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.
"Moss Bunny" early sketches + story ideas.
A little rabbit is killed in a forest fire and is reborn as a forest spirit.
My goal was to create a story that felt like a mix between Beatrix Potter, Miyazaki, and "Fern Gully". Ever since I was a kid I've always loved dramatic stories about little creatures and lifeforces of nature personified as spirits.