An Analysis of Emily is Away

Emily is Away is a single player text adventure that relies heavily on the player’s own subjective interpretation of how to treat a situation and how they react personally.

The game is based around which chat options the player will decide to choose to say which will make ‘Emily’ react with an appropriate response. In an important choice situation, Emily will remember key decisions that impact responses later in the game, making it a very compelling multiple choice game moulded around the player’s personality or what choices there are to reflect that.

The controls are tied in heavily with one of the main mechanics wherein the player can mash the keyboard after selecting their desired dialogue option and the response will form one letter after another in response to each key you press on your keyboard. Other than that the mechanics don’t quite stretch beyond choosing a dialogue option out of 1, 2, or 3 (respective numbers on your keyboard), or clicking on menu items or other UI based elements.

The only resources the game really takes advantage of are the number of choices you make and how many you make in a chapter. Since the player is limited to 3 separate choices (usually good/neutral/bad), this resource will most likely determine their endgame from a set of endings centred around what kind of player you are.

Since the game simulates the old MSN live messenger (purely for the nostalgic representation of relationships we developed over this messenger) the game is a kind of turn system where once the player has sent their desired message, Emily will respond almost immediately with an appropriate response. This will go on for an entire chapter (usually lasting about 3–4 minutes) and the player will be sent back to the menu with all their dialogue choices remembered for the next chapter.

The narrative is where it gets people the most, it preys on their nostalgia and relevant this situation can be to almost anyone. It follows the story of a *named* protagonist, you, and your good friend Emily you’ve known since high school. It follows the typical events that a teenager would follow, there’s a party, there’re relationship problems, e.t.c. Then after some key decisions are made it jumps a chapter and you’re a whole year later and you’re discussing what happened last year. You discover she’s now dating this dude and you’re discussing what you’re going to do now that you’ve both finished high school. All in all, the story is *supposed* to be extremely relate-able, it’s trying to draw the inner experience we’ve all dealt with: that person we were once close to but time has drifted us apart.

How it Relates to My Game

From what I aim to develop, my game is almost a clone of Emily is Away. It utilizes the same central theme focusing around forming a relationship through an online chat system, but since my game has to utilize a more abstract *artsy* theme it won't be as realistic, so to speak. Emily is Away simulated real conversations between two ‘supposedly’ real people, while I aim to represent what it feels like to have a one-sided conversation with a girl who doesn’t really have an interest in you.

The art style Emily is Away portrayed is an almost exact representation of MSN on the Windows XP operating system. What I’d like to take away from that is how well it portrays these, and mimic it but within my own boundaries: Facebook on Window’s 8. Of course I can’t mirror these because I’d like to add my abstract twists like reformatting the design of the page to fit a more sombre theme by adding in the relevant colours to match the mood, or adding in perfect boxes that impose a more ordered formatting to match the mundane mood the girl is expressing, and the way things are written to express how less important everyone else is compared to her by renaming everyone to “generic friend” while she equips a more vibrant title.

If you’ve used a messenger app with the sound on, you’ll realize that whenever you receive or send a message you’ll an audible *boop* sound to signify you have/sent a message. I’d like to mimic the exact sound that the Facebook web browser messenger to remind those who play my game that they’re not in a completely different place to the real thing. (sound below)

Game Designer, Writer.

Game Designer, Writer.