with an endless collection of relevant images
  • Sean Fan (Becker College, Game Development, 2021) – a man who will soon achieve world domination through programming

Concept sketchFor our artists, this week has been all about sharpening our metaphor. In other words, we’ve been concepting and re-designing assets to instantly convey the “story” to the player. For example, our title screen began with this concept sketch from Hannah.

The sketch evolved into this rough pass from Taylor, with help from Hannah’s nightmare bubble concept art. (The nightmare designs have already undergone several revisions at this point.)

The title screen is particularly important, as we’re aiming for no opening cutscene, just immediate gameplay. This means the title screen is our only shot at establishing the situation before the player starts the game. In the second image, Taylor chose to draw the nightmares descending from the top of the screen, like the nightmare bubbles do in gameplay. However, this caused them to read more as monsters or germs than nightmares. Additionally, the kid shouldn’t be smiling if they’re having nightmares! With that feedback from our XP peers, we revised.


Now the nightmares are ascending from under the bed, like in Hannah’s original sketch. Additionally, Taylor added a thought cloud (also visible during gameplay) to indicate that these are creatures of the child’s imagination.

After some polishing by Hannah, here’s the current version:

And that’s the trajectory of one asset, which isn’t even final yet. Wow, it sure does take a lot to make a game!

– By Taylor Feld

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