Mobile Menu
 

 
 

Buzzing with Excitement for Bee Simulator

 

Design

I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the game play.  The first thing I noticed, before sitting down to become a “tiny hero”, was the overall aesthetic of Bee Simulator. The art is an appealing  semi-realistic animated representation of one square mile of New York City’s Central Park. In addition to the visual appeal, the introduction scene gave a brief introduction to the value of bees in our world.

Equally impressive as the visual aesthetic is the focus on the music as a part of design instead of as an afterthought. A 48 person orchestra created the music composed for the game by, Mikolai Stroinski, the composer for “The Witcher”.  The creative team for this game has expanded from five people for the prototype to 23 at the time of the interview. This team has not only polished the look and feel of the game, they have succeeded in integrating learning with fun and have created an opportunity for cross-generational play.

Mechanics

Aside from the aesthetics, the game mechanics demonstrate a great deal on consideration of the end user experience. There are both a kid mode and an adult mode with very different mechanics; the child mode has less complex mechanics. This consideration of children and adult users extends from Rosiński’s insights about gaming, “I personally really like the experience of sitting together on couch playing a game with someone.” Because of this, in addition to the 4 hour single player campaign, Bee Simulator also has split screen multiplayer competitive and cooperative play. The cooperative play includes following other bees and the competitive play includes what Rosiński referred to as, “Mortal combat in the field of insects.”

blank

Learning Opportunities

Regarding learning opportunities in Bee Simulator, first off, even the introduction tells us about the value of bees. Next, the loading screens give information about bees and their lives.  While there is a great deal of implicit and explicit learning happening, Rosiński was very clear in saying that the game has educational elements but is not an educational game.  He also stressed that this game is like a simulator, but not a true scientific simulator, as simulators don’t have game-play.  

Rosiński had two beekeepers help with project to balance reality throughout game-play, which contributed to the project’s level of fidelity. This realism of bee life manifests itself in the mechanics as well and leads to learning and understanding about bees. First, the game shows the enemy is the wasp, which Rosiński explained was because, “people are afraid of bees, but bees don’t want to sting you, because when they sting, they die….wasps can sting again and again.” This mechanic helps players to consider the true difference between bees as helpers and wasps as aggressors.

blank

Educational Mechanics

Another mechanic that leads to learning was “Bee Vision” a first person perspective ultraviolet view of the world, which represents the way that bees see the world, and more specifically find nectar. Finally, the follow mechanic, in which the player has to control a bee to follow another bee helps demonstrate the complexity of bee movement when surrounded by so many inanimate and living obstacle.  

blank

I’m a prime example of how this game can teach! Weeks after playing the game I remembered the experience and was less frightened when a bee came flying towards me in the typical rapid and erratic pattern. I can only attribute this to the fact that I had gained empathy for the number of obstacles that bees face to traverse a space. This experience for me, supports the value of the game and as Rosiński proclaimed, “Beekeepers love the game.”

 

Virtual Reality Bees

The only disappointment I experienced with this experience was the fact that the game is not in VR. This was also addressed by Rosiński. He explained that VR was part of the early vision for the game, but as of now there is no way to represent the movement patterns of bees in VR without motion/simulator sickness that comes from fast movement in VR spaces while our bodies are sedentary. 

2019 Release on PC and Consoles

I very much enjoyed playing the demo and look forward to playing the full 4 hour campaign and to co-op play on the sofa with my family.  As VR technology improves, I hope the team will revisit the idea of Bee Simulator in VR. Until then I am excited about the release on PC and consoles toward the end of 2019. Whether you like the adventure game, co-op play, or smooth aesthetic design, Bee Simulator is worth your time to take a peek.  

Bee Simulator will release internationally by the end of 2019 on Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows (PC), Xbox One, PlayStation 4.  While the game audio is in English, the game interface will be translated into German, Polish, French, Italian, and Spanish.

Developer: Varsav Game Studios Publisher: Big Ben Interactive

https://store.steampowered.com/app/914750/Bee_Simulator/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=19&v=NSEQIvAgH9o