Either I’m not used to baby game marketing, or the voice over in that video is annoying. Anyway, My Baby 3 is the 3rd game in a series that sold over 2 million units worldwide. That’s quite a lot, and it’s justified by the quality of the games. The design isn’t revolutionary, so to speak, but then again, there’s better places for innovation than nurturing games. The series still has an unique take on the genre, as it tries to offer an unified experience, instead of the more common approach known as Baby Themed Mini Game Compilation.
So the core of the game is : you care for a baby. Your baby. The baby is at the center of everything you do, and the bond between you is supposed to grow as the game progresses. I say “supposed”, because I’m just not the kind of guy to grow attached to a baby. But I’m quite confident it works. Actually, some forum posts by players freak me out a bit…
In My Baby 3, our goal was to concentrate on activities that the previous installments only skimmed over, namely socializing. This time around, baby gets to meet other babies (something the DS hardware was relecutant to do at first) and a dog, and learns to play with them.
I was part of the team that made this game only for the first months of production.
We worked together with the lead designer to define the features we wanted to see in the game. We explored several avenues, but we knew that production time would be limited, and had to find the right amount of complexity to avoid a riot among our programmers. We prepared a scrum-like list of tasks and run them through our team to estimate their cost.
Once we had decided on what made it into the game, I was responsible of the following :
- Clothing system : We wanted to allow players to mix and match clothing items like in the previous games, but we wanted to rationalize the system a little, to allow us to create costume challenges. So I worked with the artists to define the in-game clothes in a way that would allow us to create enough new assets and integrate them with the other gameplay areas.
- Interface : I prototyped the game’s menus very early in development, to get a feel for the navigation. We ran a number of playtests on this prototype, and refined both the menu flow and the icon placement. It’s worth to note that the prototype was entirely done in Powerpoint, with placeholder art, hopefully avoiding the art team some iterations when the real assets were later created.