Happy Island

. 1 min read

Happy Island is a real time strategy game in VR where instead of destroying the environment, you marshal resources to beautify it. As you command wood spirits to collect resources, the island fills up with forest.

Gameplay video

I made this game with Mark Sullivan (code) and Rick Cody (audio) for the 2014 Hasbro Game Jam over a weekend. This was when VR was just picking up so there wasn't known territory for us to work off of. We had to experiment with how the player traveled across the island and how to select units.

As the solo artist, I wanted the island to look gorgeous but knew there wouldn't be enough time to make all assets. So we shelled out $50 to buy the PolyWorld Woodland Toolkit from the Unity Asset Store.

Example image from PolyWorld's website

The toolkit included a package of low poly art assets with vertex shading. We were able to drag and drop assets like trees, clouds, and a well. Even better, there was a terrain generation tool and a mesh converter that turned assets into low poly art! This paved the way for me to put more time into custom assets like these wood spirits.

After this weekend, we learned a lot about effective movement and user experience for VR. I also realized that this kind of experiential game would need a lot of assets to maintain a quality experience. It was fun to do, but in future jams I think I'll stick to games where assets are more reusable.

Xin Xin

Designer of healthcare, games, ceramics, and tiny houses. Name translates to spicy happy in Chinese. Currently a senior product designer at One Medical.