We Do It Because We Love It: An Intro to Scriptwelder
People always say that you should do what you love for a living.
I feel like there's some truth to the perception that my generation was raised on that old adage, spoon-fed the belief that anyone can and should be able to do anything. The thing is, though, real is just more complicated than that. Sometimes, we fail. Sometimes, we don't get our dream job. I think what we should learn, from the very moment we're old enough to have an idea of the things that make us happy, is that we should make time for the things we love, even if we don't get to do them all the time.
I love writing. I really do. I can honestly say that I've wanted to be a writer since I was in Elementary School. I still have the hilariously bizarre comic strips that I made as part of a class project. "DUCKMAN" my little hero was called (no relation, I promise, to the show starring Jason Alexander). I made several Duckman books for class, with varying levels of poop and butt jokes in them. They were a great source of amusement for me, my sister, and my friends (and still are, in some ways, to this very day). It wasn't until I wrote the Grade 6 English provincial exam that I really knew why I loved writing so much.
The exam - which, if we're being honest, should only be loosely referred to as an exam - had only one question on it: write a story based on the prompt as given. In this case, it was a picture of a young woman, eyes wide with fright, and a couple accompanying lines about her being pursued by parties unknown. From there, I took it in the direction of a young man uncovering a Scooby-Doo-esque situation with fantasy touches, with old man impersonating a mythical beast to drive villagers away from his ancestral lands (and he would've gotten away with it too, etc.).
Yeah, it was silly. It was Grade 6. Cut me some slack. Thing is, though, my teacher liked it well enough that she read it to the class. Much to my surprise, they liked it too. I made something, and people felt happy after reading it and hearing it. And that felt...good.
Since then, I've written blogs, plays, stories...and I've only been paid for it maybe 1% of the time. I don't do this because I'm trying to be rich. I do it because it makes me happy.
It is a feeling, I think it is fair to say, that is shared by Scriptwelder, maker of many Flash games, all free to play on sites like Newgrounds and Kongregate. Scriptwelder is a Polish programmer who has been making games in his spare time for the past 5-6 years.
I'm going to be devoting my posts to Scriptwelder's games over the next two weeks, and I wanted to give you an intro that drove home the respect I have for this fellow and his abilities. It's not merely that he makes things for free; it's that they are of a quality and depth that are always surprising and interesting. They are not, by virtue of the interface, of great length or graphically stunning, but what I find time and time again is that they are full of heart. It's obvious when you play one of Scriptwelder's games that it is a project made by someone who genuinely cares about what he does. He isn't doing this for money, or fame. He's doing it because every now and then he has a great idea for a video game, and he wants to share it with the internet.
One such game, which is perfectly apt for the remaining space in this post, is A Small Talk at the Back of Beyond.
In this game, you awaken in a strange place in pitch darkness. Across the room, a green monitor draws your attention. Text appears...someone is trying to communicate with you. The game invites you to answer back.
From there, the game is essentially a text-based RPG, albeit one with a small graphic display. You talk to the mysterious person on the other end of the line. You question them about your surroundings. You might play a game with them. But ultimately, your path - driven by the natural curiosity of the human mind - will take you to a final, powerful choice.
A Small Talk at the Back of Beyond lives up to its name. The entire game can be played in as little as two minutes. In that time frame, it somehow manages to find time to be emotional resonant, driving down to one of life's most basic fears (which I will not reveal here for sake of spoiling the surprise). It's not meant to be a widely distributed commercial project. It's not something which I think anyone would ever charge money for. It's a little snippet meant to provoke an emotional response from an audience. And that's enough.
Next week I'll take a look at the first of Scriptwelder's trilogies: Deep/Deeper/Deepest Sleep.