Howdy folks!

As promised, today is the official release of my first ever game Flame In The Abyss.  As part of the game's release, I wanted to provide a development journal highlighting the overall process and stages of creating the current incarnation of this game. 

For those of you taking the time to read this, welcome to the #SparkInTheDark journal's 1st Chapter: Beginnings!

Before I get into the actual game's writing, I wanted to start with what motivated me to write this game in the first place. For those who don't know, my mother passed away a few years ago. She was, without a doubt, the single biggest influence on me becoming a writer. I am grateful to how my mother encouraged me to become a poet, to dive into writing I was passionate about, and ultimately to live out a dream she never got to realize. Her death affects me to this day and it is a loss I don't imagine ever being truly healed from entirely.

However, it wasn't just grief that motivated me to create this game. In many ways, it was my experience with disability. Or, perhaps a better way to put it, it was how disability structures a lot of my life that made this game a reality.

I move through the world with a lot of mental health issues and struggle with exhaustion, pain, and discomfort prompted by them. As a result, I spend a lot of time on youtube watching videos and dissociating throughout the day in order to cope with stressors.

On one occasion, I happened to catch a playthrough of someone doing the Dark Knight Questline from Final Fantasy XIV. For those unfamiliar with it, it is a moving, painful/emotional depiction of a silent protagonist reconciling heroism with the everyday struggles they endure.

For those of you who don't know me, I am a sucker for storylines dealing with loss and grief. However, I also detest stories that force the viewer to remain wallowed in sadness for too long. Emotions are to be held but not become your anchor to the end. Luckily, much of the Dark Knight storyline was the right balance of painful reflection, riveting plot twists, and an honest look at what it means to feel powerless even when you save the world regularly. That is not easy task to pull off and I think about it often as a result.

More importantly, the questline came with a cast of characters who felt deeply personal because, in a way, they were a part of who you are as a player…and yet they weren't. There was connection and yet still narrative distance And so, the spark for Flame In The Abyss was lit:

I wanted to write a game with those characters. I wanted to write something about grief, about loss, about coming to terms with trauma without having to feel happy at the end. Loss is visceral, harsh, and often ugly. And that makes it all the more important to acknowledge.

But I knew one thing above all I needed to do when writing this game: I didn't want it to be trauma porn. I didn't want players to stay in the muck of bad memories or grief just to tell a story. Misery for the sake of recognition is asked of marginalized folk far too often. I didn't want the loss to be ignored either. The funny thing about grief is it often hits you during the most awkward moments, over the silliest things. Loss flares up like a bad pain day sometimes and that's okay. But where would I even start in writing something like that?

Well, as with most things I feel unsure about, I did what I always did: I did research. Honestly, if anyone is ever stuck for ideas, just read and you will be surprised what you find others have done. Thus, the next development stage of the game began: looking at other games.

Get Flame In The Abyss

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