The Composite City: Tangiers

By Jim Rossignol on May 17th, 2013 at 12:00 pm.


Odd story: it was the response to my suggestion that someone should make a game with elements of the literature of William Burroughs that got me into commercial game development back in 2010. It resulted in both Fallen City and Sir. It’s with some pleasure, then, that I see that Bristol-based Alex Harvey and Michael Wright, calling themselves Andalusian, have done precisely that with Tangiers, taking the Burroughsian themes of words and weirdness in the North African city as their central motif: “Expressing the fractured, surrealist reality of the world, the game rebuilds itself in response to your actions. In an adaptation of William Burrough’s cut-up technique, fragments of previously visited areas will become mixed with undiscovered areas, building an experience unique to each play-through.”

I also particularly like this point on their feature list: “Abstract approach to interactions – Eavesdrop conversations – watch the words materialise, then collect them, using them as distractions when needed.”

Interview with these guys coming soon, hopefully.

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41 Comments »

  1. MuscleHorse says:

    Looks fascinating. Other authors that should be considered for gamification:
    - Mervyn Peake
    - Anthony Burgess
    - Thomas Pynchon
    - (CURVE BALL) Alastair Reynolds

    • Mirqy says:

      isn’t Reynold’s the straight ball here?

      • MuscleHorse says:

        I guess I meant that he is compared to the recognised status of the others.

    • riverman says:

      always though gravity’s rainbow would make an amazing sp game in the fantasy world I still imagine. a gamebased on solving borgres’ short stories would be a trip if you hadn’t read him too, but rather pointless for those who already know how they go. tlon would be such a mind fuck

      • cptgone says:

        Gravity’s Rainbow is the strongest drug known to man. i cannot resist it. i’ve even had my penis replaced with a scale replica of a V rocket, with Pynchon’s face as warhead. so yes, please, someone make a game (or whatever) based on GR. i’m throwing moneys at the screen as i type this.

    • beatdarwin says:

      Mervyn Peake seconded.

      • MuscleHorse says:

        A Gormenghast game, competently made by devs that understand what makes the novels tick, would be astounding.

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      EVE Online is very Alastair Reynolds-ey don’t you think? Reading him always makes me want to go back to playing it anyway. Plus the overaarching plot of Mass Effect is Redemption Space with cover-based shooting.

      A proper Reynolds game would be cool though. A space exploration thing with his technology’s and post-human characters all over the place.

  2. Ross Angus says:

    Want.

  3. trout says:

    BREAKTHROUGH IN GREY ROOM!

  4. DrScuttles says:

    Benway!
    Even though I’ve only read Naked Lunch, I’m getting curiously excited feels about this. I always wanted to explore Interzone, but this looks like it should satisfy that urge somewhat.

  5. tikey says:

    I’ve never read anything by Burroughs, but it seems something that’s just up in my alley.
    What book do you recommend?

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      read this:
      http://archive.groovy.net/dl/elerev.html
      It’s not a spam link and IMO it’s the best thing he ever wrote. He invents music piracy here :P

    • DXN says:

      Queer and Junkie are more-or-less ‘normal books’/dime novels. Not very similar to his other stuff but they’re at least easy to read!

      For ‘proper Burroughs books’ I like The Place of Dead Roads. It has cowboys and guns and stuff and overall is *relatively* straightforward. Cities of the Red Night is a bit more fractured but still not so tough. It has pirates and magic detectives. The Wild Boys is also a lot of fun.

      Naked Lunch is the full, horrifyingly deformed monty, his famous book, a rich, tantalisingly putrid stew. The film by Cronenberg is amazing, true to the book in a lot of ways yet actually possible to follow along with and semi-biographical. The Nova Trilogy books are real experimental.

      • Tyrone Slothrop. says:

        The book and the film are among my favourite works in their respective mediums. It’s heartening to hear that others have a similar appreciation. It’s interesting that both are so wildly different in innumerable aspects yet examine the very core of an author and the search for truth amongst both arbitrary and conspiratorial chaos. The score to the film by the famous Ornette Coleman and Howard Shore is a masterwork too.

    • DickSocrates says:

      Naked Lunch. It’s hilarious and should leave most people speechless (literally, trying to process what you’ve just read and wondering if it’s even legal to have enjoyed it). It’s what got me into reading after finding ‘normal’ books too dull to bother with. I’m now doing a degree in English literature, all going back to Naked Lunch.

      Or back to RoboCop. Peter Weller led me to the Naked Lunch movie and that to the book. Much as I had guessed in 1987, RoboCop would eventually save my life.

  6. Gryz says:

    Now this has some serious potential. I read the words “a surreal world of stealth and exploration”. If they manage to make it a game without shooting and without car chases, this could be great fun.

    Games have to potential to be more than books, more than films. But nobody has come close to that potential yet. Because it seems all game developers think: “this must be a game, there must be action for the player, there must be a story, and it can’t be too complicated”. Once game developers start thinking “we can do whatever we want, as long as all the customers don’t walk away from our product”, then you can do anything. Burroughs himself certainly didn’t think “let’s write a book, with a linear story, with all classical elements, and let’s make sure the customer will not get confused”. The opposite, he just did what he wanted or felt like. When game makers step away from the mold, games might become just as interesting as books or films. Or even more interesting.

    • Harlander says:

      Have you played anything by Ice-Pick Lodge?

      • Gryz says:

        Yes, I played Pathologic. I had to stop half-way the game, because I really didn’t understand it anymore. Maybe it was the bad English translation. Maybe it was the lack of understanding Russian culture (the theatre references, etc). I might have continued exploring, even when I didn’t understand everything. But there is time-pressure in the game. I guess that was the element that broke it for me.

        I have The Void installed on my machine. It has been on my “future games” list for a long time. But I might finally get around to play it soon. I want to replay Thief1. And then there’s nothing left on my playlist. I’m bored with MMOs, really bored. I’m bored with shooters. I played BioShock and Crysis3 this year, but mostly because of the graphics. Right now I’m finishing Skyrim/Dragonborn. Because Skyrim is one of the few games where I feel I can run around doing nothing. And still have fun.

  7. foetus says:

    Blood… not… making it to… my brain… holy crap I’m excited.

    For any other Burroughs fans out there (and/or Poe fans): there was a game years ago called “The Dark Eye” which was based on the writings of Edgar Allan Poe, and voiced by William S. Burroughs. I remember the game not being bad, either… but Burroughs’ voice could sell me anything.

  8. yourmotherspeaking says:

    When can we look forward to the Burroughs FPS in which you shoot an apple from your wife’s head?

    • DrScuttles says:

      And yet the actual victory conditions in that game horrify me.

  9. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    Nothing is true – everything is permissible was my mantra for years!
    Just thought it was cool to see a paraphrasing in a screenshot here.

  10. Nathan_G says:

    Very cool trailer, I’m intrigued. The art style is great, very interested to see how it actually plays..

  11. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    So this isn’t based on the writings of WS Burroughs, just his idea of cut/up used for a videogame, right?

    • DXN says:

      Seems pretty Burroughsian to me, from what little we can see here. Weird broken places, oppressive control and free agents, broken bodies… all in all, pretty Interzoney. I mean, it’s sanitized and simplified, but it would have to be.

  12. DXN says:

    Ffffffffffffff!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    !!!!!!!!!!!

    This is like a wonderful nightmare come true. Burroughs, vidyagames, stealth, words, darkness, weirdness, and Burroughs.

    More exclamation marks.

    • DXN says:

      Kind of ironic that they might it might actually make the game less Burroughsian if they put in some of his motifs — guns, monsters, aliens, pirates, cowboys — unless they handle it real tasty like.

      I hope there will be a shitload of horrifying/wonderfully debauched sex.

    • DXN says:

      AUGH SO EXCITED

      I am spinning around in one place like a puppy.

  13. Soldancer says:

    Though I’m not personally familiar with any of Borroughs’ works, this still looks oddball and intriguing. The art style is really neat, and it seems like it aims to do something different and possibly very special.

    To join the convo about authors, I would love to see a game about Carcosa inspired by Ambrose Bierce and Robert Chambers. Maybe something where you could both see the “real” Carcosa as it was intertwined with stories about The King in Yellow (the play itself).

    I might have to learn to make video games just to make that game.

    • strangeloup says:

      It wasn’t apparently in the story to begin with, but The King In Yellow (the play) and the use of the name itself became part of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, which would be all kinds of an interesting angle to take in a game version.

      • Soldancer says:

        I did think about that, but so many more well-known horror authors like Lovecraft and King have had their own takes on some of the groundwork laid my Bierce and Chambers. I’d love to just peel it back to Bierce’s short story and Chambers’ horrifying anthology.

        Ok, maybe just a *smidge* of good ol’ Howie P.

  14. strangeloup says:

    This looks really quite amazing, and I’m getting a big Ice-Pick Lodge vibe from the trailer.

    On the other hand, having their official site be a Facebook page made me frown so hard my face fell off.

    • DXN says:

      And a giant bug emerged from the hole and tried to sell you heroin in a nasal wheedling sick voice while lamenting about how a tiny free colony of ex-slaves in the heart of the Amazon once all fell prey to a deadly, horrifying disease that made their cocks start telling them the deadly, unknowable truth about fatherhood on Mars.

  15. superflat says:

    This tickles my fancy.

  16. Shazbut says:

    Looks very interesting

  17. radiofireworks says:

    Well, this looks excellent.

  18. A Boot Stomping a Human Face says:

    I’m getting massive “Silent Hill, written by William S. Burroughs and Raymond Chandler beating the shit out of a crying Franz Kafka, while Chris Cunningham and Aphex Twin are binge drinking in the background” vibes.

  19. Shooop says:

    I love the way this looks, it reminds me of some of the scenes in Eraserhead.

  20. G_Man_007 says:

    Am I the only person who read that as “Tanglers”? It sounded dark and foreboding. I’m sure Tangiers is too. The game and the place…