My game is a very purple, very lightbulby platformer called 'Sprinkle Palooza', and is set in a pet shop that specializes in mutant pets. The pets are based on party items, such as cupcakes and balloons.
You play as Zap, a young balloon puppy and animal rights activist on a mission to free returned pets and free them into the wild (because all cakes should be free to run).
EGX was a bit of a scramble in my mind. I was very curious to see if the target audience my team and I had imagined would match up.
EGX was filled with cool events. I met so many talented artists and developers whose work I’m now obsessed with. There’s a moment in my game demo where two characters give each other a nose kiss. I loved watching players see this for the first time, as it tended to trigger laughs, smiles, and my favourite: squeals.
I was really happy (and relieved) to see positive responses from players. We had a guy come back to play the demo three times, which felt incredible. At the start of this year, when I was asked about who our target audience might be, I had no idea of what to say. All I kept saying was “people who like cute things, like Pusheen”. One of our very first EGX players had not only one, but four Pusheen keychain plushies hanging from her backpack, along with other cutesies. I was so excited, I was bouncing up and down for ages.
I learned that people like stickers!
I think seeing what people responded the most to was incredibly valuable. It gave me a strong sense of what features I need to focus on in the coming months. Most importantly: people liked the nose kiss. Getting kids to play the game was really cool, and I actually found that in general, young kids were a lot quicker to pick up the mechanics than teens and adults were.
It was really useful to see what elements of the environment managed to convey the information I wanted them to, and which didn’t. I learned that once people are killed by green goo, they’re terrified of anything green.
Honestly though, I think the most valuable knowledge I went home with was the reassurance that there are people who’d like to play a cake-kissing balloon puppy animal rights activist!
My favourite, favourite, favourite highlight of the event happened on the last day. I’d left the booth to get coffee, and when I got back one of my team members handed me a piece of paper. A girl named Emilie had played the game on one of the previous days, and she’d drawn the characters and written us a letter. Receiving that drawing was, - I’m struggling to find words good enough to describe it.
Sweet. Uplifting. Beautiful.
It’s hanging safely and cherished by my workstation, and will hang out where I work until Sprinkle Palooza is released.