10 septiembre 2015

Ichiro Lambe and his Elegy for a Dead World.

Para el artículo en español, clic aquí.

When you think about videogames, Super Smash Bros, Street Fighter, Megaman, Pacman, Mario, and many more, come to your mind. Can you imagine one about writing? Sure not, and you’d be surprised if you find out that there’s such a game.
It’s called Elegy for a Dead World, created by Dejobaan Games, which president and founder, Ichiro Lambe, I interviewed about.
It was a normal day in Facebook when I saw my cousin tagged my in something that catch my attention that pretty moment: A game intended for writers, maybe even readers, whoever enjoys writing.
The player controls a kind of spaceman who travels through three post-apocalyptic worlds, each one of them based in a different poem from famous poets: Byron, Keats and Shelly, and he writes about anything he sees, feels and hears.
Also, Elegy comes whit many exercises that may help you to improve your writing skills: Do it from a basic school girl point of view, write a love letter to that significant other, a poem, and even a free style mood to write whatever you want.
After playing some sessions in it, the first I should say is: WHAT A GRAPHICS. I mean it, they are one of the strongest points that Elegy has. The shape and colors are not realistic, for sure, but the way they look and the atmosphere they create makes you feel near to the three worlds in some strange way.
Another strong point to Elegy is the sound, the music, even the silence in some cases. When you’re writing about dead civilization, there’s nothing better than a good background to inspire yourself, maybe a mute moment to think and write about your lost memories, those who you miss, the love you’re never going to hear or see again.
As for the gameplay, it’s very simple. We won’t find monsters, epic battles or tyrants to fight, but three dead planets whit the ashes of what they were, infinite lands with untold stories we can write about.
You will need only your arrow keys to go back and forth, to fly sometimes, and the letter keys to write your stories. Simple, light, common, and nothing so explosive, but great to exercise your inner writer (which is what the game is intended to).
You don’t really need to be a New York Times Best Selling author to play it; if you can write, are creative, can think in an interesting text, either narrative or poem, you can play/write your own Elegy for a Dead World.
Now that you know about the game from my perspective, my own point of view, you should know its creator’s, shouldn’t you? Here they are.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, who is Ichiro Lambe? What does he do in Dejobaan?
I'm founder and president. I also generally lead product development on our games. Sometimes, when they let me, I pop down and start coding things, but that can get dangerous, and is best left to the experts.

2. What made you decide to create/work on videogames?
As the story goes, when I was a kid, my father sat me down in front of a TI 99/4A instead of tossing me a baseball. I found it fascinating! In subsequent years, I would tinker with everything I could -- I remember, one time, hooking up photoresistors to my Atari 800 to create a sort-of shooting gallery you could play with a flashlight. Fun times.

3. Now, starting with Elegy for a Dead World, how did come the idea of a game about writting? How was the experience of creating three worlds based of three different poems? What helped you in the process?
Then-fellow Indie Game Collective developer Ziba Scott and I sat down with some of the others to do a week-long project where you just explored a scrolling landscape and tried to suss out what was going on. Here's a bit more on that:

4. Why that name? Is there a story behind it you can tell? And, maybe the most important question, what is an Elegy?
It was originally (tongue-in-cheek) called "Dead Civilizations Pickled Ginger," because it was a game about post-apocalyptic worlds that was meant to be a palate cleanser for us devs. Obviously, we wanted something more serious to launch, so we figured that you were creating little poems/laments (the titular elegies) about these long-forgotten civilizations (the dead worlds).

5. In the web, you say that we players can take screenshots while playing Elegy and publish a book with them, could you explain more about it?
Yup; once you write your story, you can export it all to disk as images, and if you like, go to a website like Blurb.com and have those turned into a book. I've done it. It's real! And neat.

6. Which part was the hardest while creating Elegy?
Figuring out what the game was about, actually! Was it a side-scrolling walking simulator? How heavy-handed did we want to be about what you found on each world? We tried all sorts of things before we landed on the final design.

7. You selected three poems to develop the game, and the three of them were about dead worlds, post-apocaliptic, is there any other you could mention?
Gosh; there are a bunch of good ones, especially in romanticism, which is the period we chose. I mean, Poe was a contender -- his imagery is all about dark omens. But it wasn't British, so we avoided him. Also, IIRC, he had a thing for his cousin.

8. I really loved Keats' world, is there one, between the three worlds in the game, that you call your favorite?
I think you picked (co-developer) Ziba's favorite, based on this poem. It's all about Keats' fears that he was going to die before finishing all the grand works that were in his head (he did). I'm partial to Byron's world, as Darkness is so evocative:
“I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish'd, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation”

9. Do you think you could make another "writting game" in the future?
Sure; I'd have to ponder how, though. It'd need to be different.

10. What are you working on right now? Could you tell us something about it?
We haven't announced anything yet, but we're working on an RPG about interstellar exploration, where you land on a bunch of planets and try to make first contact with the people who live there (the opposite of Elegy). Here's a quote from my sorta-dev-log:
Anecdote from an as-yet-unannounced RPG: you can talk a warehouse guard into unlocking his facility's front gate by saying the right things. The game logic checks if there's a locked door near you, and opens it. The game doesn't do a weight check, so you can pick up the guard, sweet talk him, and roam around the map, getting him to unlock everything.

11. Which would be your advice for those who want to work on videogames too?
Do something small but amazing. And network like crazy: everyone I know who's landed a decent job got it by getting to know people in the industry.

12. Thanks for your time and for bringing Elegy to our own world! Hope to hear again from you and Dejobaan!
Absolutely; thanks for taking the time to chat!

¡Un saludo y un abrazo!
Greetings and hugs!

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