A Surprise Post Appears! La-Mulana, an Age, and Solo Jamming all Entwined.

I have been meaning to write here for a very long time. So I am going to write behind my own designated schedule and wave hello at all of you.

So I am still alive and I am hoping to write here again a lot more often now. For those of you don’t know, I went on something of a hiatus to finish a short story that may have me see actual print: as in something actually published in print in addition to my poem in the art book Klarissa Dreams. That is all I can really about that at the moment, but please stay tuned.

In the meantime, however, I have been busy with other things as well. So where do I even begin?

Well, I participated in the Unwritten RPG Kickstarter Campaign. I essentially made an Age for them. In case you don’t know, Unwritten is a table-top RPG based on the universe of Myst: in which you must go through several Descriptive and Linking Books that connect to other worlds. The D’Ni civilization figured out a way to write Books that allowed people to link to other worlds or gradations of a particular world: or Ages as they are called. I read the books and played two of the games in my formative years and for about a decade I had an idea for an Age and a people.

There were some changes I had to make, but what resulted is pretty impressive based on a creative collaboration with the team. I can’t wait for it to come out so I can show people that I was part of the Guild of Writers and I finally made my own Age. My nineteen year old self would be proud of what the thirty-one year old me has become capable of doing: at least to that regard.

I also admit one other thing. So you know the game I vowed never to play? Well, I am playing La-Mulana now. In fact, very soon the La-Mulana 2 Kickstarter will be making more Fan Art Updates and my Twine story The Treasure of La-Mulana will be featured in one of them. I will be on the look out for that and at some point I will link that update to all of you. It’s funny. I have gotten to know quite a few people through this game and it is perhaps one of the few sources of real community that I’ve felt in a really long time, if not ever. I am not a game-designer in the programming sense. I am a writer. Of course, Christine Love herself said the same thing and look at the places she is at now. Granted, she has programming knowledge and I don’t. But that’s ok.

In fact, I hit another milestone relatively recently. I attended the 2014 Toronto Global Game Jam. As some of you know I participated in the event last year, but armed with a basic understanding of Twine, I registered as a Solo Jammer and completed my first Twine game as such. I go into a little more detail about that on my G33kPron article Experiences from the 2014 Toronto Global Game Jam, but given what this Blog is about I wanted to talk a little shop about my game.

The Looking Glass was an experiment. After my Treasure of La-Mulana fanfic, I realized I could tell an extensive story with Twine, and use the hyperlinking transitions to control how much text the reader sees, and how much I wanted to pace the narrative. My Haunted Twine was an earlier attempt at this, but it was a lot clunkier and it still has issues that I need to address in future works. But I wanted to add more of an interactive element besides clicking on words this time around.

In addition, I was following a person’s experiences with a particular game online and, as my brain often works, I combined a few ideas together and came up with a concept and a few notes that you can see in all of their natural idiosyncratic handwritten glory down below.

I had a choice between this and a game about a serial killer. I was at first happy with neither of these concepts as I wanted to make something very personal and me for this Jam, but when I realized that my version of a “choose your own adventure” Twine game about my experience at the Jam itself would not be good enough at this stage in my development, and not really feeling the killing thing by the second official day of the 48-hour Jam I went with my original, very complex yet simply elegant idea that I should have taken more than two days to do. I may create more games like this one in the near future. In fact, I may be personally showcasing this one at the Toronto Global Game Jam Arcade in April. We shall see.

So now that I have at least four working Twine games or stories, I decided to expand a branch of Mythic Bios to contain them. You can find it on the menu bar above or click here on this link. I thought I would only make two relatively big Twine novels, but it seems my brain had, and needed, other plans. Perhaps sometime in the near future I will see what will be done with those.

And seriously ladies, gentlemen and other sentient beings, this is it for now. As I said before, I hope to be writing here more often again and I have some plans, as always. I have a few posts that are overdue and I want to fee more time to explore while continuing some of the work that I have been cultivating in my long self-exile. Poor January only had one post. Let’s see how many posts February will have as result shall we? 🙂

La-Mulana 2

Oh and before I go, please support NIGORO and Playism’s La-Mulana 2 Kickstarter Campaign. The universe of La-Mulana is both an archaeologist’s and a gamer’s dream and worst nightmare: it will challenge your ingrained assumptions about gameplay and mechanics. It also has a really nice unfolding story and a quirky character about it that few other games I’ve seen can match. So please check it out. You will not be disappointed and we might get to unlock some goodies without the spikes.

Mostly. Err …

Take care everyone.

La-Mulana 2 is an Answer to the Question

“What if games had continued to evolve – but stayed in 2D?”

This is both a question asked by the Japanese developer NIGORO and the impetus behind their intricate masterpiece: the video game La-Mulana. They and their director, Takumi Naramura, consider La-Mulana a “Ruins Exploration Archaeological action game” though that may also be a euphemism for a “puzzle, trap and treasure with epic battles and quirky characters game.” Actually, La-Mulana is often classified under “Metroidvania”: a genre of 2D platformer game that puts a great emphasis on exploration, complex mysteries, hidden secrets, and challenges that sometimes require excellent hand-eye coordination or the cultivation of such. La-Mulana itself is a game that was created by Naramura, lead programmer Takayuki Ebihara and programmer/sound designer Houryuu Samejima’s love for vintage games on the old MSX that challenged players:  placing them into the middle of the chaos with almost no hand-holding, but making them earn their progress and gain a sense of accomplishment–or exhaustion–through doing so.

La-Mulana was originally a freeware game published independently by GR3 Project (before it became NIGORO) in Japan on Microsoft Windows based on these principles, and on the nostalgia of difficult 8-bit games, and was then remade as a 16-bit game with a few more additions for WiiWare, the PlayStation Vita, and Windows in 2011 and finally released on Steam in 2013. It has an arguably small fan-base, but I suspect it is only continuing to grow based on its wide acclaim. The premise of La-Mulana is that you play as an archaeologist named Lemeza Kosugi who regularly competes with his older archaeologist father Shawn for fame and is lured to the ruined temple of La-Mulana to supposedly find the origin of all life, and its treasure. And then it ends and it all seems to be over: even in the remake. But it still leaves you with questions.

Then NIGORO announced that they were working on a sequel: La-Mulana 2.

For a while, there was only the information that the main character would be Lemeza’s daughter and that the setting seemed to take place in a Nordic-themed dungeon. There was even a brief trailer for La-Mulana 2 and a few interviews with Naramura, but nothing more.

However, more information has been revealed since: not the least of which being the fact that La-Mulana 2 is being promoted and funded on Kickstarter. The game is being promoted as a Kickstarter Project by Playism Games, a company that is helping to translate La-Mulana 2 for its English fan-base, and also publishing both Japanese and English versions of the game. So far, from the time this article is being written, La-Mulana 2 has met a little over half of its $200,000 goal. NIGORO itself has a lot of plans with regards to where they will take this game should they meet, or even exceed, their goals. If you check out their Kickstarter, you will see all of their plans and the potential treasures that you yourself might get on should you be interested. I will say, however, that while La-Mulana 2 could be played and appreciated on its own, knowledge of the first game might keep you from discovering too many spoilers at this time. So if you are a gamer with a love of 8 to 16-bit sprites and synthesized music, with good hand-eye reflexes and a masochistic streak that likes to see a story gradually unfurl the more you suffer, or progress, you might want to consider backing this game.

That said however, if nostalgia is pain for the loss of one’s sense of home or the past and the aching hope of finding it again, NIGORO and La-Mulana is attempt to find that place again and create new memories and possibilities. For while the world of La-Mulana, with its dangerous secrets and ever-present mysteries, might have been based on MSX games such as The Maze of Galious, it seems as though the developer wants to take its own question to heart: continuing to take 2D from a medium, to a genre and back again to a medium with more complexity, depth and potential.

I myself am eager to see just how far their explorations will take us.

The Treasure of La-Mulana

So I have been stabbing my Mythic Bios notebook with my golden pen, but for one brief moment I am going to re-materialize back from the ether to leave you with something. I made this, my third Twine story, a little while ago after watching Deceased Crab play through both the original and the remake of La-Mulana.

This game … for something I have never played and probably never will because I neither have the patience nor the hand-eye coordination, got into my head: into that mythic space that permeates my very being. La-Mulana is an adventurer-archaeology game created by the game company NIGORO and filled with puzzles, riddles, deathtraps, insanity, lore, and vintage video game goodness. It is a fun, but notoriously hard game. But the world and story that NIGORO created got into my mind so much, and so badly, that I went online at one point and looked for fanfiction based on it.

It was there, online, that I found madamluna’s long slow collision and Bones. It was the first story, a Twine narrative itself, and the news that there would be a sequel to the game itself that cinched it for me.

So now: to business. What you are looking at here is a homage–a fanfic–to a game I’ve only seen on Let’s Plays, written in Twine. Basically in addition to this being my third Twine story, this is my first polished Twine fanfic to an awesome and insane game. So while I might not be a “real” fan of the game, in that I haven’t played it, I hope you can all accept me as one in spirit if nothing else.

In other news, I am still hard at work and I plan to make a New Year’s post of some kind. I hope you enjoyed this surprise and impromptu post of mine. I hope to return relatively soon. But, since you have all been very good readers I now leave you with my modest attempt at a homage, at something that will probably be completely debunked and repudiated by the actual sequel to La-Mulana itself. It is a story with events meant to bridge the gap between the two games. So such, please remember that there are Major Spoilers. I hope you will take this in the spirit that it is given.

So good night, fellow explorers, and allow me to leave you all with The Treasure of La-Mulana.

La-Mulana