They say to pick your battles, I am picking an invisible one.
I'm making on a story based game around hidden disabilities.
Not because I want to pander. Not because it's trendy (it isn't) but because I know stories of people with disabilities and trauma matter too.
I cannot create media out from out place I cannot understand.
I realise now why I felt like an outsider in the art scene of California. It was because I wasn't a promiscuous, sassy, flirtatious and conniving sort of person, like the dance student that stole cafeteria oranges from right in front of my nose one time. I live earnestly and without much sarcasm. I only have my earthy and simple life experiences and that's why my story in my game is about the simplicities of country life and mental health.
My experiences aren't having easy flings with people, they aren't feeling alive at wild parties, they even aren't my heart being crushed in the fists of a first crush. I have long lost all interest in reminiscing over those unpleasant college year. Those years were stressful, sleep deprived, shallow and painful.
I was making great drawings, but was it really art?
I feel bad because my poor dad now says he regrets letting me go to LA if he knew it would be such anguish. Calarts was anguish for me but it is also my life story. I should be heaps proud for enduring a harsh environment that gave me heaps of perspective on what the Los Angeles animation industry is like. Putting all that aside, my most memorable experiences and things that define my spirt are this trampoline.
I've found it an unbelievably cathartic escape in the form of a coding a Visual Novel. Unlike any Game Jam or project I've done before. I can hardly leave my chair to eat and sleep and its been over a week. The multimedia story game style was made for me. It has swiftly taken over my heart and soul.
At Calarts I was told I was a shit writer. A mediocre storyteller. My storyboards got neutral faces most the time.
When the teacher asked me for my student film ideas, I muttered some lines, and he said 'Oh so it seems you don't have anything." That was because he thought my vague 'feelings' on this scrap of paper weren't stories.
Of course at age 22 who is good at everything? It hurt me deeply for years, like everything else.
Many years down the line having absorbing unique stories deeply down to my marrow and by drawing upon my own trauma, I am most definitely not a shit writer.
For all the teachers that told me I sucked at Calarts and even made fun of my art style in front of the class...
For all the artists that have always turned a cheek at me because they thought I wasn't cool enough....
I'm making a visual novel for myself now and looking at yaoi games for reference.
I am writing major story moments for my visual novel and cherishing the cathartic release of many years of agony. Feelings of being slow, feelings of never seeing myself in the characters I consumed in media.
Suddenly, I can take the things in life I could never express in a single drawing, into words and a visual story that get it out so easily? I can do something cool again. Despite my brain struggles post psychosis, I can make something as cool as a visual novel all by myself now.
There are many people into comics around me, I love consuming them, but drawing many things has been agony. So now I find that writing is my dominant form of communication right now.
Nobody likes to read so.........I tried Ren'Py!
The themes of this game are my joyful experiences with childhood, an estranged youth and my horrible descent into adult hood. It's spread out across different aged characters and their interaction with the main protagonist. It is about mental illness and other invisible disabilities that fly under the radar, wrapped up as a horror, drama and coming of age story.
The protagonist is at an age where she has yet to be bruised and battered by adult life. She has yet to know loneliness or having her heart broken. However maybe she will be strong enough to grow up and not really care about such pressures?
That's because life is about running around outside, eating freshly baked scones from your mum and having barbeques with the neighbours that make your clothes smell smokey.
Stories don't have to have an agenda.
My story is like an Australian Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni, with some Stardew Valley vibes for my main boy. It's a mashup of many things I like; dating games, country life and some edgy anime of course. If I just copied stuff however, it would be a rip off, this is just me. This is art, taking all the beloved things and creating something new.
I realise that with combining visual art, music, writing and code and finally having something I need to say, I can actually make true art.
No, it isn't some buoyant obnoxious hand-drawn student film with gorgeous animation that employers froth over...
No I am not a proffesional programmer that can do heaps of complicated things that make gamers ooo and aww...
Real art is something that sucks people in and makes them love the characters and worlds they are experiencing.
I think my characters are deep given I've only worked on this a week, not that I'm biased or anything. Anyways I hope you enjoy the above gif of my sulky best boy.
I hope I can make someone feel an emotional connection to Clayton Bay or even just the general Goolwa area. I hope international viewers can realise that there are little unheard of places around the world that have their own charm, joys and melancholy.
These pictures of muddy paddocks aren't a glistening Japanese high school or a spooky forest in the heart of the USA, they are plain and simply....
Just my South Australia.