Fire Water Steam [Drama, Short]

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Mistik
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Fire Water Steam [Drama, Short]

#1 Post by Mistik » Mon Aug 25, 2014 9:16 pm

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Did you get a fair shake in life? Fire Water Steam is the drama comedy of a young girl who is torn between the world she lives in, and the world she “lives” in. Help her understand where she belongs and who her true friends are.

Team:
Artist: Constance Chen
http://www.theskyandthesea.com
Writer: Pinktreeleaf
http://www.pinktreeleaf.com/
Musician Mike Nicholson
https://soundcloud.com/harmonichive

Created in 3 days, for Ludum Dare 30
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Last edited by Mistik on Thu Nov 27, 2014 10:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Steam [Drama, Short]

#2 Post by Ran08 » Mon Aug 25, 2014 9:20 pm

The art is so cute! :) Congratulations for finishing it in such a short time! Will definitely download this when I get home later~

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Re: Steam [Drama, Short]

#3 Post by xiaomao » Mon Aug 25, 2014 9:32 pm

Hello, what's this? Looks cool, downloading for later today!

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Re: Steam [Drama, Short]

#4 Post by Alte » Mon Aug 25, 2014 9:57 pm

Congratulations on the release! Very neat to see a visual novel entry for Ludum Dare. Especially the great effort the team put into!

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Re: Steam [Drama, Short]

#5 Post by xiaomao » Tue Aug 26, 2014 6:46 am

Ok done! First let me say I love the art, the setting, the music.

[spoiler-ish below]
I played a bunch of times and only got one ending. Is that intentional? If so, it makes a really powerful statement. I really wanted to run away with Blow from the first time I played, and I could never get Ember to do that. Also I'm not sure why y'all labeled it "comedy," it was pretty heart-wrenching!

I have more to say, but I'll wait till I hear the answer to that question.
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Re: Steam [Drama, Short]

#6 Post by analaura » Tue Aug 26, 2014 9:59 am

i am with fire jogos de moto
Last edited by analaura on Wed Sep 03, 2014 10:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Steam [Drama, Short]

#7 Post by Mistik » Thu Aug 28, 2014 10:51 pm

Thanks everyone for playing!

I’m now going to answer xiaomao’s question and also explain the themes and inspirations for the story.

[Politics are involved in this post. I don’t want to offend anyone. I hopefully kept the subject contained to what it is needed to explain the story. I respect other people's opinions. Spoilers for Steam, and minor spoiler for Reservoir Dogs below]
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Steam is kind of my artistic expression of the Ferguson shootings. I wanted to explore some of the issues at play; racism, classism, anger of the exploited boiling over, the lack of care or understanding from the upper class, and the division on how to handle the situation among those usually affected by economic, legal, psychological, and physical repression.

One part that led to the main dynamic between the opposing forces in steam, Blow and Sasha, were my observation and interpretation of videos and tweets that showed the dynamic between a peaceful solution, and a fighting back solution.

I’m going to generalize a bit for brevity. I saw that some of the older, more prominent members of the community tried to work with the cops, call for peace, urge people to vote, etc. Younger or radical people did not think the allowed ways (I.e. marching, voting, following orders) would change much in that climate.

They think people shouldn’t be calm, because their anger is the only power they have. If they don’t cause a ruckus, nothing changes. I also think a lot of young people in the area operated under a feeling, one that they might not be able to articulate, or understand. Riots of this particular racial situation are something that has been going on for decades. They lash out, because they have no reliable way, to turn to escape a life of hell.

Blow is obviously a radical and oppressed person. I went with rational, yet extremely angry at her situation, as a lot of unfulfilled people tend to be. This might have made her off putting. In the end I think she ended up appealing to Ember’s head.

Serene is supposed to be the primary antagonist. She is a member of the upper-class. She is supposed to be well meaning, yet comfortable with the status quo or slow change. This is because the status quo benefits her. She also does not see a lot of the turmoil that the Ifits face. Meeting Ember may have changed, Serene, but the story stops before we see much progression in her character. If I ever do an Epilogue it will probably focus on her.

Serene grew in ways I did not plan, because I let the characters breathe. She turned out kind of awesome. She ended up being extremely diligent in her love. Serene to me is incorrect in her understanding of Ifrit and Undine, but she’s super caring. She appeals to Ember’s heart.
Serene is like Mr White from Reservoir Dogs. He ended up being wrong, but an honest and trustworthy person.

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Another big influence on the story is that I had just finished watching the end of season 3 of Legend of Korra. I hated how badly the antagonists in the show were written. I hate how in Korra and a lot media, antagonists just go the extra miles to be jerk faces even if it does not further their agenda. I feel this is done so viewers will feel visceral anger toward the antagonists. I understand that, but to me it makes the resolution always unenjoyable to me.

The Korra antagonists in all three seasons start out complex and interesting, and as the season progresses they devolve into obviously evil straw villains. Something that Korra and a lot of mass media does is show sentiment for a popular uprising at first, but then tear it down by the finale and point toward something quasi-authoritarian, while saying only the special destined character(Avatar, Batman) morally is allowed fight back. This is why I ended up making the uprising side (Blow) the good side. It is also why I made Serene a complex and likable antagonist.

Ember plays the hero, the character that is supposed to grow and become the most important in the story. She was at first overshadowed by the Antagonist (Serene), and Mentor (Blow). By the end she grew mentally and physically to make choices for herself.
Personality wise, Ember is left open (within the scope of the linear narrative). The personality she does have is shy, and unsure of herself. I kind of wanted to go with the classic Bildungsroman main character. Ember also bridges both worlds, by being an Ifrit raised by Undine.
I especially enjoyed writing the opening arc between Serene and Ember. I saw it made a lot of people laugh. The comedy is obviously anime inspired.

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Steam was made during two overlapping game jams. The themes we had to operate under were “Fire”, and “Between two worlds.” The simplest solution was to work with water and fire. That’s why the artist chose to make the characters elements.
The mood of the story, especially the first arc is inspired by the artist. We brainstormed with each other until we had a very basic outline and a sketch of Ember. The artist chose a fairytale storybook style.
The characters in this fairytale world are all female, just to be a tiny part in the promotion of female protagonists, and diversified female characters in games.

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With only three days to write and put together the game, I sped up the end of the story. And when I got to the final choice I thought it apropos to allow Ember to only choose the serene ending. I felt could demonstrate Blow’s point from there.

I like the ending, but the entire time I was very torn about making a second one where you go with Blow. I did not know if it would add to the theme or story better than the Serene ending. In the end I decided to write a second ending because people wanted to see it, and I want to have an option to add an ending with a different mood. I am working on it now, along with fixing up the many typos.

Part of me thinks by not giving a go with Blow option, I may have reversed Blow’s and Serene’s roles in the eyes of some of the players. To some, Serene is the mentor and Blow is the antagonist. I think both the limited final choice, and player’s values play a role in who they see as the antagonist. I must also say, the heart tugs harder than the head.
Maybe someday I’ll flesh it out, so that it can be a complete and polished small VN

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Re: Steam [Drama, Short]

#8 Post by xiaomao » Fri Aug 29, 2014 1:18 am

Mistik, thank you for the detailed response!

I was hoping there was a political conscious underpinning Steam. I felt it was there. My gut said that the inspiration was misogyny and male violence, but racial violence also fits. Fantasy metaphors like this one are great because they allow many types of real-world parallels to be expressed by the same story.

My politics run pretty radical so it was not difficult for me to sympathize with the Ifrit. I first started feeling angry when we see the Undine yelling at Blow, "That's why you're fat" and Serene responds by saying "That Ifrit did something bad." If I didn't suspect the writer was intentionally making a point, I would have quit the game right there, because I feel that is an completely unacceptable way to respond to seeing someone be verbally abused.

Ha, this game reminded me of a lot of real life situations. It even reminded me of something that happened yesterday. I feel like I've probably been Blow to a lot of people. It was a very interesting experience for me to play as Ember, where instead of speaking my mind, like I might IRL, I had to choose between things like, "Sorry," or "Say nothing." Frustrating, but in a good way. The decision to have only one ending was a great one. I love it because it bucks expectations how VNs work. I replayed it multiple times, trying to get the "good" ending, but this is the sort of story where it's prudent to admit that a good ending isn't possible given the circumstances.

Yeah, I really appreciated this game. I hope that you make many more games in the future.
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Re: Steam [Drama, Short]

#9 Post by Mistik » Fri Aug 29, 2014 11:26 pm

xiaomao wrote: I was hoping there was a political conscious underpinning Steam. I felt it was there. My gut said that the inspiration was misogyny and male violence, but racial violence also fits. Fantasy metaphors like this one are great because they allow many types of real-world parallels to be expressed by the same story.
I agree with you that Steam is mainly a fantasy story, so it can represent many things to many people. Can you explain more how you thought it was more about misogyny and male violence? You are the third person to tell me that they thought the game was more about feminist themes than racist ones. I wouldn’t mind, fleshing that out more in the story.
xiaomao wrote: My politics run pretty radical so it was not difficult for me to sympathize with the Ifrit. I first started feeling angry when we see the Undine yelling at Blow, "That's why you're fat" and Serene responds by saying "That Ifrit did something bad." If I didn't suspect the writer was intentionally making a point, I would have quit the game right there, because I feel that is an completely unacceptable way to respond to seeing someone be verbally abused.
When I was making the game I wanted that insult to feel real, so I asked someone what was the most hurtful thing someone could say to them, something that a family member that knows your buttons and wanted to push it, would say? The answer was “Saying that they were fat.”

As a writer I'm glad that you had a visceral response, but hopefully the game did not make you feel too uncomfortable.
xiaomao wrote: Ha, this game reminded me of a lot of real life situations. It even reminded me of something that happened yesterday. I feel like I've probably been Blow to a lot of people. It was a very interesting experience for me to play as Ember, where instead of speaking my mind, like I might IRL, I had to choose between things like, "Sorry," or "Say nothing." Frustrating, but in a good way. The decision to have only one ending was a great one. I love it because it bucks expectations how VNs work. I replayed it multiple times, trying to get the "good" ending, but this is the sort of story where it's prudent to admit that a good ending isn't possible given the circumstances.
Cool, I will keep the single ending in the actual story. I’ll still write a second ending though as a non-canon piece. I’ll pm you it whenever it’s written.
xiaomao wrote: Yeah, I really appreciated this game. I hope that you make many more games in the future.
Think’s a lot! Comments and compliments are like the currency of freeware games :D

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Re: Steam [Drama, Short]

#10 Post by xiaomao » Sat Sep 06, 2014 4:35 am

Ohno seven days went by and I didn't respond! Sorry about that.
Can you explain more how you thought it was more about misogyny and male violence? You are the third person to tell me that they thought the game was more about feminist themes than racist ones.
It's probably just me projecting my own experience onto it. In my mind, the situation between Serene, Ember, and Blow while watching Blow being mistreated reminded me of how other women will distance themselves from an abused woman and find ways to make her abuse seem like her own fault. And similarly, the abusive person remains unseen and unscrutinized. In the game, the Elders, and in real life, the husband, father, boyfriend, etc.
hopefully the game did not make you feel too uncomfortable.
No way! It was a good kind of discomfort. Agitprop.

I had an idea, obviously it's your game so take it or leave it, but I think it would be interesting to have the one inescapable ending the first time you play the game, but have multiple paths open up on subsequent playings.
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