Pursuing a creative endeavor can be paralyzing because it requires a balance of vulnerability, guts, and intellect. Sometimes I have days where it’s all balanced just right and I’m able to make great strides. Other times there’s just a bit too much vulnerability and I find myself stuck in the sinking mud of self-doubt. Other times I am a bit too gutsy and take on more than I can chew, and wind up faceplanting into failure when I run into the inevitable brambles of technical snags. And of course, there’s the ever-present trappings of over-thinking a thing so much that inaction is the only result.
But when the balance is found? The work flows. Easily and surely as a mountain spring.
The more realistic proportions of my first version of the character model have been swapped for something more cartoonish. Larger ears, a rounder head, fluffier bum, shorter legs, and fully - glowing eyes. I feel these more "chibi" proportions work much better.
The process of refining the detail sculpt will be an exploration of the swirling designs and patterns to find a comfortable balance between the spirals and foliage. The character needs to stand out from the environment in order to be easily spotted, but there also needs to be a strong affinity since this is a forest spirit regrowing a forest.
To help create visual emphasis against the surrounding environment, I'm working on a cell shaded style material to lean into the "cartoonish" feeling. This helps the character to pop out and not get lost in the shadows.
For the prototype of Moss Bunny, the concept was reworked to be about summoning the growth of spring after winter. This was done to narrow down the scope and adapt it for an academic group project setting. Enemies were also added -- little snow gremlins served as avatars for winter's lingering chill and would attempt to impede Moss Bunny from growing the flowers.
The prototype would be made by thirteen students (including myself) in the Unity engine.
As a game, my goal for Moss Bunny is to make it about ecology and botany.
As the little bunny spirit in the desolate burned forest, the player would set about tending to the regrowth. This would involve various stages of gardening/forestry inspired gameplay -- such as restoring the soil by rallying keystone creatures like fire beetles (to break down the burned wood), planting grasses, and groundcover foliage, and flowers for the bee Queens and their kingdoms to pollinate.
Once the lower layers of the forest are lush, smaller trees are planted, and collected pinecones (their scales opened from the fires and ready to grow) would be planted in chosen spots and encouraged to grow through Moss Bunny's magical spirit dances -- which would be choreographed and elaborated on by the player to do things such as summoning rain or keystone creatures, inspiring foliage growth, and reconnecting fungal the networks of mushrooms to enrich the flow of nutrients for the young trees.
In the beginning of the story (gameplay), the little rabbit is a mortal animal.
Nearly deaf and nearly blind, the rabbit is enchanted by a blur of colors in the evening sky and a strange rumble through the ground --fireworks in the forest. The young rabbit's curiosity costs it its life, as the dry summer forest is quickly overtaken by flames.
I was inspired by the terrible Eagle Creek forest fires in Oregon as well as scenes from "Bambi".
The forest fires in Oregon, California, British Columbia, and Washington made the atmosphere thick with smoke. While breathing breathing the air was unpleasant, it settled over the landscape in an eerie haze of blues and lavenders -- a hauntingly beautiful veil that cast the sun into a fiery red disc as it sunk low on the horizon.
Fires are a natural part of a forest's ecosystem, but a fire caused by human negligence is all the more tragic.