The narrative behind Ascension was inspired by several other works. In this blog post, I wanted to discuss the main points of each of these works that really pushed me to think about storytelling and interactivity in different ways.
Neil Gaiman - American Gods
American gods is a fantasy novel questioning the importance of forgotten beliefs in the present day as well as showcasing the evolution of religion and societal wants and needs. At its core, it is 3 things: a satire about the fickle relationship between humans and their religions, an analysis of the place/evolution of religion in a non-believing world, and a humanization of extravagant mythology. This book has deeply inspired the narrative in Ascension and has helped to lead me to my main goal in its creation: to create an intimate space where players can critique the impacts of science, religion, and society on one another without the pressures of outside spectators. This book has compelled me to create an experience that pushes players to think critically about the world around them and look past the things we accept as normalcy to find a deeper meaning.
L.A. Noire is an investigative video game in which the player goes through noir-inspired crime scenes utilizing realistic clues, interrogation sessions, and procedures in order to solve a mystery. The game’s central goal is to create a stimulating, action-packed video game that, while robust in its thrills, requires moderate critical thinking in order to solve cases. Players must utilize their own knowledge as well as in-game clues in order to beat the game, making it an excellent combination of action and more passive critical thinking. This game has heavily influence the investigation mechanic of Ascension. I feel as though it provided a perfect recipe for a player to become emotionally invested in a game and it’s stakes while still having a generally fun and rewarding experience. In my opinion, it’s almost an educational game in disguise, hidden by great aesthetics, realistic mysteries, and entertaining gameplay.
Mars is a national geographic original six-episode television series that focuses on humanities first colony on Mars. The mini-series drama follows an ensemble, diverse cast as the crew members on the maiden colonizing ship as they struggle through the hardships of space travel, exploration, and finally settlement on Earth’s neighboring planet. Though the series is fictional, it is heavily based in reality and follows a docu-series format, including scripted and unscripted interviews of real-life scientists with stunning feature-film level cinematography. Mars is arguably an astounding feat in both film and science fiction. The premise and narrative world of Mars was the main influence of Ascension’s setting. Ascension sits in the same grey area between fiction and non-fiction as Mars, often showcasing real life technology and characters modeled off of real life astronauts.