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MEGA MUSEUM: A tiny studio's take on a MEGA idea
Published 2 years ago
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You found a MEGA Artifact!
Mega Museum is an incremental loot based casual game recently released on the google play store, with later plans to release on iOS.  In the game your tasked with the role of a newly found museum curator, who must work alongside museum staff and visitors to track down lost artifacts and treasures as you build your way to becoming the greatest museum in the world!  
The faces behind Mega Museum are that of a two man team from Dartford, Kent under the name of Merchant Games.  This is the company's first offical product and its being used to break into the mobile space, with a focus on incremental and lootbased gameplay. 
 
MEGA MUSEUM
MEGA MUSEUM is an incremental game at heart that uses both loot and time based mechanics to create an exciting yet relaxing experience, that you can spend minutes or hours on at a time.  With ease of access and playability in mind, everyone of all ages can sit down and run their own historical museum and start exploring the world! (..and maybe learn a thing or two along the way). Players can travel to china and find colourful rare emporor artifacts or take a trip to Egypt in hopes of hunting down the elusive tutankhamun mega mask, that would make even Howard Carter, himself proud!  As you build your collection, more and more guests will come to visit your museum, meaning your income will grow too, allowing you to take more expensive and luxurious trips and enable you to expand your museum!  There are many ways to explore and find artifacts with updates and content added regularly, based on community feedback.
 
WHO WE ARE 
Merchant Games was co-founded in 2016 by Billy Bromley and Jamie Parish who are two graduate university(Greenwich) students, looking to follow their passion within their study area, (games design). Currently the studio has one Artist (Bromley) and one Programmer (Parish) but both have great game design skills, as well as working with outside creatives (designers, writers, sound engineers). The company hopes to grow over time to incorporate more encompassing, detailed and breathtaking games, full of mystery and twists. The studio also has huge love for incremental games. 
WHY TAKE ON THE INCREMENTAL GENRE ? 
The incremental game genre has always been popular with idle gameplay and they are really easy to dig into if you're a veteran gamer, or new to games in general, and the fact we loved similar games like A Dark Room, Disco Zoo, 10,000,000 and many others, we decided to take on the genre. We wanted to design our game around accessability and also take a different approach with what the incremental game idea would include. 
After many concept designs and brainstorming sessions we arrived at the idea of taking on education/history, because there really aren't any education included in mobile apps that also doesn't focus on it completely (its usually just focused on education itself) and what best way to learn alittle whilst also scratching that gaming itch than by running your own museum, collecting lost and forgotten artifacts and treasures from history. Most of our artifacts are real world historical artifacts, however we do keep the game side in there, for example the legendary excalibur sword and other secrets, you might not be able to find in real the real world.
 
ART STYLE
When considering the visual design of Mega Museum, we wanted to do pixel art as our artist(Bromely) was really brushing up on it at the time with other projects and he felt he could tackle this style whilst trying to creating something visually different/odd almost as the game was intentionally aimed at younger audiences. Turns out from player feedback (of all ages) thats its "cute" and very friendly, so we decided to expand on it. The colours are vibrant, the environment is bubbly and almost fantasy like in some ways, but still reminisent of a museum building and its layout, built for tiny people. 
As for the background environments when travelling to different countries they include more of a grand scale/sacred location with a good view point, which displays to the player that they are in a special location. Using Unity2D's sprite editor and other useful tools, the development process was streamlined and made the process of transferring the art into the game quick and easy, which helped with meeting personal deadlines.
 
DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
When planning the general idea, we have always stuck with using hidden treasures and ancient artifacts as well as wanting a big game with one main gameplay mechanic. We planned from the start to use certain countries that would have a historic background as it would showcase our artwork as best as it could. Any other possible countries could come at a later date in updates.
One of our first ideas we thought of was the 'Where's Wally' feature, the whole idea on trying to find the artifact within a picture or a messy pile. As it's a game, we wanted to add a challenge and that would be a timer of around 5-10 seconds. From testing and feedback we found multiple flaws, with one main issue being the confusion of what you see on screen, taking in all of the information that you see within 5 seconds and then within that time, trying to actually pick out the artifacts. We come up with the conclusion that it could not be as clear as we wanted without displaying too many tutorial messages, so we thought of another idea for the mechanic.
From inspiration of an old classic, the matching cards mini game in Super Mario Bro's 3, and using reference of how Disco Zoo used their tile gameplay mechanic, we thought of giving it a go.
After you have found the artifact, you would send them to your museum and add it's value to your overall museum value. Once sent back to your museum they will be showcased on their given stand, ready for guests to view and admire. 
We wanted a 'come back and play' option but didnt want to stop the player from playing. The best way of doing this that we found was to implement a Daily Rating feature. Your museum will get rated daily out of 5 stars, based off your museum's current value, so the more you find the higher the chance you will get a better rating. The higher the rating the more guests will arrive. Some say even celebrities may come to visit, who knows :D.
 
RELEASE DATE
The game is currently out on Google Play/Android, as we decided to release it first on this platform with active involvement alongside Reddit (we also have our own reddit dedicated to the game) and other forums, so we could improve the game and update it from tester/player feedback who currently own those targeted platforms. Updating the game and re-publishing to the Google Play store would only take around 1-2 hours max, whereas updates for an iOS version would take around a week.
There has been overwhelming postive feedback and user involvement, so it's being well received. We are also aware that a lot of people want an iOS version and that will be coming soon, when we have implemented all of our planned content in the game and have updated the game to the best that it can be.
Thanks for reading and to all the people that have helped us get here, aswell as communities around the web for helping us crush bugs and push this product further. It means the absolute world to us and we are very humbled and excited to see where this goes, we hope you are too! Happy Exploring!
 
Merchant Games
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