Mystery Queen: a game I’m creating with my family

Besides playing cooperative games together, my daughter and I have spent a fair amount of time playing crafting/foraging games too. One of the most famous games in this genre is Minecraft, although we haven’t personally played it much.

My first foray into this genre was My Time in Portia, where you play as a new Builder in the town on Portia. As you explore the town and its surroundings, you get to interact with the different people and there is an elaborate main story quest to propels you through the game. One of my favorite parts of My Time in Portia is the ability to develop relationships with the townsfolk, and also that the townsfolk do not just hang around aimlessly in one spot, but they have their own daily routines around the area.

Since then, I’ve introduced my daughter to these games as well. Together, we’ve played Terraria, Forager, Animal Crossing, and Garden Paws, and more! We’ve had a lot of fun playing these games, and at some point, we thought: instead of playing these games, why not create our own?

We’re proud to introduce… Mystery Queen! It’s the working title of a video game that my spouse, daughter, and I are working together to create, and the game will be in a similar vein to My Time in Portia, Garden Paws and others in this genre.

We’ve been working on the game on-and-off for a while now, mostly during vacation periods (since we have full-time jobs and school). Over Winter break, we reached a nice milestone in our game, and the video is below! You can also give it a try (on a desktop) here!

Our first quest chain in Mystery Queen! Royalty Free Music from Bensound

The game is set in a medieval/fantasy world, and the main character (Elise) has been exiled to an island for alleged crimes against the Queen. She has to work her way towards freedom, as she explores more of the island and develops useful skills. Over time, she may encounter other residents of the island and befriend them, and perhaps form a community together!

In a similar vein to My Time in Portia, one goal is to let the world feel alive. One of the key features is to have the non-player-characters (NPCs) have lives on their own, and interact with the environment as part of their daily tasks. For example, an NPC might have to harvest wood for their fire, or gather berries for food. The player can interact with the NPCs directly (by talking with them), or indirectly by affecting the environment. For example, if the player harvests all the berries near the NPC, then the NPC will have to either find a different source of food, go hungry, and/or be upset with the player.

The game is being developed in Unity, because the UI is intuitive, and because it has native support for 2D games (like Mystery Queen). Also, we’ve played a bunch of great games together that were developed in Unity, so we know that the Unity engine is capable of powerful things.

Working on the game has been a wonderful experience so far, and my daughter has been involved in a lot of the creative decisions. For example, we brainstormed together on the backstory and setting, and she came up with the map for the first island of the game. She’s also the creator of all the sound and speech effects in the game (as you can hear in the video above), and she’ll be designing the other characters as well.

There are many Unity tutorials online, the most useful of which I’ve found are the Create with Code series and Ruby’s Adventure. There are also lots of people writing and creating tutorials and answering questions, which have definitely accelerated our process.

As part of giving back to the community, in addition to sharing progress updates on our game, I plan to write articles on tips and tricks of how I did various things in Unity, such as an inventory system, the quest system, etc.

Besides sharing tutorials and game updates, I think it is also useful to bask in our failures so that we can all laugh together! After all, it is only through failures and mistakes that we can learn and improve! Here’s a short video of an early build of Mystery Queen, where I forgot to switch off the vertical gravity (which Unity has by default for 2D games).

Poor Gobby was hit by the weight of the world!

In another instance, I was working on having the toolbar automatically update when a new item is picked up. However, I inadvertently forgot to add a break in my for-loop 😄

One axe to rule them all?

Besides the section of the forest in this video (and the first), we’ve also created a second area that opens up after the first quest chain. It has a beautiful waterfall, and rocks to mine!

A beautiful waterfall, flowers and trees! What else exists on this island?

We’re in the process of adding more quests, systems (like crafting) and characters to the game! Feel free to try out our current build (on a desktop), and let me know what you think! See if you can reach the waterfall 😄

Proud mom, roboticist, software engineer.

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