At the beginning, I published a new RPG text on SteamWe. The Refugees: Ticket to Europe from the independent publisher tmuAct Zero. The game has not yet received much attention, but the players who have discovered it rate it very positively. And that doesn’t just apply to games on Steam and inch sites in the online space. We had the opportunity to take a closer look at the Digital Dragons conference, where we spoke with themJdrzej Napiecekits screenwriter and one of its authors.
The authors took a piece of darkness that they tried to process in a darkness that would resemble a book. And I have my reasons. In addition to, for example, financial reasons, when it is cheaper, it is also for content reasons. In the game, you become a journalist who monitors the refugee crisis and shapes the world around you with your decisions. Your decisions here have an impact on the fate of the characters and also on where the story goes in all the chapters.
Why this darkness? Jdrzej revealed the string: “In 2014, there were first reports of ears on old flax plants drowning in the Mediterranean Sea. This image haunted me for months: What state of mind would you have to be in to consider it a better idea to cross the sea on a rope than to stay on this beautiful beach? Trying to understand it was one of the components of processing this darkness. At that time, I had just finished screenwriting on the film circuit and the first one was This War of Mine. This game inspired me that games have matured enough to tell long stories about meaningful topics. And I wanted to take care of it too. I combined these two motivations and decided that my first game would be about refugees.“
But there were more similar games. Some were more interested, some less. It depends on how you process the darkness itself. and use it only superficially, to make the ears interested, or it goes really soft. Here, the authors really took it outside, they had a deep reer behind them and they worked with the refugees themselves, he brought them closer: “In the years 2015-2018, I was mainly engaged in research (I read 20-30 factual books) and studied gamedev, I just fell in love with it. It was only possible with the help of Maciej Staczyk – a game designer whom I met while testing Witcher 3. We joined forces and after hours of development after work (at that time I was working in television) we managed to create the first prototype of the game. And with this prototype, we went to the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, where we showed the refugees some of our work. We quickly found out that our game is naive and based on assumptions that have nothing to do with the truth about refugees.“
I admit that it was not easy. It is one thing to see the darkness in your heart like this and keep your distance from it. Another is when you yourself meet the people who are affected by it. The authors spent some time like that, but in the end it helped to make the game better: “We had a nervous breakdown for a few months, but then we realized we had to change our game. No matter how good a book about refugees is, it can never reliably portray the emotional state of a refugee. I had a bag about a story about the relationship between a researcher and a refugee and the qualities associated with creating a work of art on this topic. Therefore, we finally decided to tell this story from the perspective of a journalist (instead of a refugee as in the first prototype), in order to use this metaphorical way to talk about the practical dilemmas associated with the processing of such darkness.“
Game development, however, is not easy and has its own challenges, which the authors of this game also faced. As Jdrzej says, many times, even in the worst situations, he was driven forward by the game itself and also by his experiences at the beginning of its development: “Sometimes the project was close to the end, because, for example, we did not know the budget. However, I remembered the refugees I met in Moria, and that gave me strength. It seemed to me that my problems were compared to their problems. I have always respected that this is a long story that needs to be told. In addition, I was always encouraged by the motto of my business partner and game designer Maciej Staczyk: Every dream, even the most evil one, requires a hero worthy of its fulfillment. So every hour – even during our cross – we got closer to our goal. It helped a lot.“
We. The Refugees is a nron game. It’s not even that dark, what it demands from you as a game. That’s all, as long as it’s actually played by anyone, who is willing and makes decisions even in situations. In terms of gameplay, don’t expect much more here. It comes from the beauty of darkness and the softness of its processing. Come across situations that you know really happened and really aren’t nice. And there is a lump in my throat. But it is a book that will help you understand the darkness more than a newspaper article, because it will make you one of the protagonists. And it will be up to you, which way you go on this relatively long journey.