MuniReality will be a space where people living with mental illness can freely share their stories without fear of judgement. In turn, these stories (which can be shared in the form of writings, drawings, videos, songs, or poetry…) will be transformed into games.
Disclaimer: Mockup of MuniReality Website
The games will be built around and modified based on comments and contributions from the community. People can contribute characters, suitable music, background noise, items, pictures, voices, and other parts to complete a game.
Why Mental Health Awareness?
According to the World Health Organization, around 450 million people currently suffer from mental illness, making it the leading cause of ill-health and disability worldwide. But even so, more than half remain untreated. Stigma and discrimination are still the main reasons why people choose to keep it to themselves, as well as people around them not believing it is a “real” illness.
But mental illness is real. Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Eating Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, PTSD, OCD, Schizophrenia…. These are all serious and painful conditions, and it is important to make more people aware of this.
By making games from personal stories, we hope to generate interest about mental health that would not otherwise be achieved by simply telling people to care about it. We believe that the games will be able to better communicate the issue to more people because it is visual, interactive, and the games will be shared by the people whose stories they contain.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I was making a game as part of my Masters by Practice. Making a game isn’t new to me. In fact, I have been making them for the past 8 years.
But making a game all on my own… And making a game that I want to make… That was new.
Making a game all on my own
I am a programmer by trade, and I learned about design and production in my Masters program. But I never made art at a professional capacity before.
We can work with other people, but I opted not to. Not because I thought I could do everything myself. But because I didn’t want to let anyone down.
I know that doesn’t sound like someone with 8 years of experience should say.
It’s not that I’m not confident of my skills. It’s more like I’m not confident about my resolve. I know that I needed to make a game and I know that I needed to finish it before the deadline. But I also spend a lot of days not capable of getting out of bed.
People who don’t understand me and what goes on in my head, will think that I’m lazy. Okay, maybe I am. But it’s more complicated than that.
I wanted to make a game about something that I care about. I wanted to make a game that revealed a part of me that I had always been too afraid to show.
I chose to make a game about depression.
As I talked about in yet another previous post, as someone who had tried so many times to write, short stories, poems, novels, the first thing that people tell me is “write about what you know”.
I figured it can also apply to making video games. Because video games are a great form of expression, it allows players to step into the shoes of a character.
Other games made about depression have trigger warnings in the beginning.
Making a game about depression while I have bouts of depression- that doesn’t sound like a good idea. At all. But I chose to do it anyway.
As much as I want to only “write about what I know”, I also want to include more voices and other stories. So I started a project on HitRecord.
HitRecord is a website where people collaborate and make things together. I created challenges and asked people for their stories and their input.
As much as I don’t want anyone else to go through the same things I do, knowing that I’m not alone made me feel better. Also because reading about how other people overcame their depression, gave me the assurance that I can also beat mine.
What I made
Depression Simulator is point-and-click puzzle game that simulates the everyday life of someone living with depression, where even the most mundane and menial tasks become a challenge.
The most obvious way forward is to keep working on this game and release it.
But as I mentioned in another previous post, I had this idea of developing a platform for people to share their stories and talk about their experiences with depression and then I’m going to spend some time making those stories into little puzzle vignettes.
With a little help from my friends
This time I know that I couldn’t do everything by myself, so I approached two of my friends and together we are making MuniReality.
MuniReality will be a interactive web platform, where people living with mental illness can share their stories and have them transformed into interactive games. The games will be be built around comments and contributions from the community.
The games will be designed to visually emulate the mood and inner struggles of the people sharing them.
By making games from personal stories, we hope to generate interest about mental health that would not otherwise be achieved by simply telling people to care about it.
Please help us make MuniReality happen by funding our Indiegogo campaign. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.
How much investment is provided? $25k per founding team (minimum of 3 people)
What else do they provide? Mentoring for your team to improve their business and game quality skills by over 60 top industry mentors, weekly pitch practice, playtesting, field trips to successful game studios and at the end of the program, demo days where you will get the chance to pitch to our global network of investors and publishers.
How much equity is taken? 9% stake of your company
How much investment is provided? They provide 3 tiers: Tier 1- Incubation, Tier 2- Publishing and Tier 3- Funding, which may be eligible for up to $50k.
What else do they provide?The package can include: mentorship from industry veterans, development services, legal & accounting services, PR & marketing, sponsorships, publishing.
How much equity is taken? They do not ask for equity in your company. In exchange they’ll ask for 10-30% of the game’s net revenue, depending on the selected service tier, with funding/marketing investments being recouped first.
How long is the program? Throughout the entire project up to the game’s launch.
What else do they provide? Weekly workshops, deliverables,mentorship, valuable publisher/partner connections,demo opportunitiesand more to prepare you for the challenging world of game development startups.
How much equity is taken? 5% revenue share of your game and optional 2% equity in company.
How much equity is taken? Repayment – Once the game is released, you first pay back the investment and then share 25% of the revenue, until we double the initial investment, or until 2 years after the initial launch date, whichever comes first.
What else do they provide? Investment capital, access to co-working space at Disney’s creative campus and mentor support and guidance from top Disney executives, entrepreneurs, investors and other notable business leaders from the entertainment and technology communities.
How much investment is provided? Teams can select from a grant of 1000€ or free accommodation during the program.
What else do they provide? Accelerator program with themes including finding focus, understanding your customers, finding the right product-market fit and go-to-market strategy, HR/team, legal and fundraising, to name a few.
How much investment is provided? Investments of between £50,000 and £200,000. £1 for £1 of private match funding to any investment received.
What else do they provide? Enrolment to the ID@Xbox Programme for Xbox One Development Kits. Access to Windows 10 devices for testing purposes (Subject to availability and at the sole discretion of Microsoft). Bespoke technical guidance and support directly from Microsoft. Though the Bizspark Microsoft programme all companies selected for the Greenshoots programme will receive select Microsoft tools and services for free. Dedicated marketing support from the team at Xbox.
How much investment is provided? $100,000 convertible note
What else do they provide? Techstars resources for life, mentorship, connections to the Techstars Network of over 5,000 founders, alumni and mentors globally, 400 perks worth over $1M, office space for 3 months, etc.
How much equity is taken? $20,000 in exchange for 6% common stock.
How long is the program? 90 days
Where is it based? Multiple locations all over the world (for more details, please check their website)
What else do they provide? Full access to the gram team’s expertise, knowledge, and resources – from solving technical problems, to the incorporation process, to game marketing, to promotion and advertisement support.
How much investment is provided? Each core team member will be provided a living wage over the course of the program, subject to their full-time work at the Incubator and continued satisfaction of Incubator milestones.
What else do they provide? Developers are provided a structure to address the marketing, legal, financial, and other business challenges of launching a successful commercial game.
What else do they provide? Mentoring from world experts in game development and other relevant fields, office space, access to our global network of mentors and investors, and matchmaking when necessary, etc.
How much investment is provided? Investment of up to $5,000 cash, although not always and could be higher.
What else do they provide? Access to experienced management from AAA game producers, a custom website, forums, and social media presence, Free pre-release, and launch marketing services, plus press releases, etc.
How much equity is taken? A negotiated revenue share and profit split if game generates positive revenue commercially. (for more details, please check their website)
What else do they provide? Access to the UNICEF Innovation Ventures team, which provides technical assistance in emerging technology areas. The UNICEF Venture Fund taps into a network of mentors and advisers who can help you develop your business model and strategy.
How much investment is provided? A total package of approximately £55,000 of investment and support. Approximately £35,000 in seed funding to develop your business, from business angels and professional investors.
What else do they provide? Support in obtaining a UK visa for members of the founding team that require one. Services with a market value of approximately £20,0000 including incubation in one of 12 regional centres relevant to your business provided by E-Spark, Europe’s largest incubation provider.
How much equity is taken? 10% equity
How long is the program? 1 year with approximately 30 days of dedicated training for each Sirius cohort delivered in London by the Accelerator Network, the leading private sector supplier of accelerator training in the UK.
In other news, I just handed in everything for my Masters degree and I turned 30.
I’m going to keep working on this game and I have this idea of developing a platform for people to share their stories and talk about their experiences with depression and then I’m going to spend some time making those stories into little puzzle vignettes.
One of the things that I struggle with is having to explain to people what it feels like and hoping that they’d gain a little understanding, but it’s difficult to describe, really. I hope with that added visual and audio element, as well as interaction, they can step into my shoes for a little while.
That’s it for now. I’m still editing the game to make it run on web, as well as start QA and major major bug fixing to have it available for people to actually play.
Okay, personal issues aside, I have been making very slow progress with the Kitchen Level. Turns out (yah, like the title of this post suggests) it’s not as easy as I thought it would be (and I haven’t even gotten to coding the actual cooking bits yet!!).
I think because there are actually quite a few elements involved and puzzles inserted here and there to make your lives harder (as if life isn’t difficult enough).
But then last night I just suddenly felt… Watch the video and you’ll see.
The description on the video is:
This is unedited, which is why I sound like a mess. And even though I mentioned that I was going to include an updated gameplay video, I didn’t. I will upload a gameplay video separately.
I’m sorry, but I decided to upload this anyway, because it exposes a part of me that I rarely show anyone, even my closest friends. But I still needed to say those things, and since the internet is such a big place, the chances of another human being viewing this is actually quite low, it’s like sending out a message in a bottle into the sea. But if anyone hears me, thank you for listening.
Nothing playable yet. Although, because I did that, I made a header for the game, also it’s now called “Depression Simulator” semi-officially.
Okay about good and bad days…
The point of my game is that sometimes there are good days, and sometimes there are bad days. And they are unpredictable.
Last week was not a good week for me.
But today is the start of a new week, and tomorrow the start of a new month. And also the last month of my Masters program.
Also before I turn 30. Eep! It’s funny how the last day of my program corresponds with my birthday. It was also like that for my undergrad degree actually (that was not a fun day, rushing around getting our thesis one last check, submitting it and saying good bye to a year’s worth of hard work).
Anyway, I added a whole bunch of stuff to my TO DO board, with new ideas I got when I was sleeping. Oh yah, part of my thing, is I sleep a lot, but at least I still generate new game ideas when I do. I just can’t bring myself to get up and actually code them. Yah… that’s a problem.
Also I got a lot more contributions on HitRecord, which are really good and really inspiring and I want to include all of them.
But no, part of production is knowing when to say no to feature creep. Or at least enough to have something playable that can be released at the end of this Module and then keep working on it after.
Here’s to foolishly hoping the rest of the month will only bring me good days.
Why did I decide to make a game all on my own… As in own art, own code, own design, not my own sound and music though… Also I have less than 3 months of dev time (only 1 month left…).
I think because at the beginning I didn’t know what I want to do. I just know that I wanted to make a game. What game? No idea. And that’s dangerous territory. And I didn’t want to drag anyone else down with me. It’s not as if I don’t have any artist or code friends that I can bribe. I do, I just didn’t want to bribe them.
It has never been about how I can do everything myself. I mean, I can to some degree, but you know, my art will always be a little programmer art-ish and rough around the edges. My design will reference a lot of existing designs and now tropes. And actually production wise, managing myself is actually… Bad, really bad.
I have problems with motivation. I sleep a lot, and I don’t want to get out of bed ever. But I’m trying. People who don’t understand me and what goes on in my head, will think that I’m lazy. Okay, maybe I am. But it’s more complicated than that.
But choosing to go alone means that I have to wear many hats. Last week I had my programming hat on (which means that I find excuses to go out and not work on it). I am by practice a programmer, but I think of programming or coding for short, as a process, a means to and end (yes, in a Nietzsche manner, I think of the means as pretty bad).
This week I have my artist hat on and I actually don’t have a tablet, I have pencils and paper though. But I actually draw in Flash and I don’t even own a mouse, so it’s just the touch pad of my beat up Macbook Pro, and me, manipulating vector shapes until they resemble something. The whole, the game is only in gray scale helps too, ‘coz color… That’s another hurdle.
Anyway, I am not a fan of GDDs (Game Design Documents), because I don’t believe in design written on paper. You’ll never really know if a game is fun, without playing it. And there’s no way for you to play it unless you have a game. You get it. Rapid Prototyping for the win!
One of my only plus points is that I’m a relatively fast coder. At least once I have a clear idea what I need to create. So with this whole no GDD thing, it’s actually a lot of experimentation and a lot of trial and error. And that’s alright, because whatever code I scrap is well, my code, and I have no hard feelings.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, because I work alone, it is tough at times, but at least the only person that I’m letting down is myself.
Although for this project, I’m not entirely alone, I actually have a HitRecord project where I do ask for ideas from other people. So when I do get stuck, I just issue another challenge and the lovely people contributes and I am inspired again, and I keep moving.
Also since this game is about depression and having more voices make it better and in a way in makes me feel less alone. Because I know now that other people also go through the same thing and other people can beat it. So, so could I.
One month to go! Good luck to me~!
Random Note: “Haunt” by Echos describes how I feel everyday quite accurately.