Goodbye Dean is a narrative-focused endless runner about escaping an abusive relationship.
I was the sole developer on Goodbye Dean, but it would not have been possible without a custom soundtrack by Scott Anderson and voice acting by Maegan Mortensen.
Finding My Voice
Goodbye Dean is not my most polished work, but it represents everything I strive to be as a developer. It tells a personal story that's enhanced by its mechanics. It's an experience that, from beginning to end, is painstakingly raw - a product of a real person who is trying to communicate with you through the medium of videogames. To quote basically every contestant on every season of Master Chef, "This is me, on a plate." No matter where my career takes me, I always want the players of my games to feel that connection - to feel like the game is a dialogue, that they are being heard, and that a human being is responsible for the art they enjoy.
Reverse a Structure for Emotional Impact
The game starts with Jackie (the player character) leaving Dean (her shitty boyfriend). It then becomes a driving game with a simple goal: get as far away from Dean as possible. In a way, it's flipping the driving/racing genre on its head by having you cross the finish line immediately. Just by leaving, you've won. Now you have to drive for... however long you need to.
I found that this slight subversion caused playtesters to get emotional. One immediately started crying. Despite there being no explicit goal, players wanted to keep moving forward.
I am eager to try this out in other genres - if I'm making a narrative game in a genre with catharsis or flow state as a goal, I'll reverse a convention of that genre. Maybe a subversion throws a player off just enough for the emotions to sneak in.
Or you can watch a full playthrough on Youtube here: