What does it mean to truly disappear without a trace? For a year and a day, that’s the question that seventeen-year-old Lina Garrett has had to consider after her mother vanished from the Chesapeake Bay town where the Garretts live.
Take Lina on a thought-provoking journey through Avett’s Landing to unravel the mystery of her mother’s disappearance and discover what it means to truly be part of a family.
Play our arrangement of a traditional folk song to get a feel for the game's tone as you read our Kickstarter:
Gray Skies, Dark Waters is, at its heart, a story-driven adventure game that puts the players in Lina’s head and asks them to make difficult decisions about how to respond to a family that’s been torn apart by Vivian Garrett’s disappearance. Did Vivian get frustrated with her life and simply leave? Did she commit suicide? Was she murdered? Or are there possibilities too fantastical to even imagine?
Everyone in the Garrett family has a different opinion. Sixteen-year-old Violet, the family rebel, is convinced that her mother deserted her. Gus, a bookish and analytical thirteen-year-old, wouldn’t be surprised if she died. Eleven-year-old Merle, outgoing and athletic, has a feeling that her mother is still nearby. Robert, the Garrett children’s distant and grieving father, has secrets about Vivian’s disappearance and his own past, that he’s not telling anybody. And Lina – well, what Lina thinks is up to you.
Gray Skies, Dark Waters is a three-dimensional, third-person adventure game. We want the player to fully experience the world of Avett’s Landing and feel like they’re resting on Lina’s shoulder: close enough to truly understand her as a person. Strong leading performances from actors such as Thomas Cunningham and Gwyneth Sholar, prominent Richmond performers, give weight to the story. The branching dialogue allows the player to develop one of three distinct personalities for Lina.
The game is being built with Unity, allowing us to easily try out a variety of creative possibilities. Development is targeting release on PC, Mac, and Linux with a 2 hour play time, and we'll be applying to Steam's Greenlight.
Gray Skies, Dark Waters is a modern interpretation of the swan maiden myth, which appears in folklore traditions worldwide.
But what is that story? Here’s the quick version: a young man goes out to the seashore at night and happens to see a flock of swans turn into beautiful women. He hides himself to watch them bathe. At dawn, they put their swan feathers back on and fly away. Night after night he watches, until he finally steals the coat of feathers from one of them and forces her to become his wife. Over the next decade, she bears him children – strange children, who seem to be, well, not quite human. Gray Skies, Dark Waters draws inspiration from these tales, but in no way conforms to the classic story; it instead breathes new life into an old narrative.
Female characters in video games often fill one of two roles: the damsel in distress, who has to be rescued by the hero, or the femme fatale, whose sexuality becomes her defining characteristic. But women are far more complex than that. One of our chief goals in writing this game is to present the story of a young woman's life, realistically and poignantly. Lina has the strength to go after what she wants, and she isn't overtly sexualized. That's one of the aspects that makes Gray Skies, Dark Waters unique - and necessary.
We're also inspired by the kinds of games that immerse players in their fictional worlds with strong characterization and well-developed plot lines. If you liked these games, you'll like ours as well:
We're already half a year into development, and much of the work is done. Check out the projected completion timeline for each component from the time the Kickstarter ends:
The Cost Breakdown
We're pouring the $1100 directly toward costs we need to finish up the game:
$1800: Developer commentary on the game, especially its relationship to folklore and mythology, as well as commentary on gender in the gaming industry. Will include scholar interviews in addition to dev comments.
$2000: Surround sound and more immersive soundscape.
$2200: Short stories from the perspective of different characters within the world of the game.
$3000: Improved graphics and models.
$5000: Gray Skies, Dark Waters is adapted for mobile!
Vocals: Riley Panko; Swan image: artvintage1800s.etsy.com/Flickr
Risks and challenges
In a large, complex project like a video game, certain roadblocks are inherently unpredictable. That said, each of us is experienced in our particular roles, and we've been working steadily on this project for enough months now to have an understanding of where we stand. We're meticulously organized, we've budgeted in appropriate wiggle room, and we're ready to spend many more long nights to ensure a quality product.
The Steam Greenlighting process can't be guaranteed. That said, we truly believe that the final product will catch enough eyes to drive us through. With your help, we can pull this off.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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