Keeper Quests, Characters, Education
Tend and Befriend Character Platformer Educating on Biodiversity and Protecting Pollinators
C# - Visual Studio
Keeper is a comfy game aiming to inform players about habitat conservation and the importance of pollinators in our ecosystem. It started development the same time that Halftime did. After the cut, I joined Micropup Games to expand and polish content. Characters, Quests and Educational Integration were my primary contributions. Together, the expanded team and refined game won big at the MassDiGI Game Challenge 2018 as well as displayed at PAX East 2018.
Keeper is still in development! Follow these links for updates: Micropup Twitter, Facebook.
The driving goal for design was to make Keeper as cute and comfy as possible. Comfy refers directly to the rising tide of cozy games and the design movement away from tension as the driving player motivation. This report from Project Horseshoe served as great inspiration for me when working on the project. By creating an environment where the player feels safe they are more receptive to other ideas and emotions present in the game. Providing continuous meaningful, easily achievable objectives is key to creating the ideal satisfying safe space.
For Keeper, this comes in the form of the characters you meet in the garden. Each needs your help to achieve a direct small goal. By completing these tasks the player develops friendships with them and works towards completing the larger goal of turning the garden into a diverse and thriving habitat for pollinators. Each character has quest specific dialogue for assigning and completing tasks as well as general idle. Always being able to talk to your friends builds meaningful relationships.
The most interesting of these relationships is with the Siblings Mosquito. Originally entirely antagonistic to the player and their goal, a significant contribution of mine was to rewrite their relationship and quest chain. Over the course of three quests the Siblings Mosquito move from hostile to reluctant to friendly. Male mosquitoes are pollinators serving an important role in the ecosystem. By making friends with them the player reinforces the cozy core of the game while also learning the educational content in a contextual way.
Before I go on any further talking about my contributions to the project, I want to recognize Keeper's Creative Director and Lead Writer: Maggie DeCapua. Without her vision the game would not be as great as it is. And without her direction my contributions would not be as meaningful.
Most educational games suck. It is with pride that I say Keeper does not suck. The educational content is worked into every element of the game. There is no point where gameplay stops to test the player; education is a natural side effect of engagement with the systems of the game. Every flower for your garden is a real flower found in the Northeastern United States. So too is every animal and insect. By playing the game, players are informed and educated on these parts of our ecosystem and how they relate to one another.
Not all bees are attracted to the same flowers. Not all bees live in traditional hives and make excess honey. In fact, the honey bee is not even native to the Northeast. Supporting local pollinators is the best way to create healthy habitats. And the best way to do that is to plant native wildflowers in your garden. Each flower in Keeper attracts one of twelve different bee verities. Each bee increases the diversity and beauty of your garden while providing fun, educational bee facts. My significant contribution was implementing this system: relating bees to flowers rewarding the player with both knowledge and fun!