An Experiment in Immersive Storytelling
Behind the Scenes:
What makes an interactive horror/adventure story remarkable?
Props, of course. See? I'm remarking about it now. Zarina remarks about it as well. Remarkable.
At this point in the development of Absolution, I had written a lot of what I wanted to happen and identified quite a few physical items I needed to tell a compelling interactive story, but I didn't actually have any of the things I needed. Amazon, Etsy, eBay, and other online stores can be great for all sorts of shopping, but none of them (yet) have the shopping category: Interactive Werewolf Story Props.
Many of the props I ended up using in the story came about by me staring at a wall for a few minutes, deciding that making it was outside my skill set, and then asking Tae for help. Tae's always been crafty, and between the two of us, we've been able to come up with clever solutions to all the problems life has thrown at us.
Following, I will detail some of the work involved in making a few of the props used in Absolution, along with notes from Tae. I'll also point out a few areas where I was able to lend my expertise. You'll see that the split here is about 99% Tae and 1% me in terms of creativity, artistic skill, and work involved.
Early on, while writing the story, I had an idea of slowly revealing old journal pages to Zarina that let the mystery unfold. I decided that creating a bit of separation, a feeling of being nearly tangible, would add to the mystery and excitement. So, I thought having Zarina receive photos of journal pages that were obviously real would do the trick. The problem was that I didn't have old journal pages. I wrote up exactly what I wanted to appear on them, then translated them (more on the translations in a later Behind the Scenes), and took the entire idea to Tae for help.
Note on Amon Nagi's Door
Puzzle Under Zarina's Car
Effigy of the Wolf
Some props needed more attention than others, like this one. The story culminated in a full moon ritual, with a lycanthrope curse-breaking using an earthen statue of a wolf. This prop was all Tae's handiwork. It was going to be physically handled by Zarina, so it had to seem extremely authentic.
By now, you should be wondering about the reference photo in the background. It's a sculpture by William (Bill) Harling. You can see more of his work on his website and some photos on Flickr.
Faking Aleister Crowley's Book
Sometime before Absolution, Zarina and I were at an art exhibit along with other friends and saw a photo of Aleister Crowley.
Zarina had no idea who this man was or what the hell he was doing. I gave her a quick rundown of Aleister Crowley and his life. Later, when I was writing Absolution, I decided to throw in a special reference for Zarina in the form of a fake curse-breaking ritual "created" by Aleister Crowley himself. Of course, this was a complete forgery of mine, made exclusively for the Absolution story.
What's a ritual without ritual tools? Boring. These implements are tied in directly to the fake ritual I created.
If you've read the entire Absolution story, you'll know that there are more props than this. I chose these specifically to highlight some of the more intricate crafting skills required to pull off the story. The other props took time and skill as well, but I had good photos of the process for the props shown here, and these are the ones that took more time or trickery to do.