I’m contributing my writing to a game! This is exciting news. I’ve written novels and short stories, worked on screenplays for short films, created my own comics and worked on audio drama scripts but games development has remained elusive. They’re the exciting new frontier but share a similarity with filmmaking, which is that they’re really difficult to do on your own.
Thanks to Tom Francis’ GameMaker tutorial series and easy systems like Twine, I have been dabbling as a solo games designer, but those projects are more about teaching myself skills rather than producing a fully-fledged game.
Following some advice from Tom Jubert, snazzy writer of FTL and The Talos Principle, I poked my nose into various indie forums and stumbled across a project which was seeking a writer. That project is Do Not Cross. It’s a narrative-led adventure of sorts about the life of a forensic cleaner. Development is still at an early stage but the mechanics are already coming together as are lots of lovely visuals.
It has a classic early-90s vibe and setting, with cut-scenes evoking the likes of Flashback and Another World and numerous locales to explore in a non-specific European city. In terms of style and tone, think along the lines of Fincher’s Seven, except not as cheery.
My first misconception about the project was that a forensic cleaner had something to do with actual police work. In fact, forensic cleaners come in after the police have done their stuff. The cleaner literally cleans up the crime scene. It’s one of those jobs where it’s hard to immediately see the appeal, given that the brief tends to include dealing with ‘gross filth cleaning’ and ‘decontamination & clean-up of bodily fluids’. Don’t forget the hepatitus B.
The project appealed because it’s an unusual scenario with intriguing mechanics and a sharp focus on telling a non-typical branching story. I’d already learned a lot simply from working on Going Up, and Do Not Cross is teaching me a bunch more about the importance of scope. When designing a branching storyline it’s incredibly easy to disappear down the rabbit hole and massively over-complicate the flow.
I shall have more to say on Do Not Cross in the coming months. In the meantime, enjoy some character sketches by the project lead and artist, Tobias Frank:
Check out his other stuff on his website. It’s lovely.