It has been a long time since you have been home. Your parents have recently died. Although grieving, there are still practical matters to be dealt with - what do you do with their belongings?
In Estate Sale, you must balance monetary needs with physical reminders emotional memories. Will you pay off your student loans? Or learn a bit more about your parents through going through their possessions?
Sydney Ayers - Design, Art
Yue Wang - Design, Programming
Our documentation for Estate Sale was multi-part, but one of our key pieces was our Macro. We started it pretty early in our development as it helped us ask many vital questions. It discussed a general overview of what it is like to walk through our game - What are the spaces you will inhabit? What would be in each room? How do players interact with the world? What will a player feel while in this space? What emotions are we trying to explore?
I was particularly proud of our asset organization sheet which tracked what we called our Objects of Value (OoV). It ended up being our most used sheet in the entire Macro. Estate Sale focused on how objects contain memories and how we deal with these objects after a loved one passes away. Unfortunately for us, to fill an entire house, you need a LOT of objects. The sheet detailed where they were placed, their cost, their relative sentimental value, and multiple levels of descriptions. It also was where we tracked the implementation of models, code, and thumbnails. I started this sheet very early in our design process and it massively streamlined our work pipeline.
I also created our storyboards for Estate Sale. The most important thing that these boards showed was our UI. It was difficult to explain how we wanted the UI to look to other people, so simply showing them was the easier option. I hadn't used Figma much, but I thought I would give it a shot. It ended up working well for what we needed. I mentally walked through how we wanted the game to look and created individual "scenes" or critical moments. This also helped Yue later on when he needed to code the UI as he knew roughly where each UI object would be placed and its purpose.
This game involved extensive writing. Far more than I expected. Although I am not generally a writer, I decided to take a chance and did most of the writing for the game. It helped me focus on the individual objects (OoVs) and then think of a scenario in which the objects would be used. Each object needed a short description and then a more profound memory. This sounds simple, but when you have over 20 objects, those little stories start to add up.
We also needed instructional text, letters with exposition, story endings, and playtesting scripts. I hadn't realized how much writing went into even smaller games before this. My favorite story that I wrote for this game was for the wedding band: it told the story of the parents' engagement complete with a marshmallow-covered ring.
Yue and I were very concerned about the scope of Estate Sale. We knew that we had to make cuts to create something like what we envisioned. We made the tactical decision that we would buy a housing asset pack from the UE store and find most of our assets. This turned out to be a great choice. We managed to create a complete prototype in the allotted time that got to the heart of what we wanted to explore. However, certain objects had to be made as they were particular to the story. I 3D modeled and textured these OoVs and had a minor breakthrough moment. After I modeled, UV unwrapped and textured a children's stethoscope reasonably quickly, and with relative ease, I realized that I had reached fluency in the 3D pipeline. I simply just knew what to do and how to do it - and quickly.