Role: Co-Writer and Narrative Designer
Genre: 3D Point and Click Adventure Game
Engine: Unity 5
Team Size: 3 developers, 4 Sound Designers, 6 Voice Actors
Composure is a story-driven 3D Point and Click Adventure game for PC where the protagonist Michelle overcomes an emotionally abusive relationship. The game features branching dialogue, as well as a non-linear story. You can download it from here.
It was nominated for Best Final Project at Vancouver Film School.
Project Details and Challenges
For Composure, I wrote, edited and revised character arcs for all six characters in various degrees of involvement, alongside my writing partner on the project. We divided each scene in a way that they had a main writer, but the other person edited, gave feedback and revised. Following this logic, I wrote the memories with Jason in the living room, Yoshi, Amy, and parts of Ben’s, as well as the phone conversation with Amy. I contributed in a smaller role on the intro scene, the memories with Jason in the beach and Elmo, and the phone conversation with Yoshi. We wrote the ending together.
I also wrote a few thoughts that the protagonist can find along her journey, as well as insights she has about specific objects, which are optional for the player to find. To test our lines in the game, we used a text-to-speech tool, so we could create the final lines before the actors came in to record their performances. That way, we only needed three days of recording, making sure both actors in a conversation were always together to convey the best possible performance.
We had, in total, 413 lines of dialogue recorded after all iterations of the story.
Challenges: Composure was my first non-linear story with branching development. That was a challenge in itself, since we had to take into account different choices by the player. For the game’s design, our programmer developed a tool to create story points that would then transfer them into Unity in the same location. Since that wasn’t done from the get go, we had to use tools such as Twine to prototype our story and get feedback. We had five major story revisions along the way, as well as minor iterations based on the response from instructors, mentors and peers. Additionally, since Composure relies heavily on the audio and voice-over performances, we had to properly coordinate and communicate to our collaborators what we needed. We created specific spreadsheets for the sound designers with all the lines, as well as a separate one for the actors so both sides could focus on what was important to them. Organizing these in a way that we could maintain everything up to date and including the last changes in the script was a challenge, and something I’ll make sure to improve in future projects.
This was a project made in 12 weeks, which meant that we had to make the right choices in terms of what to focus and when to provide just enough context for the player to understand where they are. Finally, the topic we decided to explore was extremely difficult. We spent the first weeks talking to people and doing research about emotionally abusive relationships, so we could address it while trying to be respectful. We definitely learned a lot from it, and it showed how important research is for any kind of story.