When You’re Gone

Sydney Pallister, Julianne Quiday, Pandy Ma, Vivian Fu, Tania Samokhvalova

Project ConceptThe focus was to create a small indoor space that players could explore and find a narrative within. The game followed two key concepts: storytelling and the transition of object agency. Together, we designed a room to tell the personal story of two people and their relationship with death and grief. Players would be able to explore this ordinary room and learn along what happened. We decided to use voice lines to guide the story forward. This allowed us to create a second character while leaving the distinction of the characters unclear.

Altogether, When You’re Gone explores the passage of grief and how it can transform the outlook of life. The player, alongside the main character eventually experiences survivor’s guilt and the inability to move on.

In order to manage in the given time frame, we created a list of tasks and split them into weeks. Items of priority would be completed in the first week to allow for more time in the final week. Each week we were able to complete a new build of the game and finally reach our final product.

Maya modeling/assetsInitially, the plan was to create an ordinary room with various trinkets and objects to narrate the story. Together, we created a list of possible things to be found in a room and the meaning that could be tied to them. From there, we decided how much we could accomplish in the given time and how many objects would be needed to successfully tell the story. Finally, we decided on seven significant objects.

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The second half of modelling was about creating the room. First, we decided on a floor plan and took furniture references from Ikea catalogs. Then we assigned one person to work on the furniture, while another worked on the interactive objects. The room that we all decided on was the bedroom, which allowed multiple objects with backstories. The build consisted of complete models with found royalty free textures. As we progressed to the final stages of the second iteration, the majority of objects have had their textures UV mapped in order to ensure there would be no texture glitches as all as having custom textures. All works models were then moved into Unity to assemble the room.

2D assets/drawingsThe overall goal was to move away from using stock photos and having our own artworks. To accomplish this, we assigned to people to work on painting photos and the skybox. These drawings included newspaper prints, photographs, book covers, and posters. By creating our own works, it allowed us to have more personal pieces that tied together with the story.

tumblr_p6hen8tc2r1uetbg1o1_1280         generic-romance          bandposter

Unity UI/GUIThe first version of the game started out as just the game itself; the player starts in the room and ends with the final line of the game. There were no clear signs as to when the game would begin and conclude. As a result, we decided to add UI menus throughout the game in order to create a better flow for the players experience.

The Start menu was added first to give the player options to actually play the game, learn the story behind it, or exit the game. The Controls and Credits tabs were added to provide guidance for players who have never used a controller before (a fact we learned at the TSV open show). We chose from two different backgrounds, each an image of the outdoor terrain of the game.

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The next menu added was the Pause menu which was a gateway for the players to momentarily leave the game if desired. The Pause menu would appear when the player hit escape, and the options would be to resume or quit the game.

The last menu added was the Restart menu to give a clear indication of when the game ended. A black screen would fade in after the final audio line of the game and the player was able to go back to the main menu or quit the game.

There were definitely some obstacles when creating these menus, some of which were unavoidable. With two people running Unity for the coding aspect, it was a challenge trying to send the menus back and forth and then directing the other on how to add them in from scratch. Converting from mouse and keyboard to controller also took some time because of player options that were not enabled in the Unity inspector. However, being able to finally add these menus was definitely an accomplishment and also created a natural flow to the game.
Unity Builds/CodingThis project started with a coding base that we made for our project The Biography of Things. The initial code simply triggered the voicelines to play when players clicked on the correct object. Voicelines corresponded with specific objects and were tagged accordingly, and after a certain amount of objects had been clicked, a counter was set to trigger a new set of voice lines after each object clicked in succession.

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For the improvements of this project, a main issue was that there was no way of stopping a player from clicking on all the other objects and having the the voicelines all play all at once. This issue was fixed by creating a counter that would add a one while the line was playing, and if the counter was equal to one then players couldn’t click on any other objects. Once the line was finished, the counter subtracted back to zero, allowing players to click on other objects and trigger the cycle once again.

Early into testing it became obvious that players required an indicator to know when the cursor was pointed at an object. Many different scripts were tested to change the material color of the object but had issues with the compatibility of the raycast script. Instead, we worked with particle effects. Once the player had the cursor focused on the object and the raycast hit, the particle effect would change to a blue color. This was done by referencing the particle effect with the corresponding object name and changing its start color to blue when it was looked at, and white when it was not. Once it was clicked, the particle effect was set to stop.

The next steps were to customize the post processing settings as well as the FPS controller. Many people when they played the game found that the player controller moved and looked around the room way too quickly, and that it took you out of the game. The settings were then adjusted accordingly to these suggestions. The head bob was set to be less dramatic, and various walk speeds and sensitivity were tested until it was better suited to the game itself.

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Research was done on the post processing stack settings, what each one accomplished and what feel they gave the room. The various values and options were tweaked until a suitable color palette and lens filtering system matched with the art of the game and accented its theme.

The custom skybox we made presented a unique challenge, as none of our group members have experience with making them. First attempts were to make a cubemap, and set the material as a six sided image. This worked, and the skybox could be rotated with a simple script to make it seem like the clouds were moving. The issue with this way of doing it, however, very clearly made the sky look like an actual box.

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There was a very clear distinction in the vertices in the cubemap, which ruined the immersion of the game and looked very unclean. The next step was looking into having it mapped onto an inverted sphere and then once Tania, the game’s background artist, had repainted to fix the distortion this would cause, was to take the material and have it read as a cubemap latitudinal and longitudinal. Initially the cubemap was repainted and attached to a sphere and then inverted in a 3D software (Blender). This left no seams, but left the clouds very stretched.

Finally we used photoshop and converted the cubemap to a horizontal format, and converted that into a panorama which we then imported into Unity as a texture. This solved the issue. Putting an actual inverted sphere into the scene would have as well, except this gave strange coloring issues.


To give the setting a bit more character, people had suggested have ocean sounds and background noises. To do this, two different audio sources were placed outside of the room which allowed them to have their own 3D sound, so they get louder when the player gets closer to the window and have stereo effects that go from ear to ear when headphones are plugged in.

One final step was to make the game input compatible with both mouse and keyboard as well as an Xbox controller. Unity has built in settings that support some of the controller mapping, but the rest must be done manually. Controller input mapping was put into the unity input menu and then coded accordingly. “ || “ Or notation in the code was used so that the game would accept both mouse click and the a button as input.

Progression of Each Build:

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Code Gist:





Game Executable:

PC/Windows: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1YJpqllheQBO3sXAF00wPz5sDPzkBM5CO

Mac: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1k2UM8PvaUGikbxwnLuD4uMWYSiF9RoIi

Credits: https://docs.google.com/document/d/170GkBt-zAPrhOrFbaOBiCeSzH-uZG6uAO_oxicuQQ40/edit?usp=sharing

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