Write what you know. Every young writer has heard that advice. But writing what you know is boring. Wouldn’t you rather write about space travel and galactic civilizations gone extinct? Well, now you can learn to write fiction while simultaneously taking a virtual tour of alien worlds. Elegy for a Dead World is a new game by Boston-based developer Dejobaan Games that is a game about writing fiction. Specifically, it’s a game about being a writer of fiction in outer space.
One part Interstellar, one part Art Of Fiction, Elegy For A Dead World is a video game currently in development for Windows, Mac, and Linux that puts players in the role of an astronaut-turned-author. The plot of the game is rather straightforward. Three portals have suddenly opened up to uncharted planets, each with its own flora, fauna, and ruins. An expedition is sent to document the planets, but something goes wrong. You’re the only survivor. Your task? To examine these strange planets and bring them to life for the people back home.
The different planets are each named after a Romantic poet. There is Keats’ World, Byron’s World, and Shelley’s World. These planets take their environments from the temperaments of the poets for whom they were named. Shelley’s World, for example, is a parched, lifeless planet, where a bloated red sun scorches a landscape of towers, sculptures, and cryptic machineries. As you explore each world, you are prompted to describe what you see, with each prompt intended to help guide budding authors through the process of writing a story about what they’re seeing.
“Elegy might ask you to write a short story about an individual’s final days, a song about resignation, or a poem about war,” say the developers. “In the more advanced levels, you’ll sometimes get new information halfway through your story which casts a new light on things and forces you to take your story in a different direction. We like to think of those as puzzles — writing yourself out of a corner, so to speak.”
Once you’ve completed your story, you have the option to share it with other Elegy players, or on social media, and you can even browse through the stories that other players have written in Elegy’s in-game library. And the stories players are coming up seem to have a lot of variety.
“In our gameplay tests so far, players have expressed a variety of thoughts about what happened in each world — the silhouette of what looks like a telescope to one player looks like a rocket ship to another, and a planet-destroying weapon to yet another,” say the game’s designers.
Now on Kickstarter, Elegy For A Dead Planet can be pre-ordered for just $10. You won’t have to wait too long to get it, either. Beta keys for Elegy will ship as soon as the Kickstarter ends on October 20th, with the finished game shipping in early 2015. If exploring alien worlds and writing stories about it sounds like your cup of tea, you can support the project here.