What I did: Designed, wrote and developed a 2D dating simulator game conceived to increase awareness around teen dating violence, and help teens, tweens and young adults to identify and avoid abusive relationships. The game was presented to the Life.Love. Game Challenge (Jennifer Ann's Group) and was awarded 3rd prize.
Platforms: Web | Android | iOS
Team size: 1
Project length: 7-8 weeks
Engine and tools: Unity, proprietary dialogue scripting system, Adobe Suite, Google Docs
Responsibilities: Game Writing, Scripting, Game Art, UI/UX Design
Honeymoon is an award winning single player, 2D visual novel (dating simulator style), conceived to increase awareness about teen dating violence, and help teens, tweens and young adults to identify and avoid abusive relationships.
The main goal of this game is to resonate with as many players as possible and shift their perception about concepts such as "love" or "romanticism" towards healthier mindsets, hopefully helping them to avoid introducing unhealthy attitudes in their future romantic relationships. To accomplish that:
- It allows boy-girl, girl-girl and boy-boy relationships, where the player can assume any gender.
- It portrays subtle unhealthy treats in relationships that a big set of teens can relate to, without getting to escalated (usually physically) and much more obvious violent behaviours.
I initially considered using Twine or Inkle as dialogue engines for the game, but after some initial research I decided on developing a fully custom dialogue engine that allowed me to tweak it according to my specific game requirements.
I did use the researched architecture of said existing engines as basis and inspiration.
In broad strokes:
- The story tree file (JSON) is divided into a series of story nodes, which in turn can contain a list of dialogue nodes. Every node contains either a field that specifies the next node to be played or a list of options that trigger other nodes.
- Each node specifies the current location, the characters that should appear, and their moods, dialogue, options, and ffects that may be triggered (e.g. fade or wiggle).
- A special syntax has been implemented to specify new lines, mood changes, environmental changes and genre-dependant words.
STORY PROGRESSION AND DIALOGUE DESIGN
The dialogues, characters and events were the most important part of the game, as they act as the main tool used to convey the message, create a connection with the player and raise awareness around Teen Dating Violence.
The story revolves around a teen toxic relationship and drives the player around its ups and downs, allowing them to decide how to react to a set of scenarios. These scenarios shape the way the story ends. There is a total of 4 different endings, which unveil during the final chapter.
Chapters 1 to 4 are very similar between different runs, with some minor differences depending on your previous choices.
I created a total of 9 different characters. Charlie was created in their male and female version - which one is used depends on your setup at the beginning of the story.
The environments were made with real-life photographs which I stylised with Photoshop to get a blurry artistic feel that doesn't take attention from the main characters and dialogue. Most of the photographs I used I took myself.