Help me build a world!
Or: Announcing The Archipelago, a New Game Project
I’m thrilled to announce my next game project: The Archipelago!
The Archipelago is a narrative game in which you play as a tea maker on a floating archipelago. Once, this place was a single island, but thirty years ago, without warning, it split apart, separating families and loved ones. You brew tea for whoever needs it, and your guests bring stories, secrets and struggles as they find new ways to live in the wake of disaster.
I am honoured to be developing this game as part of the Brainmind residency, a remote residency for media artists funded by the YouTuber HBomberguy. (You will either find that very cool or very strange, and that’s fine.) Tentatively, I’ll be releasing this at the end of January 2022.
Here’s the exciting part: I need your help, dear subscribers, to finish building out the world! I conceptualized the world using One Hour Worldbuilders with the help of my partner Andrew and our friend Erik Friedman. But as I continue to write and develop the game, I’m finding that my world needs just a few more details to make it feel really vivid. That’s where you come in: I’ve developed an online worldbuilding tool in Miro where you can learn more about the world and add your own details based on prompts! Adding a detail is quick and easy and takes as little as ten minutes.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for the link to the worldbuilding tool. But first, a little more info on the world of The Archipelago.
Interrupted Messages: The City, The Island and the Archipelago
Once, Hemera was a single island: a self-sustaining city floating in the sky. Thirty years ago, the island broke into pieces in what people now call the Split. The Split happened in the middle of the day and without warning, giving no one time to prepare or to say goodbye. In the chaos, the city's airships were lost; loved ones were separated from their lovers; children lost their parents. Much of the city fell below the clouds, taking thousands of people with it.
Now, the archipelago lives in the shadow of the split. Young people grow up with no memories of the time before; those who survived the split must find ways to move on. No one travels between islands except for the Messengers, who leave their island of origin forever and deliver mail on personal hot-air balloons.
At first, the Messengers were simply a desperate measure for inter-island communication; their work was extremely dangerous and highly respected. But more recently, they have begun to use their delivery schedules and the threat of censorship to pressure the mostly self-sufficient islands into relying on them for transporting and delivering food, water and other goods.
Meanwhile, a new generation of people has grown up with little to no memory of the city whose rubble they live in, and no connection with the loved ones their parents lost. They struggle to understand the trauma their elders carry. No one can agree on how to move forward.
But people find new ways of living, of building, repurposing, mending and growing what they need to survive and find happiness. Ruined factory buildings, textile mills and temples have become communal houses and gathering places. And despite the Messengers' hold on communications, people find ways to send help to each other: they smuggle seeds milled into paper, share scientific research written in careful codes, and light lanterns at night for other islands to see across the gulfs.
The archipelago is defined by longing, memory, and the strange ways people learn to adapt and live with trauma and precarity. I’m so excited to share more of it with you as I continue development!
Help me build The Archipelago!
You will find the full instructions and some more world context on that page. Make sure to read some of the details on the islands before you answer the prompts — there are a lot of interesting details and a few mysteries to be expanded on.
Thank you as always for reading! I’ll make sure to keep sending progress updates as I finalize the worldbuilding, reflect on my process and make progress on the writing and visual design.