About the Game
What is unique or innovative about this game?
Mudcraft takes place in a whimsical, grassy backyard. A light from above shines down on a mud pit and mud life emerges. At the start of the game, the player has two mud people. The player must direct the mud people to gather dirt and water from around the world and bring it back to the mud pit. Thus, creating more mud people, who in turn can gather additional resources. Each level in Mudcraft has its own goals and objectives, but in general the object of the game is to grow a Mud community.
In the world of Mudcraft, there are a number of forces working against the player. For example, at various times during the game, rain or intense sunlight may come, and any exposed mud person will melt or dry, respectively. In order to avoid this, the player will to have to direct their mud people outside of harms way, or develop huts in which the mud people can escape the weather. If a mud person does melt or dry, the player can direct another mud person to revive them by dropping dirt on them or spraying water on them, respectively.
There are various creatures in the world other than the mud people. While none are a direct enemy of the mud people, they can cause you quite a bit of grief. For example, the frogs are attracted to mud people and, thinking the mud people are food, will flick them with their tongues. This causes a mud person to drop anything they were carrying and forget what they were doing.
While the player does not have a direct presence in the game, they control the fate of their mud people. Should something happen and all the mud people under the player’s control are all immobilized, the player loses. As long as one mud person is active, play continues.
The basic resources in the game are dirt and water. These are used to create the mud people, as well as revive them from various immobilized states. Dirt is obtained from holes in the ground, while water is obtained from small ponds.
Mud people themselves are the material to create structures in the game, for example: to build a hut the player selects a mud person and directs them to a location and tells them to start a hut, that mud person then transforms into the first level of a hut. The player then directs two additional mud people to become the second level and finally the roof of the hut. By using the mud people in this way, the mud people themselves are an essential element of the games economy.
In later levels, sticks are introduced as another resource. Mud people can pick up sticks, which give them additional “magical” powers, such as the ability to call rain or the sun, create fire, or scare creatures away.
Unlike most RTS games, there are no military units in Mudcraft or themes of conquest. While the player cannot perform direct violent acts in the game, their mud people can be harmed (yes, there is something at stake). For example, mud people melt when rained on or dry up when hit by intense sun. These immobilized mud people can be revived. However, if they are not revived before another storm catches them, they will melt away or crumble to the ground (i.e., they die). While the game is essentially non-violent, we felt and playtesting confirmed that there needed to be this element of life and death in the game. That is, there needed to be “something on the line” to create the dynamics of a compelling RTS game. After all, a RTS is at its core a game of resource management. If there were no consequences for playing poorly, it would not be much of game.
The overall story, artwork, and sound in the game are designed to be humorous and have broad appeal. The graphics and sound are comical and cartoon-like. The appearance of the mud people is gender-neutral and the gender of the voices are distributed evenly between male and female. The limited game story is very lighthearted and stresses a positive, but mildly stated message about living in harmony with Mother Nature.
Origin of Mudcraft
The idea of Mudcraft was born out of a brainstorming session between Brian Winn and Jason Tye. An early version of Mudcraft was developed as part of Jason Tye’s master’s production thesis in Digital Media Art & Technology in the Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media at Michigan State University. While Brian Winn guided the thesis, serving as thesis chair, both Jason and Brian were heavily involved in the design of the first playable version of Mudcraft used in the research portion of the thesis. Beyond design, Jason served primarily as artist and Brian as programmer.
Based on strong positive feedback from formal playtesting and informal reviews, Brian assembled a team and continued to develop Mudcraft over a 2+ year period. Brian served as producer, programmer, and game designer, managing a team of graphic designers, musicians, and voice talent. The game has significantly changed and improved since the original design, thanks in no small part, to insight and excellent feedback from our growing Mudcraft player community. (See Version History)
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