Updated: Oct 2, 2020
Hey welcome to our game dev stories page :)
I am Yang Jing, one of the two game directors of this The Forgetter.
Before I make games, I wrote (still do) about games, and before I wrote about games, I played (still do) games, a lot, alright, I am what someone may call "a video game addict".
The more I play, the more I fantasise about making my own game. It has to be fun for sure, but also original, narrative-driven and thought-provoking -- thanks to all my favourite games. I also aim to make games for my friends in journalism, academia and arts, to convince them that video game could be so much more than the stereotypes they are fed with here in Sinophone culture and beyond. As someone who learnt so much about creativity, about the world and about humanity from video games, I am eager to share my beloved media to my beloved friends, and ultimately to everyone.
The opportunity showed itself in 2019, when I accidentally served as a substitute translator for a good curator friend (the translator he hired mythically disappeared!) in a contemporary art exhibition. That's how I met the producer of this game, Mr. Sylvain Levy, a French art collector who is all about Chinese contemporary art and making his huge collection public via virtual representation. Why not games? I pitched the idea, as I always do, with little expectation from him to actually take it seriously. Maybe it is video games, maybe it is me, more often than not when I pitch game proposals, the other party would try their best to gently reject them. 99th time is a charm! Mr. Levy, though never played pc games before, is a man of bold ideas and visionary mind. He asked for a proposal, a video game that could the same time become a virtual museum, but not in a literal way.
To make a game, you need more than an idea. Most importantly, you need a magician who can realise that idea. That magician happened to be trapped in Hong Kong thanks to covid-19, the brilliant technologist and artist Alan. He is better than a magician, before making the tricks, he polished them, reimagined them and ultimately made them become a boundary-pushing project.
That's how the three NPC of a bigger game that's life met and teamed-up, and how Forgetter was born. Although I had already written so many articles and interviews around game, it is in this game that I realised how MUCH it takes to make a game. My first and primary role is the writer, but very soon I started to take up more professions: the administrator, the PR person, the web-designer(!), later the marketing gal... Alan is the same, if not more, oh, definitely more. And around our first play test, I got to taste the famous "crunch culture".
Even as the writer, a job that I've already been doing for 10 years, I often feel like a newbie -- how to write very very very short VOAs that at the same time intriguing and emotional, a fragment of a bigger narrative as well as a story of its own. Most importantly, writings, objects, system and level have to be organic, like different parts of a baby's body -- you need to grow all of them in accordance with each other, not a baby's shoulder holding a Yao Ming's head...
I haven't digested so much information and learnt so many skills in such a pace ever since gradschool. Suddenly I can see both sides now: the designer and the player, with the game as the bridge. All my life, I always find myself working as a translator between one language to another, English and Chinese (and a little German), academia and mass culture, artwork and everyday life, bitter experience and awesome jokes. This time I am doing it again with multiple languages: idea and form, story and system, art and game, tech and culture, and of course, us and you via this website.
Translation is an art that requires hard work. You need to know both sides well. And I am still a new player on the production side. I hope I am learning fast enough so that I could translate all the great things I saw and made with Alan and Sylvain with you, my dear friends, with our game and this website :)