Trigger warning/Content warning:

This game contains content that may upset some players, since it discusses and explores the sensitive topic of mortality and death. If these topics are something you are uncomfortable with, I advise you not to read the interactive fiction.

This game/interactive function was inspired by the comic: ‘This croc will die in 100 days’ by twitter user @yuukikikuchi. I personally was really impacted by the portrayal of death in the comic. For most of us, the concept of mortality and death is not discussed that often. Even when it is discussed it is talked about almost in a taboo fashion. In a way, I thought it was a little strange that something that is common and happens to everyone eventually isn’t talked about a lot and in a more open manner.

In a way this restraint on talking about death made me want to explore someone with lots of regrets left and mismanaged use of time, and numbed her pain through procrastination and trash television. I knew I wanted to explore the concept and view it from the lens of a normal person, who would die in unpredictable and unplanned accidents that happen across the world daily. I thought that the best way to talk about it was to create interactive art (literature/drawings).

So I ask you the question, what would you do if you had one day left?

What it does

This game explores the final day of Asha’s life. Asha represents the hardworking normal person. She’s the adult daughter of a single mother, who through blood sweat and tears worked to achieve a small degree of financial stability from living under poverty. To do this, Asha gave up many life experiences and little mundane things to achieve it. Asha never took risks or did anything that was exciting, missing through what everyone considered growing up to become an adult quickly.

As the reader follows Asha through multiple paths, I tried to provide various options for the decisions they could make as Asha, and provided. Players could try to avoid risk taking, but the date of Asha’s death is set in stone so nothing would change except leaving her lingering regrets.

I challenged the reader to play through multiple paths and try to keep an open mind of enjoying life and it’s detours. In many ways, the journey is more impactful than the destination. I wanted to give the idea that it is okay to enjoy yourself a little, and have fun, because you never know when you might die, so try to live a life without regrets—if you love your parents, remember to call them and tell them you love them.

How I built it

I built this interactive fiction through ink (using Inky) by Inkle studios. In it I was about to add images through tags, as well as create multiple scenes and decisions for the player to make. I also added conditional scenes which would only occur if a scene was viewed by the player. In order to add some images and audio, I had to go into the exported web pages created by Inky and edit the html, css and javascript code. As for the visual art, it was all drawn during the hackathon using a tablet and the art program Medibang.

Challenges I ran into

Some major challenges that I initially ran into were adding images. Because of how inky exported the file, tagging and referencing images were a bit different. To add the image source in, you had to make sure to place the image in the folder, which I only figured out after digging through the javascript for a while.

Another challenge I ran into was the writing component itself, which I had underestimated. Death of course was a sensitive topic and the last thing I would want to happen was to offend anyone. I tried to make sure I wrote things in a respectful manner. However, this was my very first time writing something creative, not to mention interactive. It was really difficult to avoid cliches and grammar mistakes especially when written under time constraints, as well as writing well. I tried to overcome it by proofreading, although it is highly possible that typos and errors escaped my grasp. I hope to improve this skill by practicing my creative writing skills more.

Planning out the story was also a challenge since it was interactive. I had to plan how branches and scenes fit together, and which conditions would lead to which potential ending. It was more difficult in the beginning since I was freestyling the story without writing down a plan which caused some issues down the road. To fix this it became immensely easier to organise after just sitting down and writing down the story paths and scenes.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

I think what I was most proud of was that I managed to get a finished product in. I did not expect writing to be such an arduous process. I have never written creative fiction before let alone interactive fiction. One thing that I was happy about was that interactive fiction existed as a part of many games, rpg, decision making, etc. By putting myself out of my comfort zone, I was able to gain more confidence in being able to structure a story for future projects.

Even though I had trouble avoiding cliches, when I showed a friend. He laughed in amusement at my mistakes and terrible cliches, so that was great. It wasn’t the reaction I was expecting, but I am happy he was entertained by what I wrote. We all learn from mistakes, and next time I’ll make sure to write more succinctly.

What I learned

I learnt ink as a tool to use to write interactive fiction. But alongside the syntax I think I definitely learnt the most by practicing my creative writing skills, and gaining more confidence in how to structure an interactive narrative.

In the process, I also gained a lot of respect for writers. For those able to churn out something so good and so quickly is incredibly impressive.

Dealing with the topic and writing process I think I learnt a lot about myself personally. I asked myself questions: If I were to die now, would I be satisfied with what I have achieved? I challenged myself to think about that question while writing the story in order to challenge the readers the same question.

What's next for I will die in a day

I think I definitely will add more drawn pictures, and edit pre-existing ones. I am thinking of making the images more colorful the more happy experiences Asha experiences. Additionally, I definitely want to edit many of the typos I made in the process and maybe rewrite things to make them more clear. I also might use the story and switch to using Unity instead to try including animations and better graphics.

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