Based in Copenhagen, Denmark
PC, OSX, Linux
Archipelago is a single-player point-and-click adventure game served to the player in bite-sized, two-minute-long daily levels.
It is a "cyclical adventure game", like a year-long advent calendar: each real-world calendar day has its own unique level, and players can return to levels year after year to uncover more of their secrets. The world of Archipelago can be explored for many years.
Archipelago tells the story of a traveler searching for a home in an island country, inspired by my experience leaving my birth country and immigrating to Denmark.
Between 2013 and 2016 I worked for Plarium on a free-to-play mobile game, and among my duties as a narrative designer was designing daily and weekly challenges, and seasonal content. This design pattern was, and to a large extent still is, regarded as an afterthought: something that is required for player-retention in games with recurrent-user-spending, outside of the game's core experience and thus somehow "dirty" - a business-mandated layer of fat on top of the "real" game experience. But through working on it, a curiosity grew in me: how would daily levels and seasonal content look if they stemmed from a more honestly creative intent? What if a game was about this design pattern?
A Year in the Maze
To try and answer these questions, I formed a small team in 2016 and began working on the "super-long-form" text-adventure A Year in the Maze. This is when the core concepts were formed: the game has 365 levels, one for each calendar day of the year; the game is cyclical, starting on whatever day the player downloads the game, and never formally ending; you can only play today's level, and if you missed a day, you can always return to it next year on the same date; players go deeper into the story like a spiral, by visiting levels year after year and with knowledge from other levels, to reveal more of their secrets. As the game was shaping up to be narrative-focused, I began looking to narrative traditions such as the religious lectionary as precursors to this kind of cyclical storytelling. We presented a playable prototype of the game at Casual Connect, and a printed poster version at the Lippa Stopp project by Lady Liberty Press, cementing the project as having one foot in casual gaming, and the other in avant-garde art. In 2017 some team members' life circumstances changed, and the collaboration had to be halted
Archipelago as a Thesis Project
In 2019, with the blessing of the original team members, I returned to work on the project as a solo developer, making it my thesis project at the Royal Danish Academy of Arts Game Design masters programme. The text-adventure format was scrapped in favor of 3D levels, and the maze metaphor was replaced by a series of islands, under the working title Archipelago. An overarching theme of "modern myths" is guiding the aesthetic and narrative design of the different islands, and the player character's journey is loosely inspired by my own experience of immigration. Currently the game offers a week out of the year: 7 islands, which can be revisited again and again for many weeks of bite-sized gameplay; it has 8 questlines, 13 characters, and ~2 hours of story content in total. The thesis was submitted in June 2020.
Ongoing Development (Summer 2020 Update)
I am continuing to polish the thesis version of the game as I send it to several student showcases.
At the end of this summer I will begin planning the next phase: either a month-long-cycle, 30-island version of the game, or the full 365 islands. This will be a slow process, and depend on the kind of funding and support I can secure for the game.
Journey between 365 islands, each with its own themes, inhabitants and stories to uncover.
Share your experience with all other players of Archipelago - no matter when you began playing, you're always on the same page.
Play everyday, for a month or for many years - you choose how deep you want to go.
An incredibly rich world hiding behind a casual point-and-click exploration game.
Logo & Icon
During the development of the game I am periodically releasing smaller standalone experiences from the fictional world of Archipelago. Those "Other Islands" come in the form of short vignette games, simulation art and still images.
The first simulation art piece I made, Isle of Pigs, is about an abandoned lighthouse, and is available for free online.
The second simulation art piece I made, TIDE, is a climate elegy, and is available for free online.
Born in Jerusalem and living in Copenhagen, I am a game designer with a multidisciplinary arts background. I have been working in the games industry since 2013, on products ranging from racing games, to educational software, to MMOs. I also frequently write and give public talks about game culture, and have been curating videogame exhibitions for the better part of the last decade. In all my work I try to make experiences that are rewarding, evocative, and meaningful.
More information can be found at shalevmoran.com
Awards and Recognition
Play the Thesis Version!
The 7-day-cycle, thesis version of Archipelago is available as a free download for Android and PC right now.
Written and Designed by Shalev Moran.
Code by Oliver Riisager.
Additional Code by Charlotte Madelon.
Additional Models by Thinira Umesh Fernando.
Additional Shaders by Caroline Fangel.
Music by Valentin Sosnitskiy, Setuniman and Heather Kelley.
SFX by Than van Nispen and Mmiron (via freesound.org).
Page design based on presskit() by Rami Ismail