Nicholas O'Brien's latest project is a narrative-driven, first person, essay game with a score by Seth Cluett. The game's main theme is the sudden closure of a public transportation system in a fictional Rustbelt American city. Available for Windows PC, Mac OS X, The Trolley can be downloaded here ($2 recommended donation). Here's a more detailed description:
Set in the late 1950s in a fictional rustbelt American city, The Trolley invites players to complete a series of tasks in order to dismantle the incline railroad of a recently discontinued trolley line. As the player boards up the gatehouse, disposes of paperwork, and performs other closure duties, they are given a series of inner-monolog choices that ask question about the ramifications of the trolleys closure. Events and choices that unfold in The Trolley involve urban infrastructure, labor, and questions of technological progress in a series of vignettes that pits innovation against maintenance.
The stories, environments, architecture, and scenery are all pulled from extensive research artists and developer Nicholas O’Brien has conducted over the past two years. Combined with a superb musical score by Seth Cluett, this work delves into the aftermath of curtailed public services for the benefit of private interests. As an animator, game designer, and author, O’Brien brings his unique perspective to the ways civic space has historically been shaped by complicated and often dubious forces. The untold narratives of trolley closures—from LA to Atlanta, Cincinnati to Pittsburgh—interweave throughout the game. Using conventions from experimental filmmaking, essayistic moving-image work, and contemporary story-driven indie games, The Trolley asks players to contemplate the ways in which the absence of this public service has reshaped American civic space. (Nicholas O'Brien)
Nicholas O’Brien is a researcher and cultural producer based in Brooklyn, NY. His previous game based projects include Cross Timbers (2016), a "semi-procedurally generated video game essay about the Cross Timbers region," and The Wanderer (2012), a video game exploring "the relationship between Romanticism and contemporary digital art" in which the player assumes the role of "the ghost of Romanticism's past, drifting through a purgatory built from notable paintings by Caspar David Friedrich," among others.
LINK: Nicholas O’Brien (all images and video courtesy of Nicholas O’Brien)