Friday, December 23, 2016

All about those Nodes (Enchanted Assemblages)

By most estimates, my project is not quite as complicated as this graph.

In my previous updates from the first iteration of Enchanted Assemblages, I talked a lot about the various gameplay modes. Originally, I had an adventure, mystery, and combat mode; each one provided the player with a different interaction and experience. In this most recent version, however, I have scrapped all of those modes in favor of Nodes.

                A node is a section on a body which performs a specific regulatory function; here, I am talking about a sort of ‘Matterism’ (to use Teresa Ebert’s term) inspired by Deleuzian philosophy. Although Deleuze is focused on the matter of the body in relation to desire, I am interested in the bodily matter as it could be defined hermeneutically. Said again, I am interested in how the very ‘body’ which comprises interpretation—as seen in the various critical theoretical lenses (Marxism, Feminism, psychoanalysis, etc.)—can be handled; hence, Nodes, the area of my adaptation where I pontificate upon certain critical theory viewpoints.

                Because my game is pedagogical, to a degree, the idea of these Nodes is to present the player with a text concerned with a specific viewpoint. One Node is Queer while another is Postcolonial and so forth. Nodes take the form of a short story; there is a scenario which the player uncovers by interacting with the Node’s inhabitants and landscape; the player, being able to alter the world to a small degree with their ‘Close Reading’ and ‘Defamilarization’ toolkit, thus is able to learn more about the world through its lingual tampering (more on this later).

                So far, I have planned one Node for each kind of Critical Theory, plus several difficult ‘Challenge Nodes’ for people who excel at the basic theory (something which can only be judged by the player, and the quality of their interpretation, after all, since my adaptation lacks a ‘Game Over’ screen). So, I have ten such Nodes planned, plus two, for the time being, challenge nodes, to make for a total of twelve Nodes that the player will ultimately encounter at different times in the adaptation.

                Philosophically, each Node, aside from serving to introduce the player to a new interpretative form, serves as a regulatory dimension of the hermeneutic body.

                In my mythos, which is attached to the emergence of magic is connected to the death of Gods; the magic is thusly embedded in the land and flows in interlocking but also divergent streams; magic here should be considered in the same way that certain gusts of wind are ‘embedded’ in the air, or more accurately, how underwater rivers are ‘embedded’ in a substance which they are fundamentally comprised of and yet retain relative autonomy due to some natural quirk of its condition. Just the same, magic, though not composed of natural materials, is able to embed itself and flow in the land due to its divine properties.

                AS such, the land can be interpreted and altered according to people—knight-Interpreters—who have learnt the skills to do so. This process of interpretation, which has some connection back to medieval beliefs on magic as constituting part language and part performance, means that reality can literally be changed in part due to human language and action. What I have done in this adaptation is to bring this philosophy to its logical conclusion vis-a-vie my own fantastical impositions.

                Accordingly, though reality can be changed at any time or any place, due to the overwhelming sedimentation of divine magic, since there is an entire planet, shifting reality is done more easily at locales where there is either a higher than usual concentration of magic or a locale which serves as a specific—‘natural’—regulatory position on the magical (re: hermeneutic) body that is the planet.

                So, needless to say, these locales are often the sites of human habitats. And so to bring it all home, these habitats, or said ruins of habitats, are often seeped with a specific kind of magic (critical theory, remember) which in turn enables me to write what is a scenario/short story with an emphasis on whatever kind of critical theory which I decided to focus on for that Node.

                All of this being said, the backstory for this world is not going to be presented in big expositional chunks, nor is the philosophy; both will be present but it will be up to the player to piece it together for themselves (or completely ignore it). After all, the point of this endeavor is close reading and interpretation (more on this in a later entry).

                For those who are interested in the backstory, I may end up writing a kind of dictionary for all of the associated historical bits (my ‘Merlyn Explains’ feature, which I have decided to carry over, will, in part, already be chronicling the ways in which my world differs from the actual medieval Europe, as well as citing the works which have influenced each Node—so there will be an extensive academic bibliography). For those who are interested in the philosophy of the adaptation, I plan on writing an academic paper for eventual submission in an Undergraduate journal; it is here which the astute reader will be able to partake of what exactly my intent is on the topic. 

In any case, both of these undertakings will be announced with blog posts and will be linked toward with said blog posts (as well as being visibly prominent on the sites of concern), so no one who is interested will miss a beat if they keep up with my posts. In any case, that is all for now; apologies for anyone who started this post with the intent on hearing the complicated relationship between Deleuzian philosophy proper and my own work, I just feel that such pontifications are better left for either a later post or my essay proper.

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