For many, brainstorming a concept for a video game during the height of a worldwide pandemic could culminate in some pretty dark and dreary game ideas.
Not so for Toronto Film School’s Class of Fall 2022 Video Game Design & Animation and Video Game Design & Development students, who were tasked with doing just that a little shy of a year ago. Far from the shoot ’em up concept you might expect, what Qirat Shahzad pitched instead was a virtual love fest called The Bright Side.
“The initial pitch was made during a really tough time in our lives. The pandemic really moved a lot of things around for us, and it was hard during that time to find any positive or good to look forward to,” said Shahzad, who first conceived the game and acted as its Creative Director.
“Everything was looking really dark and dull at the time, but this capstone game gave me the opportunity to make something happy and something memorable for everyone who was going to be working on it – and playing it.”
Billed as a classic 2.5D puzzle platforming game, The Bright Side takes place inside the corrupted heart of a man named Priam, whose journey to climb the ladder of success has infused negativity into his heart. Players take on the role of Sparkboy, whose mission is to fight off the Gloomies and restore love back into Priam’s heart.
As a “symbol of kindness and a spark of hope,” Shahzad said Sparkboy was designed to resemble an innocent child whose main motivation is to spread nothing but love – a mindset she and the Messy Pixels Studio team behind the game hope will rub off on players.
“Spreading love is the thing Sparkboy knows how to do best. As we get older, I think that part of us tends to fade away – but after playing the game, I hope that each and every player of The Bright Side reawakens that little inner child and just becomes nicer to the world around them,” Shahzad said during the game’s virtual unveiling showcase.
“In most games, you’re supposed to kill your enemies to keep moving forward in the game. It’s a bit different in The Bright Side, where, instead of killing your enemies, you have to comfort them and make them a better version of themselves,” she added.
“This idea was perfect for me and my team, especially as the world got more stressful around us. The Bright Side felt like the perfect escape for us.”
The Bright Side is available for download here: https://messypixelstudio.itch.io/the-bright-side
Paige Adamczyk – Artist, Technical Artist
Jurell Barrett – Artist
Jordan Besito – Artist
Eric Derlukewich – Artist
Joe Dove – Producer, Animator, Game Designer
Oscar Ezquivel – Artist, Animator
Skylar Geraci – Artist, Lead Animator
Nour Haddad – Artist
Justin Ho Shue – Artist
Josiah Inkster – Environmental Artist
Nathanial Mentis – Head Programmer
Gary Nemis – Technical Lead, Lead Game Designer
Cuong Nguyen – Artist
Qirat Shahzad – Creative Director, Game Designer
Avneesh Singh – Programmer Art
Yiling Sun – Artist
Jesse Thornton – Particle Effects
Marika Toth – Lead Artist, Sound Designer and Composer