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Actual Sunlight - Interactive Story

A short interactive story about love, depression and the corporation.

Help me add original art and music to an innovative interactive story / adventure game.

Short Summary

Actual Sunlight is a short interactive story about love, depression and the corporation. I know it isn't very alluring to leave it at that - click on the video above for a little more of an explanation - but I think the game probably explains itself better than I can. Download a finished version of it (without the art and music that you'll help raise funds for!) right now:

www.actualsunlight.com

(Note: This is an updated version! It's now minus a bug, and I've put some save prompts in.)

(RPG MAKER VX ACE GAME - WINDOWS PC ONLY)

The story is completely linear, and takes about an hour to play through. You can save and load from the main screen, though I think it's best experienced in a single play-through.

As I mentioned, I'm raising funds to augment the game into a final version that features original art and music, which I'd then like to try and get onto Steam through Project Greenlight. What you're downloading above is essentially the finished product, except without those things.

PRAISE FOR ACTUAL SUNLIGHT

Kotaku: "The Biggest Challenge In This Game Is Preventing Your Character From Committing Suicide"

The Penny Arcade Report: Depression, suicide, and a final choice that isn’t what you think: the power of Actual Sunlight

Rock, Paper, Shotgun: "His hypocrisy makes him unlikeable, and yet his writing is absolutely compelling."

Gamespot: "Light in the Darkness: Dealing With Depression in Games"

Kill Screen: "Will O'Neill explores darkness with hope and honesty."

BeefJack: Actual Sunlight: shining a light on depression

Plus 10 Damange: "It's like Bioshock!"

Tamath Talks About Things: "A game boldly goes where entertainment fears to tread."

IndieStatik: "Actual Sunlight is the hardest hitting game about depression I've ever played."

TorontoThumbs.com: "It’s not often that a game makes me sit back and say 'whoa'."

TPReview: "It might be the most profound and personal game I’ve ever played."

IndieGameMagazine: "Every so often a title like Actual Sunlight comes along, handling weighty topics with assured confidence and making us realize how impactful the gaming medium can be."

Ocedic's Review: "... Whether you feel pity, fear, anger, inspiration or apathy is up to you."

Cheatmasters: "If you’re single, living alone, and trying to make it in life, then you will get what Actual Sunlight is trying to say."

The Indie Developer: "Actual Sunlight really makes you think about people, and how they deal with life."

Why Should I Fund Your Campaign?

It's a very lofty goal that I will no doubt fall short of, but I'm* trying to nudge gaming in an adult, dramatic direction similar to how HBO or Showtime had a really transformative effect on television with the emergence of shows like The Sopranos, The Wire, etc.

I'd like to create interactive stories that have a high level of character, maturity and density to them. If you agree that this would be a good thing, and that Actual Sunlight does something to move the needle in that direction, I would appreciate your support.

The one qualifier I would put out there is that this is a very character-focused narrative, whereas I would love to move onto something in a similar tone but which is far more plot-driven. More characters, more story, etc.

What We Need & What You Get

Unfortunately, my only creative ability is writing. To really bring this game to life, I need to hire people to do:

ARTWORK - I would love to be able to commission original artwork for the game. This could be both in the form of sprites (on-screen graphics) as well as full-screen still (CG) images that could be inserted at key points in the story to create a more compelling experience.

Of course, I'd also love to have some portraits done for the characters as well - ideally, I'd have a set for each that conveys different emotions to go along with their dialogue.

MUSIC - While I've created a number of simple loops for various parts of the game, and are using some of the built-in music for others, I would ideally like to be able to commission original musical pieces that will create fully-customized moods for key scenes.

Additionally, I imagine that having access to art and music will also inspire me to sharpen and expand the game itself. It's possible that a few more scenes will make their way into the finished product, along with better versions of the ones that already exist!

Quick FAQ

Q: Is Actual Sunlight appropriate for children?

A: No. Actual Sunlight treads (textually) in extremely mature themes, has an adult-workplace amount of profanity, and is absolutely not appropriate for children.

And it does so immediately.

Q: Do you have specific artists or musicians in mind?

A: I know it's a little unorthodox to not have some spec work, or at least a few names, as part of a campaign such as this. Because the game itself is so unorthodox, however, I really do want to see if there really is interest in funding it before I start lining things up.

I work professionally as a creative director, and I can tell you that $2000 doesn't buy you much in the way of original anything - but I will try to stretch whatever I can get as far and as sharply as I can. 

Q: This sounds more like a visual novel than an actual game. Why would you create it in RPG Maker instead of something like Ren'Py?

A: Excellent question! RPG Maker spoke to me as a powerful choice of medium for this story because of how it relates to the worldview of the protagonist. I won't say anything more, but I think it'll make sense once you get not-too-far in.

Incidentally, using RPG Maker to create this type of game was more than a bit cumbersome, and for future projects I would definitely like to move over to something like Ren'Py. I adore Christine Love's Analogue: A Hate Story and her work was definitely inspirational.

Q: Did any other games inspire this project?

A: To The Moon comes immediately to mind, especially because of the atmosphere that it creates through amazing visuals and music. The things that it does extremely well are exactly the things that my game does not have.

Q: Do you think this is the first game to have a mature adult narrative and a lot of text? 

A: I don't, but 99% of the games that do have these things are either fantasy / sci-fi RPGs or extremely Japanese - like, to the point of not really culturally translating, or at least not to me.

This is just a game about non-fantastical adult life in present-day Toronto. 

Q: Do you have plans / reach goals to release versions on other platforms?

A: Nope! In the unlikely event that this campaign has some sort of wild, runaway success, the money will be used to improve the game, fund expansions, and make more games like it.

I wouldn't even know where to wade in on trying to port an RPG Maker game, and I don't particularly care to. It's fine.

Q: Why aren't you using flexible fundraising?

For less than $2000, I don't think I can get anything done that will justify the contributions that might have been made up to that point.

If I don't meet my goal, honestly, I think I'll probably just chalk the whole thing up to experience and move on to something else.

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