Garden of Oblivion [LD30][drama][horror][puzzle] Now on Steam!

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Garden of Oblivion [LD30][drama][horror][puzzle] Now on Steam!

#1 Post by Helianthus » Sat Aug 30, 2014 3:28 pm

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One day Reven awakens in a strange but beautiful place where the young teenager is treated like a very special guest. There are talking animals, each being rather kind and friendly. Unless the door is mentioned. The one in the back of the garden. But what could be behind that mysterious door ? And why Reven isn't allowed to go out ? You shouldn’t try to know the truth…
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Garden of Oblivion is a visual novel/point & click hybrid with horror elements that was originally created in a weekend for during Ludum Dare with "Connected Worlds" as a theme.
  • Move around and question the animals
  • Solve some puzzles and try to unveil the garden's secrets
  • Two different endings are available: Reven's fate is in your hands
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Last edited by Helianthus on Sat Mar 17, 2018 5:00 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Garden of Oblivion [LD30][drama][horror][puzzle]

#2 Post by infel » Sat Aug 30, 2014 3:33 pm

I played this game, and must say I really enjoyed it. I hope others will play your stuff because it's very original, and are fun to play ^^. I really was
scared by the ending though when her mother made that face. Does this mean she'll never escape where she is :cry:
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Re: Garden of Oblivion [LD30][drama][horror][puzzle]

#3 Post by R.O.D » Sat Aug 30, 2014 7:17 pm

Soo... This game is eerily similar to 'Dreaming Mary' in almost every way.
Did Dreaming Mary have any inspiration with this or is it just coincidence?

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Re: Garden of Oblivion [LD30][drama][horror][puzzle]

#4 Post by Helianthus » Sun Aug 31, 2014 8:29 am

takkun-hime wrote:I played this game, and must say I really enjoyed it. I hope others will play your stuff because it's very original, and are fun to play ^^. I really was
scared by the ending though when her mother made that face. Does this mean she'll never escape where she is :cry:
Thank you, I’m glad you liked it :D

So, you got the bad end. If you enter the tree after finding the pendent, you’ll see a slightly different ending
(and I swear the mother won’t make that face again :lol: ). But, yeah, in the bad one, she’s trapped forever…
R.O.D wrote:Soo... This game is eerily similar to 'Dreaming Mary' in almost every way.
Did Dreaming Mary have any inspiration with this or is it just coincidence?
Well, I did play Dreaming Mary some months ago, and it wasn’t half bad, so it’s not impossible I unconsciously took some features over…however I believe this similarity is mostly due to the same source of inspiration.

You see, I’m a big Yume Nikki fan and I’ve always dreamed of making my own “Yume Nikki-like” game. There are tons of those: .flow (that I loved too), Ib, The Witch House, Mad Father, Dreaming Mary, and so on. So it’s not really specific to Dreaming Mary to have a protagonist wandering in a “dreamword” that becomes twisted. I was rather inspired by Yume Nikki and .flow, hence some common features.

Despite that, I believe Garden of Oblivion is not a mere copy and has its own defining features. To begin with, we have a gender-neutral protagonist of color, some philosophical and literary references (like existentialism), a little exploration of psychology (it’s not really a dream, Reven is trapped in her/his mind), the gameplay is totally different and the backstory of the character is lightly touched upon without being too artificial. I didn’t like the
rape part
in Dreaming Mary as much as I didn’t like many stupid Yume Nikki theories, it felt cliché and forced.

So, for me, Garden of Oblivion is rather a personal take of that formula within the Ludum Dare limitations and my team’s capacities. I hope I answered your question :)
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Re: Garden of Oblivion [LD30][drama][horror][puzzle]

#5 Post by try10 » Wed Sep 03, 2014 6:12 am

What is the answer to the riddle? I'm having trouble with it.

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Re: Garden of Oblivion [LD30][drama][horror][puzzle]

#6 Post by Helianthus » Wed Sep 03, 2014 7:23 am

try10 wrote:What is the answer to the riddle? I'm having trouble with it.
Actually, it's a play on words. Humpty and Lotte use the exact same word to convey the opposite notion of what you must find (it's a verb), and the bookmark is supposed to help you recall that (only in the newest version though) :oops:

I really you don't find it :
The Lotus makes you forget.
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Re: Garden of Oblivion [LD30][drama][horror][puzzle]

#7 Post by try10 » Wed Sep 03, 2014 2:33 pm

Finally finished this game. The art was absolutely stunning!!! The story was nice too, but I think it needed something more. I wanted to know more about Reven, her past, family and stuff. The endings seemed incomplete to me. I also had a feeling that it had a similarity to Dreaming Mary since I've played that game not to long ago but after advancing in the story I changed my mind.
There were some really scary moments out there O_o . Make more horror games in the future cause you are good at it.:D

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Re: Garden of Oblivion [LD30][drama][horror][puzzle]

#8 Post by Helianthus » Thu Sep 04, 2014 7:27 am

try10 wrote:Finally finished this game. The art was absolutely stunning!!! The story was nice too, but I think it needed something more. I wanted to know more about Reven, her past, family and stuff. The endings seemed incomplete to me.
Actually I kinda agree with your point. I’m used to write games that lean solely on plot and normally I need time to think about the story I’m going to write so that everything fall into place.
But this time, it was completely different. My idea was incomplete before the start of Ludum Dare (that never happened with our Nanoreno projects, I already knew what I wanted to do) and I hoped the theme would help me. Turned out « Connected Worlds » really didn’t hold much potential for me (everything could be considered a world and everything is connected anyway so… :? ). I was left with my incomplete concept and I couldn’t really concentrate to write during the contest since I was busy with managing the artists, coding (our programmer was picking flowers in an alternate dimension, I guess…) and so on. I barely managed to finish the story with the little outline I’ve done.
Besides, GoO was not leaning on the plot like my other projects but on the gameplay and the overall mood, so it didn’t really need a strong story. Which explains why I couldn’t really expand Reven’s past even though I really wanted to. It was a strange experience for me but hopefully I’ll solve this issue next time :D
try10 wrote:
There were some really scary moments out there O_o . Make more horror games in the future cause you are good at it.:D
Aww, you’re too kind *__*. I really wanted to try my hand at horror games and it was fun, maybe we’ll do it again ! BTW, we made a super short prototype as a warmup exercice before LD, you can test it if you want.
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Re: Garden of Oblivion [LD30][drama][horror][puzzle]

#9 Post by buttdumpling » Fri Sep 12, 2014 3:58 am

aaaah, this was spooky! I got the good end~ Although I kind of wanted to stay with the lil guys, especially when they started being worried for their own safety. Of course, I guess that's the opposite of the point of the game, heh.

I have to say, for such a short game it made me think a lot!!
If the point of the story is "reality is better than a dream world / death, and one should fight to live in the real world vs accept a dream world", then why does Reven have to lose control (in a way that seems p Chaotic Evil) to return to reality? It's just the opposite of most horror games I've played, since here morality has no effect on how the game ends. I'm also a little confused about the pendant, and what it symbolizes.

It's a fascinating game to play, I really like the linearity of the game, and how you have to hurt the animal friends to escape - it's an interesting play on horror, where you're essentially strapped in and just have to hope that your goal will make your sins worth it (which is essentially what everyone stresses out about in life, and universal fears make the best horror themes).
The uncertainity in the game (why are you there? why are you so certain that you shouldn't stay?) was fascinating, and essentially having to destroy a dream world violently to get to the "real world" is really interesting!!! The ending just didn't seem to make the sacrifice worth it, however.
I was expecting the animal friends to be evil or turn into monsters, but I like that they just disappear - it suggests that they really were just trying to help you and survive, which makes things complex. When your freedom isn't just based on "destroy scary and evil monsters", it's a lot more compelling.
I would maybe suggest tweaking the ending, because as it is you're just like "well, i survived. that's the right thing to do", and there isn't any reasoning behind that. But I think an ending which stresses the potential of the dream world (like, reven seeing Humpty in the real world, or wondering if they made the right choice in destroying the dream) would be awesome. For now the ending kind of reads "you should stay alive and in reality because it's better", but there isn't a reason why it's better.
wow, sorry for rambling so much!! but this is a really neat idea and if you expanded on it that would be super cool!
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Re: Garden of Oblivion [LD30][drama][horror][puzzle]

#10 Post by Helianthus » Fri Sep 12, 2014 12:22 pm

buttdumpling wrote:I have to say, for such a short game it made me think a lot!!
Cool, I like to make people think 8)
I did not intend to tell the player that reality was better than escaping in a dream. In fact, at first, I only wanted to make the bad end where they're trapped « elsewhere » but still trapped. I hesitated a lot about giving readers a better ending because it sounded fake to me. After much thoughts, I decided to add a second ending that will be the « good » one…but kind of a temporary good one. Indeed, Reven survives, but they're not very happy about it and only promises their mother to « try » to live but they don't seem to believe that it's going to work. In other words, Reven is very likely to try to kill themselves again in the future. You can imagine pretty much what you want : that they really are willing to move on, that they will try and succeed, or that they’ll just continue living a boring life. It’s up to you. So, I didn’t want to tell that surviving was the « right » thing because there’s no right or wrong in this situation.
I think the good ending may give that impression because I had to rush to write it and couldn’t really expand it much >__<.

As for why Reven has to lose control : as they're opening the door to the flower field, they're shaking painful memories deep inside and those slowly begin to awaken them in the real world. That’s the turning point. Once they've seen the border, they can’t go back, Eden is crumbling down and their sleeping self is irreparably awakening…against their own will. They will only escape awakening in the bad ending (if you didn’t find the pendant) but their fate is really no better. I think the pendant represents their culpability/guilt over leaving their mother, hence why you can only fully awaken after finding it.

The main idea here was to make you experiment the opposite of freedom. From the very beginning of the game, you’re told not to do certain things but everything is presented to make you escape. It’s kinda hypocritical even. You can’t stay in Eden playing with the animals, for example, you’re just not allowed to. Since there’s pretty much nothing to do, as the player, your only way to go deeper into the story is to hurt Reven (physically) and their friends, killing them in the process. They're not that certain they have to leave either, they just don’t know what to do, and more importantly, they're possessed by a powerful force that make them wanting to escape…the player himself.
But yeah, I had this idea and I couldn’t really write that much during the contest, so you can say it’s still incomplete =’). I still don’t know how I can expand this universe, to be honest :oops: . If you have any suggestion, you’re welcome ! :D
buttdumpling wrote:wow, sorry for rambling so much!!
It’s okay, I like to ramble too, as you can see :lol:
Last edited by Helianthus on Tue May 01, 2018 9:39 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Garden of Oblivion [LD30][drama][horror][puzzle]

#11 Post by ebi-hime » Fri Jun 26, 2015 8:10 pm

Oh, I just finished playing this. I was meaning to play it for a while!

The art for this game is so beautiful! I love the background art especially, and how much detail was put into
making it change/become corrupted as darker elements come into the forefront of the story. It was really well done, the change to the bedroom/tree were genuinely quite troubling!
To that end, some of the things in the game - the MC changing in the mirror, the mother's face in the bad end - actually made me jump haha XD It reinforced my ideas that VNs are a really good medium to write horror stories in, since you can use images/sfx to compliment your writing in a way that makes the horror more 'immersive'. They're more effective at scaring people than plain text is, I think.
It made me wanna write something with jumpscares too XD
Oh, and the music was really good too. It was atmospheric, suited the story perfectly, and never felt too repetative.

I suppose the story was a little similar to Dreaming Mary, with the cute critters and the dream world (it was probably unfortunate I played Dreaming Mary a week before I played this), but I think it's notably different. And lots of stories use dream worlds. I think it was the inclusion of the cute animals that made it seem so similar, combined with the fact they both have some puzzlesolving. But this story was
creepy in a different way, and was a little more undetstated than Mary. Since this story seemed to be focused around depression, not assault? It was also a lot vaguer than Dreaming Mary, and gave less details about the MC's life - which makes it more fun trying to think of theories o:
I really liked the puzzles, too. I don't usually like gameplay in VNs, but I enjoyed all the interactivity as it lent to the sense of exploration and being a part of the dream world yourself, as a player. The puzzles were also fun to put together. Maybe that's because they weren't hard, so they didn't slow down the narrative any, but they still required a certain amount of effort, so they didn't feel completely unecessary?
The art in the puzzles was nice, too : >

Maybe the story itself was a bit too sparse, but the gameplay itself was fun enough so I didn't mind too much. I enjoyed it, even if I don't know if I 100% understood what was going on?
Or why getting the locket was so very important? It wasn't really mentioned in any great detail, I think.
It would have been nice if the little animals had maybe a bit more personality, or you could converse with them slightly longer, since conversations might help the player understand the MC's personality/feelings a bit more, too? But I feel they were meant to be like a blank slate character...?
And, there were some bugs here and there - like text repeating itself in certain areas - or things that weren't 'bugs' but seemed a little strange, like being asked if you wanted to
use your magic powers on books when you had already extracted the required item from it
, but it wasn't anything major.

Overall, I liked it a lot n_n; You did a good job!

As a side note - I realised the GUI is the same as the GUI you used in Wounded By Words (which I have read but haven't left any feedback on yet. I should do that later n_n;;). Is there a reason why it's the same? o: Are the two stories linked somehow?
I have a lot of commercial VNs available on Steam here if you wanna check! u///u
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Re: Garden of Oblivion [LD30][drama][horror][puzzle]

#12 Post by Helianthus » Tue Jul 14, 2015 2:59 pm

Sorry for not noticing your message earlier, I was attending a convention with the team so my mind was elsewhere >__<.

Since it was a Ludum Dare project, we didn’t have that much time and my main goal was really to experiment new things.
I’m quite satisfied with what I’ve learned, toying with jumpscares was fun :lol: . At first I even wanted to add creepy shadows in the garden and ways to get killed but didn’t have the time to. I don’t know if I’m really gonna use that knowledge with another project but well! I’d be curious to play others visual novel going for the horror genre. Except from Saving Zoey, I don’t see many of them.
Yeah, I shouldn’t have added those talking animals, I think it’s really the main thing that reminds people of Dreaming Mary T__T
ebi-hime wrote:
Since this story seemed to be focused around depression, not assault?
I’m really not fond of the rape part in Dreaming Mary, so no assault here!
I know I should have written more in terms of story but I found myself thinking that the MC didn’t need a specific trauma to want to die so…I kept things that way.
As for gameplay, I didn’t want to add shallow difficulty just so the VN would be longer, so I thought good old puzzles would be fun enough :)
ebi-hime wrote:
Or why getting the locket was so very important? It wasn't really mentioned in any great detail, I think
It’s only mentioned in the good end that it was a present from your mother. In short, the pendant is here to remind Reven of his/her family and helps him/her to really come back in the real world.
As for character developement and repeating text, the only reason we didn’t fix those issues is that we really didn’t have the time :oops: . Making a VN in just three days was hard and we even needed some extra days to really release something good enough. But it was so intense, I couldn’t touch the game at all after that, not for a while. Now, the impetus has kinda died and I don’t really know what to do to improve the game. If you have suggestions for me, I’d love to hear them though! :D

Anyway, thank you very much for your comment, I’m glad you liked Garden of Oblivion ^__^
ebi-hime wrote:As a side note - I realised the GUI is the same as the GUI you used in Wounded By Words. Is there a reason why it's the same? o: Are the two stories linked somehow?
I’m surprised you’re the only one who’ve noticed so far :lol: ! Actually, after finishing Garden of Oblivion, I thought of making another short game in order to sell both of them as a compilation at Japan Expo (the big French convention I was attending). Since I wanted to put the two games together, I thought it would be better if the GUIs didn’t look mismatched…and I ended up using the same one for Wounded by Words. I also wanted to link the two stories in the same universe but, once again, I didn’t really find the time/right way to do so.
The original plan was for Eleesha to mention that Reven was her sister’s child.
That part didn’t make it through the final release, ahah.
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Re: Garden of Oblivion [LD30][drama][horror][puzzle]

#13 Post by Sharane » Wed Jul 15, 2015 11:29 am

The sprites of the animals are soooo lovely! Downloading right now :)
I´m curious about the switch between cute and dark atmosphere, it can be interesting ;)
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Re: Garden of Oblivion [LD30][drama][horror][puzzle]

#14 Post by Helianthus » Wed Oct 28, 2015 4:46 pm

Since Halloween is only a few days away, I thought it was the perfect timing to update the topic. If you didn’t follow, Garden of Oblivion is now available [url=http://traumendes_madchen.itch.io/garden-of-oblivion]both in French and English[/url], and on Google Play as well. Plus, we just released the soundtrack so, if you liked the game, you can now download the music for free 8)
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Sharane wrote:The sprites of the animals are soooo lovely! Downloading right now :)
I´m curious about the switch between cute and dark atmosphere, it can be interesting ;)
Thanks for your interest, I hope you enjoyed the game in the end! :D
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Re: Garden of Oblivion [LD30][drama][horror][puzzle]

#15 Post by LadyElisabeth » Sun Nov 22, 2015 9:46 pm

I love this game, but I need help. Where's the pendant?! I've looked everywhere but can't see it at all...so I can't figure out the good ending.

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