Not long after we decided to set our game in a library, we started thinking about how to bring that library to life. We knew we were going to break the bounds of reality somehow, but the possibilities were wide open: a library that grew, disappeared, and returned in myriad forms based on your actions or whims? A library haunted by ghostly clones of little girls, or roaming animals made from ink? We explored ideas ranging from words floating and hovering over the stacks, to fleeing from a shadowy minotaur-like threat through mazelike corridors.
Last week we returned to this topic and started looking at possibilities we hadn’t considered before. We’ve spent a lot of time in recent weeks refining the semantic structure of the library: the organization of books and words, clouds of meaning. As a result, we started thinking about ways that books themselves, or the contents of books, could come to life. We’d briefly considered ideas that involved the illustrations in a book springing off of the pages, but ultimately decided that those kinds of visuals were not only well-explored, but also difficult to create a repeating motif out of without growing tiresome. Still, we knew there were other interesting points of reference out there that we could take inspiration from.
Nathalie and Eric found two videos one evening last week which explore a couple different ways of creating worlds out of books:
The second film was especially interesting to us because of all the ways that the animators found to give their “living books” character. Some of the books have images on their pages which come to life as characters or informational displays. Other books express their personality through movement, texture of their pages and covers, or differences in size from one another.
Although we’re certain that players of LIBRARY will be interacting with and using books, we’re not sure if books will be the lively characters and companions that Morris Lessmore devotes his life to. There are plenty of other possibilities left to explore: individual letters with character traits and life of their own, or even motes of light that drift amongst the books like fireflies?
Nathalie found these photos just the other day of a forest full of fireflies in Okayama Prefecture, Japan. The images were captured with time-lapse photography, magnifying the number of fireflies in the trees into a gorgeous earthbound galaxy. We’re currently thinking about how we might use fireflies, or other clusters of floating, moving entities, as players explore our own forest-ish landscape of books and meanings.