Neverdale Park is a colourful, free to play match-3 mobile game set in a mythical, retro forest amongst fantastic woodland creatures.
My contributions to this game were substantial; as a creative lead, I was a core influence on the art direction of NEVERDALE PARK.
I coined the game title, designed the logo and iconography, created the style guide, shaped the story and developed all creature mythology. I also designed all of the typography used in the game, worked on UX, UI, marketing and promotional material for international release.
After meeting development milestones, exceeding investor expectations, receiving positive user-test feedback and polishing the game UI, these and other efforts resulted in the successful soft-launch of Neverdale Park via Google Play in Brasil.
While experimenting with an ideation cloud of word combinations, 'Neverdale Park' emerged as my favourite title candidate, and was unanimously accepted by the team and stakeholders.
With a definitive title, I began to explore a variety of logo concepts, styles and treatments.
I drew inspiration from existing game art, our working prototype and the initial story drafts.
During my logo exploration, four strong logo concepts developed: The Jackalope, The Spooky Eye, The Retro Badge, and The Wooden Sign, all clearly displayed here.
During logo development, I simultaneously created four game typefaces.
They're available for review and download available here:
Wolpertinger is a wonky semi-serif typeface, designed for body copy.
DankoScribble is a script typeface based on my own shorthand.
Personified by the character who bears its name, Woody is a playful display font.
Designed for UI indicators, Team Logo is a thick, bold display font that carries the style of the game art.
Ultimately, a variation of the Wooden Sign concept prevailed as the team favourite.
To finalize it, I refined the Neverdale Park logo to match the game art, then applied my Wolpertinger typeface to the game title.
I separated the logo into layers for later animation, eventually used in the onboarding screen, as well as advertisements, social media and online promotions.
After defining the title, completing the game logo and creating typefaces, I began writing and designing the Neverdale Park Style Guide.
By gathering moodboard content, illustrations, prototype screencaps and concept art, I corroborated with all members of the team to refine and release the style guide, shown below.
Presented by stakeholders to potential investors, the Neverdale Park Style Guide proved an invaluable resource to executives when explaining the project, its scope, design and details.
To learn more, tap the button below the image to download and review the full PDF.
As a creative lead working on Neverdale Park, I was a crucial influence in shaping the story of this world, creating it's inhabitants and structuring their mythology. Selected examples of this lexicon are shown below.
Neverdale Park is a classic tale of good versus evil.
Assuming the identity of an anonymous hero, players embark on an epic quest to discover the origins of a mysterious scrapbook, leading to a legendary park deep in the wilderness. Upon learning that the park is cursed, players join and manage forest creatures to battle their corrupted peers, cleansing them in the process.
As the game progresses, stronger creatures are encountered, teams develop, creatures evolve, difficulty increases and the mysteries of Neverdale Park begin to unfold.
Upon entering the park gates, players are greeted by Woody... the squirrely bearded fella seen here.
An eccentric but friendly woodland shaman who acts as the game narrator, Woody explains the game dynamics, monitors player progress, acts as referee during battles and provides hints to players when necessary. I may or may not be the direct inspiration for his voice, mannerisms and behaviour.
Neverdale Park is home to over seventy unique creatures, divided into various classes, dependent on their strength potential and natural affinity.
As players progress further in the game, they discover, upgrade and even evolve creatures. These fantastical characters define the game itself; on top of art direction, I named and co-wrote original backstories for all of the 70+ playable creatures featured in the final game, three of which are featured here...
To support marketing efforts, I also created promo creature images in the art style of the game. These were then compiled for the international press kit, Google Play and the Apple Store.
In addition to the game title and characters, I also defined the visual direction and final names of the game maps and environments, some of which are featured here.
Based on the five definitive environment types defined above, I designed the elemental matchmaking tokens featured in the Match-3/Battle screen. These icons were then animated and fully integrated into the core UI.
The First-time User Experience (FTUE), main navigation heads-up display (HUD), narration style, game maps, rewards and creature management screens involved careful development, split-testing and refinement.
From flow to iconography to sounds to character concepts and backstories, I defined much of the visual art and UX direction for this challenging project.
UI & UX
The chunky, colourful interface design helps shape and tell the story of this whimsical world.
I combined my design and UI skills to define the functionality, appearance and interaction of the game flow; as the scope of the project evolved, so too did the UX. Apart from the core game itself, players could gather loot, develop strategies, select and manage a team of creatures, chat live and purchase In-game items.
In addition to a linear story experience, players could also choose to divert from the canon storyline of the game and develop a team to battle against frenemies over wifi.
This UI flow chart shows the core game interaction, stylised to match the branding and art style I established for the rest of the project.
A key aspect of the game, the Main Screen greets players at the gates of Neverdale Park, displaying currencies, gifts, vitals, navigation, rewards and progress.
The concept of using this screen as a literal base of operations became a solution to UX engagement. By placing the player at the mouth of the forest, the game environment, interface, mood, art style, iconography, and behaviour conventions were immediately established.
The Main Screen also provided context and a setting for the introduction of Woody, the game's enigmatic narrator, eccentric guide and unofficial mascot.
Creature management is all about getting to know the playable characters of Neverdale Park. The challenge of this interface was to comfortably display a creature roster and allow a player to manage their team in a simple, comprehensive and engaging way.
My solution was an interactive scrapbook, containing layered information about all unlocked creatures in a team. By dragging an individual's polaroid to the roster bubbles, players could organize a custom team, and even name this trio by tapping the Team Logo icon on the top left.
By tapping an individual's polaroid within the book, a player could then access a Creature Focus Screen to review a selected creature and see it's basic details (name and abilities). Additional tabs offer mythology and detailed statistics....
Accessed via the Creature Management Screen, the Creature Focus Screen interface I designed provided unique creature details, stats, backstory and animations. Selective evolution allowed players to strategically build stronger teams and influence core gameplay; Woody introduced players to features and directly explained how to manage and upgrade their roster during FTUE.
Each creature had the ability to upgrade, grow and evolve, becoming permanently stronger in the process. All creatures evolved independently and developed their own unique powers and appearances, providing the player with a diverse team of beasties.
There were five creature value levels, rising from Common to Uncommon, Rare, Legendary and Epic. One of my favourite creatures, Ribblet, is featured here transitioning from a soft frog-like creature into a hardened reptile... and, ultimately, a *slightly* deranged young prince.
How might one implement a shop dynamic within a mobile game set in an enchanted American forest during the 60's?
...with a magic retro vending machine -- that's how.
Here in the Shop screen, players can exchange three virtual currencies (soft, hard and accumulated), upgrade in-game items and buy virtual cameras to seek and photograph new creatures and loot.
All purchases and discoveries update automatically within the Creature Management screen scrapbook.
The Map Screen became the answer to the question of how to guide players through the story. Parallax animation unfolded maps on entirely separate pages, automatically updating when a player completed a level, unlocked new stages or encountered a Boss.
I designed the node iconography, map icons, scribbles, region titles, shorthand and animations to fit within the Retro Scrapbook theme, complimenting the established art style.
Match-3 & Battle
The core gameplay screen combined a Match-3 and Battle interface, allowing players to first focus on turn-based puzzle solving, matching three or more coloured tokens to absorb corresponding element energy. After three moves, players then observed the immediate affects of their turn as characters charged up and unleashed attacks. Woody arbitrated rounds, providing gameplay hints before and after matches during loading screen transitions.
The reward screen immediately followed all battles, rewarding players accordingly for prowess, speed and skill.
Loot included soft, hard and accumulated currencies and virtual items. These were in turn delivered by Jackelope via the Forest Postal Service (FPS), a facetious courier whose corporate branding I designed and implemented within the reward payout screens.
Six distinct loot boxes indicated the perceived value of their contents through colour, shape and size, shown below.