Reflection on Tone

Hello again, internet!  It’s been a long time since my last update – I’ve had a long period of just keeping my head down and plugging away, but I’m going to try to be more disciplined in publicizing the game from here on in.

While progress is much slower than I would like, and I’m taking much longer to move forward than I had anticipated, I can at least take solace in the fact that it is still progress.  And more importantly, I’ve gotten to a very interesting point in the game where all of the things that are set up and developed at the earlier parts of the game begin to come together.  Essentially, all of the moments in the game that I anticipated and looked forward to creating are now being realized, and it’s a pretty nice feeling.

A mysterious disappearance on the ship? I’m sure it doesn’t mean anything.

Out of the five main chapters in the game, the first three are close to finished.  I’ve always considered the third chapter to be the largest, so I guess I’m past the hump.  The fourth chapter will probably be done (relatively) quickly, and then I will begin working on the game’s conclusion – which will be very hard to estimate how long it takes since the game’s story branches out rather extremely at that point.

Since I’ve reached a point in the game where its overall tone is really taking shape, it feels appropriate at this point to talk a bit about what kind of tone that is exactly.

Looking back at the original “Why Am I Dead”, the thing I love most about it, and which I stand by most, was its combination of flippant humor and grim story.  A lot of the dialogue was really low comedy, I think, that reveled in vulgarity for its own sake and aimed at getting a quick laugh.  At the same time, the setting was an extremely drab and lonely hotel filled with people who are either vain, cruel, idiotic, or pathetic in some other way.  The story is supposed to end with a bit of a gut punch, and leave you with a bad taste in your mouth.   It’s hard to articulate why, but this absurd combination of humor and pitifulness really appealed to me and I hope that the game delivered it.

“Why Am I Dead At Sea” has a similar love for dark humor, but with the key difference that it is much more contemplative.  The characters are not meant merely to be laughed at, but also to be understood and empathized with.  They each have a back-story which can be revealed over the course of the game, which is more often than not tragic in some sense.  And while the last game was more whimsical and I didn’t try to communicate with it, I’ve made a serious attempt to express my own way of looking at the world in this game.  In fact, my biggest fear is that I’ve gotten too ambitious with the themes I’m bringing up, and that my writing skills aren’t good enough to deal with them.

Sometimes characters will talk about heavier subjects…

I don’t mean to portray the game as some kind of navel-gazing “2deep4u” experience.  The themes that the game brings up are not ends to themselves; they are also complements to the drama of the main story line.  And the game will certainly work in opposites of light and dark like its predecessor; infinitely more so.  I don’t want to give too much away, but the game exercises a hearty amount of misdirection…in multiple senses.

…but sometimes they won’t.