I spoke about Internal Damnation, Work-Life Balance’s complementary text-based game, a couple of months back, but since it’s out now – and Difference Engine’s just released this wonderful trailer – I figured I’d talk about it a little more.
We designed Internal Damnation to be completely standalone. The goal was that the game and the book would work well with each other, but you could enter this world of ours through either of them – and I think we did a pretty great job of that. I mean, even tonally, they’re both different enough from each other (while still very clearly being part of the same tapestry), which allowed me to explore different themes and facets of working life.
Ben and I had initially discussed using his isometric art style for the game, then realised that, hey, that would work pretty well for the cover too. Plus, there was the added bonus of not killing Ben with a whole lot of new things to draw. (In true Ben fashion, however, while I’d suggested only a few NPCs, he created a whole host of them. He is, thankfully, still alive though.)
This was mostly completely out of our hands. While Ben has experience with games and I can come in from the narrative side of things too, neither of us really could give terribly detailed suggestions for the music. That said, the folks at IMBA Interactive nailed our brief to mix traditional Southeast Asian instruments with more modern sounding themes. (Yes, I used a fair bit of Nine Inch Nails as examples for what I meant by “modern sounding.” I think you can hear that most clearly in the Wednesday portion of the game.)
Continue? 3… 2…
You know that thing that some creators have where they fear the worst about their work, then sit around nervously until they hear that their audience enjoys it? I haven’t had that with my books, comics and podcast for a while. That’s not to say that I don’t get nervous. I think that never goes away. But I’ve learned how to temper it for the most part.
I totally felt that fear with Internal Damnation though.
Like I mentioned before, this is the first time I’ve written a game, which is about as far out of my writing comfort zone as I’ve ever been. So, I’ve been incredibly relieved to see that people are enjoying it. That thrill has convinced me that, if the chance ever arises again, I’d love to write another game.
It’ll probably have to be text-based, simply because I don’t have the experience to write anything more complex than that, but the challenge of balancing emotional honesty across multiple (sometimes conflicting) scenarios was a fun one. I didn’t think so at the time, but I can at least say that the sense of accomplishment was worth it.
In the meantime, if you haven’t already played Internal Damnation, you can…