I first played Freshly Frosted at night, a few hours before bed. I went to bed, and dreamed of donuts. The next morning, I woke up and immediately went out to buy a dozen. I can’t think of ideas for sweet, neat, colorful, warm donuts.
Basically, Freshly Frosted sounds like it has nothing to do with donuts but more of a machine. It’s a puzzle game about placing the tracks of a conveyor belt that will get donuts from point A to point B. Along the way, they may come across machines that will apply, in order: frosting, sprinkles, whipped cream, and acerola toppings, with each level requiring a certain number of donuts with specific toppings. So it may require one plain, two frosted and one with whipped cream, but you’ll need to coat and sprinkle with flour before you can add whipped cream. The puzzles grow more and more complex, adding more advanced stations, tricks like merging carousels and of course, more donuts. It all sounds very mechanical, when you describe it that way.
But in the reality playing Freshly Frosted is anything but. Its intricate carousels are topped with a pastel cloud background that hovers as you arrange your donuts. The donuts themselves are all smothered with mellow, rhythmic machinery that gently bap-bap-bap-ing the toppings to the beat of a soothing soundtrack that intensifies as your mill kicks up and goes silent. as you think about your next move. Each level is introduced with relaxed voice acting, encouraging the player, painting philosophy about life and of course, imagining more and more donuts. The donut machines (according to the gentle story introduction) are the fabric of the speaker’s mind, but after just a few minutes of using donuts, music and color massaging my brain, I feel like donuts might as well be my own dreamy thought experiment.
Freshly Frosted’s magic, chugging donut factories were conceived, humorously, on a train. Ally O. Taylor and Ty Taylor tell me the idea was born in Train Jam 2019, based on Ally O. Taylor’s quick interest in creating a “lovely donut game”. Together with programmer Amanda End, they created the first playable version of Freshly Frosted in about four days during their journey from Chicago to San Francisco. Despite coming out in such a short time, the version of Freshly Frosted that came out of Train James is, according to Ty Taylor, “very playable” and includes even a lot more complex mechanics without appearing. until quite late in the final. version.
At the time, Train Jam had a booth at GDC to display games made on its cross-country journey that year, and the feedback the team received from players who watched Freshly Frosted was encouraging. they “full force” development. One key element that has been significantly added since Train Jam started is the sheer number of puzzles: going up from a box of dozens of puzzles, to niches of dozens of boxes with dozens of puzzles of each type. Ty Taylor, who designed the majority of these carousel puzzles, admits that puzzle design is quite difficult, especially given the specific emotions he wants to convey with Freshly’s donut machines. Frosted.
“From the very beginning, we wanted one of Freshly Frosted’s core tenants to be happy,” he said. “We want it to be satisfying to watch, satisfying to deal with. And I also want it to be pleasing to look at initially, so that means all the ovens and delivery counters and stations where it’s pretty symmetrical or arranged in some interesting pattern, or maybe it looks like chaos, but in the end, there is only one solution where it all falls into place. “
Whenever he gets stuck, Ty Taylor says he’ll “just hang around,” randomly setting the start, end, and decorations of the donut before trying to solve it. decide it. Normally, these random locations would be impossible. But they did help him think through different ideas for interesting types of solutions, allowing him to rearrange his random creations into creative, functional puzzles.
“I had thoughts about the literal shower, where I invented levels,” he added later. “The tile in my bathroom is a mesh, a bunch of different colors. So I’ll just stand there in the hot water and imagine the donut factories in the shower. “
Screen – New dim
Another more recent development for Freshly Frosted is the addition of a lighthearted story written entirely by Ally O. Taylor, who told me they researched some ‘donut facts’ for the making write along with their personal histories of donuts. They told me some of these donut facts were humorously controversial with streamers playing Freshly Frosted.
They say: “Automatic donut making, so donut factories, are older than sliced bread. “And if you want to get technical, make sure, knife-cutting bread is in fact older than automated factories, but automatic bread-cutting is younger than automatic donuts.”
In addition to writing, Ally O. Taylor also took over the entire voice of Freshly Frosted. They say their work on both is inspired by sleep meditation apps, such as Headspace, which they use regularly.
They said, “I really wanted it to be meditative and a little bit about mental health, but not too strong in terms of mental health. “I don’t want it to be so much about it, that it doesn’t really serve a meditative purpose. If you get too deeply involved in it, it won’t make you feel any better. Instead, it can make you feel worse. So that’s why I want to keep it fun for that reason. “
Above all other meditative, satisfying elements is the soundtrack to Josie Brechner’s Freshly Frosted, which seamlessly transitions between what Ally O. Taylor describes as “lofi rhythms for donut making” while the player plays is solving the puzzle, as Ty Taylor calls it a “donut dance party” when the puzzle is complete and the factory activates. Brechner also designed Freshly Frosted’s sound effects to target satisfying sounds, such as the soft pop heard when placing a carousel and the machine’s bap-bap-bap rhythm syncing perfectly in time with music as the factory processes donut after donut.
With Freshly Frosted now out, the team is happy with its reception so far as well as their own work on it. They spent a few years mostly working on the sidelines while full-time on other projects, but they told me the slow pace meant they never fell apart and were able to release a “game”. or, done” without burnout. It’s a well-decorated box of donuts.
“I think the important thing about Freshly Frosted is that when you look at it, you know what you’re doing,” says Ally O. Taylor. “You are getting a very cute, healthy, very sweet and light game. And maybe a little more mean than you might expect when you first look at it, but not much more. And if you don’t want that meaning, you can also turn off the narration in the settings. So people are not surprised when they play it. The people who buy it know what they’re watching and they love it.
“… I have put a lot of heart into it because it is my art, my writing and my voice to you all this time. And a lot of the lines come from my personal personality. There’s too much of my stuff in there. So whenever people say they like it, I’ll say, ‘Oh they like me.’ I’m glad they like me.”
Rebekah Valentine is an IGN news reporter. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.