Shelley They Can’t Be Serious: Elegy For A Dead World

By Alec Meer on October 23rd, 2013 at 10:00 am.


That Dejobaan, always making intense games of sensory-overload and destabilising weirdness. The last thing they’d over do is make something calm and reflective. Something inspired by the Romantic poets, for instance. Perhaps something that’s about observing and note-taking. Something like Elegy For A Dead World.

Oh.

Elegy For A Dead World, a side-scrolling game about keeping and sharing a diary which documents lost civilizations, is a collaboration between the Aaaaaaaaaa(etc) dev and Ziba Scott of Girls Like Robots. It seems, from afar, somewhat mysterious, and Dejobaan suggest it may be even more so in practice. “There’s no game to play,” bossman Ichiro Lambe told IndieGames. “You go through the world, observe, and make notes — or stories — or poems — or songs — in your journal. You then close your journal and send it back to Homeworld (Steam Workshop).”

In turn, you can browse and rate others’ journals, and examine how close or distant they are from your own assessment of what happened to the lost people of the titular dead world. You take the role of “a speaker for lost worlds. You investigate 3 long-dead civilizations. You report on who they were, what they did, and how they died.” Mostly, you’ll be doing this sort of thing:

I understand a little, but not a lot. I imagine it’ll be more an experiential thing, and thus a red rag to all those ‘not a game’ plonkers, but the stated inspirations of the Shelley, Bryon & Keats, XKCD’s lovely Time and Lambe’s childhood experiments in scenery-browsing games has me paying attention. Not that I have the words to describe it, of course. They should have sent a poet.

Elegy’s been submitted to this year’s IGF, so we should be seeing more of it rather soon.

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29 Comments »

  1. Don Reba says:

    Why is everyone making games about poetry now?

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Games finally outgrew adolescent power fantasies?

      • Don Reba says:

        So, it’s power fantasy or poetry? Only these two choices?

        • Viroso says:

          What about power poetry or poetry power fantasy? OMG POETRY POWER FANTASY. It’s like a game that lets you feel like you’re just the best poet in all the land.

          Anyway, it isn’t one or the other. There are ton of choices out there, even if the majority are still about the very enjoyable adolescent power fantasies. But you could be building bridges or walking around an island or something, not just writing poetry or shooting people in the face.

          • The Random One says:

            I’d imagine poetry power fantasy would essentially be a game about Orlando (the protagonist of many a medieval cavalry tale, not the city in Florida).

        • The Random One says:

          Keyword here is “outgrew”, I’d say. Think about that for a moment. You make adolescent power fantasies when you’re like 11-14 – that’s when your draw robot ninja dinosaurs on your notebook and name your punk rock band. But then comes the part where you first fall in love and then your first breakup and your parents don’t understand you and then suddenly your notebook is “dark miasma rains upon my soul / only shadowy darkness that fills me whole”. So we may have overgrown adolescent power fantasies, but we don’t go straight to adulthood after that, and poetry is a logical next step.

      • Amun says:

        There’s nothing wrong with adolescent power fantasies.

        • Syra says:

          And there’s nothing wrong with games that aren’t those either.

    • Jorum says:

      The number of games being made about poetry must be, what, one in two thousand? Three thousand?

      It’s nice that people are coming round to the idea that just because something is on a screen and interactive it doesn’t have to be a “game”.

      I guess the problem will be that big word in the “games industry”.
      Does it realign to be “games and interactive art and interactive media industry” or at some point do things like this and Dear Esther and Stanley Parable split off and become something that games industry and games websites don’t cover?

      • Don Reba says:

        If I am not mistaken, this is the third poetry game covered on RPS in the past week out of something like… 30. So, that makes it every tenth game. :)

        And you thought it was one in three thousand. Surprising, isn’t it?

        • Jorum says:

          ah but come now, you know rps only cover tiny amount of the games out there. and they have bias towards covering the more unusual “arty” stuff.
          Anyway even if there were double the amount I’d be ok with it. Enough FPS’ and MOBAs and 3rd person action adventure to keep us going.

  2. InternetBatman says:

    I thought Dejobaan were making a 3D shooter?

    • Chizu says:

      And a musically generated basejumping game, akin to Aaaaah.

      Both have been on Early Access since before Early Access existed. One day they’ll finish them. Maybe.

      • Ross Angus says:

        In their defense, if you’re bug testing a game which generated it’s levels from music, you need to test it against all the music which has ever been, and all that ever will be. This takes quite a long time.

      • waaaaaaaals says:

        Drunken Robot Pornography was in a fairly closed off alpha test before early access existed, nobody paid a thing to get into that test.

        Kick It was added to Steam around the same time as AaAaAA for the Awesome, so naturally the first thing that was asked for was a chance from the old engine they were using to the Unity engine they were using on the new game.

        Also they did release Monster Loves You this year, so they’re probably doing these occasional small side-projects to stay somewhat sane.

  3. Hanban says:

    This is the best news. This might just be the perfect thing to use in my ESL classes!

  4. SomeDuder says:

    Why does it mention Homeworld? Is this game just trying to rake in that phat Homeworld cashflow? Shenanigans!

  5. Syra says:

    I really love the idea I just wish that trailer told me what the hell this game actually is and how it works.

  6. Vinraith says:

    That’s not a game.

    It does, however, sound like an extremely interesting experience, that i’ll probably pick up when it comes out.

    Correct use of terminology does not intrinsically imply dismissal, and it serves no one to pretend it does.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Then shut up about it.

    • Napalm Sushi says:

      Until the games industry (which this is very much a product and a part of) universally agrees on a new, more appropriate, inclusive term that doesn’t shove software such as this out of the remit of gaming journalism (which even you don’t seem to be implying is the wrong place for it to be covered), it’s a game. Obviously, it’s far more likely that the meaning of the term “game” is going to change (and arguably already has) in the context of interactive media, just as the meaning of the term “theory” once changed in the context of scientific discourse, and it’s probably best that you just get used to it.

      I mean, you can still call it an “interactive tale” or “exploration sim” or even “non-game” if you like, but it’s still going to be a genre of “game,” purely out of the practical necessities imposed by the current structure of the industry.

  7. cpt_freakout says:

    Interesting experiment – I’m intrigued.

  8. SillyWizard says:

    There had better be potsherds!

  9. firesock says:

    You know, it’s rather annoying to see these and be told that you can play them later… Can we start hyping after a game is out? Maybe?

  10. Talesdreamer says:

    I’m intrigued, but cautious. There’s a subtle difference between being artistic and being overly dramatic and pretentious. I hope they’ll get the right mood.
    Oh, and the concept seems really similar to a nice flash game called The Looming, which you can play here.