Last week, we took a look at the masterful 80 Days and how Inkle went about making such a text-heavy experience work on mobile platforms. As promised, here's part two of my chat with the developers behind the game. This time, we were joined by the game's writer -- Meg Jayanth -- to talk about the intertextual side of things, and the literary nature of adapting a century-old novel into a game laden with player choices.
If you're at all interested in the craft of creating branching, interactive narratives, this week's video is fundamental viewing/listening as Jayanth and Jon Ingold talk about the research and structural processes behind one of the finest games of the year, describing how the steampunk elements of the game came into being, and how some of Verne's outdated social considerations (or lack thereof) were updated for a more modern audience in this game. Finally, we talk more broadly about romance in video games, the subtleties of trying to cultivate relationships through virtual narratives, and how games might approach sexuality better going forwards.
This might just be my favourite interview that I've ever done. It's quite a long one, though, so for the sake of navigation, here's a little list of contents:
- 0:05 - How do you begin writing 500k-word branching narrative?
- 5:11 - Why Around the World in 80 Days as the basis for a mobile adventure game?
- 7:54 - On updating some of Verne's outdated sensibilities regarding international cultures, racial issues, and the gender imbalance present in the original text
- 11:59 - Steampunk in 80 Days, and how Inkle steered away from traditional British Victoriana
- 19:23 - Explaining the origins of the Artificers
- 24:11 - What comes next for Inkle?
- 26:23 - The subtleties of writing romance, and non-binary relationships
- 28:56 - Creating choice in interactive romance and character sexuality