break; is the story of a person who has the power to move freely between different realities and to manipulate the fabric of the universe. It soon becomes clear that some of these realities are nightmarish, and must be escaped from as quickly as possible. Each reality is governed by different unbreakable laws, and mastering these laws is necessary in order to progress. As you gain a greater understanding, you may begin to understand your place in the game world, and what it is that you are escaping from. The more you move between realities, the more they overlap and fragment.
A tragic, story-based psychological adventure game, with elements of puzzle-solving, horror and fantasy. break; is an artistic inquiry into escapism and mental health. Designed to be a moving, personal experience, we limit our reliance on explicit narrative. As a result, any meaning that the player takes from the game will be a combination of implication and speculation. The nature of each reality determines it's aesthetic, some will be recognisable, many strange, and others achingly beautiful.
The core gameplay of break; revolves around decision making and leaps of understanding. There will be many clues spread throughout the world, and the only gate to progression is knowledge. Secondary gameplay is derived from games across a variety of genres, a decision which is always guided by how particular gameplay affects the player's emotional experience.
The break; prototype, featured in the video above, was my final major project at university. It was built at Bournemouth under supervision and guidance from Boredomresearch. In June it was displayed at the 2016 British HCI conference. It was given a co-creation award which included money to aid development, and Bournemouth University awarded the prototype best Interactive experience at the end of the academic year. The project's extended abstract has been published on the online eWic and ACM repositories and can be read here.
Note: The work below does not represent the final visual quality of the game, it only represents the work done over a few months by a small team working on a game-play prototype.
Jenova Chen (of ThatGameCompany),
The Beginners Guide by Davey Wreden,
The Stanley Parable by Galactic Cafe,
Limbo and Inside by the incredible Playdead,
Antichamber by Alexander Bruce,
Kairo by Locked Door Puzzle,
Mind: Path to Thalamus by Luka Nieto et all,
Only If by Creability,
FingerBones by David Szymanski ,
Underhell by MXTHE,
PT by Hideo Kojima
and Soma by Frictional Games.
Some incredible upcoming games that I would like to point out because they fall within a similar ballpark are:
The Shattering by super sexy software,
DARQ by Unfold Games,
Anamorphine by Artifact 5,
Manifold Garden by William Chyr,
and The Museum of Simulation Technology by Pillow Castle.
I wrote the backstory, plotted out the experience, and designed the structure and game-play of break; which is inspired by fractals, non-euclidean space, and the artwork of Roger Dean, Mario Martinez and Ernst Haeckel. The gameplay of Break is part first person platforming and part horror. The player orients to whatever surface that they find themself standing on, and must solve puzzles by navigating through a surreal environment.
This project required almost all of the skills I have developed over my life as a hobbyist game developer and student of Computer Visualisation and Animation.
Realistic textures for the bedroom, Photo-sourced, hand-painted, and procedural generated. Simple PBR materials for the bedroom, Assisting Rob on the complex world material with fake lighting, Volumetric textures and artist friendly material instances.
Low Poly bedroom assets, Modular toolkit for blocking out the architecture of the world, Zbrush, Hi-poly details, Complex and Organic Structural forms.
Using Agisoft Photoscan, a DIY setup with lights at home, a point and shoot camera, getting good scans can be very difficult!
Using Post-processing, dynamic lights and stationary lights.
Sketching, planning, whiteboxing, prototyping, concept art, architecture, construction, environment art
When the player is able to walk on any visible surface, level design requires a lot of forward thinking, and even more trial-and-error.
2D animated sprites in photoshop, effects made in the cascade particle editor and material editor using 3D textures and flipbooks.
Blueprints, Game-play, sequences, game-feel, procedural tools for artists, interactive elements of the game world