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Graduation Project mossasis Reflects Real Life, Winning the Best Student Game at the Indie Game Award 2024

Graduation Project mossasis Reflects Real Life,
Winning the Best Student Game at the Indie Game Award 2024

At the Indie Game Award hosted by Taipei Game Show organizing committee, a new "Best Student Game" category was introduced in 2024. The winner was mossasis created by students from the Department of Multimedia Animation Arts at Taiwan University of Arts. The team candidly shared that their motivation was simple - they needed a final project to graduate. The three like-minded members instantly clicked and formed the team "Futile Games", kicking off their journey with the humble moss. Jian An-ting, one of the producers, pointed out that most people's preconceived notions about moss are that it's dark, damp, and unremarkable looking. If translated into real society, it's an allegory for people's quiet struggles. Fellow producer Zhou Zhi-xuan cheekily added: "He himself is quite like a moss person!".

With the Aspiration for Players to Take More Time to Savor the Experience,
Animation Majors Take on the Challenges of Game Development

Futile Games consists of one planner/programmer and two artists from the Multimedia Animation Arts department at Taiwan University of Arts. Although their coursework is mainly animation focused, Zhou Zhi-xuan felt that compared to watching an anime, games deliver more time to slowly appreciate the experience. After a few exhibition experiences, seeing players' passionate feedback, she felt an immense sense of accomplishment and grew interested in pursuing game development. Jian An-ting, who had a keen interest in game development from the start, was influenced by the game 'Journey' and aspired to create an artistic game that could touch players' hearts.

Zhou Zhi-xuan laughed that since it was a graduation project with relatively simple communication channels, team members were used to hanging out in the studio, freely tossing out ideas whenever they had them. However, being tied to the school's review schedule constrained their development timeline. The inexperienced team had to submit builds at different stages for the initial and secondary reviews. They inevitably struggled to just meet deadlines until finally settling on their core focus and progressing step-by-step.

Viewing Life Lessons from Student’s Perspective –
Moss People Embody Youth's Aspirations & Worries About the Future

On why they chose "moss" as the theme, Zhou Zhi-xuan shared that initially the team wanted to create a soft, fluffy creature. Though they considered other non-living things like sponges, moss ultimately fit the game design better with traits like needing water, thriving in shade, and drying out in sunlight. The team put in substantial effort researching and familiarizing themselves with moss types and forms. Jian An-ting further explained that moss's common impression is dark, damp, and unremarkable looking - allegorical for people's societal struggles if translated into real life. After settling on the theme, to make the moss "come alive" and interact with environments, they gave it a humanoid appearance. But more importantly, they hoped players could draw parallels to their own experiences while playing.

The charm of mossasis isn't just adventuring as moss, but also portraying life lessons from a student perspective, including youth's yearnings, worries, and desire to break through. Zhou Zhi-xuan shared that in the game's initial factory-like level, players had to follow conveyor belt instructions, mimicking societal expectations - just like students emulating without their own thoughts. It's only by rejecting that mimicry and escaping the factory that one can truly live. In another demo level, observing creature appearances is key to solving puzzles and progressing, hinting at society's rapid pace where one must constantly adapt to find their own path.

"Surprised and thrilled!" The pair admitted they didn't expect to win Best Student Game at their first Indie Game Award entry, thinking the game was incomplete. Winning affirmed the team greatly. Next, they'll continue fleshing out mossasis with new moss gameplay like swimming, leveraging ground moss for acceleration, vertical movement, and more puzzle elements. As the project grows, Floating Moss emphasizes moving beyond student status, seizing opportunities like Taiwan's governmental subsidy programs to further their foray into the industry.