For a newly formatted virtual WWDC in 2020, the Swift Playgrounds team wanted to create a game for developers with chapters that spanned across multiple presentations to keep them engaged during the week of the conference. The idea came about a month before the conference was to set to begin, so the content team, engineers, and I really hustled to pull through on an amazing experience. This was the first time the Swift Playgrounds team worked with a designer/artist from the start of a book, so I was able to have a big role in shaping the way the story, game, and experience were created. I also introduced the content team to the idea of designers being involved earlier in the process, allowing them to see the great potential we could achieve if our teams worked together.
The initial pitch of the game to me was that the user needed to navigate and code solutions via accessible programming and VoiceOver, guiding a hero to a queen with the help of a wizard. Rob had the idea of the art being pixel style, but let me run with the rest. I ended up making the characters animals to be gender neutral and created the world of Swan's Quest.
Because of the tight time constraint, I needed to be flexible and quick with my decisions and illustrations, as the development of the book and limitations of the presentation changed day by day. Pixel art was a new form of art for me, and I really enjoyed learning to create such intricate art that looks very simplistic. In the end, I produced over 200 assets, from tile blocks that allowed the engineers freedom to create varying difficulties of challenges, to backgrounds for scenery, to animated frames for the various moving parts of the game.
A fun perk of this project was being able to use my music background and transcribe sheet music visuals for some parts of the challenge.
Check out the WWDC talk and Swift Playgrounds book!.