Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)
Harness the energy of life itself to empower your body, control your environment, even delve deep into the mysteries of the mind! Will you use your newfound powers to maintain the balance of the universe, or will corruption stain your soul? Teahouse of the Gods is a 250,000-word interactive novel by Naca Rat. I sat down with the author to talk about their upcoming game and its unique features.
Teahouse of the Gods releases on Wednesday, November 23rd. You can play the first four chapters for free, today.
What drew you to interactive fiction?
People have spent millennia telling stories. As a storyteller, I must ask myself—is nothing new under the sun? What can I do that hasn’t been done?
Technology presents opportunities to tell stories that no one has been able to tell before. I intend to tell it well, so I write interactive fiction to better understand the new possibilities of our times.
Tell us a little about your background in games and this game.
I make games to try and tell stories. My previous games—and other storytelling efforts—have been interested in feminism, generational trauma, and mortality. And pandas.
This project was an exercise in world-building. I imagine a reader exploring different choices as if walking different trails in a forest. Each path reveals a little more of the story’s world. Alongside the wonder of discovering a new world, I hope each new path modifies readers’ perspective on the truth, right and wrong, and how the world works—both in this story, and all around us.
There’s so much to like about this game, but one thing that really sets it apart is your inclusion of Mandarin for players who are familiar or fluent in Mandarin. How did that come about?
As a writer, multilingualism resolves the frustration of “oh, there is an elegant Mandarin expression for this, but my current project is in English 🙁
More importantly, beyond convenience and novelty, multilingualism is a part of representation. Language (or Google Translate) opens possibilities for how we interact with the world. As a multilingual reader, there is another world inside my mind with which a single-language story does not engage. I wanted to read a story that speaks to my full experience of the world, so I wrote it.
What was your favorite part of the story to write?
Xingtu’s dialogue is revealing despite their evasiveness. The way they use Mandarin hints at their geographical origin, gender identity, and communities of online discourse, for example. The revealing-opaque duality is fun to write.
Xingtu’s also fun. It’s exhilarating to make problems go away (or make problems for others) by throwing money. That’s what makes Xingtu powerful—that they not only have disproportionate influence over the world, but can also make such power feel appealing.
What are you working on next?
I’m finishing a traditional novel about two kids from Kentucky who fall into another world. If my and my team’s availability permits, I’d also like to wrap development on our clicker/farm-sim/interactive-fiction-game, Sugarcane Empire.