Sweet Escapes Feed

Why We Say 'I Do' to Weddings in Casual Games

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By Sara Hardin

Television history was made in 1994 when Rachel Green entered the Central Perk in her sopping wet wedding dress on the pilot episode of Friends. “The One Where Monica Gets a Roommate” turned the expectations for portraying a wedding on its head—instead of the glitz, glam, and giddiness typically associated with the Big Day, Rachel left her fiancé at the altar after realizing she didn’t truly love him. Thus, Rachel is thrown into the ragtag group of friends the world quickly grew to love.

Weddings and romance—happy endings or otherwise—are an excellent way to develop characters in any narrative, and casual game stories are no exception. Multiple developers—most notably, our own client Metacore—have even capitalized on the failed-wedding trope for themselves as part of their marketing, and there’s little doubt as to why; the idea of a love turned sour is compelling. If we’re immediately asking, “Why? What went wrong?” then the content has already hooked us.

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Grandma Ursula comforts Maddie in this ad for Merge Mansion.

While there’s plenty of room for gossip and drama in casual game narrative—in fact, it’s something we at Brunette Games are constantly encouraging our clients to explore—the same can be said for happy and healthy relationships. Watching a romance grow from nothing to a-lot-more-than-something is hugely rewarding for audiences. A great example of this type of relationship development is seen in The Office between Jim and Pam. By the time they shared their first kiss, viewers who had been around since the beginning were crying happy tears (and maybe I’m projecting since that was definitely my experience… but I don’t think I’m too far off). Their friendship turned forbidden-crush turned passionate-romance is a hugely successful representation of the art of the slow burn. The payoff continues as we watch them get engaged and eventually married, and their relationship arc remains one of the most enjoyable parts of every rewatch for longtime fans.

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“I thought they'd be good together, like PB&J. Pam Beasley... and Jim. What a waste. What. A. Waste.”

Even if a game’s narrative leans more “playful comedy” than “mysterious drama,” the potential for exploring budding romance remains. In Redemption Games’ Sweet Escapes, the diva poodle Cherry and cantankerous hyena Buzz are an adorable representation of when opposites attract. They even get engaged and married, a development that was warmly received by long-term players. This kind of relationship growth has huge payoff for games with hours upon hours of gameplay: If the audience is dying to see if a romance is going to go somewhere exciting, they’re eager to continue playing to find out more.

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Sweet Escapes fans root for the unlikely romance between Cherry and Buzz.

In addition to romance in general, we think mature romance deserves more time in the spotlight. In ZiMAD’s Jigsaw Puzzle Villa, side character Emilio starts the game having silently pined after Valentina for years. Valentina, heart shattered by a disastrous marriage to an unfaithful man, takes some time to come around to Emilio’s affections—but when she does, she’s ready to embrace the quality of love she’s always deserved.

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Twenty-somethings aren’t the only people falling in love, and they certainly aren’t the only ones playing mobile games—all the more reason to make space for this type of romance in our narratives. This is an area of representation that often gets overlooked. We occasionally find a sense of reluctance to explore the dynamics of existing marriages and long-term relationships in our stories, which feels like a missed opportunity; these situations lend themselves to drama just as often—if not more—than a new, blossoming romance. The conflict in these instances is often more nuanced, less petty, and complicated by years of intimate connection. The interest in these storylines doesn’t have to taper after the wedding bells have rung.

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All this to say, we hope to see more opportunities for weddings and multi-faceted relationships in our future. The appeal, charm, and heartstring-pulling potential can’t be overstated—happy ending, or otherwise.


New Content! An Obsession with Clams Comes through in ‘Family Guy,' 'Sweet Escapes,' and 'Animal Island'

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The not-so-annual Clam Fest returns to Quahog!

By Dexter Woltman

An all-new celebration is coming to a shore near you! Join the residents of Quahog in celebrating Clam Fest, a brand-new, time-limited event in Jam City’s Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff. Written in collaboration with the writers of the hit TV show, Brunette Games brings plenty of mollusk-themed shenanigans to the wacky world of Family Guy that fans have grown to love. 

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Inspired by a classic episode from the TV show, the event’s storyline follows Mayor Wild West as he runs a themed festival called Clam Fest to boost the town’s revenue. Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff has always used golden clams as a means of currency in the game, but now we bring them to the forefront.

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Are you tired of the word ‘clam’ yet? I’m not!

With support from the talented team at Brunette Games, I designed this new event for Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff. But what not everyone may know is that I’ve been waiting to pitch this event for years, and it all goes back to a unique—if not outright weird—obsession: clams!

Storytelling has always been a passion of mine, and when I was a kid, clams stood out to me for their peculiar form. It was fascinating for me to think a shell could be alive. I wrote short stories titled “Planet of the Clams” and created a 12-part series of animations. These videos followed the clams’ inevitable takeover of the world and included lovable favorites (of mine) such as the Clampocalypse and infamous Clamzilla. Trust me; if there’s anything I’m good at, it’s making clam puns.

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These childhood stories acted as a springboard for what would eventually lead to a career in narrative design. They helped me realize how much I enjoyed writing stories with exciting worlds and engaging characters. Growing up, I drew comics, made games, and wrote books. It all led me to a major in scriptwriting at Webster University, where I met the one-and-only Lisa Brunette—later, I joined Brunette Games.

Since entering the game-writing industry, my passion for clams hasn’t waned. In fact, Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff isn’t the only title where I've featured clam-related storylines! To start, there’s Redemption Games’ Sweet Escapes, where the lovable cast of characters deals with a clam infestation during the second season.

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Joy faces the giant clam in Sweet Escapes!

The clams pop up all across Dessert Island, and the bunny Joy and her friends must find a way to deal with them before they take over their sweet shops! Normally, clams aren’t a key interest for target demographics, but Sweet Escapes drives it home with its quirky antics guiding the way. It became a beloved storyline in the second season, and received positive feedback from players!

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Redemption Games supports the clam storyline with incredible world design. They created unique clam assets to scatter around the island, including some which players could interact with by tapping on them.

But the fun doesn’t end there! When designing the storyline for Gear Inc.’s Animal Island, we featured Shelly, a soft-spoken clam. Over the course of the game, she takes a central role in protecting the island from a swarm of locusts.

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With Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff, Sweet Escapes, and Animal Island, I had exciting opportunities to incorporate my unique interests into my professional work. Continue following Brunette Games, and you’ll be sure to find the occasional clam reference or two. And check out Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff’s Clam Fest! The time-limited event runs through August 24th, 2022.

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You can download Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

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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!