Ever had a dream so fun, you wished it wouldn't end? At Sunbreak, we've got a dream like that, a journey that we'd like to keep going a little longer, with your help... but first, we'd like to share the dream of a very special little boy:
As the boy falls asleep each night, a strange transformation takes place. A mysterious golden light appears outside, the bedroom shakes, and it feels like the entire house is being lifted upwards. Startled, he sits up and looks out the window, only to see a giant, familiar orange face looking in, with a wide-eyed friendly grin, beckoning him to come out and play. Smiling, the boy grabs his hoodie, opens the door, and steps into the light… he suddenly realizes his room is no longer in his home, but suspended high in the treetop canopy, the first of an endless series of treehouse platforms and bridges leading deep into the enchanted forest. Night after night, dream after dream, the boy returns to this enchanted place. It’s here that he meets and plays with his best friend, a magical flying creature named Buddy, a loyal companion that watches over him. Together they run, jump, glide, swing, bounce, and fly through the night, racing as far as they can before waking.
Buddy & Me is a unique 2D platforming game about friendship, that merges the high-quality painted backgrounds and cel-shaded characters of an animated film, with the gameplay sensibilities of a highly replayable, lighthearted childhood adventure in the woods. Buddy & Me is a game for everyone, accessible enough for anyone to pick up and try, but with depth and challenge for the big kid in all of us. We've designed it for the simple touch interfaces of tablet and mobile devices, starting with iPhone and iPad, and with your help hope to have the initial version wrapped up in June 2013.
A Runner with a Friendly Twist
Choosing a new studio's first project isn't something to take lightly. It's too easy to either promise something too ambitious (dangerous for a new team and tech), or go the opposite route and just throw together a forgettable clone. Neither option sounded appealing. It's no accident that we chose the "endless runner" genre: the budget-friendly structure gets more gameplay out of fewer level assets (smart for a startup!), and our hand-painted art style would certainly stand out among the competition. But how could we make the gameplay experience unique? That's when we realized, the one thing that seemed constant throughout the genre could lead to a huge breakthrough: the player's always alone. So we gave him a giant flying best friend to lend a hand!
Never Run Alone Again
As the Boy, the player's more than capable on his own...he can run, jump, double-jump, and even glide with his oversized hoodie. Then there's the fun obstacles he can play with... swinging on ropes, bouncing on mushroom trampolines, flying down zip lines, and more. But just in case, Buddy's always looking ahead for danger. And when he sees it, he rushes ahead to help, using his body however he can!
The "Buddy System" as we call it, comes in two flavors. In the first, “Buddy Assists”, Buddy regularly spots danger and automatically rushes ahead, helping by using his back as a platform, his belly as a trampoline, his tail as a rope, even hurling the boy ahead like a cannonball ... and we've got all kinds of other cool ideas we'd like to try with your help! The second way, “Buddy Flight”, is even more exciting... if the player earns it, Buddy swoops in and picks up the Boy for a fantastic ride, which the player can control!
But Buddy's not the Boy's only companion. Look closely, and hiding high in the treetops are gentle, curious little flying creatures we like to call "Angel Bunnies". They're the guardian spirits of the forest, and can often be heard singing soft lullabies. If the Boy is lucky enough to collect one, a Bunny will fly into formation behind Buddy, creating a long trail of friends following along the adventure.
Companionship, Infinite Treehouses, and The Great Outdoors
Some of the most interesting game experiences are inspired by life experiences. As we pay close attention to the things outside of work that affect and motivate us as human beings, we often find interesting themes to articulate as gameplay experiences. At Sunbreak, we're dedicated to crafting entertainment with a more "positive" tone, so for Buddy & Me we focused on three core themes: companionship, an obsession with treehouses, and the natural excitement of exploring the great outdoors.
The most important thing we want to establish is a believable friendship between Buddy and the Boy, but that has to extend well beyond the action Assists from Buddy. It's about the little things. They're frequently looking over to check on one another, and Buddy reacts strongly to the player's successes and failures. That relationship extends beyond the gameplay and into the various scoring and menu screens, where Buddy might react to the player's results and choices.
Treehouses are a major theme in Buddy & Me’s environment. They have a kind of timeless, universal appeal. No matter how old you are, it's magical to look up and see something so creatively out of place. To stand in one and look around offers a new perspective on the world. For Buddy & Me, we thought it would be the perfect childhood adventure, to be able to run along an "Infinite Treehouse" of endless platforms, ropes, bridges, and ziplines... a jungle gym high up in the treetops where you never have to come down. And living in the Seattle area, we're lucky to be surrounded by so many other treehouse enthusiasts, giving us lots of real-life reference material to visit and draw from.