Making a character you can empathize with is very difficult. For our Demo, when I was writing Clarity and Echo, I was on a very big time crunch, and I’m very happy that people were able to empathize with them!!! I wrote all the dialogue in a google spreadsheet, and next to each Clarity line, I wrote what a player *might* respond with. I knew there would be outliers, and people who would try to break the game, but in my mind, if people wanted to break the game, then that’s their version of fun. Not everyone want to play very narrative focused games! (And to be fair, seeing what wild things you can say with the copy/paste mechanic is fun in its own right!!) Using the fake player responses I made, I tried to make Clarity’s next line react to that in a way that makes sense, whether the player responded positively OR negatively. Adding Echo’s voice lines came a bit after. I would give her things to say in places that I felt made sense, like the tutorial in the beginning, her confusion to Clarity knowing to much, anger at Clarity blaming her for something where she felt to be the victim, and fear of the whole situation.
When deciding *how* to write those lines, I tried to think of how I would react in the situation, and how I’ve seen similar situations play out in media. I decided Echo would be someone who’s victimhood is reliant on how other view the “dark, tragic backstory.” Echo never picked up the phone, and claims she didn’t know what would happen when she didn’t. Do you believe her? Echo claims she is also a victim in this unknown tragedy, which very well may be true. Tragedy isn’t black and white. But Clarity is haunted here, why? Why does she want Echo to admit what she’s done? Is she really a victim to Clarity, or someone that could have easily avoided this? I wrote really ambiguously, but using that as a guide, I tried to make Clarity’s direct questions and Echo’s emotions feel real. And Katherine’s voice acting REALLY sells this. I think without them, Echo talking may have been less effective.
Overall for our full game, Sam and I are trying to make it interactive, while still following a semi-linear story line. I think we will end up hitting a bit of a wider range of emotions than the demo! And hoping to have more than only interactive choice to keep the player engaged!!! If you decide to replay the game, and respond differently, you will get new/different dialogue, BUT you might still get the same ending. There will be multiple endings, but we’re not sure how many, there should be yet. I think we were leaning towards a smaller number of endings. What do you guys think?