There are many different reasons why i take on certain projects. Some are stylistically challenging, others give a lot of artistic freedom, and there is always the money part. But sometimes it just feels the right thing to do… When i heard that there was the opportunity to work on a “serious”-game that helps teenagers to cope with the loss of a loved one, i was immediately intrigued. Death is a fascinating part of our lives. One that i luckily rarely encounter personally. But i can imagine that loosing your father or mother on a young age must be very hard to deal with on your own.
Luckily there are some institutions that help these children to cope with the upcoming loss. There are special therapies for that. For youngsters they use a map that shows all the different elements that they will encounter. This way a dialogue can start for the things that will happen. On the map there are places like “the volcano of anger” and “the sea of farewell.” However until now there was nothing for the age from 12 to 20. So the small dutch game-company monkeybizniz was asked to create a more mature interactive version of this world of difference.
I was asked to help shape the world, and illustrate the backgrounds for that interactive environment.
The main concept of the interactive version of the world of difference is creating new memories with the person who is about to die. Every person entering the world has a box that they will fill with pictures, notes, music. They do this by executing “assignments” in the real world and putting them back in the virtual “memory box.”
Every location is a place centred around specific emotional state. These places were there to show that it is ok to have all these different emotions. This is also the place where they will find suggestions for activities and notes left behind by other teenagers.
Here are some locations done by me, and the process leading up to them.
As usual exploring thumbnails were made to explore how the world could look:
At this point the concept was still unclear. But as the development progressed the team chose a stylised illustrative direction. Here are some of the final illustrations. These were all done while i was still in Florence, Italy. My time was limited ,i only had around one day to produce a final illustration (from sketch to finish). Ideally i would have spend double the amount of time to polish them appropriately, so some of them are still a bit too rough for my taste. Still it worked just fine for the project.
The forrest of joy:
The dessert of feeling nothing:
I really like this one. It was very hard to create a place where there is nothing, yet something. I like how it became this abstract, surreal place.
The cavern of pain and sadness:
The canyon of fear:
The vulcano of anger:
Here is an example how the illustrations were used in the “game:”
(Soundscape by Rik Nieuwdorp from claynote)
The world is live and free of use (although only in dutch): http://www.dewereldvanverschil.nl
There are always the constraints of money and time during development so the scope of the world is limited. Hopefully as the project matures, more funding will be available to continue the development for this platform centred around this rather unordinary but inevitable subject.