One obstacle we faced was finding a scope as small as possible while being able to effectively deliver an experience to evoke sadness. Our approach was to involve the player within the same space but have the player experience degradation of their perception and for the player to emotionally think when engaging with our letter system. This allowed us to use few assets and to just reuse and manipulate them to our goals.
Camera/player effects “simulating” loss of perception and the ability to perform normal tasks like walking around and seeing.
The letter system
Provides the player an active form of engagement to think about the characters in the narrative.
Provides a contrast to the rest of the gameplay, which is to maneuver your home to meet basic survival needs painfully, like drinking water and eating.
The letter acts as the largest point of relief from the dire physical state of the player's character while also piling on emotional distress to the player’s situation. This builds and makes the full climax of making the player feel sad.
The biggest success of this project was utilizing floating text within the world. This provided character exposition so the player can gain a better understanding of who they are playing and empathize with this character.
This world-text also provided an incentive to explore the room, which assisted the player in discovering the locations of the letters and other important items like food, water, and medicine.
Another success (which is often overlooked) is the audio design and music. We had relatively few audio elements, but just enough to better immerse the player within the space, like walking, consuming items, and the critically important music to set the tone of the space.
If we had more time to iterate on this project, we would spend more time iterating the dialogue/writing to be more subtle and leave room for the player to interpret the conveyed ideas. In addition, I would have liked to edit the last day so that when the player tries to interact with the food, water, and medicine, the player character will fail with dialogue appearing, stating phrases such as “I no longer have the strength to lift up my glass,” “Is there even a point to taking this medicine anymore?”, and so on. Additionally, I would have liked to edit the written and writable letters to purposefully make it more difficult to read as the days progressed to “simulate” the player character’s waning mental state.