My goals for Trollskogen at Stugan

I applied to Stugan with the goal of creating a vertical slice that I can show to publishers and potential investors. I believe there are many people who want to enjoy a calm experience with pleasant aesthetics. I also think that many people would enjoy learning more about Nordic folklore and quirky traditions that we normally don’t hear about. Sure, vikings are cool and all, but there is so much more to tell stories about 🙂 Most people have never even heard about the Midsummer traditions that we have, and how big these are here.

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Stugan is located in an area with the type of environment I’m creating in Trollskogen, so I want to soak in that inspiration while I’m surrounded by it for these 2 months. There is something very serene about the Nordic woods, lakes and fields. Even just taking the train from Copenhagen up to Stockholm, or from Stockholm over to Oslo is mesmerising. I always choose the window seat and become completely drawn in by the nature that passes by, and love the transitions from seaside to fields, to woods and lakes and the various villages. I’m creating new environment art and basing a lot of it on the surroundings here at Stugan.

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There are puzzle elements in each level, and they mainly consist of exploring the environment and interacting with it. By doing this, players will figure out how to solve each puzzle in order to progress forward. A thing that is missing right now and that I’m adding while I’m here is making more objects in each scene interactable in some way, even if they don’t help progress the game forward. It’s so rewarding for the player to get a response, and encourages them to interact and explore more.

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I’m expanding the first level I ever designed – the whole reason Trollskogen came to be -and tying it together with the story-telling. I’m adding more trolls, more expressive animations, and some hints of the story by revealing the Troll Princess to the player for the first time.

While I’ve been here, I’ve also been adding a few more things to the project in order to help teach the player some mechanics that are not very common in most mobile games. I want to make sure that the players do not accidentally solve the puzzles without knowing what they did, so each mechanic needs to be crystal clear. I’m taking the current levels and getting them into a shape where they can be played independently either at a showcase or through test flight. Thanks to my amazing Stugan mates, I’ve brainstormed how to deal with certain game design issues, and I’m adding more ways of communicating with the player. Here at Stugan I’ve also had my youngest play tester so far – she’s 15 and was incredible at the game, solving every puzzle without hesitation.

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I’ve started adding more details to certain scenes, such as plants, mushrooms and berries that are commonly found in these woods. I asked amongst my friends who grew up in the Nordics about some of their common memories from their childhood, and received some amazing responses that just fills me up with nostalgia. Because of these heart-warming responses, I’ve decided to add a new feature: an in-game handbook containing fauna and flora that you discover and unlock in the game as you go along. This handbook will also contain the mystical creatures you encounter, such as ‘mosekonen’, ‘vittror’ and ‘lyktemann’. This is just a nice complement to the rest of the story for those interested in the folklore parts.

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We’ve now been here a bit over a week and I just want to express how grateful I am to have been chosen to participate in this program. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime and I am already feeling how I’m growing in terms of my confidence, creativity and ways of thinking. The other persons chosen to be part of this program are absolutely incredible. The biggest shoutout goes to Jana – she is one of the founders of Stugan and also runs the program, and does an amazing job. On top of that she’s just a fantastic human being, I love going on hikes with her or chatting about absolutely any topic. I don’t have a photo with everyone in it but here is part of the Stugan family:

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Thanks for reading in on my first blog post here at Stugan, there will certainly be more 🙂

– Sara

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