Robert Briscoe | Artist | Developer
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Dear Esther

Lead Artist & Designer | Source Engine | 2009-2016

The Experiment

Dear Esther is a deep, poetic ghost story told using game technologies. You explore a deserted island, uncovering a tale of love, loss, grief and redemption, delivered through a stunning voice-over and soundtrack set against beautiful environments. Dear Esther was an experiment to see what would happen if you stripped out 'traditional' gameplay from a first person game space, and instead, used that space to tell a story. 

Role

I worked mostly solo on the development of the original commercial release of the game, with support from the original writer and designer, Dan Pinchbeck, and composer Jessica Curry (Now heads of The Chinese Room) and Jack Morgan, on code. My work during this time covered everything including asset building, lighting, FX, technical art, UI, level design, sound engineering, QA, Steam, team management, PR and most prominently; Environment Art. In 2014 I also took on the task of porting the game over to the Unity Engine so that we could reach a broader audience. This required me to completely re-build shaders, code and functionality from the ground up on a new engine, but due to this work, Dear Esther Landmark Edition was released in 2016 on Xbox One and PS4. 

Release & Reception

Since it's release in 2012 (PC/MAC/LINUX), Dear Esther has been a phenomenal success; selling over 50,000 copies in it's first week and over one million copies to date, and still going strong six years later! Dear Esther's success has inspired and birthed an entirely new genre in gaming known as Narrative-Based games, or the more colloquial 'Walking Simulator' which is now home to dozens of smash hit games. For more information on the full story of the game's development, please check out my DevBlog.

 IGF 2012: Best in Visual Art

IGF 2012: Best in Visual Art

 TIGA 2012: Best Visual Design

TIGA 2012: Best Visual Design

 TIGA 2012: Best Debut Game

TIGA 2012: Best Debut Game

 TIGA 2012: Best Originality

TIGA 2012: Best Originality

 TIGA 2012: Audio

TIGA 2012: Audio

 TIGA 2012: Best Start-up

TIGA 2012: Best Start-up

 TIGA 2012: Best Action/Adventure

TIGA 2012: Best Action/Adventure

 HoPlay 2012: Best Original Idea

HoPlay 2012: Best Original Idea

 Develop 2012: Best Micro-studio

Develop 2012: Best Micro-studio

  2013 BAFTA Game Awards: Artistic Achievement

 2013 BAFTA Game Awards: Artistic Achievement

  2013 BAFTA Game Awards: British Game

 2013 BAFTA Game Awards: British Game

 Develop 2012: Best Use of Narrative

Develop 2012: Best Use of Narrative

  2013 BAFTA Game Awards: Debut Game

 2013 BAFTA Game Awards: Debut Game

 2013 BAFTA Game Awards: Performer

2013 BAFTA Game Awards: Performer

  2013 BAFTA Game Awards: Audio

 2013 BAFTA Game Awards: Audio