Monday, May 20, 2013


I thought I'd take a step back and post something should have been posted much, much sooner, but never really made it due to tasks with higher priority... This is a post about the things that have inspired me throughout this project, from the very beginning to the end. I never made a moodboard or set out to collect inspiration references when I first designed Adore; instead I just channelled all of the things I love into a game. This post outlines some of those things, and explains how they've influenced my work.

The Moomins
I've grown up with the Moomins. I think Tove Jansson's extraordinary stories are in the back of my mind every time I'm given creative freedom, and this is particularly obvious in Adore.

What I love the most about her stories is how they appeal to every age group, and I wanted my world and characters to do the same. As a child, you love the Moomins for the amazing adventures. When you're older you read them for the deep and surprisingly human characters, the melancholic undertones and the social commentaries. While my prototype doesn't exactly touch on any huge philosophical questions, I could see the actual game subtly dealing with separation issues, fear and the challenge of stepping outside of your comfort zone.

I also love how Tove Jansson brings in lots of everyday items into a completely made-up fantasy world, because they make it incredibly easy to relate to the characters. Moominmammas purse becomes the very source of security and home, and Hemulens glasses, long robes and magnifying glass all reinforce his obsessive, dry disposition. This is echoed in the image of Otis and Fawn on the hill, where they sit next to a picnic basket with wine and cheese, and in the beach image, in which I gave Otis a pair of striped swimming trunks. None of them wear clothes in other images, but being able to bring in recognisable objects can help convey a certain mood. As an added bonus it's also quite cute and silly.
Overall I've tried to channel my own take on the Moomins' quirky loveliness and charm into Adore. It might not show in my little prototype, but I'd like to think that I have created a world with room to explore more than just pretty graphics and neat mechanics.  

Amanita Design
When it comes to inspirational studios, Aminata Design truly stands out. Machinarium is one of those games that seem to have it all; bucketloads of charm, beautiful graphics, brilliant puzzles... I've always loved playing point-and-click games, but Machinarium made me want to make my own. If Adore makes it to full production, "Machinarium-quality" will be the benchmark. Aim for the stars, right?!

I haven't played Botanicula, but the trailers look fantastic. The audio design in particular is something I just want to rip out and put in Adore; the character noises, the music... It's perfection, and definitely served as inspiration as I was scavenging the web for character audio. (It also made me despair quite a bit, since it's pretty much impossible to hunt down the type of audio I was after. Oh well.) 

Amanita Design is definitely a kind of superhero-studio in my eyes, but there are so many other  fantastic games out there... I'm drawn to anything with charm and and heart, and lately this has included Happy Street, Contre Jour, Tiny Wings, anything by Simogo (!!), Bunni, Tiny Tower, Middle Manager of Justice... Yes, most of these are iOS games - that's all I have time and money for these days. I'm rarely interested in perfectly polished action games with realistic graphics or generic 2D platformers. I want to play and make games that have a heart.

Music and audio
Like I said - I've learned that finding sound effects online is an absolute nightmare. You have this idea of what you want your game to sound like, but nothing you find comes close to it. There is about five billion explosion sound effects on, but ONE set of cute character noises. D'oh. I made a little Spotify playlist quite early on with some lovely music; Amiina, Stealing Sheep, Jónsi... All of it a little bit quirky and whimsical.

I think it's an unwritten rule that all game caves need to be purple.
Now, I usually hate cave and underground levels in games. They're dark, creepy, and generally uninspiring. However, there is something about nice caves that really appeal to me. The Cave, Torchlight, LostWinds are all stunning examples of this, and certain locations in Fable and World of Warcraft are also super pretty. After Chris and I went to this awesome place I knew I wanted to make a cave level. While I've settled for placeholder art for this prototype, the idea of a lovely pretty glowy magical cave has always been in the back of my mind.

Artwork and forest animals
I've had a thing for cute art and forest animals lately, preferably combined. Owls, deer, bunnies, foxes, bears... I can't get enough. I have so many owl earrings that it's almost concerning, and I'm seriously considering buying this. Ahem. Naturally, when I got the chance to design my own game it simply had to feature two woodland creatures as the main characters.

I've found websites like and Etsy to be absolutely fantastic for discovering lovely art, and I've collected a bunch of delightfully pretty and inspirational images on a Pinterest board. Click the images for the source page. Not all of the images feature a visual style that can be directly traced to Adore but they all have feature these whimsical aesthetics that I absolutely love, and are full of charming little woodland creatures, papery textures and stylised environments.

Right - this is the cheesy one I'm afraid... But I can't talk about my inspiration for Adore without mentioning my all-round amazing boyfriend. Shortly after we met I went back to Sweden on my own for about three weeks, and it was absolutely heartbreaking. The entire concept of Adore comes from the empty feeling that fills you when you're away from the person you love, and how your world becomes dull, different, and even frightening. Sickening, I know. But also quite lovely.

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