void Survive();

Description

void Survive(); is, again, a college project. This is a 2D side-view resource management game. You find yourself lying among the remnants of buildings after you wake up. Mosses are invading the walls and trees are high enough to shade houses. The only human-being you can see is a taciturn girl, looking at you from a distance. void Survive(); is a project that I have done for my game design elective. It is a story-driven game which I tried to use one of my favourite ways to tell a story. Since this project is more about design than development, I am not going to talk much on the development of this game.

Design

Inspiration

Girls Last Tour

I got the inspiration from void tRrLM(); (a game by Nippon Ichi Software, Inc.) and Girls Last Trip (a Japanese anime). And as you can see where did I get inspiration of the name. I am always a big fan of the post-apocalypse world. The Last Of Us was one of the game that really moves me. In my opinion, only at that time, “humanity” will be something that is rare, shiny and noble. When everything comes to an end, the future seems hopeless, “humanity” is a character that differs us from the beasts, that keeps us looking for the tiny pieces of hope. With such an idea, I started building my world and story.

void tRrLM();

Story

The story is not complex: humans are gone, you find that you and a taciturn girl might be the last humans in this world. And you have to plan your life in this seemingly harmless world.

Just like what I mentioned in the description, you wake up among the remains of buildings, you see a girl that might be a bit afraid of you. But more importantly, you can’t recall anything before you passed out, I bet you can name several similar plots from other works.

What you going to do is to survive with this girl together, only you know is this because of your empathy or just needs of manpower.

Stop keeping me guessing, give me the spoiler!
Alright, you ask for it. The truth is that you are, not even a human, just artificial intelligence and this is just a fake world as well. Everything is a conspiracy, except the girl, she is innocent for sure I can tell you. This is just a well-planned test to check if you are good enough to be put into production. Do you get what you want?

The topic of the game is “humanity” and “empathy”. In such a cruel world, when you have limited food and drinks, it’s might be good for others. After all, what you give to others might be something that you need tomorrow.

Spoiler about a plot in the late-stage
There is a plot in the late-stage of the game when you finally realized everything, the world, the test, and yourself. Your resource will be stolen by a poor child. Although you already know everything that happening is fake, what are you going to do? It could be a hard choice, but I want the player to make their own choice.

Narrative

I tried to imitate what Hidetaka Miyazaki did in Dark Souls – tell the story with the environment. The entire story is broken into pieces and hidden in the item description, in a certain map of the game world, waiting for the player to be discovered. True, it is direct and easy-to-understand by telling the story with the character’s dialogue and action. But I think my way is more suitable for telling the world and settings – just let the real protagonist tell, which, in this case, is the game world.

The player’s choice will also affect how the story goes. Not like most games do, you can decide how the story goes with just some clicks on the different choices of the dialogue. In void Survive();, you have to actually do things to change the story. There will be a variable that decides how the story goes. And only if it reaches a certain amount, you can reach a different ending. To make contributions to this, you have to do certain tasks while playing, for example, get some “useless” items when gaining other resources that keep you alive.

Emotion & Mood

Just like most of the structure of stories, the emotion of readers should be tensioned over time and released in the final act, so did I. I used the three-act structure for my story. In the first act, the player will face the issue of bad weather, which means getting resources becomes more difficult. In the second act, the weather goes worse, and the player will finally reach the truth of the world. This tensions the player’s feeling, but I won’t let it release here. And finally, we step into act 3, when the player knows everything of this world and he still needs to make a hard choice, here comes the climax. I don’t want to spoil it so I won’t say the details here, so you can check the full GDD if you are curious. But the choice here might have a big effect on the ending. And this choice is related to my topic – humanity and empathy.

Three-act structure

Besides using the story for tensioning the player’s emotion. The environment and difficulty help as well. The bright weather at the beginning of the game is a comparison to the weather later. With the story goes on, the weather goes worse. There will be always rain and even thunder to stress the player. Meanwhile, gaining resources is more difficult than before because of the bad weather. Thus, the player has more to worry – they have to plan the resources carefully.

And at last

Talking about my design work is not like code work, I can’t just take a screenshot and say “this is what I have done”. So, I might not able to express myself very well. But if you want to know more about this project, you are welcome to read the full game design document in Google Drive. It contains not only the story and narrative but also mechanic, level design and more.

The art of this game is made by hyouai, my old friend, as well. You have my appreciation, hyouai!

Download

Although there is nothing special about the development, you can get the Unity project on GitHub.

Recommended Unity version: 2019.2.12f1

Please open [Demo_Scene] in [Scenes] folder to run the demo.

Reference

void tRrLM(); //ボイド・テラリウム | 日本一ソフトウェア Retrieved from https://nippon1.jp/consumer/trrlm/ (Jap.)

void tRrLM(); //Void Terrarium | Official Website Retrieved from https://nisamerica.com/void-terrarium/ (Eng.)