"Truth" is a 2D sidescroller that focuses on the impact of loss. Players take control of Mark, a widow who lost his wife, Sara, in a car crash shortly after getting married. Ridden with grief, Mark decides to kill himself. As Mark is about to hang himself, a mysterious force pushes him from the noose. Confused, Mark gets up and sees a note.
Hold this close. Use this to collect the memories.
The player is taken on a journey through Mark and Sara's memories from when they first met to the horrific crash. Sara uses the memories to talk to Mark by showing him that life is still worth living.
I first created "Truth" October 2018 for a class at Quinnipiac University (Game Lab I). The assignment was to create a game in a week that used collisions, audio, and randomness.
In the build, the story focused on Sara's suicide. Mark goes to bed one night, blaming himself for Sara's death. He wakes up in an odd world void of direction and life. As Mark wanders through the world, he finds Sara's spirit. Sara tells him to gather her favorite flowers to progress through the world, but to be careful of the demons of her depression.
The game is a 2D platformer where Mark has to navigate different sections and collect the flowers. After gathering all flowers, Sara tells Mark not to blame himself for her death. She explains that he doesn't have to live with this guilt of her actions and encourages him to enjoy life while he has it. She promises to watch over him and that she always loves him.
At the time, I was proud of the project. After some time apart, I see where the project needed improvement:
-Characters need animations. The artwork is simple but could use more detail.
-It's difficult to see the demons, which becomes tedious. Combat was also not necessary.
-Backgrounds look confusing and can become very overwhelming to figure out where you are.
-The demon art doesn't fit with the theme. The colors look too jarring and don't seem to symbolize depression.
-The code is very messy. Before I knew what a dialogue system was, each piece of dialogue was created in a new scene.
-The story doesn't handle the topic of suicide well. If I had more time, I would want to explore it more by how one could get to the point of wanting to take their life. Ideally, the story would be a message to the player that suicide isn't worth it; life is always worth living no matter what happens. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get that message in the build.
I revisited "Truth" in February 2020 for another assignment at QU (Game Lab VI). This assignment was to take one of our old games and redo it to put on our portfolio. After some time, I chose "Truth" because it was a short piece that had potential. In two weeks, I completed the build with the following changes:
Narrative & Plot:
-Instead of killing herself, Sara dies in a car crash after marrying Mark. I felt that Sara didn't deserve punishment for her depression.
-The topic of suicide is shown through Mark. In the beginning, Mark goes to the basement to hang himself. It grabs the player's attention and prepares them for the serious subject matter. When Sara's spirit stops Mark, it's not as a punishment. Instead, it focuses on having the player learn life is still worth living through a more positive perspective.
-The game was still a 2D side scroller, but it took out the combat and platformer aspect. The previous style hindered the story.
-The player goes through Mark's memories with Sara to give background and relate to the issue of grief. Even though we miss the ones we lost, they're always there with our memories.
Art & Code:
-New character sprites with better proportions.
-New environments that were easier to understand
-Animations were made for the main characters.
-Code used a dialogue system and the build had fewer scenes due to an enum system that would switch between environments.
I was proud of this version of "Truth." I felt I was able to accomplish my goal of depicting one's mental health and what can lead them to do something drastic. The story flowed well with the pace of the game; it could be relatable to those who had experienced loss and grief.
I will say that the animations could be improved to be more fluid; it would be interesting to add more interaction in the game like an activity the player can do in between memories to keep them engaged in the story.