New Game! / by Charlie Francis Cassidy

It's been a long time since I've posted about what I'm working on, and last I did I was still busy with my game about living with bipolar. Now while that is still on the cards, I've had to accept that at this stage I have way too much going on to keep working on it. I've nearly burnt myself out  a couple of times so I've decided to take a step back for the moment.

This doesn't mean I've stopped working on games entirely! This year I hope to release 2 smaller games that are pretty important to me. Interestingly the ideas for both have come from game jam's that I unfortunately didn't have the time/capacity to enter at the time, but the themes gave me a good idea.

The first one that I've been working on I got the idea from the last Ludum Dare, which the theme was room or something. It's quite a simple game really, it's set entirely in one room (probably an apartment or something) and the player simply walks about the room talking to the objects and furniture in it. Which is in fact, the player talking to themselves. The idea of this is that this is exactly how I sort through my own thoughts, basically pacing about a room talking out loud to myself. Which may commonly be associated with the person being unstable/dangerous even. Now, I'm not saying I'm always the most stable person but I am certainly not dangerous. I strongly want to de-stigmatise how people view mental health and things like this. Me talking out loud should not be something that indicates how others view my stability.

Now, for a bit I wasn't sure where I would get all the dialog for this, but then it occurred to me I already have a large resource of my thoughts. I've been keeping a blog about my mental health since I was diagnosed with bipolar.

Basically at the start of the game, it will pull down all of my posts and use those as dialog. In fact, I have that working already. It has a list of url's that it pulls down and then sorts through the content to pull out each blog post, which it then splits into paragraphs and then splits those down into sentences. It still needs a few more tweaks so that I can also mark any specific trigger warnings for each post, and keep the punctuation after splitting the sentences. But the fundamentals are all working.

I want to make sure this game is as accessible as possible. A full list of trigger/content warnings will be at the beginning but I also want to go a bit further and have the player be able to select which they are okay with engaging with. This might limit how much content there actually is but I think it's more important to allow as many as people to engage with what they're comfortable with.

I also plan on providing a selection of fonts (including dyslexia friendly ones), options for text size and hopefully colour contrast options. This game is heavily text based so again, I want to make sure as many people can engage with it as possible.

I plan on blogging my process in making this game, and I hope to be able to release it sometime in this first half of the year, but I should also acknowledge things happen and my health comes first so that might not be possible. I am only a couple of weeks out of hospital as it is.

The working title so far is - In My Mind