Zoe is an 11-year-old, 6th-grade CDS student in Caroline Broyles's middle school design tech class, who was tasked with making a video game. For the project, students were required to research a person who has inspired them or had an impact on their life and build a video game around them. Zoe was inspired by Matt Bozon, the co-creator of Shantae, alongside his wife Erin Bozon, and their game company WayForward. Zoe took her inspiration and created a Bloxels game called Turnip-san and the Spiral Realm. At the time of this story, Zoe's game was featured on the Bloxels website and had been played over 10,000 times!
Below is the story of "The Making of Turnip-san and the Spiral Realm" in the words of Zoe A.
So what started all this? Well, sometimes for fun, I like to make random characters that I’ll never use for anything, in my head. I did this around the time when we were starting our Bloxels games in Design Tech, and I wasn’t sure of what I was going to do. I wanted something that was my own character and not just a person I chose. Then I remembered that I made Turnip-san for fun, and decided “hey, I like this character I made, let’s use her!” and went with that.
For this, since I had to have a story, I made two more characters along with Turnip-san. Leek-chan and SpiralSkull. Leek-chan was based on the leek vegetable because each character that was part of Vegitopia (Ve-ih-toe-pee-a) was a vegetable. SpiralSkull was the villain character. He was a demon creature I made because I wanted two separate worlds where one was being invaded by the other. For now, those are the only characters I have put into this game (series maybe?). I do have other ideas for characters, and I want to get my friend’s character ideas too, to make more of a story and make it like an RPG adventure game.
What this was based on
At the time, during the summer, my dad had finished replaying the Shantae series. I really liked the characters and story of the game. My favorite was the main character, a girl (and an absolute queen), that went through adventures. For my assignment in design tech, we had to choose someone to base our games off of. I wasn’t sure of who to pick and I really liked the Shantae series because that’s what the characters were based on, so why not do the closest thing? The creators! Since the games were their ideas and I was basing it off of Shantae the character, the creators would work fine. To meet the criteria of the project, I added hints and secrets of the creators into the game. I made my own story, but I had inspiration from the creators and the Shantae games.
The game and art
I am going to say this now since it was a pixel game, I HAD NO IDEA WHAT I WAS DOING. It took me a while to see how to use the pixels to make designs and animation (which was hard to make, credit to my dad for the walking animation) for characters and the world around the character. I started with the easiest part, the background. You could kind of draw the pixels in with your mouse so you could make a background that was easier to create. Then after that, I had an idea of what I wanted to make: invaded Vegitopia. I wanted it to at first look natural, but then to have it look like chaos had descended on it and caused havoc. This also helped me with the ground and having a bunch of purple and black goo around the place. Making this also made it easier for the Spiral Realm so I had a color scheme. Lots of purple, black, and gray.
After making the world, then came the real challenge. The characters. I already had character designs for each character, but it was more about having enough room to make it look like the character. I needed to have enough space for the animation. I struggled with this so much, so I did the characters last. I figured out a base and asked my dad for help with the animation since I didn’t really know how to animate pixels. He helped me, and I made the other two characters. After that, the game was finally finished.
The end? (spoiler alert)
If you’ve played the game, you know that at the end, you fade to black, and see a self-aware SpiralSkull calling for a sequel. “Mark my words player, I will return.” I am very motivated to make the second part of my game to continue the journey of Turnip-san. I really hope that I can because the first game has been a huge success. When writing this, it has 4265 plays/views (since Zoe wrote her summation, the game has hit over 10,000 plays/views), which is amazing since I only uploaded this game about a week ago. I never would’ve expected my game to blow up, and according to the school, I’m the first person to get on the featured page in three years! I’m thinking that IF there is a next game that I make, SpiralSkull will return, with maybe a friend of his to take over Vegitopia and I can add more characters to help Turnip-san. I hope I’ll continue this before the time runs out, and if I can't, it was fun to make while it lasted.
Thank you to 6th grader Zoe for writing this article. Thank you also to Zoe's dad, Mr. Ault, who is the middle school Design Technology teacher (the apple doesn't fall far from the tree), and of course, veteran CDS middle school Design Technology teacher, Mrs. Broyles.