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Get to know Wayward Strand by Aussie Development Team Ghost Pattern

15 September 2022

In this bite-sized interview, we talk to Melbourne-based indie development team Ghost Pattern about their heartfelt, narrative game Wayward Strand available now on Nintendo Switch!

Firstly, would you like to introduce yourself and the part you played in developing Wayward Strand?

I’d love to! I’m Georgia, and I’m the narrative co-director on Wayward Strand. I worked with the team to develop our characters and storylines; I wrote approximately half of the dialogue, and I also cast and directed all voiceover in the game.

In your own words, what is Wayward Strand?

Wayward Strand is a heartfelt narrative game set in 1970s regional Victoria. You play as Casey, a 14-year-old girl whose Mum is the head nurse of the local hospital... which just happens to be on an airship floating above your town. Over the course of 3 days, you accompany your Mum to work, and spend your time getting to know the residents of the aged care ward. This game is all about care, and about the relationships in our lives that span generations.

Can you tell us a little about what inspired the idea for your game to begin with, and could you tell us a bit about your creative process?

We began, as a team, with the notion of thinking about our relationships with the older people in our lives. We had a feeling that these relationships are shaped by care, and especially by the practice of taking time. And so we wanted to focus on time in the game - specifically a real-time mechanic, where all of our characters had their own business to be getting on with, regardless of whether or not you’re there. From these first principles, we built out an ENORMOUS timeline, to account for what each of our characters was up to in every moment of the day. When I say enormous, I mean there was a time when the timeline took up an entire wall of our studio!

Once we knew what all our characters were up to, it was time to fit in our player character, Casey. In thinking about the player’s relationship to Casey, and Casey’s relationship to everyone else, our priority was to find ways for Casey to be in this world very lightly. She’s fourteen, and she’s in a hospital, so we didn’t want to create the sense that she can just do whatever she wants and have a huge impact. She’s just there to listen, to observe, and to spend time. At the same time, a player’s agency is the medium through which they access the game. So the balance we had to strike was in finding how the player could have agency, whilst Casey herself had very little. This ended up manifesting in richly considered dialogue options, as well as subtle actions that could shape a player’s view of the characters around them.

From the location, down to the accents, Wayward Strand feels distinctly Australian. Would you like to share any uniquely Aussie experiences about developing this game?

We took a road trip to Inverloch! Which was lovely, and a particular inspiration for Goldie and Maize, our art and audio leads. We also had the distinct privilege of collaborating closely from the beginning of our process with the Bunurong Land Council. It was crucial to us that our game, made on Aboriginal land and featuring an Aboriginal character, was contributed to in deep and ongoing ways by the traditional owners of the lands on which the game is set. We all learned loads from this process, and we are so thankful for the relationships we’ve formed, and the impact of those relationships on our game.

In Wayward Strand characters continue to live out their lives as time passes without waiting for you to interact with them. Would you like to tell us more about this unique storytelling?

When you’re a young kid, you sometimes have the impression that the adults in your life are there for your benefit. Your parent brings you dinner; your grandparent takes you to the movies; etc. This is a lot like many video games - the NPCs are there for no other reason than to facilitate your protagonist’s journey through the world. Our character, Casey, is just on the tail-end of that age when you’re realising that the adults around you have their own lives going on, that you’re not privy to. So we felt the real-time mechanic would be a really neat and satisfying way to portray this.

Anything else you’d like to add? Do you have a message you’d like to share with Australian fans waiting for your game?

Thanks for being with us on this journey! This game has taken 7 years, on and off, to make. Our whole team is SO excited to hear all about your experiences of playing the game. So, once you’ve had a play, don’t be a stranger - whether it’s on Twitter, on our Discord, or anywhere else you manage to reach us, we’d love to hear all about your time with our game. We made it for you, so we want to hear from you!

Stoked for Wayward Strand? Purchase and download Wayward Strand from Nintendo eShop to play now!