The main idea behind Grief is the switching between Optimism and Pessimism, so we had to make sure the two states looked and sounded very different. How did we do this? I’m glad you asked.
We decided from the get-go (well, I did) to use conventional means of portraying happiness/sadness, meaning Optimism has birds chirping and sunlight, and Pessimism has rain and darkness.
Colours are important in a game like this, and because yellow and blue are immediately connected to warm and cold respectively, we went with those. We also applied a coloured filter over the entire screen and a neato border, both of which change depending on the current state.
Now, despite this being a somewhat artsy game, we still have to think about gameplay. Sure, we could make the game absolutely beautiful, but at what price? We can’t risk overcrowding the screen, nor can we confuse the player by changing the ground they’re standing on. Keeping this in mind, we decided to keep the player/ground simple and unchanging. All basic objects are in shades of white/gray, and are easily separated from the scenery/dynamic objects.
Regarding sound, we’ve put a lot of work into audibly separating the two states. The rain in PS is thick and loud, and the birds chirping give a real feeling of “Sunshiny morning”. Both of these ambient tracks play over the slightly quieter background theme, which stays the same throughout the entire game. This gives a sense of smooth transition, even though there is no fading between ambient tracks.
All of this comes together to form what I personally think is a very interesting experience and an obvious/satisfying change every time you hit that node. I hope you agree when you play the game, I really do.
Tune in tomorrow for the final dev diary on Grief before its eventual release. I’ll be covering a few of our release tactics and what you can expect in the coming weeks.
Until then, stay beautiful