Žalost

„When you don’t know how to cope with your helplessness in reality, you become who you want to be.
And that’s a princess“

About the Project:

Developers: Myriel Schigol, Manuel A, Julia Hein, Zoe Koc, Mascha Camino
Genre: First Person Walking Simulator
Project Course: True Story with Sebastian Stamm
Development Time: April 2018 – still in development
Engine: Unity 3D
Language: C#

Summary:

In the project you take over the role of the seven year old girl Jelena, which is on a fantastic journey to search for her mother.
The girl lives in difficult times in the 19th century. She has a strong affinity to the old fairytale book, her mother always red her from. Because of her helplessness she sees herself as the princess from her fairytale and has to confront her inner fear and anger, to find the way that leeds to her mother.
Reality and fantasy are tying a closer bond every second, which makes it even harder for Jel to find the real way.

My Roles in the Project:

  • Game Design
  • Level Design
  • Narrative Design
    • Fairytale Writing
  • Recording

We are currently still working on this project, but we are in our final phase right now.

Game Design:

We have a Game Design Team of 2.5 people and we are working close with the Level Design team aswell. We decided to create a Game Design Paper, where we describe which event is when to trigger and what happens if the player activates or doesn’t activate it.
That made it easier for the Level Design to decide where to put the events, because we knew beforehand what the influence will be.
Since our Game is very narrative and the time we have is quit limited, we still wanted to do audio recordings, because we felt like it would really spice up the experience.
Also we felt like it was very relevant, that we don’t put tons of text in the game, so now we have audio recordings but also text as subtitles in the game, to guarantee the understanding of the narrative.

We have strong topics in our game like war, death, child death and grief. Since no one from our team was ever in war,  we emphasized that war is very abstract for us, which also was combinable with our character, since she is a child, who has never faced war before and for whom it is also a abstract szenario. That’s one point, why she always leaves the reality to find understanding in the fairytale book.

Level Design: 

Beforehand we sketched a lot of our key scenes, so we can discuss about them before building them. That worked out very good for us, because we iterated on every level part at least twice. We also tested how the distance worked out to the main story element triggers and then iterated the world map again.
A lot from our Level Design was strongly influenced by the story, because we wanted to have the figurative decent, in the fairytale, in the real story and in the map aswell.

Fairytale Writing

The tale is very important to us, because it guides the player through the map and subtle gives hints and quests.

It is important to show, why our main character identifies with the princess and why she thinks the princess can help her finding her lost mother.
So we put the princess in a very similar setting and confront her with the same problem of her mother being gone.
While writing the tale, I devided it into four different parts.

  •  The introduction of the world, very classical, to show the beauty of the formidable kingdom.
  • The first trial, which is located in aempty labyrinth, representing the feeling of beinglost and having no control about the path.
  • The second trial, which is located in the inside of a old, wise tree, representing hopes aswell as grief, where our main character needs to be true to herself and believe in her ability to find her mother.
  • The third and last trial, where our character is torn between the reality and the disappearence of her mother, and the fiction she created her own. So in the last stage the fairytale is different to what happens in the game and it’s intended to be so, to emphasize the meainig of „your life is not always the fairytale you want it to be“.

We also choose to write the fairytale in german, because firt, german is a fairytale language and has a huge repertoire on magical words. Also because it was easier to write in german and deliver a believable story. And furthermore, because we liked the touch it would have, when we let the girl read the fairytale in german, with english subitles.

You can read the full german fairytale here in its final version.

More is yet to come!

Extra tools we used:

  • Autodesk Maya
  • Substance Painter
  • Photoshop
  • Audacity

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