Yesoidos [WIP; Kabbalah, Jewish, psychological]

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Yesoidos [WIP; Kabbalah, Jewish, psychological]

#1 Post by Musashi » Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:02 pm

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Summary
You are Binyomin. And you know that the world is a veil.

The world is very engaging. It's complex. But something doesn't fit. There is something beyond it. Deeper than it. To find the Truth and bring Light to the Darkness, you must delve into the mystical dimensions of existence.

Eradicate the dark side of the psyche. Glimpse into the realms of souls and angels. Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Achieve prophecy.

Fight on! The goal is near.

Website and Download
The website has more information about the world of Yesoidos:
http://yesoidos.sourceforge.net/
(Yes, this project is open-source!)

Alpha binary released!
Download Alpha 0.4a9
This alpha is not ready for submission to the official Renpy games list, but should be playable on Mac/Win/Lin. Have fun!

Main support character:
Pinchus is Binyomin's best friend. Very idiosyncratic. When he doesn't know how to respond to a situation, he says "Aha," smiles and nods as if he knows what's going on. Prone to grinning excitedly and communicating in sound effects, he enjoys building and fixing things, and perpetually carries a multitool in his pocket.

(Edit: other characters listed in a later post)

Kabbalah:
The mystical universe in Yesoidos and the spiritual content that appear in the work are based on my (limited) understanding of Kabbalah and Traditional Judaism. Although I have tried to make the ideas in this work as factual as possible, I don't intend my work to be authoritative; inevitably, the picture will have been muddled by my own interpretations, which may or may not be correct.

Language:
This novel is written in English, with certain words in Ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, Yiddish, and other languages. This is because certain concepts have no exact translation in English. To maintain flow and build atmosphere, I occasionally use transliterations of the original term interspersed with normal English.

Those who know the modern descendant of the Holy Tongue, Hebrew, may be thrown off to find that I haven't transliterated the language the way they are used to pronouncing it, even feeling that my transliteration is incorrect. To those thus offended: please understand that modern Hebrew has evolved from the Holy Tongue, and they do not correspond exactly, even in the meanings of certain words. Rather than confuse modern Hebrew with the Holy Tongue, I decided to use a variant of Ashkenaz pronunciation for the transliteration in Yesoidos.

Progress:
Act I (Early Years): 100%, Complete, rewrite finished
Act II (The Training): 60%
Act III (Darkness): 0%
Act IV (Exile): 0%
Act V (The Outside): 0%
Act VI (Light): 0%
Act VII (Birth-pangs): 0%
Act VIII (The First Breath): 0%
Act IX (Revelation): 0%
Act X (Indwelling): 0%

The general plot structure has been sketched out.
I was originally aiming for at least 7,000 words, but I have already more than that. The word count currently stands at 9,043 words for just chapter 1 and part of chapter 2!

Character art:
    Binyomin, the Protagonist - Artist needed
    Binyomin's Inner Voice - Artist needed
    Satan, an Angel - Me
    Michoël, another Angel - Me
    Binyomin's Mother - Artist needed
    Zusha, the Teacher - Artist needed
    Pinchas, a Friend - Artist needed
    Yossi, another Friend - Artist needed
    Yisroël, the Baal Shem Tov - Artist needed
    Eliëzer, a Tsadik, the Baal Shem Tov's father - Artist needed
    Sara, a Tsadekes, the Baal Shem Tov's mother - Artist needed
    Shlomo Zalmen, a hidden Tsadik - Artist needed
Background art: Currently using photos. Artwork, anyone?
Music: Me again. Plus, anyone who wants to help...

Ren'Py programmers and writers who want to see my source code can download it here:
Download source v0.4a9

(Edit: 04/08/2010 - Updates to progress, edited intro, renamed project from "The Foundation of the World" -> "Foundations")
(Edit: 05/06/2010 - Updates to progress, edited intro, renamed project from "Foundations" -> "Yesoidos")
(Edit: 11/29/2010 - Updates to progress, some description edits, renamed Ben-Ezro to Binyomin)
(Edit: 11/30/2010 - Decided to do my own music, edited summary)
(Edit: 12/01/2010 - Added link to download source files)
(Edit: 12/02/2010 - Created web site, updated source link.)
(Edit: 07/10/2011 - Added some content to chapter 1. Updated word count.)
(Edit: 07/13/2011 - More editing and cleanups to chapter 1. Chose some nice fonts. Updated word count. More progress on music.)
(Edit: 08/05/2011 - Added alpha binary download link.)
(Edit: 08/17/2011 - New alpha v0.4a6. Began chapter 2. Updated word count.)
(Edit: 09/02/2011 - Added icon. Updated word count.)
(Edit: 09/05/2011 - New alpha v0.4a7.)
(Edit: 09/07/2011 - New alpha v0.4a8. Finished angel artwork.)
(Edit: 09/27/2011 - Updated word count and progress on chapter 2.)
(Edit: 10/03/2011 - Ditto previous. Expanded artwork progress list.)
(Edit: 10/04/2011 - New alpha v0.4a9. Updated word count.)
(Edit: 11/07/2011 - Rearranged plot outline.)
Last edited by Musashi on Thu Feb 02, 2012 3:23 am, edited 53 times in total.

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Re: WIP: The Foundation of the World

#2 Post by prezzey » Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:57 pm

Wow, this is really promising!! I'm really looking forward to your game.

I was quite stunned to see the Alter Rebbe come up in a tech topic, to tell you the truth. I think my questions will be more on-topic here :D

I'd like to help... I'm struggling to find time to draw my own game right now, so I cannot really volunteer to make any art assets, and I'm not much of a musician. But I'd like to help in some way! Especially after Pesach when I'll be less busy. Proofreading, testing, comments... harassing you to finish the game... :mrgreen: etc.

There is a strong Old World influence on the community, with many of the members having immigrated from the Ukraine, Poland and Russia.


If you need background info about Hungarian Jews, let me know.

Some might even feel that my transliteration is incorrect.


I don't think there is one "right" way of transliterating Hebrew or Yiddish... there was this snappy snippet in Time magazine (of all places!) which IMO really hit the nail on the head: "There's only one way to spell Hanukkah. Unfortunately, it's in Hebrew." :D I think that applies across the board :wink:

achieves prophecy


Huh, I'm curious about your interpretation of prophecy... I think there are two main issues here, whether there is prophecy outside Israel and whether prophecy has returned. Or do you mean by prophecy something other than nevua? Just general ruach hakodesh?
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Re: WIP: The Foundation of the World

#3 Post by Musashi » Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:33 am

prezzey wrote:Wow, this is really promising!! I'm really looking forward to your game.

Thanks!

prezzey wrote:If you need background info about Hungarian Jews, let me know.

Oh, yes! During which few decades was there a big migration to America? Also, are there any traditional foods associated with the region? (Kugel, etc.) And, did the Jews have a distinct dress from that region? I know a Lubavitcher family that wear vests over their tzitzis, for example, because the Rebbe told them to keep their family minhag -- but I'm not sure exactly where the custom comes from.

prezzey wrote:
achieves prophecy

Huh, I'm curious about your interpretation of prophecy... I think there are two main issues here, whether there is prophecy outside Israel and whether prophecy has returned. Or do you mean by prophecy something other than nevua? Just general ruach hakodesh?

Prophecy outside of Israel:
There seems to be support in Tanach for it, both before and after Israel was settled by the Jews. Before Israel was settled, we have no less an example than Moses himself, who was not allowed into the Land. After the Land was settled, we see that G-d spoke to Yonah before he left Nineveh, the capital of Assyria (Yonah 4:4). In addition, Esther (who lived in Persia) is among the seven female prophets listed in the Talmud.

But, Yonah had come from Israel, and it seems likely that the same is true for Esther, because she was in the care of Mordechai, who was among the exiles from the Land (Esther 2:6). Also, Rashi (in Moed Koton 25a, "Shehaya kvar...") seems to indicate that prophecy can be maintained even after leaving the Land. Possibly, having visited or having been born in the Land is a prerequisite for prophecy.

On the other hand, there is the example of the Baal Shem Tov, who had divine visions (according to Yitzchak Buxbaum, reaching the level of Adam Kadmon!) but never made it to Israel. Also, Rabbi Shlomo HaLevi Alkabetz, the author of Lecha Dodi, wrote that he had a vision of the Shechinah that told him and his followers to move to Israel, whereupon he undertook a trip of several years and moved to Tzefas.

The Return of Prophecy:
From what I've read, it seems possible that full prophecy (though not at the same level as Moshe, of course) can exist today. First, there is the promise of the return of prophecy that appears in Yoel 3. (According to the Stone Tanach, "acharei chein" (3:1) refers to "the End of Days, as explained in 4:1", which says "When I will bring back the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem.") Then, Rambam in Igeres Teiman calculated that the return of prophecy would occur in the Jewish year 4976 (based on a verse in Parshas Balak <http://www.jstor.org/stable/1452433?seq=32>. Since right now we are in 5770, that is 1216-7 CE. Among the first in the new era of prophecy were Rabbi Ezra HaNavi <http://www.ou.org/about/judaism/bhyom/hebrew/tevet.htm>, his student the Ramban, Rabbi Yehudah HeChasid <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judah_ben_Samuel_of_Regensburg>, and others.

So, I think I feel comfortable with letting Ben-Ezro get nevuah outside of Israel. But, it feels right that the first time should be in Israel. Sound okay?

Thanks for the questions! This research really helps me flesh out the project.
Last edited by Musashi on Mon Oct 10, 2011 9:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: WIP: The Foundation of the World

#4 Post by prezzey » Wed Mar 17, 2010 9:51 pm

Oh, yes! During which few decades was there a big migration to America?


Hard to say, because in many cases the ethnicity of Hungarians was not recorded in detail. Still, I found data on a wave of Jewish migration starting from the 1880s lasting halfway through the 1910s. Then another one starting from the end of the 1930s. And then after the Holocaust and before the Communists clamped down on migration of all kinds. (I can send you refs but most are in Hungarian.)

Also, are there any traditional foods associated with the region? (Kugel, etc.)


Hmm. We mostly eat the boring Ashkenazic stuff. (I'm not particularly fond of it, though I like gefilte fish...) There is flódni, a typical Hungarian Jewish dessert.

I don't know. It's mostly Ashkenazic Jewish dishes, and general Hungarian dishes except you substitute other meat for the pork, or leave out the sour cream. I can't really think of anything else! But I can ask some of my friends who have more cooking expertise.

And, did the Jews have a distinct dress from that region? I know a Lubavitcher family that wear vests over their tzitzis, for example, because the Rebbe told them to keep their family minhag -- but I'm not sure exactly where the custom comes from.


Yes, but this really depends on which region, and many of these customs have not survived the Holocaust. So different regions where Hungarian Jews live, and different traditions, etc everyone has different minhagim. There was also a large split between urban and rural Jews, the former being more assimilated into Hungarian culture. In the second half of the 19th century, many Jews immigrated to Hungary from the east, and this created conflict. But in the Holocaust, most of the rural population was killed while more Jews survived in Budapest. So I'm just trying to say there was never any real homogeneity.

So, I think I feel comfortable with letting Ben-Ezro get nevuah outside of Israel. But, it feels right that the first time should be in Israel. Sound okay?


Yes, I think this is a nice solution. (BTW this issue seems to have become rather controversial lately, but you sidestepped that quite elegantly :) Let them debate with the Rambam! ;) )

Though what I wonder about is that nevuah always seems to affect Am Yisrael, so the prophet gets a revelation not for himself/herself, but the entire community, which is how you'd separate it from other kinds of divine revelation which are more personal in nature... so Ben-Ezro will have to do something big for his community! But this is a video game so that's OK I'd say ;) Cue Mass Effect: "...save humanity throughout the galaxy from certain annihilation..." :mrgreen:

BTW exactly when is the story set? (I think that might affect exactly how, and how easily, he gets to Israel)

(according to Yitzchak Buxbaum, reaching the level of Adam Kadmon!)


Huh!! :O That's a quite strong statement. I assume this is from "The Light and the Fire of the Baal Shem Tov"? I haven't read that one. Book Depository seems to have it in stock though. What do you say, is it worth reading? (Can't find it in a local library :( )
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"Manny, until now we scraped along the ground like rats, but from now on, we soar! Like eagles! Yeah! Like eagles... ON POGO STICKS!" - Grim Fandango

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Re: WIP: The Foundation of the World

#5 Post by Musashi » Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:33 pm

prezzey wrote:I found data on a wave of Jewish migration starting from the 1880s lasting halfway through the 1910s. Then another one starting from the end of the 1930s

OK. Was Yiddish a common language around those times? Was Hungarian/some other Slavic language used more often?

prezzey wrote:Though what I wonder about is that nevuah always seems to affect Am Yisrael

Nevua was not always just for the Jews. Adam, Yonah and Bilam are good examples.

prezzey wrote:so the prophet gets a revelation not for himself/herself, but the entire community, which is how you'd separate it from other kinds of divine revelation which are more personal in nature... so Ben-Ezro will have to do something big for his community!

Well, let's see.... :mrgreen:

prezzey wrote:BTW exactly when is the story set?

The meat of the story is set basically today, but the story actually spans a decade or two.

prezzey wrote:I assume this is from "The Light and the Fire of the Baal Shem Tov"? ... What do you say, is it worth reading?

Definitely. The title describes the book really well - "light and fire".
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Re: WIP: The Foundation of the World

#6 Post by prezzey » Thu Mar 25, 2010 10:43 pm

Ugh, I'm sorry, the past week has been crazy. Every year I start Pesach preparations well in advance. And every year this happens! I mostly finished my preparations, but I haven't had time to log in to the forums and post replies.

OK. Was Yiddish a common language around those times?


This depends on whether you are talking about urban or rural groups (as I mentioned above, the latter immigrated into Hungary more recently), the latter spoke almost exclusively Yiddish, the former mostly Hungarian.

These days very few people speak Yiddish, and many of them are recent (= the past 20 yrs) immigrants: families of Chabad shluchim and the like. Many people my age understand at least some Yiddish, though, from their knowledge of German! (I personally fall into this camp... It used to make me uneasy, but then an elderly Holocaust survivor told me I should not feel that way, since his knowledge of German saved his life!) There are some dialects of Yiddish - especially the eastern ones - that really go over my head, but I mostly understand what the Chabad kids say, to their dismay ;)

Was Hungarian/some other Slavic language used more often?


Hungarian is not a Slavic language (not even Indo-European), it's Finno-Ugric. This can actually get quite annoying, since there are aaallll these Slavic languages around Hungary and they have zero mutual intelligibility with Hungarian. (To be honest, most Hungarians do not really care and they are happy Russian is no longer mandatory in schools. But it annoys me.) I've been learning Russian, so now I understand more, but, I'm still not really there. *sigh*

Just to add to the fun, Hungarian has absolutely no mutual intelligibility with other Finno-Ugric languages either! When I lived in Northern Norway, the only thing I understood from Sámi languages were the Norwegian loanwords, it was really aggravating. (But I could pronounce the exotic consonants, to the Norwegians' great surprise :D )

Nevua was not always just for the Jews. Adam, Yonah and Bilam are good examples.


Fair point on Adam and Yonah, but Bilam's prophecy does seem to affect the Jews... it is about them, at least! ;)

But I did not primarily mean the distinction between Gentiles and Am Yisrael, but rather the distinction between revelations for an individual (let's assume a Jewish individual) and revelations for Am Yisrael. The former does seem to be alive and well in present times ;), though it's more of ruach hakodesh than actual nevua... but the latter is much more open to debate. (though who wants to debate with the Rambam? LOL definitely not me. But some people seem inclined to...) But if Ben-Ezro does big things for his community, then that solves all problems I guess! :mrgreen:

BTW I think if you set the story "one day in the future", you can get away with everything! I do that a lot when I write SF stories. (Mostly in Hungarian, though I've recently made the jump to English...)

Definitely. The title describes the book really well - "light and fire".


Sounds interesting, I'll have to order this then. Thanks for the rec!
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Characters (cont.)

#7 Post by Musashi » Thu Apr 08, 2010 5:23 am

Yossi: Another one of Binyomin's childhood friends. He is prone to hiccup attacks at inopportune moments, which he staves off with ice cream. Despite this, he has an interest in martial arts, so he is not too flabby. He is down to earth, and has little patience for philosophy and theory; Yossi is more the action-type.

Rochel: Ben-Ezro's soul-mate. Before he meets her in person, he sometimes sees her in visions as he communes with his soul. She is a decisive person follows things through to the end. She is also sensitive to the spiritual worlds, and has a knack for giving blessings. She is very empathetic, to the point that when someone talks with her, he/she feels that nothing else in the world exists to her, except the one she is talking to.

Zusha: A childhood teacher and friend. Zusha is a favorite among his students, and he believes that emulating a child's happiness, industry, and purity is an essential part of his divine service. He loves smiling and laughing, even though he, his wife and three children live in a tiny apartment and he depends on the local butcher's generosity for meat for the Sabbath. He is in his mid- to late twenties and has a red beard two or three inches thick.

Achiyoh HaShiloini: One of Ben-Ezro's heavenly teachers. In his earthly life, he experienced the giving of the Teaching at Mount Sinai and entered the Holy Land. He wears a white, unembroidered robe held closed with a white belt, and has a narrow, mid-chest-length white beard. His skin tone is rather dark, Middle-Eastern. He wears an almost perpetual, peaceful smile.

Eliyohu the Prophet: The legendary Jewish leader who challenged and miraculously overcame the followers of Baal on Mount Carmel. Although he once walked the Earth as a human, he has taken on some characteristics of the angels. The Talmud says that he will announce the arrival of Moshiäch, and that he appears to the meritorious few to reveal precious gems of wisdom from the Heavenly Academy.
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Re: [WIP]: Yesoidos (formerly, The Foundation of the World)

#8 Post by Musashi » Fri May 07, 2010 2:30 am

Hi, just putting in a progress update since last month.

I've been writing a little more, and I'm working right now on version 0.3b (third internal version). Prezzey has been doing some editing and review for me, I really want to thank him for that.

Because of exams and end-of-semester projects, only a little progress has been made since last month, but I hope that will change when summer break comes in.

Now, about the story itself...

Each act or chapter has sub-chapters within. Before each section, there is a quote or two from traditional sources, like this:

"The candle of G-d is the soul of Man, searching the chambers of the depths."
-- Proverbs 20:27

"Why should that bother you? He who decreed that oil should burn will decree that vinegar should burn as well!"
-- Gemoro, Ta'ainis 25a

More later!
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Changes in approach, characters

#9 Post by Musashi » Sun Jul 18, 2010 11:43 pm

I've done some more thinking on the approach of the whole project.

First, I have decided to change the protagonist's background. Since I have never lived in a religious Jewish community like what I described for Ben Ezro, it would not ring true if I tried to write about such a setting in detail. Therefore, Ben Ezro will be from a more secular background, which I am more familiar with. Reflecting this change, character names may be different than previously described, and Old-World Ashkenaz pronunciation will not appear until later in the story.

I have also decided to make the novel more obviously Jewish. It seemed very awkward to translate Hebrew terms that are commonly used unmodified, like "Rabbi" instead of "Master" and similar terms. This was done partly because it aids the flow of the novel, but the primary reason for this change is that the essence of a book is to reveal things, rather than conceal them.

More later, IY"H! (G-d willing)
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Rewriting Chapter 1, other progress

#10 Post by Musashi » Mon Nov 29, 2010 5:29 am

I've done some more thinking about the novel. I decided that the first section of the first chapter wasn't dynamic enough, and needed to be played out more. As a result, I'm taking that material and rewriting it in a more expansive, "epic," form. The second section of the first chapter, The Tree, has been shortened slightly and contains fewer numerical allusions -- they broke the flow of the narrative without building atmosphere.

I keep getting more ideas for the Exile section, but they would be highly dependent on the Training chapter. Possibly, some of these ideas could branch out to turn this kinetic novel into an interactive VN.

The interactivity might be built on choices taken during The Training, where various skills and knowledge gained then could set the framework for later stages of the novel. Just a thought. More likely, there will be just one main storyline.

In the arena of coding, I'm developing some classes to present book quotes and titles more elegantly. Also, now that I've taken a course in computer languages and compilers at school, I'm finding the Ren'Py source code a bit easier to understand.

'Til later! Zeit gezunt!
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Re: [WIP]: Yesoidos (formerly, The Foundation of the World)

#11 Post by okonomiyaki » Mon Nov 29, 2010 3:03 pm

Are you still looking for artists?

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Re: [WIP]: Yesoidos (formerly, The Foundation of the World)

#12 Post by Musashi » Mon Nov 29, 2010 5:22 pm

Yes, I am still looking for artists. Do you do backgrounds, menus, character art? Or all of them?
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Music

#13 Post by Musashi » Tue Nov 30, 2010 10:31 pm

After looking through some stuff I've composed over the years, I thought that it was on par with what most other VNs have. So, I decided to try using my own music with Yesoidos.

There will be two main categories of music.

One will be a selection of broad, melodic, orchestral music. The other will be traditional Jewish music for small ensembles or single voice. The orchestral stuff will be in classical style, mostly using Common Practice Period counterpoint. I plan to use this type of music for "world-changing," epic parts of the story, like battles and revelations.

The other category of Jewish traditional music will be a mix of songs sung and played all around the world by Jews today, and new nigunim that I have composed myself. This kind of music portrays more personal emotions, like love, brotherhood and longing.

Rough samples will be posted soon. I plan on cleaning and fleshing them out later.

(Edit, 12/02/2010: The music has been posted here.)
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Open source, legal stuff

#14 Post by Musashi » Tue Nov 30, 2010 10:56 pm

I have also decided to release the source code for Yesoidos. I plan on dividing my content into two main categories.

Art
I will retain all rights to any artistic material I produce, to maximum extent allowed by law.

Code
On the other hand, I will share my code structures and strategies freely, under LGPL 3.0.

All material used to compile Yesoidos (art and code) will be available from SourceForge soon.
I hope this will help out other programmers and writers interested in Ren'Py.
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Sourceforge is up!

#15 Post by Musashi » Thu Dec 02, 2010 8:55 am

Yahoo! The Yesoidos home page is up on Sourceforge!

The latest sources will be accessible via SVN, if you know how to use that. I will also periodically package my source files in a tarball so that you can run it using the Ren'Py Launcher.
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