Every year, when winter is almost at its peak, a house grows in a clearing in the old wood. Fuelled by the frost and sun, the tangle of branches sprouting from its roof glisten in the cold air. And every year, a spirit of the wood grows within it too. A creature whose responsibility it is to ensure that the guardian of winter is able to rest well for the following seasons, and that his sister has all she needs for her period of guardianship over the coming spring.
I’ve released another free to play browser game on itch.io, called Sister Spring, Brother Winter. It’s a 3D interactive winter folktale about the changing of the seasons – collect pieces of the fallen sun to help Sister Spring wake the world.
It features a 3D style that gives a nod to the ZX-Spectrum of the early 1980s, including games such as Jepac and Atic Atac.
I used 3D Bitsy to create it – I just find it so fun and easy to create little narrative games using this game making tool. 3D Bitsy is made by aloelazoe, which is built on Adam Le Doux’s Bitsy.
On 21st April I’m running a new online session as part of the Beginning Cataloguing seminar programme, which will be focussed on how libraries and heritage organisations make use of technology to share and re-work their collections and resources in creative and engaging new ways. I’ll be sharing a variety of inspirational examples from organisations, along with how online mapping and narrative tools can provide visitors with a new digital discovery route into your collections.
One of my Bitsy’s, My Face, has been included as part of this month’s the MASS – “a monthly online collection of discursive art, articles, opinions, prompts, thoughts, and questions, gathered in response to global issues.” The issue’s focus is “TRANS-“, so it seemed like a good opportunity to share this small digital narrative focused on my thoughts about what lies underneath my makeup. The rest of the issue includes a wide range of art responses to the theme, including painting, sculpture, dance, video, text and an interactive website.
One of the themes that regularly appears in my digital stories and games is folklore and myths. In Midwinter Spirits, I created a little retro-style digital story with a focus on winter folklore. I’m really pleased that it’s featured as part of Creswell Crags Winter Folklore Festival, which is a free online festival running 18th – 21st December 2020. As part of my involvement in the festival, I also wrote a piece on winter folklore representation in this digital tale, and other games, including Never Alone (Native Alaskan), Roki (Scandinavian), and Yukie (Japanese).
I’ve been mulling over the idea for this creative project for a few years now, but The Midnight Detective Club is one of those grand ideas that I’ve had to take time over to work out what I want to do with it, and how I piece it together. The concept is focused on a number of things:
A Nancy Drew / Scooby Doo type mystery
A nod to early 1980s pop groups and culture surrounding them
An art/fashion exhibition
My biggest dilemma was trying to decide on which is the best way to frame it as a digital project, and the best tools to use. I’ve now decided that it will take the form of a chapter based digital narrative with varying elements of gameplay and puzzle solving, and I’ll be using a variety of digital tools to represent each chapter. At present these tools include:
Twine – text based interactive fiction
Artsteps – 3D virtual online exhibition
Pico-8 – a game engine with an early 1980s aesthetic
Canva – design software
I have the broad ideas mapped out and roughly know where it all joins up and how the chapters cross paths, and I’m now working on the basics of a few chapters. The most progress I’ve made so far is researching the 1980s pop group/fashion, band based game, and the teen mystery elements, and turning some of that into cover artwork, which you can see below.