In early pc games, the technology just wasn’t ready for expressive cut-scenes, convincing character animations, or even moving lips. The popular solution to this problem was a simple one: don’t show any people at all. Instead, early games told their stories through messages, notes and logs. A story told through messages such as these is called Epistolary writing.
I can’t quite remember what made me want to try an Epistolary story of my own, but I do know I was heavily influenced by those early pc games and Arthur C. Clarke’s short-story Breaking Strain. But I was loathe to just write a story and post it online because, frankly, it would be lumped together with an ocean of online fiction (if you’ll forgive such pretension) of variable quality. If I was going to write an online story, It should at the very least be something I would actually want to read online. So half the project was mundane writing, the other half, exotic safari into UI/UX design.
When I finished Planetfall, I was working for Electronic Arts in Los Angeles where I was friends with three professional writers. I asked them, humble and contrite, if they would dare lower themselves to read it. I expected the worst.
At worst, I got, “Hey this is pretty cool! Keep it up!”
At best I got, “Give me a hard copy. I’m going to option this off. We’re going to make this a thing.”
While Planetfall never got en-thinged (for the process of en-thingening is a frightful mystery), I am immensely proud of how it all turned out. More than anything, I remain surprised by the reception. Multiple (!) people have written essays on the story, professional writers have enjoyed it, and I managed to create something I’ve seen nowhere else but here.
- John Burnett: Project Lead, UI Artist, UI Engineer, Principle Writer
- Amanda McGlynn: Editor
- Armand Constantine: Consultation
- Tom Abernathy: Consultation
- Brad Santos: Consultation
- Jennifer Vance: Modeling
- Julia Getman: Modeling
- Christina Gleave: Modeling
- Music: Prospectors Arrive - There Will Be Blood Official Soundtrack
- 2008 . Studio Age . Los Angeles
- Photoshop & Actionscript on Flash