What Have you Done ? (download through the link)
This article is about my thought process for the artistic direction. If you would like to know more about the game specifically, read the first article !
Game jams are both a tough and super cool experience, in the sense that you have to think super fast and make no mistake, because you haven’t got time to think everything thoroughly or do over stuff that you’d have screwed up. So, first time has to be the charm. That’s why you need good reference, and as for that I was lucky I had quite a few, and I want to pay tribute to them!
The theme was “We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are”, and it immediately took me to Twin Peaks (since I finished watching it only a few weeks ago). That’s what influenced the overall ambiance and aesthetic of the game - mostly the waiting room.
*spoilers for the end of season 2*
I really wanted to hit the “I am who I want to be” diversifier ( ”The game has characters, but nothing in their design suggests a gender”), which made every character design decision a bit harder. That’s mostly why I went with animal features.
Since the waiting room part was conversation oriented, what came to my mind was Animal Crossing.
Incidentally, the AC games are usually very gender positive and inclined towards acceptance, so there was that.
Adventure time is also a good example for designs that are not overly gendered.
So, with these designs in mind, the overall ambiance, and also the inclusive/gender neutral constraint, a great influence was chrysantheb0mb's artwork, mostly stuff that stroke me when I first started following her art blog (1 2 3) and also the great narrative in her quests. Dark, violent and sometimes creepy settings and story counterbalanced by cute animal features : this great contrast ultimately brings out the power, tragedy and violence of the story, while being really subtle and that’s something I tried to go for.
Lastly, emily rabbit's wights ( 1 2 ) colors’ scheme and style really inspired me.
So that’s it for the visual references !
Since I wanted to make a very narrative game, one of the most difficult things was to come up with a story. The first overall concept was to make the player wait in a room, talking to different people, and the outcome of the conversations would define what the player was actually waiting for. This concept got bent a bit when I had to merge with a team of developpers that had their own idea, so we had to go with it. The asymetric gameplay offered an added depth story-wise.
So, here’s the story - it doesn’t make much sense since I kinda came up with it as I was drawing/ as the developpers were developping it and didn’t plan it at all : *spoilers ahead, maybe you could play and see if you can come up with your own interpretation* All the characters you speak with in the waiting room are a group of friends. They had rough times, quarrels, and had to overcome a dramatic event (Mono losing one of his legs). Some got pushed aside, alliances emerged, lies too. But in the end, they knew they wanted to stay close, so they all came together in group therapy with the help of Dr. Taylor (player 1). Things are now settled for Ollie, Mono, Ash, Alex and Fran, but the last member of the group, Vic (player 2), didn’t attend these sessions, still can’t overcome what happened and is in complete denial. The playthrough of the game symbolizes how Vic and Dr Taylor come together to finally talk things through. Player 2 (Vic) unknowingly helps Player 1 (Dr Taylor) to get through to them during the game, while story wise, Dr. Taylor ultimately will help Vic.
The “paintings” you can see in the castle were supposed to hint to the backstory of the characters and their relationship, and look as though they were ‘therapeutical’ drawings made by the characters during their sessions with Dr. Taylor. I drew some of them and made the other members of the team draw the other ones.
And that’s it ! I had fun working on these characters and I hope I get the chance to write a proper story for them.
- Please don’t break the gifset, remove credit or the download link to the game. if you would like to reblog the gifset without all the explanation, I suggest you reblog the first post ! -