I designed “Next Stop”, an interactive escape room game set on board a vintage British steam train. The player solves puzzles to move from carriage to carriage. As you play you slowly uncover more of the plot. The story is set during the famous 1960s ‘Beeching Cuts’, where large sections of British railways were shut down. Set on the historical Waverley Route, ‘Next Stop’ is a memento to this period of steam travel, and a reminder of the events that caused job losses and left many people cut off from the national rail network.
I had the privilege of working with the sound design company “Black Goblin”, graduates of ECA, to really bring the game to life. Composer James Clarkson also developed a beautiful soundtrack for the game.
I spent a lot of time absorbing experiences with trains as a main theme, from Hitchcock’s film “The Lady Vanishes” to visiting the Jacobite steam train in Fort William. I developed a range of designs and illustrations to fit this period of time and started designing puzzles that players would solve on board the train. I created Next Stop in the game engine Unity, which I have been learning throughout my degree. This was quite a learning curve as there is so much potential for creativity within the game engine. It was a lot of fun learning how to create a 2D interactive game, designing the UI and interactive elements, and of course illustrating a steam train.
Many other amazing game designers inspire me. I played through a range of beautiful and moving narrative games – like “Before I Forget” by the studio 3-Fold Games. The Scottish games network is a great resource too, the PlayAway Festival talks last year were really inspiring. Also, my colleagues at the uCreate Studio in the University Library for testing my game and playing escape room games as a team for my research.
It was a pleasure studying at ECA again for this masters. It was great to really have a chance to absorb the new technologies and challenge myself to undertake a solo game development project. My tutors and classmates were great support too, especially during remote working.
I think it has driven many people to enjoy more remote gaming experiences with friends. A lot of online escape rooms were developed over the last year and I would love to work on some of these amazing projects. Creating “Next Stop” was something I thought audiences would be able to enjoy from their homes, while they may not be able to travel on trains during lockdowns.
I have an exciting Visual Designer role lined up, but I also plan on continuing designing games and keep learning about different aspects of game design. I think they can be a great and beautiful tool for design and narrative storytelling. I will just keep learning and sketching and designing!
Just a huge thank you to my classmates Luisa, Najwa and Aboodi for their help and encouragement. To the Black Goblin team for their amazing Sound Design work. And to my personal tutor Jules Rawlinson for his guidance and support throughout.