Matchington Mansion Feed

Pawsome! The Power of Pets in Mobile Games

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Official ‘Jigsaw Puzzle Villa’ artwork

By Dexter Woltman

Who doesn’t love snuggling on the couch with their favorite furry (or not-so-furry) friend? Pets play an important role in our lives, and most of the team at Brunette Games find ourselves fortunate enough to own one. Whether our pets are scratching at a toy, napping beside their owner, or—in my case—trying to crawl on my shoulder while I write, pets are a source of comfort and levity. When we’re designing ways to engage audiences with our games, we often translate that familiar sense of animal companionship into the stories we see onscreen.

Across Brunette Games’ 35 released titles and counting, we’ve featured a wide range of lovable pets. Some of our titles include a more traditional choice when it comes to our characters’ animal friends, such as Tiffany’s endearing-yet-sassy cat in Magic Tavern’s Machington Mansion. But whether it’s a cat, dog, or goat, each takes a unique role in their owner’s life.

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When Justine travels to Spain in ZiMAD’s Jigsaw Puzzle Villa, she’s surprised to find the owner of the villa she’s staying in hasn’t given her cat a set name. Much like in Machington Mansion, this allows players the opportunity to name the cat themselves, building a deeper connection between the player and the animal.

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Jigsaw Puzzle Villa also brings pets into the forefront of its gameplay by allowing players to solve animal-themed jigsaw puzzles. These adorable puzzles feature dogs, birds, horses, cats, and more!

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Traveling beyond Spain, Justine isn’t the only woman in our games who meets animal friends abroad. Even acclaimed actor Jane Seymour sets out on a quest to rescue exotic animals with her loyal pet companions in “Into the Islands,” a time-limited event in Playtika’s Solitaire Grand Harvest.

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Sometimes, the roles of pets in our games is even more involved. In Jam City’s Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff, the family dog Brian is the (literal) voice of reason. When he’s not busy ranting about politics or his superiority complex, he’s steering the dysfunctional family out of harm’s way.

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Speaking of the “voice of reason,” when handyman Emilio’s feeling down in Jigsaw Puzzle Villa, his goat offers him valuable advice like “Bleat!” and “Bleaty! Bleat! Bleat!” Did we mention the goat is also nameable?

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But the fun doesn’t stop there. While the goat in Jigsaw Puzzle Villa helps Emilio find himself, the dog in Sparkling Society’s City Escape helps the family in the game find… their rival? City Escape follows the Filburns' move to the countryside, where the parents quickly enter into a feud with their neighbor, Owen Timmons. When the Filburn kids—Ben and Chloe—find a lost dog, they’re surprised to discover he belongs to Owen. They return the dog to his home, marking the first step in healing the relationship between the Filburns and their disgruntled neighbor.

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But not every dog who wanders feels lost. In Uken Games’ Ava’s Manor, the lead character is a mystery-seeker whose loyal dog Marlowe joins her on adventures. Marlowe’s larger-than-life presence is felt throughout the game as he points Ava in the direction of clues. Marlowe’s even voiced by our very own Andy Mack, who brings life to the dog’s many yips and barks.

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Pets bring out the best in the characters we write. In a way, they’re humanizing and allow our characters to see themselves through the animals’ eyes. Whether you’re a longtime pet owner or admire animals from a distance, our games have four-legged companions for anyone to fall in love with—and these pets don’t require vacuuming loose hair! Be sure to check our Brunette Games’ expanding catalog of titles, where we continually find new animals to add to our growing roster of beloved pets.


Brunette Games' Year-End Giving Is All About Gardening

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Many of the games we write feature a garden as a key renovation space. In Merge Mansion and Lily's Garden, the garden is the main game-play focus - at least at the game's outset. Lily's great aunt was a somewhat eccentric gardener and beekeeper, and in Merge Mansion, Grandma Ursula seems mysteriously reluctant to step back inside the mansion she's kept hidden away all these years. That's quite all right, as Maddie's pretty content to putter around outside. While the grounds are secondary to the interior decorating in Matchington Mansion, it's an exciting moment when you move out to tackle the overgrown yard, especially when your neighbor-the-gardener shows up. The first thing the protagonist in Ava's Manor does is spruce up the garden, before she's even set foot inside the old British manor. And while we love decorating the many shops in Sweet Escapes, it's the outside areas that often pique our greatest interest: Who can forget the moment when Duncan jumps through the giant donut hole?

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Designing and writing within garden spaces comes naturally to us. Half our team is comprised of avid gardeners, and even those who are relegated to apartment living excel at indoor houseplants. Dexter and Anthony both grew up in farming families. Sara inherited a native plant garden when she and her husband bought their first house last year, and Anthony and Lisa own a 1/4-acre plot of land they've transformed to something they call a 'homestead habitat.' They even blog about the project.

So when we mulled over how to go about our year-end giving for 2021, we naturally thought of gardens. Two organizations stood out as great candidates for our support: Wild Ones and Seed St. Louis.

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This past year, the St. Louis chapter of the national organization Wild Ones blew the doors off membership, growing to become the largest chapter in the U.S. It's easy to see why, as the community here is super volunteer-focused, with active citizen involvement and a great deal of cooperation between organizations when they can share a mission. One example is the St. Louis Audubon Society's Bring Conservation Home program, which enjoys terrific support from Wild Ones in their shared mission to promote native plant gardening.

Founded in 1998, Wild Ones encourages landscaping with native plants in residential, business, and public landscapes. They accomplish this through monthly gatherings at member gardens, grants for native plants to schools and organizations, educational outreach, and annual plant and seed sales and giveaways. Brunette Games is happy to support this important organization.

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Lisa has fond memories as a volunteer during her college years at Saint Louis University in the 1990s, putting in community gardens for a group called Gateway Greening. The organization is still around and serving as a tremendous resource for urban and suburban gardeners, though they've just changed their name to Seed St. Louis. Anthony and Lisa have personally benefitted from the plethora of free workshops on topics like 'how to create an organic backyard orchard' and 'how to extend your growing season.' Seed St. Louis also sells seeds they save from their demonstration garden directly to the public for as little as a dollar a packet, and their 'New Kuroda' carrot variety is phenomenal.

Since 1984, Seed St. Louis has connected people to the land, to their food, and to each other. The organization supports a network of more than 250 community gardens, school gardens, and urban orchards in neighborhoods throughout the St. Louis region. Their purpose is to provide communities with the tools, education, and empowerment to grow their own food.

With crucial issues like climate change and food security top of mind for all of us, Brunette Games is proud to support this amazing organization.

We also want to take this opportunity to thank our clients for trusting us with your game stories. Our work together throughout the year is our joy and sustenance. And finally, a shout out to all the people who play the games we help design; without you, none of this would be possible. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Read Our Latest Article from ironSource, on Humor Writing for Games

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By Dexter Woltman

Recently, global software company ironSource LevelUp published an article written by yours truly on Medium. Expanding on my other blog topics about humor in casual gaming, this article discusses how to use comedy to bridge connections with players. With valuable insight on the mobile gaming industry and plenty of funny examples to go around, this is one read you won't want to miss!

To check out the piece for yourself, head over to Medium by clicking on the link or image below.

Punchline: How to Use Humor to Bridge Player Connection

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