I’m thinking for this and future dev blog posts, I’ll divide it in twain — one half a largely spoiler free general essay on the game and my thinking while making it, the second half a more factual rundown on what’s going on in development which may refer to things only folks in the Patreon would know about. So, the second half won’t be in the public dev blog right here. (If you’d like to see the full posts, you can always join the Patreon — even $1 a month gets you access and helps us fund the game. $5 or more gets you playable builds.)
After the grueling political theory rampage that was Floating Point, I made a conscious decision to move away from grand statements about oppression, communication breakdowns, social issues, gender identity, and so on for my next project. All of that stuff is great, don’t get me wrong, but I needed a break. A project which was lighter, fluffier, but with some opportunity for depth and character-driven drama/philosophy when I felt like writing some.
Naturally, I decided the primary theme of the game would be chasing an ideal in a world where poverty and hard pragmatism shaping the job market would crush you if you stepped out of line, and where the Millennial generation has to deal with the bad decision making of their parents and grandparents.
So much for a fluffy, apolitical game.
Honestly, I debated if I wanted to go this way. I’m Gen X, stuck between the Baby Boomers who shaped the world we live in, and the Millennial they despise who are trying to endure a world not of their making. That leaves me actually in a very comfortable position, benefiting from my parents efforts and not experiencing the hardships my kids will. I don’t know if I have any right to depict any sort of struggle when I’ve had little struggle in life. (Well, little traditional socioeconomic struggle. I’ve sure as heck had health struggles.)
Despite worrying that I’d be unable to represent properly, despite it lending some heavy themes about depression and life dissatisfaction… I knew this was the only way. The protagonist is starting behind the eight ball for a reason; it’s a common setup in narrative video games, putting you in danger right away, then asking you to claw your way out of that situation. (See also Mass Effect Andromeda, which I took heavy influence from.) You can’t start out comfortable and happy or you’d never have motivation to go off on a crazy adventure and take some risks.
Ultimately this theme of bad luck, despair, and compromising your hopes is only a part of the first overall arc of the story. After that, as you start to bring your life around, it becomes background noise. And in an ideal life, the sort of optimistic and fluffy fun experience I wanted to ultimately write… that’s how it should be. Hope should be rewarded.