Before Eternity (Beta)

[UPDATE 1: With 50+ improvements, Before Eternity is in version Beta 1.5 now! It may takes one more month to finalize everything.]

[UPDATE 2: I will release the game when it is ready to be deployed on PC, Android, and iOS.]

Before Eternity is the title of an art game, I’m producing as my master’s project.

INTRODUCTION

In this game, the player runs an avatar on a ring for 7 rounds to solve one certain puzzle. This is a solo project, except for the background music, composed by Bashir Faramarzi.

The game tries to raise some fundamental questions about the philosophy/secret of life against the player. The goal of the game is to leave the player in a thinking mode after the game is finished, and for this purpose the gameplay will about 10 minutes or less.

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Here is the project proposal submitted to the school’s committee.

ABSTRACT

In this Master’s project, I will develop a short interactive narrative that will invite players to contemplate the futility of material attachments and stimulate their curiosity to discover the secret of life, based on my personal understanding of Sufi mysticism. It is intended for adult players who are not hardcore gamers.

SETTING & PREMISE

The narrative is set in an abstract 3D environment in the shape of a large ring or cylinder. The outer surface of the ring serves as a pathway for an avatar representing the player. The avatar advances from young adulthood to death by walking around the ring seven times, interacting with characters and objects and making decisions in a symbolic quest for life’s secret. A traversal of the entire story will take less than 10 minutes.

World Settings

World Settings

Regardless of the player’s choices, the story always concludes with the avatar’s death at the completion of the seventh circuit of the ring. However, by following hints and carefully considering their actions, players can discover an ending suggesting that, although it is impossible to avoid death, it may be possible to come to a better understanding of life.

MECHANICS

The world is rendered in real-time 3D. The perspective is third-person, with the camera following behind the character’s avatar. The player moves forward by holding down the space bar. Releasing the space bar stops the movement. Backwards movement is not allowed.

The story has seven stages, each corresponding to one complete walk around the ring. The stages are populated by a variety of characters and objects that the player can interact with as they advance around the ring.

The mouse is used to select characters and objects of interest. Responsive objects are highlighted in an obvious way when the cursor hovers over them. Clicking on a highlighted object triggers a scripted response, such as a character dialogue and/or a change in object state.

Some interactions will add or remove items to the avatar’s inventory. Inventory items are indicated by screen icons, and can be “applied” to responsive characters or objects by dragging them with the mouse.

Example interactions: In the first round, the player talks to a friend who offers the player seeds. There is a garden nearby where the seeds can be planted. When the player returns to the garden in the second round, the seeds have grown into a flower. This flower can be picked and given to another friend in the third round in exchange for another item.

AESTHETICS

GRAPHICS

In keeping with the experience goal, the look of the game will be stylish and mystical, inspired by adventure games such as Qajari’s Cat by Resaneh Shokouh Kavir, and graphic novels such as Craig Thompson’s Habibi and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis.

I will be creating all of the in-game art myself. Most objects in the game will be represented by 2D sprite sheets, projected on planes positioned in the 3D world.

MUSIC

The background music will be dynamically generated, based on a series of looped and layered tracks featuring authentic Persian instruments. The first level of the game will feature the tolling of a distant bell. An additional, synchronized instrument layer is added at the beginning of levels 2, 3 and 4. These layers are then successively removed in levels 5, 6 and 7, leaving only the tolling of the bell.

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