Mini Postmortem: Drinking In The Moon

Inspiration

This game was a short collection game I made for the #Calvino20 Game Jam on itch.io focused on the works of Italo Calvino. My game was inspired mainly by his story entitled The Distance of the Moon although I did take some influence from some of his other works too.

Prior to discovering this Game Jam I had not been lucky enough to come across theddworks of Calvino but I was intrigued. I wondered, who was this person who was so inspiring that they had a game jam completely focused on them? And so the first thing that I did, before joining the jam, was to explore some of his stories, letters and watch some talks about him and his work. As this postmortem implies I was inspired and joined the Game Jam.

First Ideas

I found all the works by him that I explored to be encompassed a calming almost meditative metaphorical nature that really captured the deepest aspects of not just individuals but communities and places too.

The main mechanic of the game was directly inspired by the following quote.

“We went to collect the milk, with a big spoon and a bucket. Moon-milk was very thick, like a kind of cream cheese.” (Calvino, 2018)

In the game I wanted there to be focused around the idea of moon milk as this fanciful idea really captured my imagination.

Development

I wanted to make the player controls easy to understand so the Player movement was controlled by arrows or the WASD keys.

I wanted to create an eerie feeling of separation for the player so although there are other things in the scene there is still a sense of an intimate moment with the moon. This aim came from my exploration of Calvino’s “If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler” which when I began reading it game me a sense of not just exploration but also in some ways an intimate moment with in a small space, a true sense of “..involving you gradually, capturing you in the story before you realize it — a trap.” Calvino (n.d.)

Originally the scoring system was visible but as the game developed i felt that having a combination of player movement, narrative elements and a score system might be a little overwhelming. In light of this i opted to remove the score system from view although it still functions as a mechanic for progressing the narrative and is one of two ways to change the scene.

The lighting was directly inspired by a quote from the start of the book

“..nights as bright as day, but with a butter-coloured light…” (Calvino, 2009)

I really wanted to capture the not just the warm rich colour that this quote described to me but that perception of tangible thick light as if seen through a slight fog, like a dream. This aim developed into a mechanic for focusing on different aspects of the game, such as making the moon a focal point, differentiating the player and showing that the player is not truly alone in the world.

Within the game the players movement are different in the see, sky and on the moon, this is due to the change in the players mass. This code was inspired by the following quotes.

“… the Moon was so strong that she pulled you up…” (Calvino 2009)

I wanted to capture the metaphorical sense of wonder that this quote displayed the idea that the moon was not just pulling you physically but also in a metaphorical sense of getting bigger to fill your world and become the focal point. I wanted to capture how the moon affected the players movement just as it was also affecting the players behaviour and motivation. The player eventually is transported to the moon.

“…when you raised your eyes you saw the sea above you, glistening, with the boat and the others upside down” (Calvino 2009)

During the game, either based on the hidden score or the player colliding with the moon while it is larger the player is transported to the moon's surface where the world is in reverse; the sea lays above the player and the moon milk continues to fall toward the earth but appears to be falling up as the player swims around the moon's surface.

Challenges and Feedback

I did not have a tutorial or a controls page which some players found challenged them to guess the controls, this was done intentionally as part of the exploration but I was not received the way I had hoped. In light of this I added a description of the controls to the game description.

In hindsight I also wish I had added an animation to show the players journey to the moon and the rotation of the world, this would be easy to add later and may be a feature I add later after the voting for the Game Jam has ended.

The game play was meant to be a simple active feature that worked alongside the narrative element but I think I should have opted for point-and-click controls instead and I feel that the the collection aspect of the game overshadowed instead of enhanced the narrative aspect of the game. This was supported by some of the people who played the game.

Conclusion

Overall I am rather please with the outcome of the game. I feel that it has a range of positive elements and while the narrative did not work in the way I had hope it the making and feedback of the game has provided me with valuable lesson that I will definitely consider in my future game endeavours.

Bibliography

1 Books

1.1. Calvino, I., 2009. The Distance Of The Moon. London: Penguin.

1.2. Calvino, I., 2009. Implosion. London: Penguin.

1.3. Calvino, I., 2009. Without Colours. London: Penguin.

1.4. Calvino, I., n.d. Invisible Cities. London: Vintage Books.

1.5. Calvino, I., n.d. If On A Winter's Night A Traveler. London: Vintage Books.

2 Videos

2.1. CasaItalianaNYU, 2017. Richard Gere Reads Italo Calvino At New York University. [video] Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYx5VkYf7eY&t=2s> [Accessed 19 September 2020].

2.2. iitaly, 2017. ITALO CALVINO. Quickness, Enchantment, And The Felicity Of Storytelling. [video] Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSu4DLzhTQ8> [Accessed 19 September 2020].

Other

3.1. Dance eJay 4. (1997). eJay, Explosive Games, Microsoft,.

3.2. Bailey, H. (2012). Open Broadcaster Software. obsproject.com: OBS Project.

3.3. Sound Bible. 2020. soundbible.com open source sounds. [online] Available at: <http://www.soundbible.com/> [Accessed 9 December 2019].

Eclectically skilled indie games designer & researcher interested in crafting in games, budding curator & lingerie researcher {Neurodiverse — Dyslexic Team}

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Shanique Thompson

Shanique Thompson

Eclectically skilled indie games designer & researcher interested in crafting in games, budding curator & lingerie researcher {Neurodiverse — Dyslexic Team}

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