Empty Dreams is a journey about finding oneself, about heading towards destinations that are origins. It is a narrative experience where the player explores a world of consciousness and memories. The elements that construct this world are drawn from fragments of memories and emotions, which are somewhat autobiographical of my own experience. Player wakes up in a forest, and starts climbing up a giant mountain of memory fragments and subconscious symbols.
link to play the game online: Click Here (Chrome/FireFox)
In everyone’s heart, there is a place, where your most important memories live.
In this endless space, you are the only one walking, climbing, wandering, collecting, and recording.
This place has your favourite coffee shop, the shabby apartment you lived for years, and the park you pass by everyday. Some of its structures only exists in your memory, because they have been replaced or demolished in reality. Some part of this place only exists in your dreams. It’s illogical, realistic, strange but also familiar; it’s a skyscraper, a tower, a collapsing space station.
Empty Dreams’ world is such a place I built for myself.
I felt the impulse to create such a space because I often feel frustrated, lonely and confused about my own identity because of my immigrant experience. I immigrated to Canada when I was 14, and never settled down since then. I feel like I’m constantly traveling to my next destination, not only physically but also in life, and I’m losing parts of me whenever I leave a place. Even when I go back to my hometown in China, everything changed so much with the economic and technological boom that all my memories of home, most of my familiar places and people are gone. I felt more like a stranger at home, but I never feel at home in other new places either. I think many people leaving home for school, work or a new life can resonate with this feeling. This makes me feel that part of my identity is lost.
With technology booming, the cities we live in and our lifestyles changed so much in such a short time. Some of our important memories and identity are connected to a physical place, some physical objects in an actual space, but with rapid urban development, those physical spaces are destroyed and replaced with new structures. Our memories and identities lost all material connections in this world. I learned to build an identity with social media accounts, and I also learned how to move in and out of apartments without leaving any traces of me ever living in there. I feel that when I’m adapting to the constant streams of "newer and better things", I lost track of where I came from and who I really am. Empty Dreams is my shallow attempt to close the gap between the digital space and a person’s complex, emotional world. I put some of my most candid memories and thoughts about home in this game, hoping that after this journey, others can also be reminded to cherish our physical surroundings and those tangible memories and relationships. Even though the future and the virtual are so intriguing, I hope everyone can love this world by remembering its present reality.
This project uses Unity 3D, hand illustrations, and the UCLA Game Lab's Mesh Extruder.
Game Designer + Developer : Jingjie Chen
Sound Designer: Chenyu Sun