It was initially a personal project to imitate Skulljhabit, just so I can appreciate Twine and hypertext games better. I was interested especially in game structure, hyperlinking rhythm and choice of words.
So why Skulljhabit? I don’t know. It simply fascinates me – gives me that aching sense of freedom that accompanies loneliness. Like being alone in a hotel room late at night, sitting by the window, watching the foreign city of cars and pedestrians going by below.
I guess at some level, I yearn to be an unnoticed alien. Unknown and unrecognizable to anyone. Thus the liberation to create myself anew. By forgetting the past. Erasing the past. Rewriting the past. Just to attain that elusive peace and quietness.
It’s escapism. And perhaps that’s why I really enjoy Skulljhabit. Digging pointlessly for skulls (even after knowing that coins would be paid regardless of the work I did). Growing my possessions of books and clock and calendar and, of course, fine shovel covered in dirt-luck runes, all inside my little hut.
It’s adventure too. Hyper-leaping across the magical terrain of rocks and ravines and caves and tunnels. There are secrets to find. Sanctuaries to discover. And deaths to seek. Only to wake once again into the same dream of Skulljhabit.
Funny thing is: I never did complete playing Skulljhabit. The furthest I got was censoring books in the library. There’s no judgement required. No justification needed. It’s bleak beautiful brainless work. As compared to the headache I had while trying to write “A Study in Porpentine”.
Structurally I can copy to some extent. But language-wise, it’s an impossibility. Porpentine’s vivid, vigorous and evocative use of words – the musicality, the rhythm, the tone – I struggle to keep up. Sometimes I can replace her sentences word by word by word. Sometimes I have to create my own from scratch. But overall, it was a painfully great learning experience.
Still I can’t say this is my game, even if I’ve typed everything out on my own. In fact I hesitated for quite some time before releasing it in philome.la. I really would love this game to be mine. Because I think it’s good. Still, I don’t know. Maybe I worry too much.
Hopefully one day, without imitating anyone, I can finally write a hypertext story that is totally my own, and it would be so good that someone would also want to imitate it. Haha. For much as I want to be an unnoticed alien, I also want my work to be famous!
Ah, the irony of life.
Play Porpentine’s game: [Skulljhabit]
Note: Part of this game is also inspired by Yu Qiuyu’s Chinese essay on the recluses of China’s Wei-Jin dynasty (余秋雨 – 遥远的绝响) and the wordless philosophy of zen.