Ritual of the Moon is a 28 day long multi-narrative game exploring loneliness, power, and healing. Once discovering her powers, The Earth’s Council exiles the witch to the moon to live out the rest of her life looking at the earth - and the woman she loves - that she can never go back to.
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Apr 18, 2019
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April 18

Pre-Release Feelings: Emptiness



The past few months, or maybe a year, I've been feeling very nihilistic. Not much matters. No matter how much yoga and meditation I do, I'm still stressed, in a culture that promotes stress, overwork, and individualized responsibility. No matter how healthy I am, I can dislocate a rib and still months later have limited mobility. Why not smoke cigarettes again? Why not skip meditation? Why not drink alcohol again? Why not throw this plastic bottle in the garbage bin right here instead of waiting til I find a recycling bin, because that recycling bin probably ends up in a garbage dump anyway. I recently finished a milestone exam in my PhD recently that I had been preparing for and dreading for months (a year?) but instead of feeling happy and accomplished and celebratory, I just felt empty inside. What was the point of all that work? Of all that stress? To check a box on my file? Hooray. I felt immensely happier and more fulfilled having dinner with friends that night than when my committee told me I got honours, something I had been secretly wishing I would but in reality gave me zero feelings other than emptiness. When people congratulated me, I was like "oh, sure."

These feelings are carrying over to Ritual of the Moon. First though, there is worry. What if no one plays it? What if no one likes it? What if no one can play for 28 days, and the whole premise is flawed? What if there is a bug that we don't know about? But more prominent that that is my feeling of emptiness. What does it matter? No one will play it. It's already been to festivals and at galleries, maybe its time is over. It doesn't matter what I price it, something will be unhappy with the price. I've talked about R o t M so much but I'm making such a big deal over nothing. I put years of work and dedication, alongside other really talented people also putting in beautiful work and dedication, for nothing. Just to feel empty.

Emptiness is a strange feeling. All feelings are hard to describe and don't really make sense unless you've experienced them. It can be either the feeling of missing something or that things are meaningless. I'm obviously the latter right now. Emptiness is often associated with depression, especially low level depressed feelings that exist in the every day, the slog to keep going, not necessarily sad. I personally am more prone to perfectionism, where everything matters too much, and I hold myself up to impossibly high standards. I think what's going on this year is the slowly growing belief that regardless if I live up to my high standards or not, it doesn't matter. Succeed or fail, whatever, i'm still sometimes anxious sometimes happy, and the earth is still doomed. Before I thought I had control over my life and my feelings, and it's seeming to me now that I have barely any.

This really isn't necessarily a bad thing. Letting go of some perfectionism and control can be beneficial. Emptiness too isn't bad. For the past 2 years or so I've been wanting Ritual of the Moon to be over so I can open up space for new projects. That emptiness is space for the next idea, the next project, or simply space for the lack of pressure. In fact, tomorrow night the programmer Chris and I are going to do a ritual where we burn Ritual of the Moon stuff like prints of assets and scribbles of notes about my feelings on it, so I can completely empty myself of it. Show gratitude for the whole process and all I've learned from it, and then let it go. Soon Ritual of the Moon will be the world's, not mine, so I have no business holding on to it.



1 day until release.
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April 17

Writing about R o t M

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joYFc05gwGs
First, there is a new, very dramatic trailer out for Ritual of the Moon! Please get hype. Now, onto writing about writing.


​Not last summer but the summer before I wrote the first draft of an essay about the process of Ritual of the Moon, psychosocial disability, and time. It became two paper, one short and informal one on First Person Scholar​, and one longer and more academic one in a special issue on queerness in Game Studies​ edited by Amanda Phillips and Bonnie Ruberg. Both papers are amazingly open access!

I'm really proud of this paper. Even though I'm an artist, my academic writing tends to be really dry (good for getting As in school but bad for being an artist-scholar), so being able to weave together theory, art practice, and personal experience helped enable me to experiment more with it. It also is the beginning of how I'm thinking through my academic projects and dissertation, which is about the regulation of affect and debility for profit of neoliberal capitalism done through videogames, and then imagining a different, healing form of game design based for psychosocial disability. I'll be starting to write that in earnest in the fall.

In these papers I talk about the design process as it relates to the faux-division of craft and technology, and the labour of craft, but mostly I focus on time. Specifically, combining notions of ​queer time​ with ​crip time, ​the former being about the ways in which queerness can and has reformed chrononormativity, queer people's relationship to time and urgency, oscillating between no future (Edelman) and hopeful futures (Munoz). Crip time is a term used to describe theories of time and disability (almost always as they are formed by capitalist impositions) that make us recognize how expectations of long things take are based on very particular minds and bodies. This is felt in the affect of every day life, the mundanity of the labour to keep on living. As you might have read in previous #RitualoftheMoonReflections, I think this daily mundane is a site of debilitation but at that same time can be the most important site of resistance, healing, and recuperation. In the paper in Game Studies, I talk about ​quantum time​, how quantum physics is currently understanding the non-linearity of time, but I won't try to sum that up here!

I also talk about my feelings re: the game taking so much longer than I thought! An excerpt:



"I’ve spent a lot of the past two years agonizing and complaining. Oh my god I want the game to come out so much. It’s a year over my estimation. It’s not done. I really want it to be done. I’m scared it will never be done. I’m scared it will loom over my head for the rest of my life. I’m scared I will put it out before it’s ready.

How do you know when it’s time to let go?

But I’ve had to shift my thinking about it. Instead of hating that it isn’t out yet, I’ve started to tell myself that it needed time to be fully digested, for me and the team to fully understand it and do the idea justice. It needed time to transform. I tell myself that labour takes time. That love takes time. I needed time to strip it to the barest bones of meditation on healing the future.

I’m so used to making things in a hypomanic state: work work work, exhaust myself then be done. But the pace has to be different for this game because it is about a different pace. It is about daily dedication in small bits over long periods of time. It is about being confused, stuck, suicidal. It is about meditating for 5 minutes a day because over time that creates a ritual that sustains us. And maybe the game is waiting for the right time to be released. Maybe it is waiting for when it makes the most sense. I’m realizing that it feels more prescient than ever. I know it is on so many of our minds, that push and pull between the desire to set the world on fire, giving up on it, and only caring for each present instant, and on the other hand, putting every ounce of ourselves into making the world better even if it feels fruitless, even when the majority seems against us. It feels befitting and relevant to consider the future of queerness, of racism, and of disability in North America and much of the world, at a time when living on the moon by yourself doesn’t seem like such a bad idea."



Now, it's almost out and I have new feelings about it! More on that tomorrow...




2 days until release.
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Reviews

“Playing the game feels like engaging a celestial, soulful advent calendar, a reflection of mood and mindfulness.”
Polygon

About This Game

Ritual of the Moon is a 28 day long multi-narrative game exploring loneliness, power, and healing. Once discovering her powers, The Earth’s Council exiles the witch to the moon to live out the rest of her life looking at the earth - and the woman she loves - that she can never go back to. The player spends 5 minutes each day over the 28 days reflecting on her experiences on Earth, meditating at her altar, and making a life or death choice.

The game is a daily meditational activity composed of a memory game, drawing symbols, receiving a mantra, and making a decision about the future of the earth. The game tracks the decisions the player makes, becoming a sort of mood tracker. Depending on their feelings over the lunar cycle, the player will experience one of the six unique endings.



Ritual of the Moon is fully created from handcrafted and found objects scanned then digitally manipulated. Each of the witch’s reflections were hand-embroidered. The mantras were wood burned. The artists used paint, clay, fabric, paper, dried plants, wool, foam, wire, plastic, pieces of computer hardware, crystals, and a variety other media. The process was long, meditative, and iterative.

Ritual of the Moon was written and designed by Kara Stone, with art and sound by Rekha Ramachandran and Julia Gingrich, programmed by Chris Kerich, Matthew R.F. Balousek, Kevin Stone and Hope Erin Phillips, and music composition by Halina Heron and Maggie McLean.



Purchase the full original soundtrack by Halina Heron and Maggie McLean here: https://ritualofthemoon.bandcamp.com/

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows 7 or higher
    • Processor: 1.66 Ghz
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: DirectX 9c
    • Storage: 2 GB available space
    Minimum:
    • OS: Mac OS X 10.8+
    • Processor: 1.66 Ghz
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: DirectX compatible card
    • Storage: 2 GB available space

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