Behind the Scenery: Spring Festival
Way back in March 2018 we released Spring Mini-Games Festival, a colourful end to our original mini-games festival series, which began with Summer Mini-Games Festival. What started out as a quick, fun project, turned out to be surprisingly popular, and so with the weight of expectation on our backs, the pressure was on to deliver a stunning finale to the seasonal series!
Spring Mini-Games Festival proved to be one of the more tricky festival maps to concept. Unlike the other seasons, Spring lacks a definitive festival or event such as Halloween in Autumn or Christmas in Winter. While the painted eggs and bouncing bunnies of Easter are nice set-dressings, it's hard to make an interesting map out of them alone. Instead we started to consider what Spring means to people and how it is portrayed, typically as a season of rebirth and renewal. This led us to the (admittedly stereotypical) ideas of a spring meadow, flowers, bees and verdant valleys. In typical Noxcrew fashion, we took this concept to the extreme!
Today, I want to take you behind the vibrant fields and show you the inspirations for the map and the modern eco-friendly town that our Spring Festival is set in. We’ll also take a look at how a few of the mini-games were developed, as well as a few little secrets dotted about in the grass.
We knew that we wanted this map to be bright and exciting, in keeping with the classic Noxcrew aesthetic, but with it’s own identity. To achieve this, our former builder and now leader of Pixel and Blocks, Skywalker, took the colours of springtime flowers such as tulips, daffodils and bluebells, and used them to create a dramatic and vibrant terrain, injecting swirls of colour into the hills. By having these bright hues contrast against the green of the default grass texture, we hoped to create a mystical feel to the setting and enhance thus its natural beauty.
Against this vibrant backdrop, we decided on cleaner style of architecture for our buildings, something that was a stark contrast to the landscape, so that it wouldn’t get lost in the rainbow of colours.
We designed our buildings as pure white structures with bold geometric lines, adding small splashes of colour to add interest and connect them to the hills. The structures were inspired by eco-tech architecture, an environmental movement being developed in countries such as Sweden and Norway, where homes and businesses are created to be environmentally ‘green’. We felt the these environmentally considerate structures would fit in nicely with our theme of rebirth and renewal.
This eco-friendly approach also inspired the culture of the town and many of the set dressings found throughout the map. We hoped to create a town that appeared to work with their surroundings, rather than against. We did our best to subtly incorporate nature into the architecture of the town, painting flowers onto buildings and using the naturally occurring hexagons in honeycomb to add an interesting twist to the grassy areas.
The huge Mother Tree is placed at the centre of the valley, symbolising a merging of the natural, and almost magical, elements of the landscape with the artificial elements introduced by the festival and the townspeople, with the tree serving as both an observation tower and a parkour course (because why not!). Giant grass tufts and oversized animals, designed by our artist Skyao, began to make the space feel more exciting and rewards players who enjoy exploring.
As with all of our mini-games festival maps, we wanted to create fun and interesting ways for players to get around. In this case, we decided to try and blend the natural and the functional, linking the town’s central feature, the Mother Tree, to the town’s mode of transportation. The idea arose to use bees, or bee-like vehicles to travel around, insinuating that they had come from a hive built within the Mother Tree and had grown to terrifying size as a result. To do this, Skyao, re-modelled the chicken mob, transforming it into a large rideable bee model that could transport players all over the colourful hills of the town. To travel across the lake that sits at the foot of the town, we developed swan boats, a typical sight on UK and some US lakes in the summertime. That task fell to our other texture artist, Arsenic, who took the original texture for the Minecraft boat and created an extravagant swan design, extending the front to form the head and neck.
In order to allow players to sit side by side, the boat had to be increased almost three times the normal size of a typical Minecraft boat. To allow alternate coloured boats, different colours were assigned to the different wood variations in the game, allowing us to use a variety of colours: black, white, pink and green.
We now had to solve the problem of our travelling minivan, which is added to explain how the players arrived at the festival location and marks the spawn point of the map, as it has with each of our festival maps. Due to the elevated hexagonal platforms that made up the town, it would have been impossible for a wheeled van to travel into the centre of the park, as intended. Thus, the minivan was transformed into a hover-van, suggesting that that little van has more than a few secrets up it’s sleeve. There’s no problem you can’t solve with a little imagination!
We started the project with a vague concept surrounding the games that we hoped to use, combining games that players expect to find in our festival maps, classic Noxcrew Gameshow games, and new games inspired by the environment. We settled on the usual mini-golf and parkour areas, our popular Sprint mini-game along with egg painting, plus everyone’s new favourite, rubber duck racing!
Sprint, a classic example of one of the Noxcrew Gameshow mini-games, has a particularly awkward course which meant that it took a bit of shifting around to fit it properly into the park. We found that it fit quite nicely down the side of one of the hills, however that meant that the original yellow and blue of Sprint clashed terribly with the pink and purple range. Eventually, despite the attempts at retaining the classic design of the track, the colours were changed so the course is now blue vs. pink.
When we started to build the golf course we quickly realised that due to the nature of the hills, there was a distinct lack of flat areas to put our golfing ranges. This made them exceptionally difficult to concept and play! Our redstone wizard and resident golf expert, Avondale, was eager to reinvent our mini-golf so this was the perfect time to try out some of his ideas. Our original mini-golf uses ice blocks to allow the balls to glide towards the holes, but with the rocky landscape in mind, Avon created a concept for a version of mini-golf that used disks capable of travelling much longer distances, allowing players to cover more of the terrain and removing the need for flat areas to place ice. Markers would show the location of the disk, giving players the chance to explore a little more. Unfortunately this proved to be a little more complicated to implement that initially though, so he settles on adapting the course to Ender-Golf, where players use ender pearls instead of balls to get themselves to the end of the course and into the hole. This small change kept the exploratory nature of the course, without the complications of the Disk-Golf Idea.
Now, there’s one final small secret hiding deep within Spring Mini-Games Festival. One that’s rarely spoken about, although it’s hiding in plain sight. During our discussions concerning the skin pack that we created alongside our mini-games festival maps, a joke was made about one of the skins... We thought it would be interesting to introduce a skin into the Spring pack would look completely out of place there. It would have no reference to stereotypical spring items nor the games in the Festival, but would secretly fit into a small area in the map. So was born Gorlock, Lord of Eternal Chaos. Styled as a demon worshipped in the area who brings about the coming of spring, it was decided that Gorlock would be hidden in a cave system somewhere in the area. If players found him, they would come across his prisoner, Old Man Winter, who would trade with the player, much like the ghost hiding in the lumber mill in Autumn Mini-Games Festival. You can find the entrance to the caves on the beach to the north of the golf course, waiting for unsuspecting visitors to drop in.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this look into how we developed Spring Mini-Games Festival! Let us know which is your favourite mini-game in the map and which project you’d like us to pull the curtain on next!