Michaël Samyn, February 21, 2012
This new game started by combining two older ideas. One is the desire to create something interactive with the atmosphere of certain passages in Marguerite Duras’ novels: when lovers sit next to each other and stare into the distance, silently, or speaking words that seem dry or unfeeling or irrelevant or even cruel, while the reader knows the passions raging inside. The other idea is for an ambient multiplayer game set in a virtual park: you sit down on a bench and another player sits down next to you, you don’t speak, you don’t interact, you just enjoy each other’s company.
Duras’ novel Moderato Cantabile provided us with the basic situation for Bientôt l’été: a man and a woman meet in a seaside café. We do not plan to tell the story of the novel. We will just borrow this situation and combine it with other elements from other novels and add to this ourselves. In the café, you will meet another player and communicate with him or her in the awkward-yet-precise style of Duras’ dialogs. Ultimately we want you to fall in love with your partner, an impossible love. You might need to build up to that. Maybe over several play sessions. The elements you can use in the conversation will be found on the beach, outside. This is the single-player part of the game: strolling along the beach, collecting thoughts and things that wash ashore.
This entire world is presented as a simulation. You are not actually in a seaside town on the French Atlantic coast. You are in a space station, god knows how far away from the nearest inhabited planet. The seaside only exists on some kind of holodeck. And the people you talk to are far away, probably also on a space station, somewhere in the universe. This may not always be apparent in the game. We’re not sure yet how much of this science fiction framework we will actually display. But the assumption is definitely there.
For us, the holodeck and the communication in space is a metaphor for the actual situation of the players: on their computers connected through the internet, a situation very familiar and dear to Auriea and I since this is how we met and fell in love.
Maybe you will too.