So, I’m putting my keyboard where my mouth is on the whole art game thing.  So I downloaded the Ren’Py engine and got to work.  Lethe is a bit of an experiment–  a full playthrough is about fifteen minutes, tops, and that includes going back and redoing sections.  But I want to keep it simple for now, as I’m exploring how narrative translates into an interactive environment.

I’m quickly finding that you can’t just write a short story and plug it into game format.  There’s a greater feeling of immediacy in a game, even a visual novel game.  The delivery of lines is almost like blank verse–  each phrase is restricted in length but simultaneously more focused in impact.  That’s the idea, at least.  And the perception of time is different.  It’s less a story being told than something being experienced.  I decided to shift to present tense, for example.  And there’s less room for introspection:  that gets left to the player.

Lethe follows a the ghost of a dead man called back from beyond by a woman worried about her husband she hasn’t heard from.  Obviously, it’s not a super upbeat theme, but at the same time I’m trying to keep it from being all emo morose.  I’m using a track from Apparatus, the experimental CD Janet made with the late Harry Castle.  So if nothing else, it’s got some kick butt music!


And artwork–  my friend Dawn Lyons is on that.  Here’s some of her concept art for one of the characters:

Call it “Betty Boop goes to a seance.”  As I said, yes, it deals with themes of death and loss (what have I written lately that doesn’t?).  But that doesn’t mean you have to lose all sense of whimsy and humor!