Leander Burger

Ruth's Journey

First-Person Narrative Adventure | UE4 | 8 Months | Team Size: 8 | 2020/21

Play as Ruth as she ventures into the forest in search of the famed Golden Finch.

Sitting in her office all day long, stamping papers, Ruth’s boss finally gives her a break and an opportunity to use her talents to Explore the world and experience the beauty and wonders of the Canadian wilderness with Ruth as she embarks on this journey. Ruth’s Journey is a free demo that introduces you to the characters and the world of The Long Way Home.

KEY Features:

  • Experience the peace and tranquility of the forest
  • Beautiful low-poly aesthetic
  • Immersive First Person Controls
  • Capture breathtaking pictures with your camera
  • Glimpse into the history of ‚The Long Way Home‘
  • 15 – 30 min of Narrative driven Gameplay
  • Detailed Cinematics

Script Writing & Research

Script writing

Ruth’s Journey is a narrative heavy game and so it was important to have a script to follow during development. I wrote this script together with Tim and Andre who helped out with the development of this game.
– script outlining and editing
– writing dialogue for multiple characters
– writing character backstories


Reference Gathering

Thegame is set in Canada in the 1970s. It was important to me to represent Canada as authentic as possible, so a lot of research was done to get the world to feel right.
– researching flora, fauna, towns and environment in Canada
– visual reference & inspiration research
– research of key locations


Character Creation

lowpoly character creation

Finding the right style for the characters was crucial. The Low-Poly style made it difficult to create good looking faces. In the end I found I style I am quite happy with.

– Character Concepting
– Character Modeling, Texturing, Rigging
– Importing Characters in Engine


Scripting & Cutscenes

cutscene creation

Ruth’s Journey features fully animated cutscenes with recorded voices by our Voice Actors.
– Voice Actor Casting
– creating Animatics
– Scene Blocking
– Facial & Body Animation
– Implementation in Unreal Engine 4

photography feature

Nature photography is a central theme in the game. We want to player to be able to take beautiful pictures of the environment and animals in the world.

– Blueprinting of Photography feature
– Blueprinting of Bird AI
– setting up Level Scripting for Key interactions

dialogue system

Dialogue is an important mechanic in the game. I needed to create a dialogue system which is as unobtrusive during gameplay as possible but also supports player choice. Featuring choice was important as it allows the Player more agency over the way the dialogue plays out.

– writing temp dialogue
– Blueprinting Dialogue System & Choice System

interaction system

Since the game requires the player to explore and find things in the world, it needed an interaction system.

– Blueprinting Interaction System
– Creation of Interactive assets
– Testing of Interaction System and Balancing

Environment Creation

Environment art assets

Together with our 3d Artist I worked on the Environment models for the game. The Low-Poly style made asset creation easier and allowed us to create a large amount of assets in a short time.
– Asset Modeling, Texturing
– implementation in Unreal Engine 4
– Material Creation (with wind, rain and grunge effects)
– Environment block-outs

level blockout & set dressing

Ruth’s Journey features a variety of locations which had to be blocked out. The Trainstation is one of the key locations in the game and required a good amount of research to get right.
– Environment research
– 3d Block-out and Asset creation in Blender
– implementation in Unreal Engine 4


in-engine Environment Screenshots

Closing Thoughts

This is one of the biggest projects I’ve ever worked on. Since this is a passion project, I had to work on it in my free time. I’ve written the characters a while ago, and so the story is very close to my heart.
Also, this is the type of game that I love playing myself and want to create in the future. „Ruth’s Journey“ was intended to be a short demo for a longer game called „The Long Way Home“.

In the future I would like to make that game.
More info can be found on: www.niftyllamagames.com

awards & recognition

Ruth’s Journey was submitted to the Rookies 2020. I was pleasantly surprised to end up as a finalist during the competition.

The submission page can be found here:
Ruth’s Journey – Prologue – The Rookies


full playthrough (pre-Alpha) [SPOILERS]

This video shows a full playthrough of an early version of the game. At this stage, there is a lot of work left to do, but the general gameplay experience is complete.