Geek Speak: Deirdra Kiai, developer of Life Flashes By

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      Vancouver game developer Deirdra Kiai turned to crowdfunding in order to raise some money for the development of her latest independent project. On Kickstarter, the 25-year-old, Saskatoon-born Yaletown resident secured a total of more than $1,000 from over 50 funders.

      The result is Life Flashes By, which Kiai released on March 21 for Linux, Mac, and Windows after two years of development. Kiai describes the game as an “interactive story sort of based in 2-D point-and-click adventure games and slightly influenced by visual novels”.

      Kiai’s day job is with Agentic Communications, where she works as a Flash developer and game designer. She previously worked on DeathSpank as a gameplay programmer at Hothead Games.

      The Georgia Straight interviewed Kiai over the phone.

      How would you describe Life Flashes By?

      It’s an interactive story about a middle-aged writer going through a near-death experience. It’s sort of a combination of a screwball comedy with lots of witty banter and surreallist cartoon artwork, also dealing with scenes about life and loneliness and storytelling itself.

      What kind of gamer do you think would enjoy playing this?

      It’s aimed at a gamer who kind of likes a slower-paced offering than most games out there that require a lot of quick reflexes. So, it’s the kind of game where it forces you to slow down and think about what you’re doing and explore and take in the scenery and take in what the other characters are saying and the inner thoughts of the main character.

      How did you use crowdfunding to obtain some financial support for making the game?

      Well, I used a website called Kickstarter. What it basically does is it allows you to offer rewards to backers who donate certain tier amounts of money to your project. So, I thought it was a great way to both secure a little bit of funding and also give something back to those who financialy backed me. Considering that this is a donation game and that it’s available to everyone, I wanted people who actually gave me money to have something special out of it.

      What kind of reward do your funders get for backing you?

      Well, they’re getting a collector’s edition of the game on disc, which I’m also offering for sale on my website. Earlier on, during the funding process, some of them received a postcard that I wrote for them and also some people received T-shirts. One person received a short, 1,000-word story that I wrote with their choice of setting, character, and theme.

      Why did you decide to release the game as donationware?

      Because the nature of the project is not really a commercial one, I’d say. It’s more of a personal artistic expression, and, at this point in my life, I feel that it’s more important that as many be able to play the game as possible, rather than have it be a project that I make money off of.

      What are your future indie game development plans?

      First of all, promotion of this current game is hugely on my mind right now. I think that, in itself, is a huge task on par with development. So, that’s where I’m focusing my indie efforts right now.

      As for the future, I’m still kind of gathering ideas for future games. But I’d like to sort of advance more in the interactive storytelling genres and explore more ways to tell such stories and go from there.

      Every Friday, Geek Speak catches up with someone in Vancouver’s technology sector, video-game industry, or social-media scene. Who should we interview next? Tell Stephen Hui on Twitter at



      Phillip D

      Apr 1, 2011 at 10:50am

      Wonderful game and congratulations Deirdra! Cool!

      Lee Edward McIlmoyle

      Apr 1, 2011 at 11:12am

      This is a very important game, both for Deirdra and for interactive storytelling in general. The underlying message, as far as the medium itself (as opposed to the wonderful story she told), is that you don't have to have a Hollywood production budget to tell a great story in a video game format, and you don't have to have puzzles or guns to make it interactive. Bravo!