Development of Lydia was started on August 2016. Our main objective was to show, what it was like to grow in a family, where alcohol was consumed way more often than it should. The main driving force behind the project was to portray the feelings we had, when we were kids.
This very personal touch was imperative regarding the story and the emotinal impact we were aiming for, but on the other hand, dealing with this stuff was quite terrifying. People still don't like to talk about alcoholism and substance abuse, but the only way to change things is to talk about them. In this regard game is a very powerful tool. It requires you to participate in the story, where as film, literature and other 'old' mediums provide only spectatorship.
Lydia isn't very long game, clocking in 1-2 hours of gameplay, but on the other hand, the game delivers very strong story, complimented with very unique audiovisuals. As the game revolves around the story, the gameplay elements are quite sparse. This was a concious game design choice, as we wanted to give the story as much space as possible.
The initial idea of a game was conceived by me and our Art Director Henri Tervapuro. We wrote the first draft of the script in few days, and it remained surprisingly unchained throughout the development process. I wanted more fantasy elements, but Henri insisted, that we focus more on the everyday life of the character, and create the drama that way. The end result is a mix of both, which serves the game beautifully.
The story is only one of the elements, that gets under your skin. Audiovisual elements of Lydia are top notch, and everything works together so great, that even we are amazed. On technical side we wanted to portray the artesan side of making games. For instance, every single animation frame in the game is hand-drawn. We didn't use rigging. Sure, this was a chore, but the results speak for themselves. Lydia's graphics have a certain old-fashioned charm.
Our Audio Lead, composer Juhana Lehtiniemi, created an original score for our game. I have wooden ears, but even I can now see, what kind of impact audio has on story-telling. Juhana's background on film composing has been a blessing. I'm pretty certain, that indie games with this kind of attention to audio are very, very rare.
We are all pretty strong believers in story-telling. Video game is a perfect tool for this, as you have to participate in the story for it to continue. When this is mixed with a compelling storyline and great audiovisuals, you're in for a treat.
Lydia was released in June 2nd, and the reception has been phenomenal. It's amazing to see, that people understand, what we've been aiming for. Especially story-wise, because we've drawn so much from our personal lives.
And people have started to talk about their experiences regarding substance abuse. In a way Lydia was therapy for us, but it's awesome to see, that our little game has affect on others too. Alcoholism and other forms of addiction are serious subjects and a source for misery for so, so many. If we can help people dealing with these issues, or at least get them talking, then we've managed to pull off something far greater, than just a release of our debut game.
Games are a very, very powerful medium.