A LONG GOODBYE
PROJECT: experimental narrative game
CREATOR: Dana McKay
MADE WITH: Unity 3D, Blender, Photoshop
released 2020 (five week prod.)
WINNER OF THE 2021 FREEPLAY EXCELLENCE IN NARRATIVE AWARD
FEATURED IN ACMI'S BIG GAMES NIGHT IN 2021
FEATURED IN FREEPLAY PARALLELS 2021
FEATURED IN 2022 ALT-SHIFT-PLAY
'GAMIFYING GRIEF: LEARNING HOW TO SAY GOODBYE THROUGH VIDEO GAMES' ARTICLE
A Long Goodbye centers around a single conversation between two characters (one of which the Player controls). The conversation aims to be more realistic, with a conversation structure which naturally switches between topics similar to a real conversation. The Player can perform two main actions: choose dialogue options to change the flow of the conversation, and investigate the 3D scene (by orbiting the camera around the car and clicking clue icons/objects).
I created this project because I wanted to write realistic branching dialogue for a game. I hadn't seen a similar structure in many games, and I was curious how I could try to emulate a real conversation. Using a goodbye for the conversation allowed me to create a strong tone and balanced the need for a conversation goal with flowing between different topics; a goodbye is a good reason to talk about nothing at all, because that itself is saying something. This structure also allows for a high replay value, with each reply moving the story in a different direction.
All writing, art and programming was done by myself within Unity 3D, the Fungus plugin, Blender, Adobe Photoshop, and the C# language. The background music was created by Cosmin Mirza.
I was invited to give a talk at Freeplay Parallels 2021 about the game, where I go through my inspirations, workflow and experience making A Long Goodbye. The recording can be watched below.
A Long Goodbye is a narrative game centered around two old friends who have to say their final goodbye over a phone conversation, and focuses on the use of a realistic conversation structure.
A Long Goodbye is a short game I created during a five-week production unit at the Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE). The game is played from the perspective of a man named Charlie who sits on top of his crashed car on an empty highway and calls his old friend Barb to tell her he won’t make it to say their final goodbye in person. With no other choice, the two are forced to say their final farewell over a short phone conversation. The conversation explores their shared history, their estrangement, and the things left unsaid. You can play it for free through the above itch.io link.
"It’s a beautifully written little game that feels very much like a real conversation between two old friends. What movies, TV and games often gets wrong is that in real life people don’t just blurt out their feelings and that it can often be more about the things that go unsaid then said. A Long Goodbye gets it right and it makes for a much more realistic and impactful story."
"A Long Goodbye takes the player directly by the throat. [...] this farewell shows us that in the face of tragedy, derisory exchanges are sometimes better."
- Focus Vif (translated from French)
GUNS FOR HIRE
CREATOR: Dana McKay
MADE WITH: Blender GreasePencil, Photoshop, Davinci Resolve
An animatic about two guns for hire in a fantasy world. Created in Blender Greasepencil and Photoshop.
Guns for Hire is an animated storyboard about two hunters camping in the wilderness on a hunt who are joined by unexpected guests. I made this to improve my storyboarding skills, as well as to teach myself Blender and its Grease Pencil tool. While the final boards were drawn in Photoshop and animated in Davinci Resolve, the full blockout was done within Blender.
I wrote a blog here going through the full process and my thoughts on the project.
2020 - 2021
I have worked for clients assisting with the early design stages of game development. This includes working with a client and another designer to design the core loop, progression, combat and monetization of a mobile game alongside a full game design document. I have worked with another team to organise the scheduling and task management of a game prototype using agile practices.
MALFUNCTION ON THE ORION EXPRESS
PROJECT: point-and-click visual novel
ROLE: Writer, Designer, Producer
MADE WITH: Unity 2D
released 2020; final student project for the AIE's Game Design and Production Advanced Diploma course (15 week prod.)
The final script was just under seventeen-thousand words across eight in-game conversations.
Designing main mechanics
Outlining story development of plot and characters
Writing branching and conditional dialogue for a variety of distinct voices (Scene 3: Knapp, Scene 4: Jerick, Scene 7: Knapp, Scene 8: Epilogue)
Implementing feedback and criticism from other team members and through conducted playtesting sessions
Running stand-ups and organising work between team members
Malfunction on the Orion Express is hidden object text-adventure game about a flight marshal investigating the various mysterious aboard the luxury space cruiser the Orion Express.
Malfunction on the Orion Express is a game I worked on alongside a team of other students as part of the final fifteen-week production unit of AIE. The game mixes elements from hidden object and text-adventure mechanics, and allows the Player to store any word said in dialogue in an inventory to uncover evidence in a variety of scenes. The game is available for free through the above itch.io link.
PROJECT: casual puzzle platformer prototype
ROLE: Designer, Producer
MADE WITH: Unity 2D
released 2020; final student project for the AIE's Game Design and Production Advanced Diploma course (5 week prod.)
Planet Unknown is a casual puzzle platformer about using special multi-purposed abilities to explore an exotic alien planet and complete combat and puzzles in interesting, interconnected ways.
Planet Unknown is a game prototype I created alongside a team of other students as part of a five week proof of concept unit of the AIE. The project was greenlit by an industry panel and a full version of the game was created by a combination of different team members. The above video is the pitch reviewed by the panel, and the completed version of the game can be played through the above itch.io link.
Planet Unknown is a casual puzzle platformer revolving around the use of power ups to fight enemies, solve puzzles and traverse the world. We designed the prototype around the gameplay pillars of 'creative combat', 'alien exploration', and 'puzzle platforming', with each power-up having a use for all three.
For the prototype we created a small level with two power ups that were pick ups within the environment. The first power-up was the 'ice gun', which allowed the Player to freeze enemies into blocks of ice, disabling the enemy for a short time. These blocks could also be jumped on as a platform to reach otherwise inaccessible areas. The second was the 'explosive round', which could be used to deal high damage to enemies or destroy destructible blocks within the environment.
THE EDEN BUILDING
PROJECT: level blockout
CREATOR: Dana McKay
MADE WITH: Unity 3D
2019; level blockout for level design, programming fundamentals, and narrative design units at AIE.
The Eden Building is a playable level blockout of an art-nouveau inspired conservatory created as an exercise in level design, narrative design, and basic programming.
The Eden Building is a blockout for a theoretical first-person stealth game set in an alternate 1920s art deco inspired world. The Player's goal in the level would be to reach the safe, find the key and combination required to open it, and steal its contents while avoiding or escaping the detection of the guards patrolling the building. The Player would be unable to kill or knockout guards, and have the ability to stop time for a short period (the Player's health would drain while time is stopped). This would make the gameplay focused around avoiding confrontation and the Player to create their own opportunities with the time stop ability.
I chose this level type and design because of my love for the Dishonored series and other games with multiple paths within open levels. Due to my late entrance into the course, I was required to design and create my blockout in a week. I chose to create quite a small level to help with this time constraint.
The Player takes the role of the thief Gable, who is tasked with stealing a series of important objects from an upper class of scientists and artists when he is caught in a city-wide conspiracy. In this level, his aim is to steal a composition from the renowned botanist Dr. Sinclair. The personality of the characters and world are shown through environmental storytelling, systemic dialogue and art.
The full narrative document pdf can be downloaded here.