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Samsara | Sukhraj Johal

Play as a bartender who is tasked to find out which one of his recently deceased patrons is a murderer.

Team: 3

Role: Lead Game Designer, Art Director, Programmer

Timeline: 3 Weeks

Overview

Samsara is a bar that is located in the afterlife. Its sole employee, the Bartender, greets and entertains recently deceased patrons, before they are sent off to either Heaven or Hell. The Bartender’s mundane life quickly turns upside down, when his boss calls in saying that there is an anomaly among his patrons. A person who is disguised as a murderer! 

Embracing Player Agency

Players can talk with whom they choose, gather information, before making a decision on where to send the individual (heaven, hell, or limbo). During conversation, the characters will reveal more about themselves, or decline to talk to you based on the questions you ask.

 

Core Gameplay Loop

World Building - Environmental Storytelling 

 

The player can interact with the surrounding environment by clicking on props such as a posters, signs, etc. These mini-interactions reveal the lore about the game world and provide the player relevant hints about the who the murderer could be. 

 

Non-Linear Narrative Sequences 

The game was designed so that the players choices dramatically impact the story and can lead the player to one of three possible endings. The overarching story follows a three-act structure. 

 

Story Beats 

 

The Judgement System

This system allows the player to choose how they want to sentence the patrons in the bar. It is represented as an mobile interface. At any point in the story, a player can pull up their phone, and give their sentencing.

Meet the Characters

Bartender

A witty man who is growing tired of his job.

SEA-4

A robot who can't compute the concept of death.

GUAC

A shy, bulky blue alien, who is fascinated by Earth's culture/media.

Lucilla

A sharp-tongue old women who constantly demands respect.

Marcie

A rebellious teen with a vicious attitude.

Conceptual Character Designs

Early in development, rough character concept sketches were vital in order to figure out designs that would embody the character descriptions/personalities. These finalized designs were then passed to the 2D Animator, to be developed as pixel art. 

Outcomes

What did I learn?

  • Curating the core gameplay loop, setting up the non-linear narrative sequences, following a three-act structure

  • Use environment interactions as a subtle means for world building

  • Designing memorable characters from prompts/ description to visual iteration

  • Implementing non-linear narrative character dialogue using a node-based flowchart system in Unity

© Sukhraj Johal 2019