Back to Bed is an artistic 3D puzzle game with a surreal twist. It tells the story of Bob, an unlucky narcoleptic who has a tendency of falling asleep in his boring office and then proceeding to sleepwalk into the dangers of the big city. Luckily, Bob has a subconscious guardian named Subob, whom spawns from the mind of Bob and whose job is to protect the sleepwalker from any danger and guide him back to the safety of his bed.
The ever vigilant Subob must guide the constantly sleepwalking Bob on a journey through a series of surreal painting-like cityscapes where the boundary between Bob's dreams and reality have vanished, as Subob is part of Bob's subconsciousness. The result is an artistic dream world that is recognizable, yet totally different from the real world, where many things are not what they seem and dangers to the sleepwalker lurks deeper in.
Back to Bed started out as a student project back in fall 2011 as a part of the DADIU (The National Academy of Digital Interactive Entertainment) program. DADIU is basically a short education program, where you learn about and create your own computer games in a couple of months. The students participating in DADIU comes from art schools and universities in all of Denmark and the program consists of a full time semester that takes place each fall.
During my time at DADIU we participated in classes, workshops, and a few small game-jam sessions. Afterwards we got devided into six different teams, resembling six real game studios. To facilitate this we got accepted as specific competencies, meaning that each team was provided with a Game Designer, Game Director, Project Manager, Level Designer, Art Director, Audio Designer and a number of Programmers, CG Artists, Visual Designers and Animators.
We had 6 weeks to do a full game production. Even with 16 members on the team everybody had plenty to do from day one. We all agreed that our graduation game should be a polished one, and concidering that we only had 6 weeks to do it in, we were greatly satisfied with the result.
There's been alot of water under the bridge since our little game first saw daylight. At the end of the semester, the reception for Back to Bed as a student project was beyond our expectations. The panel which reviewed the productions are all experienced members of the game industry and all agreed that we should aim to finish and release the game. So some of us did, and over the next year we worked on and off on the game, fixing bugs and designing new elements. We were helped along by DADIU Greenhouse, a group helping students develop their games into finished products.
After a successfull campaign on booomerang & kickstarter we got the necessary funding to continue with the project in our sparetime. We spent the money on rent, electricity, internet, licenses, coffee and some fruit to keep us from falling off our seats. The room we were working in during this period was small and cold, and some days I even had to work with my winter jacket on..
Now the game has become a great deal bigger, with several additional levels and graphical assets. The new version has a story to tell over the course of more levels, where the dream world changes at a point and becomes at bit more dangerous and dark in its tone. We have a story in our head that describes what happens on the journey, but we want people to make their own interpretations of the cutscenes and levels. We have made a nightmare mode for players who have completed the main game. Here we alter the challenge a bit, which creates some much harder puzzles. This is meant for the players who enjoy thinking many steps ahead in a puzzle game. Besides the content, the game has become a lot better looking with updated graphics and textures, and we are quite satisfied with how it looks on mobile devices too.
The main source of inspiration for the game was a mixture of sleepwalking as a concept and the old Disney cartoon where Goofy sleepwalks on a construction site yet never gets hurt. In that cartoon, it is like there is something invisible force protecting him and guiding him to safety. We asked ourselves what could that force be? After some time we came up with the whole out-of-body-sub-conscious-guardian that protects the sleepwalker and went from there.
SPOILER ALERT: If you want the game unspoiled - do not watch this video.
I worked alot togheter with our very talented art director Adrielle Buus. She made concept drawings for most of the assets and I made the transition from 2D drawings to 3D models. In the beginning of the production I found it a bit difficult to keep things as simple as possible since low poly modelling wasn't something I had practiced very much before working on a computer game. Some models made it into the game right away whilst others had to go through several iterations. Also we had a few assets that where removed completely from the game due to balancing issues. We had to kill some of our darlings. But the arguments were valid and it was a necessity in order to make it a better game.
Beside keeping the visual overview of the game, Adrielle did one hell of a job regarding our textures as well. We really wanted to stick to the picturesque visual style of her concept drawings and therefore it was decided that Adrielle would do the majority of the texturing. Based on the uv layouts I provided for her, she handpainted the textures in photoshop and added an ambient occlusion layer that I would have made in the meantime. We stumbled upon several problems during the process that I had to get around and I learned alot.