Tessa’s Ark

Tessa’s Ark:

This game is the realization of an idea I’ve had since college. I wanted to combine comic books into a story format where the reader was put in control of the decisions made by the characters, like a role playing game, with a story that could be serialized into multiple additions. The visual novel format brings the comic book story elements to the game, while a hacking mini-game allows the player a vehicle to gain experience, and allows for limited player progression. The goal is to provide a series of self-contained games, with a common story thread that runs between them like a comic book; an experience that doesn’t need to be picked up from the beginning, but can be enjoyed both as part of a series and as a self-contained experience.

The plot of the game is based on ideas rooted in the struggle of the mentally ill with modeling reality as an abstract concept. The brains of mentally ill people tend to interpret the same stimulus as a normal brain with an insidious tint. Mentally ill people can conjure imaginary enemies and conflicts from the exact same stimulus that most members of society ignore or place very little importance to. Society at its basic level is organized around a consensus about what conclusions need to be drawn from common stimuli. Mental illnesses cause people to draw conclusions about reality that lie outside of that consensus. This dissonance is what fascinates me. The devil a person fears, can really be an angel if viewed from a different perspective.

The artwork is drawn from the visualization of the way music effects the spirit of a person. Eastern religions present the idea of a chi or life-force that connects the mind to the body. The character artwork is an attempt to draw this life-force, and each character’s essential traits are reflected in the artwork. An example is the skeletal look to the artwork of Lidia. It reflects her fatalism and her tendency to react literally to problems, while Tessa’s artwork reflects her positivity and innocence.

The plot pays homage to “Tron” and “The Wizard of Oz”, and is a story about an escape from a computer system that houses
the collective consciousness of humanity after a self-induced tragedy has rendered the Earth unable to support human life. In response humanity has uploaded its mental essence to a mainframe to be housed in perpetuity. A simulation of the late-90’s Pax-Americana was chosen and humankind exists inside a simulation of a time of great peace and prosperity. This leads to the central question of the game… Does the soul require a connection to the body to exist, or can it still be part of an existence of pure thought? This dichotomy is punctuated by the fact that Tessa’s mental illness provides a narrative that can be “inaccurate” and makes the player question whether events are really as they seem. As she progresses on her journey, Tessa must gather a team around her to help with her exodus from the computer system and support her in the search for truth about the fate of her family.