Avultun the Qabar Cleaner
This game focuses on the Maltese funerary tradition of cleaning out graves. In Malta, since the island is so small and there is not enough land to bury everyone seperately, communal family graves are systematically cleaned out to make room for more people. The process is quite comical, with cockroaches scurrying about and bones being thrown into tupperware. I've even seen pictures of bones being momentarily stored in trash bins before they're sent to the ossuary. This game focuses on the "qabar" or grave cleaners.
The process is far from grandiose. It's dirty and mucky, and the cleaners are very casual about their job. I think that's an amazing way to look at death, as something that simply happens. But no matter how hard I try, I still get lost in the scariness of it all.
I chose to anthropomorphize the characters so that the game's tone wasn't too scary or heavy. Also, I'm inspired by early mythology and Aesop's Fables. The moment early humans recognized their own mortality was the moment they scrambled to manage their terror with religion. And with religion came amazing mythos on how the world was made, how humans came to be, and what happens after death. This game is my own way of managing my terror by game-ifying the funerary process.
I specifically designed the game's main character Avultun as the endangered Egyptian Vulture because Malta has a bad bird hunting problem. No protected animal is safe from Maltese hunters, including Egyptian Vultures which have been shot down before.
My moodboards focused on tone, setting, and the design of the characters.
The following is my original storyboard of the middle and end scenes:
I wanted my game to be more experimental, similar to other "walking" simulators. While I wanted a billion things to appear and disappear as time passes, I simply did not have the ability to do that in only 2-3 weeks.
Originally, I had the ending be much darker - as the cockroaches ravaged the player's screen, Avultun would become visibly distressed. The player would watch as the main character's sprite would turn ghastly with cockroaches crawling all over him. Then he would turn into a skeleton.
I thought that was way too creepy and didn't go with my intention of treating death as a casual, not scary thing. I think the original ending was my own fears coming through. The following gif was going to be included in this darker ending:
The code for the draggable bones in the grave scene is based off of code by Daniel Shiffman.
The soundtrack is composed by Carter Rosen.
The assignment can be found here from the Critical Computation course website.