Game design, development and publishing project with young people.

Age range: 8 – 19
Settings: schools, after school clubs and youth clubs, most with special educational needs and other disadvantages.


Without the generous support of these organisations, this project would not be possible.

Important Note: Young people came up with all the ideas for this game at preparatory workshops run by Digital Writes.

Game Genre

A point-and-click style adventure game, with

  • a variety of environments to explore
  • hidden objects
  • puzzles
  • mysteries
  • interactive dialogue with text and spoken performance

With graphics in a variety of media, animation, soundscapes, sound effects, music.


Carniville is a town trapped in an eternal carnival by an evil Ringmaster.

The inhabitants and all the carnival people are lost in a state of magical hypnosis, with no idea they’re living the same carnival day after day.

Except the protagonist, Bonnie, who determines to try and save everybody.

Bonnie gradually learns the secrets of Carniville, and is able to release some of its people. She also learns that the Ringmaster is possessed by some kind of demon. By solving different puzzles and uncovering different mysteries, Bonnie is able cast the Demon from the Ringmaster.

But that’s not the end. The Demon flees to the Big Top. And only Bonnie, using all her discoveries, can defeat it.


Each Tent will have its own style, as decided by the young people who will make it, for example:

  • a broken down ghost train in the classic point-and-click POV style
  • an 8-bit maze with an animated pixel-art Hero
  • a freak show using photographic composition and image manipulation
  • a cartoon world with animated characters
  • an animal show using paper cutouts or models

Game Mechanics

Carniville is build on a mountainside, and Bonnie has to walk up and down the roads to visit each tent or caravan or cave or animal enclosure or whatever to gather clues and items to help her find her way out of Carniville. She will also have a Map to help her find her way around.

The map has tick boxes by each Tent, and when the Player succeeds in that Tent, a tick appears. If the Player visits that Tent but fails, a cross appears.

However …

The Ringmaster has a Magic Fob Watch that allows him to control time (which is how he can make it carnival every day). At some stage, Bonnie is able to steal this. And then, by selecting a failed Tent and winding back the Magic Fob Watch, she’s able to undo everything that happened in that tent and have another go.

Story / Script / Puzzle Design

Participants will be supported by a published adventure gamebook writer to write narrative elements of the game, script any interactive dialogue sequences, and design any puzzles.

Where participants have literacy needs, the creative writing tutor will use active techniques to help them develop their work. This may include recording, scribing and editing. However, the participants will be the final arbiters of content.

Illustration / Visual Assets

Participants will be supported by a professional illustrator, who will:

  • teach practical and digital artistic techniques
  • to enable participants to produce illustrations and game environments, they will provide tools such as:
    • digital assets participants can use to build illustrations
    • Photoshop brushes

Illustrations and visual assets can be created using any art/craft technique:

  • drawn illustrations, scanned
  • photographs: taken by participants, using props
  • images: found or stock
  • paper cut-outs, photographed
  • models, photographed
  • the above drawn over digitally
  • the above with digital post-production

Audio – Dialogue, Sound Effects, Music

Participants will be supported by an audio professional to:

  • record dialogue
  • research and collate stock sound effects
  • create their own Foley sound effects
  • edit and mix effects into game soundscapes

Participants will be supported by a professional musician to write, perform, record, edit and mix background music and cues for particular game events.

Depending on participants’ interests, skills, aptitudes and educational needs, tutors will employ a variety of techniques to make music creation accessible to all students:

  • researching and downloading stock music
  • using keyboards with MIDI sequencing software
  • using stock loops with sequencing software

Header image

The background for the header image is by Torley from their flickr page. This image is used under the Global Commons licence: Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic licence. The image is here.

Project Blog

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