PickCrafter is a wildly successful mobile (and now desktop) game developed by the indie game studio Fiveamp. It is an idle tapping game with a Minecraft-esque aesthetic. I had the pleasure of working with Fiveamp in designing, modelling, and animating some of their 3D game models (specifically, the game’s treasure chests).
This was one of my favourite projects, mainly because of the artistic freedom the client lent me in making these mini treasures. Generally, they are based on seasonal events or public holidays, and came in two sizes (or three for the St Patrick’s Day one). Perhaps the most satisfying part of this project is seeing the increasing ambition and experimentation in the designs over time, from the more straightforward Monster Chest to the veritably ostentatious Cupid Chest of Valentine’s Day.
One step above the standard Minecraft chest, this model takes a fancy approach to the source material with a larger lock, an arch to the lid, and a regal red velvety texture with a gold trim.
There was a small variant of this chest, but it was identical in design, being only half width. Over time, the small and large variants of the chests took on different design directions entirely, rather than being differently scaled models of each other.
…and a step up from the red velvet chest, is the diamond-locked, platinum trimmed, violet felt dynasty chest. Though it was not intended to be east Asian in style, it was noted that it appeared that way by the client. Thus, I named it after the east Asian furniture set from Terraria.
There’s not much to say on this design, other than it is obviously based on the infamous Dungeons and Dragons enemy, the Mimic.
One of my personal favourites. The Atlantis chest is in the shape of a greek temple, flanked by a pair of pixelated Ionic orders. and a trident lock. The subtle seaweed and coral growing on the underside is what makes this an Atlantis chest, rather than just a Greco-Roman themed chest.
This chest beckons the departure from the Minecraft theme and into the more experimental designs in this series.
However, it is the first to feature an animated texture incorporated in the design, with the wandering eye lock and the blinking floating eye that emerges when the lid is opened.
My second foray into animated textures was somehow integrating a neon effect. Of course, the slick monochromatic design and Xenon glow is reminiscent of the video game Portal. All that was needed was a turning lock that aligns with the light, and lid that splits apart and levitates to render this concept out of the world.
Mini Jack o' Lantern
Thus begins the trend of seasonal themed chests, with large and small variants. Actually, this one was conceived after his bigger brother.
Aside from being half the size (and with a cuter hat), a lighter complexion and a panicked expression distinguishes this variant of the Halloween chests.
Jack o' Lantern
The original Halloween chest had a more menacing expression, with some subtle shading effects that defined the volume of the carving.
The flashing light of the texture is more pronounced in this design, which in hindsight makes me wonder why I didn’t give the chest’s interior a glow.
Now was the time I really began experimenting with what was the previously the least interesting features of these chests: their opening animations.
The opening of this chest was particularly a joy (there are actually three variants, this just happens to be my favourite). Namely, it is gift box with a candy cane coloured wind up key that pops the top of the present like a Jack-in-the-box.
The large Christmas chest is a pudding (complete with a holly) and an oversized sliding lock. When the candy cane bolt is removed, the chest opens.
The small Thanksgiving chest was conceived after its larger brother, and it was clear that the designs had to steer back to a more chest like appearance. This one was simple, but enjoyable to design, with an unmistakably turkey head forming a key, and a lock that resembles the buckle of a pilgrim’s hat.
Perhaps a little too much turkey rather than chest, no doubt, the large Thanksgiving Chest is an amusing design, complete with a feather as a key.
Easter oozes cuteness, and there’s something about voxel design that lends itself to this theme.
The Easter egg chest even has its own turnable lock: a bow atop a pink ribbon that removes the crown of the egg.
Easter Bunny Basket
There’s something so oddly satisfying about this design. Whether it’s the colour scheme that mixes the muted blue and green with the bright pink and white, or the paw prints, or the simple pixel pattern that suggests a thatched basket. This was a chest that conceived itself.
None of that mentions the bunny head lock which slides down and lowers its ears to open the lid.
Much like this description, this design is delightfully simple. The bow tie and the sliding lid animation are as satisfying as a box of chocolates.
Whilst its smaller cousin is understated, like a peck on the cheek, the large Valentine’s Day chest is gloriously ostentatious, like a marriage proposal conceived in the spirit of one-upmanship.
Undoubtedly, this was the most ambitious design to date, and the fanciest of the “large” chests, for many reasons. Firstly, it’s detailing is more pronounced with gold ornamentation, a lid that envelopes the heart lock, a cupid’s arrow key that strikes the heart and vibrates, a rigged flapping wings animation, and a flying lid animation that can be looped seamlessly.
You’ve followed the Leprechaun to the end of the rainbow, now all he left is his hat atop a pot of gold. A simple treasure for those of simple pleasures.
St Patrick’s Day is so rich with symbolism that it is difficult to pay them all service. Luckily, Fiveamp requested three variants for this theme.
Horseshoe 'n' Beers
For those who like to celebrate it best, two pints of Irish ale, one lucky horseshoe, and a silver embellished chest. The luck of the Irish is best grasped with the hands of beer fanatics.
Similar to the spirit of the pudding chest, this follows on with the dropping latch theme, this time with a horseshoe. The two beers that flank the chest are convenient handles.
When lucky charms just won’t cut it, you need divine intervention. Unlock the Leprechaun’s blessing with an emerald shamrock in a gold-clover encrusted chest, flanked by heavenly Celtic harps. A rainbow ascends, clouds split the sky, and gold rains from above.
When Cupid thought he had it all, St Patrick said “hold my beer.” This is the only “mega” sized chest that was commissioned for this project, and it pulled out all the stops, pushing the wackiness into warp factor 5. It’s a perfect example of escalation, and a design that now stumps me in how to top its sheer gravitas.
Two large pots of gold, four celtic harps, gold clover-shaped ornaments, an emerald shamrock key, a rainbow, a lid that floats on clouds that rain coins from above, and a floating lid animation that loops seamlessly, this is the crown jewel of PickCrafter’s pleasures and was a true joy to create.