Into the Sea

An underwater hide-and-seek game with a mystery at the end. Developed at the 2013 Centre for Digital Media Alumni Hack-a-thon.

Role: Writer and narrative designer
Read the game’s script.

September 2013

 

What I Changed?

Into the Sea is a single-player journey through life and time beneath the waves.

Into the Sea is a short game produced in just over 30 hours at a hack-a-thon. I was directly involved in the initial concept design for the game, which uses a constant falling effect and modified gravity to simulate the sensation of sinking into the water. In a short period, I crafted a world for the game based on an After the Flood scenario and a mystery lurking at the bottom of the sea. As the game develops, it takes the player on a journey backwards through civilization and towards the end of life as we know it.

Because the game was simple and produced so quickly, the actual production process was largely instinctual. The team and I quickly set up roles and responsibilities, as well as a method for checking in that helped streamline programming production. Agreeing on a design vision quickly helped launch asset production early so that iterations could take place on the second day of the hack-a-thon.

As often happens at game jams, the team had to re-scope in the final hours an re-identify key features in order to display the game. This was a complex and difficult process as always, but with team discussion and compromise we were able to present core features and gameplay.

 

What I Learned

This was my first game production crunch and, perhaps necessarily bluntly, I learned how those situations affect the core vision of the game and often its narrative as well, and it taught me some techniques to avoid crunch in the future–namely, that we can create less initially and then expand scope as features are implemented. By overscoping the level design and narrative (and the art and code, too), I learned how to avoid that mistake in the future.

The whole team also learned a lot about managing expectations under pressure and the importance of recognizing and respecting passion while still applying it into scope. It showed all members of the team the importance of Scrum best practices and specific Agile tools that could help take the overall collaborative principle we all shared and apply it even in difficult situations. In many ways, this project was the best possible introduction to the Centre for Digital Media program.

Finally, Into the Sea was my first experience telling stories with sound–something I have become increasingly passionate about since. Due to necessity, I filled in as a sound designer for the team and was able to use key sound effects to create a sense of depth and mystery, especially at the end of the game where conveying the correct atmosphere was essential.

 

Notes

You can read a sample of the game’s script on this site.

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