Back in December, Manouk reached out to me if I was interested in starting a collaborative project. She wanted to inprove her writing portfolio and thought by teaming up with me, she could show she able to write more than plain fiction. We knew each other from our studies at the WdKA but we had never worked together before. After meeting over a coffee, we decided to create a small narrative game!
Creating a game together would be a good opportuntiy to test both my coding and art direction skills, as I always enjoy designing everything during game jams – characters, environment, UI, everything visual. I knew that this would be quite a challenge I would both be responsible for the code and all art on this project. Up to now, I had only finished small coding exercises from Unity Learn, no complete game yet from start to finish. The only way to figure out if I would be up the task, though, is to try! And hopefully by chronicling my learning experiences on this blog, I can later look back and enjoy the journey. Even if we pull the plug halfway.
To keep things easy, we decided to let our game take place in one single interior: that would minimise the amount of environment art needed. We settled on a train compartment, a space we were both familiar with and offered plenty of storytelling opportunities.
With that decided, Manouk wrote a short introduction about a frog prince on his way to his crowning. Due some malfunctions in the last compartment of the train, normal citizens were allowed in the royal coupe. The train then stops for unknown reasons, and the prince has to persuade the people to help him open the door to the conductor, to find out why the train has stopped.
This was enough for me to start brainstorming how the compartment of the frog prince might look like. If frogs govern this world, they would use frog-friendly materials, wouldn’t they? And there would probably be a lot of water around!
I also looked at other text-heavy games, seeing how they handled many words on-screen. I rediscovered Disco Elysium, a game I had heard about before but never knew exactly what it was about: now I really want to play it! I think this game is going to be a big inspiration in its layout of an isometric world combined with a large UI for dialogue!
I think the biggest challenge is going to be to prioritize, as I will have to divide my time between coding and art all the time. We’ll see how that goes!