The Elevator [futuristic suspense/slice of life]

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Camille
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The Elevator [futuristic suspense/slice of life]

#1 Post by Camille » Tue May 08, 2012 6:31 pm

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The story takes place in the fairly distant future and centers on a jaded, middle-aged detective named David Carmichael. Every morning, he rides a rickety old elevator up to his office near the top of a run-down building. For the last couple of months, he has met a young woman–Elena Cormack–every day in this elevator. Sometimes they talk, sometimes they spend the entire elevator ride in complete silence–but how will the relationship between these two people change?

Note: This game has a few instances of profanity and talks about things like murder, but nothing violent or disturbing is ever shown or described in much detail. If you can handle the text from the screenshots, you should be fine for the rest of the game.

For more information about the game, the walkthrough, all the download links, etc., please see the official website.
Ren'Py 6.13.12.1728 lint report, generated at: Tue May 8 15:53:22 2012
Statistics: The game contains 448 screens of dialogue.
These screens contain a total of 9,372 words,
for an average of 20.9 words per screen.
The game contains 3 menus.
Art: Auro-Cyanide (minus that rain BG you see above--I made that :D)
Writing/Programming/GUI: Camille
Shout-outs: Kura for their awesome last-minute beta testing, all of Cyanide Tea's supporters, and PyTom for creating Ren'Py! :3

This has been a Cyanide Tea production. Please enjoy the game and please, please use spoiler tags in your posts.
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Re: The Elevator [futuristic suspense/slice of life]

#2 Post by FatUnicornGames » Tue May 08, 2012 7:08 pm

Looks really cool. Kind of looks like it has a bit of a 'Hotel Dusk' vibe.
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Re: The Elevator [futuristic suspense/slice of life]

#3 Post by Nuxill » Tue May 08, 2012 8:37 pm

Ahh it was really interesting! I got the true ending on the first try.

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Re: The Elevator [futuristic suspense/slice of life]

#4 Post by clua » Tue May 08, 2012 9:20 pm

Yess! Downloading!! ºqº
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Re: The Elevator [futuristic suspense/slice of life]

#5 Post by SorikaMosai » Tue May 08, 2012 10:48 pm

Augh... Augh! What the freak! I can't believe... or... what... This was... was... amazing! [/claps]
I'm not surprised at the quality of art - which was really crisp- well, not crisp per se, but, er, I liked the shadowy quality... and the colors... man, the colors. And the music. And...

...

Man. Wow. That was not a waste of my time. I gotta tell ya- I waste my time on a lot of things- but this. This. I totally did not waste my time on this. And the ending? Gosh. Bittersweet. It's like... wow. Totally bringing things all together... I liked it, a lot.
Any who, excuse my babbling... I'll just slink off now, wait until I feel like commenting else where... in the darkness... [/slowly steps back into the shadows]

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Re: The Elevator [futuristic suspense/slice of life]

#6 Post by Percon » Tue May 08, 2012 11:51 pm

I enjoyed this title.
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Re: The Elevator [futuristic suspense/slice of life]

#7 Post by MaiMai » Wed May 09, 2012 3:37 am

So many things to play......
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Re: The Elevator [futuristic suspense/slice of life]

#8 Post by Egressus » Wed May 09, 2012 3:41 am

First thing first-- I love the art. It has this... professional, tired, beaten officer air to it. Not sure why, but I really like it.
/downloads

EDIT: Alright, I played the whole thing.

I've got the true ending, but I've got a (two) question:
Other than the fact that he uncovered her father being a serial killer, is there any other reason for Elena to kill David?
The missing kid being killed is Elena's work, isn't it?
Hiatus of hiatuses

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Re: The Elevator [futuristic suspense/slice of life]

#9 Post by clua » Wed May 09, 2012 2:37 pm

XD I played it! it had a really nice atmosphere, I liked a lot the song who was played on David and Elena' s elevator encounters.
("A sneaking suspicion")
I found..;_; It a little bit predictable when David said that the murderer had a daugther.As soon as I read that I started to look Elena with other eyes XD. But It was a really nice read! Even if I suspect that, the what would happened next would be unknown, if she was good or nuts as her father.
Egressus wrote:First thing first-- I love the art. It has this... professional, tired, beaten officer air to it. Not sure why, but I really like it.
/downloads

EDIT: Alright, I played the whole thing.

I've got the true ending, but I've got a (two) question:
Other than the fact that he uncovered her father being a serial killer, is there any other reason for Elena to kill David?
The missing kid being killed is Elena's work, isn't it?
I wonder the same also, I was waiting her to confess XD But If it wasn't her, I think It would be cooler, like you played with our expectation of her being the one who did it(I'm not sure because after you knew that, you found her on the elevator lost in her thoughts XD)
EDIT_nevermind reading the Q&A...Im dying of shame here
I want to praise Auro' s work also, Elena' s sprite was very expresive, since its the only fullbody sprite on the whole game. I didn't felt that it needed more.

This game was a total inspiration for me! Thank you for making it!
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The hurtful wall
_Salomon

♦COMPLETE♦
+The Knife of the Traitor(Nanoreno 2012)
+Charlatans(Nanoreno 2015)

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Re: The Elevator [futuristic suspense/slice of life]

#10 Post by Egressus » Wed May 09, 2012 10:22 pm

clua wrote:
EDIT_nevermind reading the Q&A...Im dying of shame here
LOL Don't worry, you're not alone.

I feel so... not satisfied, but I can see no other ending. Congratulations for breaking my heart writing such a good game.
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Re: The Elevator [futuristic suspense/slice of life]

#11 Post by Razz » Thu May 10, 2012 1:11 am

Wow...The music was just perfect in this. I'm also really impressed how it's such an immersing story with such a small cast, it's just amazing how you created this whole world and cast in such a limited space.
I figured out who she was pretty early off the family/frequent meetings hints, but i'm glad it was official revealed very soon.
I was also freaked out by those eyes in the information uncovering scene >_> Like they just scrolled past and i'm like 'gaaah!?'. Very creepy!
And damn there's no way to stop her!
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Re: The Elevator [futuristic suspense/slice of life]

#12 Post by Camille » Thu May 10, 2012 2:09 am

Thanks so much for the comments and to those who sent in a survey response. ;_; We really appreciate it and we're glad that you all seem to have enjoyed it. <3
Egressus wrote:
Other than the fact that he uncovered her father being a serial killer, is there any other reason for Elena to kill David?
Her father indoctrinated her and her twin brothers when they were children. David watched as he did this (telling Elena never to forgive or forget) but it was part of his memory that was erased because his forgetting was necessary for the family to stay safe/anonymous after the trial. So it's not the fact that she hates David--it's the opposite! She quite likes David, which conflicts with her feelings of wanting to fulfill what she feels was her father's last wish. That's why she hesitates so much and it takes so long for her to make a move even though there are many times she could have tried to kill David earlier. She finally does so after the rain scene because when it's raining, she feels like her father is crying because he's disappointed in her. She reaches out to David one last time to see if he might be interested in her after all, but he rejects her, so that pretty much seals his fate.
Also, I'll copy an email I wrote to someone who asked a lot of questions in their survey in case other people would like to know this information on the characters/thought process behind the story.
First, The Elevator wasn't meant to really be a mystery in the normal sense of a "whodunit" or whatnot. There's only two characters with sprites, so I think that it's fairly obvious that something was going to happen between the two of them. We probably might have thrown people off a bit more if Jonathan had also had a sprite, but that wasn't really possible due to time constraints and various other issues. Anyway, the story is more about what happens with these two people. Even after you figure out who Elena is, it's still a bit unclear (I hope) as to what she's going to do and why the knowledge is relevant. In the True Ending, David figures it out and is able to come to peace with the whole thing (despite possibly being killed) because he got to see that Elena was alive and doing well even though he put her father behind bars, which ultimately led to his execution.

For Avery, I thought back to all my college lectures on psychopathy and the personality traits that neurologically imbalanced people have. Most people who are serial killers lack a moral compass and often they have very strange reasons (if any reasons at all) for doing what they do. I tried to base Avery off of the Green River Killer (mentioned briefly in the story) and what I know of him through documentaries and research. The main difference is that the GRK killed people he thought were impure/immoral/deserved to die, whereas Avery went in the opposite direction. The GRK had a soft spot for his wife and treated her very very kindly. To this day, despite his life sentence and despite her divorcing him, he writes her letters whenever he can. So I made Avery's "soft spot" his family, though it's strongly implied that he more or less indoctrinated his children, as well. Responses to Avery have been very mixed so far--some people find him absolutely unsympathetic (as you do) and some have said that it's disturbing how relatable he is. When you have a big divide like that on a character who is meant to be controversial, I think that's actually a pretty good thing, so I'm fairly satisfied with how that turned out.

I chose to set the story in the future largely because a huge focal point of the story is on David's memory of Avery and how he is so fixated on it because it's one of the few memories he has of his work. It would be silly to have him just forget things, so I made it a technology thing. There is evidently research being done in this very field today (for the same reason--wiping people's brains of corporate secrets once they leave the company, etc), so it's something that could very well be possible in David's time. For the office, the reason why David keeps hard copies of some of his files is because of that fixation on memory that he has. To him, books, papers, and things he's written down seem more permanent than some data on a hard drive that can be wiped at a moment's notice. Of course, people can still loose papers and file folders, but it's just his stubbornness speaking, I suppose. It's the same reason why people nowadays still read books even though computers and e-readers are so readily available. The second reason for the lack of futuristic technology is because of the fact that David's office is in a poor side of town. It's mentioned that the office they work in is vastly inferior, technology-wise, to other buildings in nicer areas, but they settled on it because it was cheap. You do see some gadgets laying around on the other desk in David's office, but overall I decided that there wasn't much need to show lots of shiny technology that wasn't immediately important to the story. His brain chip and the corporate policy on memory wiping, however, are both integral to the story and aren't possible in a modern timeline.

Auro and I really like interactivity in VNs, so we probably will never make a kinetic novel. I wrote this VN originally for an assignment for one of my college literature courses, so it had to follow a wordcount limit and yet be interactive enough that it would make for an interesting, A-getting project. So I designed The Elevator while thinking of it being more like a real game because if you get the True Ending you win, but if you get the Normal Ending, you've sort of lost. But the game is short enough (and has few enough options) that if you save and skip through things a bit--the skip feature is very useful in VNs for getting different endings--we didn't think it'd be much of an issue, though I'm sorry you suffered for it.

I chose the name Elena mostly on a whim. All the names were basically chosen on whims without much thought put into them except for Elena's fake last name, which was a hint. (this is explained in the Q&A section in the extras you unlock after getting the True Ending)
Sorry it's so long! My tl;dr ways will never change. >.>;;
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Re: The Elevator [futuristic suspense/slice of life]

#13 Post by icecheetah » Fri May 11, 2012 10:05 am

Just downloaded it, and found it very funny that it was 'installed' to my downloads folder!
Ah, but I prefer it this way. :)
Just begun playing... will probably finish sometime after my exams. But the only critisism I have so far is that I have to practically turn the volume to zero. I have to turn the volume down on most games (ultra sensitive hearing) but I've never had to turn it so low just for comfort. Does anyone else find it really loud?
Still, that's only a minor thing.

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Re: The Elevator [futuristic suspense/slice of life]

#14 Post by DrakeNavarone » Sat May 12, 2012 11:27 pm

The aspect I really like about this story is the tone. Always somber and mostly dreary. David carries with him a constant sense of defeat, constantly ruminating and ruminating over his grisly memories, trying to look for an angle that'd let him grasp a piece of where Avery's unwavering purpose and confidence comes from. It does this dreariness very well, but never falls into drudgery... never allows the prose itself to be boring or passed over.

Unfortunately, the writing style alone wasn't enough to captivate me. David excluded, I felt the characters to be a little flat.
Elena is only shown in a state of inaction. As can be gleamed from the story and mentioned in the Q&A, she's in this state of hesitation throughout the game, and this conflict of hers is never truly resolved since the game ends before telling us what results from those first steps she takes in the last minute. We only ever see this one side. That flash of something more at the end isn't enough to create any real opinions or observations. This seems like more of a side effect of setting up a twist ending than anything else, and I certainly can't proffer any remedies for it, but it still leaves a tinge of dissatisfaction, ultimately.

As for Avery McMillian, he struck me as the latest iteration out of the old and typical psychopathic mold we're all acquainted with. I kept anticipating something more out of him, given David's absolute obsession over the case, but I felt like he never reached beyond the bounds of the archetype. Less objectively, something just really rubbed at me the wrong way, when Avery suggested his god keeps a tally sheet with actual quantitative values of misdeeds and good deeds. Personally, it just struck me as an odd thing to say. Though I understood immediately after why it was used, it still didn't wash the taste out of my mouth.
I found the fact that David is absolutely consumed and haunted by the one real memory of adult life he has to be the most fascinating element. So much so, I ended up hoping that this would be the whole story, and found the elevator and other scenes to be almost distracting. There's just so much here, and you definitely explore it well for the length you have for the story, but every other event personally felt no more than peripheral. This probably contributes the most to the lack of fulfillment I had at the end of my reading, but a lot of it is also me wanting more of what just wasn't there. This is all really subjective though, as this is the one element I'd take furthest if I had written this piece. But alas, I didn't, and I can't fault you too much for telling *your* story.

Ultimately, I certainly didn't hate it, and it certainly wasn't a waste of time... but there's this incompleteness I can't shake. There just wasn't enough, somewhere. Suspense pieces like this are very tough to do in short lengths. I can never fault a story for having been written though. They are all stepping stones to getting better and more practiced. I feel I might've even been a bit too harsh, but I hold you to a higher standard and expect quite a bit from you, as much undue pressure as that is. And I'll always be anticipating what's gonna come next from you.
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Re: The Elevator [futuristic suspense/slice of life]

#15 Post by azureXtwilight » Sun May 13, 2012 3:21 am

The only complaints I have from this game is it being a tad short. I really enjoy the athmosphere and the music as well. My favorite scene is when David met Elena the last time at the elevator... It's very impactful to me. Brr. It has a strong psychological insight in it too which makes the story interesting. Even though the players aren't supposed to relate to David, I feel he's reminding me of someone... Hmm XD

Congratulations for the release! This has made me fangirl-ing over of your work even more XD
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