Back to portfolio

Buddy

A virtual friend

The assignment

For Accare, a child and youth psychiatric organisation, we had to develop a game that would help autistic children with their social skills. In the first period of ten weeks we had to make three prototypes, and in the second half of the semester we had to further develop one of these prototypes.

The game

This game wasn't designed as a game, but more as a central hub for the games part of the social skills training. We knew more groups from both our school and other schoold were making games for this training, so we decided to make a central point for the children to play all the games. This hub isn't just a menu; it's a virtual friend that trains kids in having conversations. The friend has his own emotions, that are influenced by the player's actions, and some of these emotions can last for days in a row, especially if the player doesn't make things right again. Together with this buddy, the player can pick outfits for the buddy, tweek his house, and go to different locations. Items are bought in an in-game store, and the in-game currency can be rewarded by having good interactions with the buddy, or by performing well in the connected games.

My work on the game

The first prototype of this game was already developed by the other programmer in our team, Ron Dekker. For this second period, he focused on building the back end, while I made everything on the front. So I was in charge of controlling animations, player interactions, building all the stores, adding items in the store, and speech. I also recorded all the speech together with my girlfriend, and created a pitching system in the game that would change the voice depending on the gender of the buddy.