November 30, 2023
Games Lift: Team Dottobeau have an eye for emotions
The game feels particularly warm and empathetic – and its team is a reflection of those values. “Dottobeau” is a game about searching and finding one’s own place in the universe. And it demands emotional intelligence.
Two teenagers are sitting on a planet. Dotto is on the verge of launching into space for adventure. Beau doesn’t know exactly what he is preparing for. That is the premise of “Dottobeau”, a point & click adventure that looks captivating from the very first illustration.
It all started with a pitch that sounds differently depending on who you ask. Rae Ginkul describes it as “terrible” herself. It took her hours to explain what she wanted to do. “But apparently, I’ve managed to inspire those around me here.”
Rae came up with the idea for the project – she is the illustrator and world builder. She and her team found each other at a game jam. Josie Steuernagel co-hosted it and saw a “perfect fit” for her goals in Rae’s idea. Now, Josie is the project manager and coder of the team. Niklas Loose didn’t find the pitch terrible at all. He felt himself “swept along” by Rae’s detailed vision. He is the team’s audio designer and is collaborating with Josie on project management. He is making the music together with Yannick Clausen, who in turn helps Josie with coding.
Space nomads and musicians
The vision: A hand-drawn point & click adventure that evokes the genre’s nostalgic past. What makes it stand out in the crowded genre are a new focus on empathy and a special core mechanic. Rae’s illustration style and the motif of impossibly small planets are reminiscent of “The Little Prince” and modern genre favorites such as “The Inner World.”
Niklas describes the adventure as a “classic coming-of-age story”. Like her ancestors, Dotto wants to become a “space nomad” and “travel across space”. The game will center around travel preparations. Beau is helping Dotto’s efforts while he himself is “not quite sure yet what he wants.” This uncertainty is one of “Dottobeau’s” main motifs. Yannick explains the game’s core questions: “Where is my place? Who am I?” The dev team may be significantly older than the teenagers at the center of this story. But people return to these questions of self-determination and purpose at different points in their life. For the team behind Dottobeau, this project marks a starting point of their professional careers.
Talking with a Kalimba
The music does a lot of the talking in “Dottobeau”. It is the actual “core mechanic” that the team keeps coming back to during the interview. In the game’s story, Beau is a musician. He keeps finding moments of inspiration that are the basis of the songs he creates. In conversations, the songs may return as a dialogue option. They can change a conversation’s mood and Beau’s relationship with the characters he’s talking to.
Players won’t have to actually play a digital Kalimba. That is Beau’s job. The game will also feature “classic mechanics” expected from adventures. “Players will pick up objects and solve puzzles”, Josie clarifies. But when it comes to music, there won’t be a challenge, but rather an invitation to express yourself. Beau has to listen, choose and interpret what he hears and sees. Through the choice of songs, he will decide who he himself is.
For a long time, this idea proved hard to grasp. It was, after all, new and unproven. The team used the time in the Games Lift Incubator to examine the deeper meaning and intentions of their new core mechanic and developed it further. After two iterations and an internal playtest inside the incubator, they appear more confident than ever.
However, the public will have to wait a little longer before they can experience the core mechanics for themselves. A demo of the game is planned for a later date, but the graduation pitch on December 5 will focus on explaining the development of the concept. A vertical slice and the possible demo come later in the schedule, Niklas explains. This could prove to be a distinctive strength of the team: Careful thinking leads them to sound decisions.