This past year I’ve been working on a different sort of project than my usual novels: a video game. Specifically, a JRPG (what is essentially a story-based game). My friend and colleague Kyle Bryant is doing the programming and most of the work to actually bring the game to life (and a shout out to Greg Bayles for our character art and Gordon Goesch for his contributions to the RPG mechanics), but the world and story and characters are my own.
Voiceless is inspired by the silent protagonists of the original Final Fantasy game. I take the idea of these silent, chosen heroes and make it concrete. Their silence is not just a function of the gameplay (allowing the player to insert him- or herself into their role), but a real and deep story question: why are they silent? Why keep their lips sealed? Is it a curse? Is it by choice? Some sort of vow of silence? There’s a big answer behind that, and I hope you play the game when it comes out to find out just what it is.
Kyle mentioned something in a phone call much earlier in the year when talking about how hard it can be to make your indie JRPG stand out from a big pack. It was something to the effect of, “People like short stories.”
That struck me. It thrilled me, actually. I could do something that I already knew how to do, something that could actually help sales of the game and maybe allow me to even create something substantial and artistic in the process. So I happily took on that project. Now, several months later, the short stories are done.
At the time I’d already sketched out some of the backstories of these characters, stories meant to be revealed as the player goes through sidequests towards the end of the game. But composing them as full, legitimate short stories in an anthology allowed me to dig in far deeper, to make their tales something literary. And so besides the many perspectives on a world at war against a demonic uprising, I wanted to tell each story from a slightly different literary angle. Among these tales you’ll see not just short stories, but also an epic ballad, a curator’s description of an artist’s paintings, and a cryptic poem of pure expression by the most mysterious of them (whom you will not know until you play the game).
The description from Amazon:
You don’t really know someone until you’ve heard their voice. They come in different forms, for different reasons, with different volumes, but all cry out for one sole reason: to be heard.
A ballad written by a chubby young boy with a speech impediment. A series of paintings that tell the story of a bastard child conceived in horror and muted by an inner rage. The chime of a young healer’s bell that puts her on a path to retrieve her voice from the demon that stole her beloved away. These and others are the stories of those who fought through darkness and despair to give voice to their souls—voices that were eventually taken away from them…and if returned, may prove the destruction of their world.
This anthology provides a companion backstory to Voiceless, an upcoming JRPG from Four Ends Games. Only by playing Voiceless and reading these stories can you discover the ultimate secrets of these silent protagonists and know the true depths of their loss. Cast your mind back to theses tales as you play the rest of the story in Voiceless and ensure their sacrifice was not in vain.
Check out Kyle’s developer website for more info on the game’s progress.