From “Sound not there” to…
Bark Lab is a fairly new “studio” — studio in quotations because when I chatted with Kristoffer, he told me that they weren’t actually a company yet nor had they a website. So, fairly new.
However, Bark Lab is one of the studios that prove the only thing needed in order to band together and make a game is a common interest. Of course, other elements as skill, talent, and work-ethics also play a part in game development. And when it comes to indie game development, it’s more often or not that you’ll need an innovative or original idea, and/or execution of said idea.
Bark Lab did just that. Banded together, the group of strangers who met at the biggest Danish game jam, Nordic Game Jam, created a game revolving around sounds.
Themes are common at game jams, and the theme at Nordic Game Jam 2017 was “Not there”, which prompted the team at what would become Bark Lab to create a game called “Sound Not There”. The game is fairly straightforward: you walk around and… gosh, why am I telling you this? Let’s hear it from someone who’s actually worked on the game:
The premise of the gameplay is to interact with animals or objects inhabiting a 2D environment. […]. When the player interacts with an object, its animation is connected to the sound it plays. Let’s say the player presses an elephant holding the sound of a rooster. Now the elephant jumps up on its back legs with its trunk lifted in the air, while crowing like a rooster.
Next step: find the rooster. Pretty straightforward. It’s a simple puzzle game — albeit maybe “too” simple. However, that was the product of a game jam, meaning 48 hours of intense programming, drawing, and scripting.
Now, Bark Lab brought their game jam project to Game Scope 2017 where they got a lot of feedback on their game, including being presented to creator/presenter/writer and host of Troldspejlet, Jakob Stegelmann.
With the feedback, the team gathered, brainstorming how they could further develop their game, and this is what Kristoffer could say about that:
We met again at Nordic Game Jam 2018, where we discovered that the ideas of puzzles and themes we had brainstormed up to the event could be split into two different games: A game for adults with a “twin peaks”-like atmosphere and more in-depth mechanics. And a game for children on handhelds that is cut to the bone of the game, which is the game mechanic of switching sounds.
As in most every field, having a goal is essential to get anywhere. With Bark Lab being a newly-founded studio, only one having one release under its belt, I wanted to know what they hoped to accomplish with their game — in other words, if they had a goal:
Obviously the game is not for everyone. The game is supposed to be picked up by parents who want an imaginative game for their kids. Hopefully, we are also able to convince parents who are sceptical of games.
That’s it from Bark Lab! Be sure to find them at Game Scope 2018 — the most important things to indie developers are feedback and building communities, so they are sure to love a conversation whether it’s about their game, games in general, or game development.