Dear Future

Dear Future is a multiplayer wandering game where you photograph a cryptic, procedurally-generated city using a shared camera. Working collectively with every other player in the world, you must document the ruined land of your predecessors and lift an ancient curse.

Players will tread across a procedurally-generated land and take photographs in it, saving a single one to pass down to future players.  After a 20 minute session ends, the next player will inherit the camera, the pictures contained within, and continue from where the last player left off.  

Collectively, players document the vast world and build memory and community in the space. Captured images are viewable on both the in-game camera roll and on Twitter. Hidden story items and lore can be found and logged in the in-game journal, revealing hidden secrets about the city’s past.

Dear Future is a “Collective Game”, a genre of massively-cooperative games characterized by myriad players, all with very little autonomy or power over a system, that collectively achieve colossal goals by organizing the gestalt of their actions. Other examples of Collective Games include Noby Noby Boy and Twitch Plays Pokémon. Movement games are pro-social because they decenter individual achievement in favor of collective wellness and community support. 

Dear Future draws from the Fluxus and New Games movements, which respectively established a playful form of artmaking that emphasized process over product, and an anticompetitive, collectivist approach to play. The merger of creative play with anticompetition can present a compelling experience of social care and communal creativity. 

I was the Project Lead and Game Director on it. Leading a team of five student developers and ten external contractors and freelancers, I developed the game’s creative vision, gave daily feedback and guidance to team members, prepared documentation and pitches. Working in Unity, I created prototypes and implemented features like photography, junk spawning, interactables, and notes.

I worked with the narrative designer and writers to build out handcrafted landmarks centered around story-linked collectibles and visual novel systems. I also collaborated with the network and procgen engineers to create functional mass-multiplayer and visually spectacular procedural areas. I also worked closely with an artist to develop a post-apocalyptic art style that fit within our budgetary constraints, and optimized geometry for performance in Unity.

You can play Dear Future for free on itchio and Steam.