Thin Air

This is a story of a woman in crisis. A woman between worlds. A woman seeking herself. In short, it's a coming-of-age story told later in life.

Thin Air is a 3rd-person narrative game about a newly widowed woman confronting years of domestic trauma, and the resulting erosion of her relationship with her only daughter, in the wake of her husband's death. To heal the relationship – and herself – she seeks out a rare plant said to open the mind to otherworldly truths in the form of intense, dreamlike visions.

I co-directed the project with my husband, Michael Fallik, in addition to art & animation directing its visual development. Thin Air was incubated at the indie games accelerator Stugan (Falun, Sweden), and further developed at the New Frontier Story Lab at Sundance (Park City, Utah). Sadly, we've had a hard time finding the right publishing partner, so the project is currently hibernating until warmer winds blow...

A JOURNEY THROUGH DREAMS

The surreal sequences of Thin Air are rooted in the personal psychology and history of its main character, a woman referred to only as "The Seeker."  Through vision after vision, landscape of her trauma and the architecture of her subconscious is revealed to the player. 

ART DIRECTION: 2D MEETS 3D

The backbone of Thin Air's look is the seamless blend of its hand-drawn, illustrative art style with a 3D character, camera, and game space. We achieved the look in Unity by multi-planing our environment art – in other words, creating layered 2D "slices" of each element, which were then grouped in z-space. The result is pretty convincing, even in our early tests!

AN "EMOTIONAL PUZZLE" GAME

In Thin Air, gameplay slips between the normal "real world" environment and the altered "dream world" of the whiteleaf. Real world challenges are tangible and environmental, but in the altered world, those challenges become increasingly abstracted and psychological. The player must work through fragments of text, symbolic imagery, and subconscious patterns in order to progress through a series of confronting, even frightening visions of motherhood gone wrong.

DEVELOPMENT ART