In this brief interview, we chat with Melbourne-based indie development team Ghost Pattern about their heartfelt narrative gameplay. capricious strand – available now on Nintendo switch!
First of all, would you like to introduce yourself and the role you played in the development of Wayward Strand?
I would love! My name is Georgia and I’m the co-narrative director of Wayward Strand. I worked with the team to develop our characters and storylines; I wrote about half of the dialogue, and I also cast and did all the voiceovers for the game.
In your own words, what is Wayward Strand?
Wayward Strand is a heartfelt narrative game set in 1970s regional Victoria. You play as Casey, a 14-year-old girl whose mother is the local hospital’s head nurse…who happens to be on an airship floating above your city. For 3 days, you accompany your Mum to work, and spend your time getting to know the residents of the EHPAD. This game is about care and relationships in our lives that span generations.
Can you tell us a bit more about what inspired the idea for your game in the first place, and could you tell us a bit more about your creative process?
We started, as a team, with the idea of reflecting on our relationships with the elderly people in our lives. We felt that these relationships are shaped by caring, and above all by the habit of taking one’s time. And so we wanted to focus on time in the game – specifically a real-time mechanic, where all of our characters had their own business to do, whether you were there or not. From these first principles, we built a HUGE timeline, to account for what each of our characters were doing in every moment of the day. When I say huge, I mean there was a time when the timeline took up an entire wall in our studio!
Once we knew what all of our characters were doing, it was time to integrate our player character, Casey. Thinking about the player’s relationship with Casey and Casey’s relationship with everyone else, our priority was to find ways for Casey to be in this world very lightly. She’s fourteen and she’s in a hospital, so we didn’t want to give the impression that she can do whatever she wants and have a huge impact. She is just there to listen, observe and hang out. At the same time, a player’s agency is the means by which they enter the game. So the balance we had to strike was how the player could have agency, while Casey herself in had very little. This ended up manifesting in richly thought out dialogue options, as well as subtle actions that could shape a player’s view of the characters around them.