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I made Grief in about a week and a half by myself with the help of YouTube tutorials, lots of self loathing, and the drive to make something outside of academia. My First Game Jam was a great experience in creating something for myself- something that wouldn't be graded, or didn't depend on a long list of criteria. The goal I had set was to make something for my Grandfather who passed away of terminal cancer 3 months after receiving his diagnosis. I wanted to try and capture my grieving process.
I've been using Unity for about 5 months and never really felt like I understood what I was doing when it came to scripting in C# (I still have no idea what I'm doing, but It's better!). To make myself more comfortable, I decided that I'd write 2 scripts: PickUpObjects and RotateObjects.
The former was hard to do at first. I looked at the documentation provided by Unity to see what certain functions meant before moving on to YouTube to try and see if I could find what I was looking for. I found this video and the explanations to be incredibly helpful, but when I followed along and wrote the script myself and attached it to the items I wanted to pick up, a few problems arose. The items would rotate on their own, and the object would never be centered in front of the camera. It looked as though I were holding it at an awkward angle. After some frustration and some digging, I found this video which was much better and functioned exactly how I wanted it to. It was also incredibly easy to follow along. If I froze the position of each object on the X,Y, and Z axis they wouldn't shake, which was a plus.
Rotating objects was the most challenging part of this endeavor and I put it off until the very last minute because working on trying to find the right implementation was frustrating. Some scripts I wrote would have the object rotate as SOON as it was picked up, as opposed to waiting for button presses. Eventually I got to set it up so that when you pressed E and R the object would rotate. Awesome! But only when you were standing in front of the object and not holding it. Oh, and it would rotate every single object behind it, too. Oops. If I could go back and change something, I'd try and refine this script more and probably look for better ways to go about writing it. I'm glad I tried, though. For all intents and purposes...it worked?
I had the most fun scripting and designing UI elements. At first I used this as the UI prompt for picking up objects, but realized that the mouse would hover over the object after it was picked up, leaving the UI prompt to hang out awkwardly within view. I switched over to have UI triggers in front of every podium, displaying the UI and then having it disappear once you exited the trigger. I used this same method toward the end of the hallway, where "Sonny" appears on the tombstone.
I wanted to keep the design linear and simple, so each room was bare except for the podium and the object. Lights were set up so that the focus was on each object. Each item meant something special to me, and that's why they were included. Having my friends play through the game and give me their interpretations of what they thought the items meant was incredibly interesting! The very last room was the hardest for me to model and populate, but it was cathartic. I put a warmer light over the tombstone and wanted the player to get close enough to the room before transitioning to the "end game" scene. At first I wasn't sure what I wanted to have displayed against the black image, but figured something short would suffice. A big thanks to my friend Grant for suggesting that I wait a few moments before having the "again" prompt show up, to have the "Not yet" sit with you some more.
I also couldn't get the mouse to show up during this point so you could restart (if you wished), which I would like to figure out how to do in the future. This was long and not entirely polished, but overall I think I would have liked to be more clear with my instructions. There could be some better design choices. Some friends who played the game expressed confusion over what to do with the objects, but other than that the reception was warm.Also calling this a "game" makes me uncomfortable because I...don't think it is? I think it's an experience. One that I had a lot of fun making, even though it was a lot of work. It gave me a greater appreciation for content creators and game makers.
A big thank you to my friends who shared, downloaded, and expressed their thoughts about Grief. It means a lot to me.