Lecturer in Game Design | PhD Student

Honours Blog

Posts tagged Concept
Rough Game Concept

Forget Me Not is a first person exploration game where the player will be immersed into the world of someone suffering from dementia. The main character is an elderly sufferer who has become ‘chair bound’ and spends most of his time in the living room of his house sitting beside the fireplace. The player’s experience will be an abstract visualisation of what sufferers of dementia are going through. The gameplay of Forget Me Not will be a similar experience to games like Gone Home, Dear Esther, 9.03m and implement interesting symbolic mechanics similar to Anti Chamber.

The game will start with a cinematic of the player sitting in the chair beside the fireplace. The camera will stand up and turn around to allow the player view their actual character lying slumped in the chair. This is the first of the surreal experiences in the game. The character slumped in the chair will either be a dark ghostly silhouette or a wooden man. The wooden man would allow the player to read further into the narrative through this visual cue as the character will be depicted as a tree-person who has grown roots that have twisted around and become part of the chair. This symbolises how the man has spent what feels like an eternity unable to move from his chair.

Instead of the player taking control of the actual character, they will be in control of his consciousness.  The main room of the game will be the character’s living room. Due to the surreal concept of the game, the living room will be an abstract representation of inside the character’s head.  The room will be a huge cavernous expanse with part of the living room hanging precariously on the edge of a cliff, above the abyss will be a large brain partially shrouded in shadow (to represent that the character only can ‘see’ into a small portion of his brain, the rest is forgotten). Around the walls of this cavern are paintings and pictures of people, places, and dates all with bit scrubbed out – faces painted over in white, sign posts in photographs of places scribbled over etc. Again these visual cues are implemented to symbolise the dementia taking over his life, as what were once pictures that brought back memories, they are now almost meaningless.

The player will explore the abstract living room scene until they find the door key and one of the pages from the characters memoirs. This area at the start of the game symbolises how the character is trapped inside his mind and his memoirs are his key to ‘remembering’, thus progressing. When the door is unlocked the player will walk from the surreal living room scene into a normal house. Doors will be unlocked by finding hidden pages of the character’s memoirs while the main paintings in the living room will be unlocked (remembered) by finding photographs with the person/place name written on them. The player will input the name through a textual input system to complete the images.

The main image the player will have to try to discover will be the image of his wife located at the end of the corridor. The player will have the ability to walk up to the picture until they find the last memoir with a photograph pinned to it. As the player returns to the corridor to try input the name into the picture they will encounter an endless corridor where they will not be able to reach the picture. Either the corridor will be elongated and will fade to black the closer the player gets to the picture, or the corridor will be endless and only when the player realises it is futile they will turn around and be engulfed by darkness. (Another potential ending depending on time could have a flash clip of the names appearing from the darkness and breaking back up into letters and becoming jumbled and lost along with the pictures.)

This symbolic ending will portray the struggle of dementia sufferers, who may have the memories locked deep inside their mind but the pain of not being able to remember even the people who once were held dearest to them.

Sketches

I began the project with a vision of one of the key environments that I wished to include in the game. This environment is a surreal vision of the main characters living room, depicting how due to the illness, somewhere which he used to know so well has become somewhere so alien. The room will be a huge cavernous expanse with part of the living room hanging precariously on the edge of a cliff. Floating (or suspended by wires) above the abyss will be a floating brain partially obscured in shadow to depict that he can only see part of what's in his head (memories). Around the walls of the cavern are paintings and photographs of people, places with the dates, faces, signs etc all scrubbed out - faces painted over in white, place names on sign posts in photographs scribbled out. Again these visual cues will be implemented to symbolise the dementia taking over his life as what were once pictures that brought back memories and feelings are now almost meaningless to the character.

Honours Project Subject: Dementia

For my honours project, I wish to create a game which brings awareness to the illness that is dementia. The game will be an interactive 3D exploration based art experience similar to games like Dear Esther, 9.03m and Gone Home . Narrative will potentially be delivered indirectly through objects, but could also be implemented through some narration of the characters thoughts. The reason I chose to create a game based around dementia was due to the lack of awareness, support and the fact that the illness is one that has effected people close to me. I realise that  such a sensitive topic must be handled with utmost care as not to offend or cause controversy with people, thus extensive research into the illness and portrayal of  character must be taken.

Dementia effects people differently be it changes in personality, insecurity, forgetting faces and loved ones etc. But the one thing that is a constant is the constant deterioration. Once someone begins to suffer from dementia, there is currently no proper way to halt the process. For my project I will have to create mechanics or find mechanics that will best represent the symptoms and the constant deterioration of the characters condition.

I intend to base the narrative from stories of people who have had loved ones who have suffered from the illness and memoirs/diary excerpts from my Grandfather (Opa). This will inject a more personal element into the game and will hopefully allow for more self-expression in the final piece.

Areas I will need to research further into for the project to move forward:

  • Dementia (And Alzheimers)
  • Unreal Engine 4
  • Delivering narrative both directly and indirectly
  • Studies on similar games

Deliverables for first semester:

  • Concept Art/Storyboards
  • Game Design Document (or rough template)
  • Working Prototype of mechanics & visuals