We’re currently working on a review for LongStory, so I got in touch with Bloom Digital Media to talk about the game’s development for its Nintendo Switch release. Come check it out!
PS4Blog: Good afternoon! Welcome to PS4Blog.net. Can you please help us get this interview going by telling our readers a bit about yourself and your work?
Thanks for talking with us! Bloom Digital Media is an independent game studio that was founded in 2012. We create narrative-driven games featuring authentic characters in the midst of pivotal moments and life-changing stories.
Bloom Digital Media was founded in November 2012, as a digital services company primarily focused on creating digital media experiences for children and youth with a focus on health, and mental improvement through games and gamified experiences.
It was founded by Miriam Verburg, a game designer and interactive producer with over 15 years of experience working on digital projects with non-profits, cultural organizations, and broadcasters. Since its founding, the company has been privileged to work with a variety of kids media and health-sector organizations to create a diverse suite of products, from web quizzes to hackathons.
In 2012, at a hackathon devoted to kick-starting health improvement technologies called Hacking Health, company founder Miriam Verburg pitched the idea of a game designed to help young people develop healthy relationships. From this event, a mobile choose-your-own-romance game called LongStory was born. The game was in development for a year and a half before Episode 1 was launched at SXSW in March 2013.
LongStory has been downloaded over 1 million times on Android and IOS. It enjoys a strong fan community and has a four-star rating on both app stores. The game offers players a safe space to learn about dating and consent through interactive fiction.
PS4B: On that note, LongStory is now live on Nintendo Switch. How would you describe the game to someone who’s never heard about it?
LongStory is a charming and LGBTQ+ friendly dating sim set at the weirdly lovable Weasel Heights Middle School that lets you pick your pronouns as well as who, or even if, you would like to date any of your romanceable friends. We’ve previously released on iOS, Android, Itch.io, and Kartridge with eight episodes total. In addition to the pains and pleasures of romance, LongStory offers players the chance to reflect on complex issues including consent, coming out, social anxiety, and bullying – all in a safe environment.
PS4B: How long did it take to develop the game? Were there any particular hurdles or challenges you had to overcome during the porting process to the Nintendo Switch?
LongStory has been in development since we launched the first episode in 2013, so the game engine has changed a lot in that time. We started with a simple game engine developed in Flex, did a major port to Unity for our Steam launch, and then a follow-up port for the Switch. In general, between mobile / PC, there were not too many complications, but from PC to Switch there were many hurdles to overcome with respect to how our save system was designed and how it handled storage.
We did a ‘mini’ refactor of our save system, so it would take up a lot less space and make substantially fewer calls to the file system in accordance with Nintendo guidelines. The other changes were interface related and involved adding the necessary information for players using their joy-cons instead of the touchscreen and also implementing the game controller. We also added HD rumble to the phone interface in the game so that when you get a text in the game, the Switch rumbles as though it were a smartphone set to vibrate.
Overall with any port, the challenge is making sure the game experience on the new system is a little better than it has been on past devices. With each new port of the game, we improve aspects of the interface and functionality and then roll out those improvements on our other platforms. It’s been great working with Nintendo to ensure we have the best possible version of LongStory out there this winter.
PS4B: With Long Story now ready to go, are you currently working on any new projects that might also be making their way to Nintendo’s hybrid console?
We have another narrative-driven game coming out next year, called Later Daters. It’s like a mix of Dream Daddy and Golden Girls, and it’s a romantic sim that takes place in a retirement community. It’s going to be hilarious, sentimental, and sexy. You can find out more about it on our blog or by following our Twitter or our Facebook or our Instagram accounts.