Overlap - Investigations in new and forgotten storytelling

A Psychogeographical Tour of Proteus – Part Two

This is the second part (part one here) of our look at Ed Key and David Kanaga’s Proteus, currently available to preorder for Windows with OSX and Linux versions to follow…

‘Proteus’ starts with your character literally at sea, looking across a glittering ocean at a distant shoreline; the soundtrack a rolling, chattering musical instrument that’s familiar but difficult to place.

It’s a description that fits Proteus itself; the game’s bold subpoena-ing of designer Ed Key’s own favorite places (a few of which we looked at in part one) bringing a level of verisimilitude to bear on the island’s seasoned environment, while Kanaga’s music provides the closest the game has to a map – guiding and teasing mysteries and wonders from the player’s exploration of this undiscovered country.

The game itself is similarly concatenated. Key and Kanaga’s game doesn’t so much provide an experience as a canvas for experiences. The island doesn’t flood your senses, instead its abstract design aesthetic in particular encourages the player to bring their own memories and feelings to bear on the island. An example of this reader response was my story about the spinney behind my house as a child from part one but Proteus uses a number of techniques – both blocky and beautiful – to populate its island.

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A Psychogeographical Tour of Proteus – Part One

This is part one of a two-part look at Ed Key and David Kanaga’s Proteus, based on several builds of the game plus an interview and email correspondence with Key himself. Part two will be released tomorrow.

Sat at the end of a long terraced street, the unremarkable new build home I grew up in as a kid was the gatehouse between a grey suburbia and a put-upon but utterly addictive spinney. The garden backed onto a haphazard cryptoforest – squeezed on either side by a deserted barracks and a new building estate – full of sycamores, nettles, shopping trolleys and endless adventure. I would have lived there if it weren’t for the monsters at night.

I never mapped this jungle, despite the benefits of being able to navigate its smelly, sickly streams or escape the yawning, pit-of-the-stomach horror of me and my friends realising we were utterly lost in its belly as the sun began to set. Why not? I think, despite the terrors, deep down I was aware they were nothing against the value this rich, story-filled space held as a mystery. The phrase ‘here be dragons’ is the most exciting part of any map…

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About us

Overlap is a place for investigation, discussion and events about new and forgotten storytelling. We focus on emerging and undiscovered platforms for stories and narrative – everything from videogames, augmented reality and role-playing games to flash mobs, social media and more.

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