• Kasia Szczęsna

Major Project #4 - folklore and mythology

Aktualizacja: maj 18

Illustration by Yukai Du [Behance]

In the past few days, I spent a lot of time reading about storytelling and the "perfect" structure of a script. At this point, I pretty much have my narrative finished, I just need to divide it into scenes and add space for future animations.

Of course, before structuring my narrative, I had to think about the audience as they are going to interact with it. My main target is people over 13-year-old, with no upper limit. They can be platformer-enthusiast or simply interested in storytelling, mythology, or fantasy. The game won't have any elements of fighting and anyone with basic gaming skill knowledge will be able to play it with no bigger issues. The only significant difference will be with how the game is received, as the main goal of it is to make people reflect on their own personal life so that responses will vary a lot.

In the next stages of my project, I would like to conduct some user testing sessions to estimate not only how, and if, the mechanics work but also see which type of player responds best to the game and its narrative.


Main character: X who has a gift of vision (seeing creatures that no one else sees) which she refuses to accept. She's being chased by a mysterious character who wants to take her powers back. The game will start with dark, fast-paced animation with a strong sound experience. The player will hear the sounds of chasing and the whole scene will be very intense. The actual gameplay will start as a usual platformer, just meeting the main character and learning basic mechanics in the first scene. The game will introduce the Spirit early on to help the player overcome some of the obstacles that they will encounter, as they will be able to create extra elements (platforms, ropes, ladders). The whole concept of the game is focused on a collaboration between X and the spirits and it leads to self-acceptance of the X's gift right towards the end of the story.

As someone interested in fantasy and mythology, I thought this would be a great way of implementing some interesting elements in my game. I am also quite knowledgable about literature as this was one of my topics I've taken as part of my A levels. Motifs and symbols are a great way of showing how the world and people work.

Symbols are images, ideas, sounds, or words that represent something else, and help to understand an idea or a thing. Motifs, on the other hand, are images, ideas, sounds, or words that help to explain the central idea of a literary work – the theme.

I started by looking through my notes on polish literature I had at home and I noted a few motifs that could potentially relate to the narrative. I know that in some countries they are small differences in how people interpret these, but in its core, they all represent the same subjects and values. I will stick to the explanations I know.

  • WANDERING - searching for your place in the world/looking for a person's true identity

  • STORM - reflects strong feelings or inner battle

  • CARPE DIEM - meaning: make the most of the present time and give little time to the future

  • SHADOW - embodies a soul or a doppelganger; a reflection of human life (transience, delusiveness)

  • DANCE MACABRE ( DANCE OF DEATH) - a personified death leads all types of people to the grave, intended to emphasize the equality of all before death.

When it comes to folklore, I am most knowledgable about Slavic/European folklore. One of the most popular representations of it is a book series by Andrzej Sapkowski "Witcher" and its tv-series adaptation produced by Netflix. Worldwide, the American Folklore is quite popular too, taking the Bigfoot or the White Lady as examples.

I didn't want to focus strictly on one mythology, because I feel like people always know different bits from different cultures. For me, Greek mythology (these stories concern the origin and the nature of the world, the lives and activities of deities, heroes, and mythological creatures) is definitely the most popular one as I was studying it at school, but I also know a lot of references from Japanese mythology (a collection of traditional stories, folktales, and beliefs that emerged in the islands of the Japanese archipelago).

Because creatures the main character is going to meet on her journey will be influenced by folklore and mythology, I created a list of potential inspirations.

  • White stag/white hind - known in many cultures, can be considered as a messenger from the otherworld (Celtic people); the stag is consistently symbolic for a number of themes such as purity - with the unusual white coat symbolizing an unwavering innocence (throughout all the cultures); a symbol of a great change.

  • Bake-kujira - a mythical Japanese yōkai (ghost, phantom), it is supposedly a large ghostly skeleton whale; regarding the legends, it brings a curse and general misfortune to the area where it is spotted.

  • Arachne - from Greek mythology (the Greek Goddess who became the first spider); Arachne reflects creativity, clear vision, and appreciation of beauty and veracity.

  • Griffin - the body, tail, and back legs of a lion; the head and wings of an eagle; it became a Christian symbol of divine power and a guardian of the divine.

  • Harpy - in Greek mythology a half-human and half-bird personification of storm winds; originally they were considered wind spirits, personifications of the destructive nature of wind.

  • Hellhound - a supernatural dog in folklore, occurs in mythologies around the world; they are often assigned to guard the entrances to the world of the dead, such as graveyards and burial grounds, or undertake other duties related to the afterlife or the supernatural, such as hunting lost souls or guarding a supernatural treasure.

  • Centaur - from Greek mythology with the upper body of a human and the lower body and legs of a horse; symbolizes masculinity and is supposed to be a brave, loyal warrior.

  • Poltergeist - a type of ghost or spirit that is responsible for physical disturbances.

  • Water spirits - for example, in Green mythology Naiads (nymphs who presided over fountains, wells, springs, streams, and brooks) or Sirens; in Slavic mythology, a Rusalka (was a female ghost, a water nymph, succubus or mermaid-like demon that dwelled in a waterway).

  • Spirits - for example, demons, ghosts, fairies, angels.

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