Content Warnings

There will be no violence and gore in the game. No mature jokes. There will be a moment later in the game that some folks might find bitter and sad, but I don't think that it can fall into this category.

Project Introduction

Tailgate is a third-person narrative adventure game. The idea behind this was bitterly inspired by the events of the War in Ukraine. Thousands of animals left by their families, lost their homes and loved ones. I wondered if any particular animal, a dog for example, could jump in and, well, fix everything. Of course, the player would be a human being, so the design idea was to give the player both enhancements and limitations of being a dog (superior senses and speed but also limited vision, low perspective, inability to operate mechanisms and read (no exposition notes!)).

The core mechanic is pathfinding using dog's senses. In a nutshell, the game is a collection of various natural or human-made (unintentionally) mazes that prevent the player from easily getting from A to B. Then, it's the narrative — discovering a plot, the dog's comments about his experience and reflections on his life, and occasional remarks about humans. The plot is uncovered via dialogues with other animals both domestic and wild. The dog's experiences are tied with memory balls (each ball Hyde finds appears to be one of the toys he lost a long time ago and triggers a memory of his life.) Unfortunately, these systems are not up yet, so they only appear as placeholder elements in the prototype (you still can collect those balls though!).

Using his senses (hence the Sniff mode) Hyde can smell the traces (general waypoints to the objective), hidden passages, and highlight important items and points of interest.

Also, there is no combat in the game, so Hyde avoids aggressive encounters. If you press on to the dangerous place, Hyde gets scared and runs away, often to an unknown location (he teleports to a random location far from the main objective and also needs to find the way out of it). I guess this shifts the game a tiny bit into the stealth category, right?

There will be a variety of locations (biomes) — San Pedro village, Supply Store, Ronin Grounds, Outskirts (prototype location), and the mystical Tailgate Chambers. I plan for 9 maps for the game. It's not an open world, essentially you can move to the next location once you've completed the objective and can not go back. On the other hand, there is plenty of freedom and stuff to do before you move on.

All of Hyde's essential skills (sniff, sprint, and jump) are stamina-based. So far it's only the sprint that drains the stamina and replenishes fast. Later I plan to balance these features and add power-ups and stamina consumables.

So, about a plot. Hyde wakes up to find Derek, his human, disappear. Not in a usual way (gone to work or the grocery store, but gone for good). Hyde gets out of the house to meet his friend, a pug, to discover that not only Derek is gone, but essentially all humans just took off. They encounter a couple of wild wolves in some houses that appear to be their other pet friends (they carry their collars, tags and retain some features, but they are changed into wolf form and are extremely agressive). Later they meet a pack of stray dogs, who aren't affected by the change. They call themselves Ronins and tell Hyde that there is a psychic network that connects all dogs with their ancestors, the Kana. This link appears to be corrupted and maybe this also caused the humans to leave, because of the connection between the Kana and human psyche. Some dogs like Hyde don't appear to be affected, because their connection wasn't strong in the first place (Hyde is a lazy lab, never trained properly and not the goodest boi in general terms, that is why he is not affected). So it appears that all the good boys and girls are now wild predators, the burden of fixing the Kana is now on our protagonist.

There is a legend of the Tailgate, the magical portal between human and dog world, and the only clue to that is the Silver Tree — a weird lone tree on the outskirts of the village (this is the location depicted in the prototype.) The Silver tree is guarded by the Keepers, a pair of huge Ravens. One of them appears to also be affected differently — he dropped his duty as a Tree Guardian and is using his magical abilities to entertain a flock of crows on the field near the Tree. Hyde will need to take him back to perform the Tailgate ritual. He will also need to find four Pawstones and pass four Trials to open the portal. He will need the assistance of his friends to do this. There is a bitter moment in the last part of the game, but I will save it for later.

About Developer

My name is Dmytro Yarynych. I am 37 years old, have a family, a 6 years old kid (a fan of Mario games and Minecraft). And of course I am a proud human of 9 years old lab named Obi. I've spent almost 20 years in marketing and design industry as a graphic designer and creative director. I had a bit of previous experience in game development in VR adventure Proze. I always wanted to make games, and in 2022 I decided that there maybe won't be another chance and it is time to do it.

I am working on the project solo. I've done some concept art, 3d modelling for the game. So far I use little to no third-party assets, not because I am too proud, but because the ones I need are very inconsistent style-wise and this will get even more difficult in the future. I don't plan to have a team in the nearest future, but will need to cover some bases with contract work for sure.