Beckett: born into existence

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Today Beckett exists (get it on Steam). A surreal noir unlike anything you played, read or seen before. this is a journey through a decaying mind, set in an unforgiving world. It is a break-down of reality and the struggle for survival. It is a game, a book, a film, a record. It is there be to discovered. Beautiful and ugly. Fiction yet real. This is Beckett.

No more to be said. Bring out your dead, inside your head. This world awaits.

 

The countdown begins

A memory waiting to happen.

Beckett by The Secret Experiment will be available from Steam on the 27 February 2018.

Announcement reads:

Glasgow, Scotland – February 8th, 2018: KISS Publishing Ltd. and The Secret Experiment can today reveal that Beckett, their powerful narrative experience will launch on Steam on February 27th. Beckett is an abstract retelling of a missing person’s case where the investigator finds himself caught between the life he once had and that which he now lives. The surreal noir will be showcased in The V&A, the world’s leading museum of art and design, who have hand-picked Beckett as an example of design excellence in storytelling and digital media to be featured in its new museum in Dundee.

Beckett, the story’s antihero, reluctantly agrees to track down a young man suffering from The Soft Paranoia, a mental illness that warps reality, and finds himself caught up in an advancing march through a world that challenges his resolve and his sanity. The story is told on an abstract canvas that reflects Beckett’s emotional impression of the world around him, where characters can be anything from an antique brooch to a slice of meat. Everything in Beckett is open to interpretation. It takes its lead from theatre and books, requiring the audience to be part of the experience.

The gameplay uses a point-and-click interface that is aligned to Beckett’s desires and motivations at any moment in time. The scenes in Beckett are top-down, digitally painted as abstract blueprints with a tactile feel that’s a million-miles away from the current wave of high-fidelity 3D gaming experiences. The story is told through digital artwork, illustration, photography, film and print, with an audio pallet built through field recordings and original composition. There are only a handful of 3d models in the game, with most artefacts existing as real items built by the studio.

“Beckett is a story that needs to be experienced and discovered, which is why it needs to be told within an interactive framework. The player is essential in its retelling,” said Simon Meek, Founder of The Secret Experiment and writer/director of Beckett. “We see videogames as a form of artistic expression that can rival and even eclipse literature, film and theatre. Beckett challenges the status quo of genre-classified gaming experiences. As a game, there are parallels to point-and-click adventures, but you’d be stretching the definition to call Beckett that.”

Beckett is the first in a new-wave of playable fiction by The Secret Experiment, defying mainstream expectations of what videogames are with titles more aligned to literature and arthouse cinema. The Secret Experiment aims to deliver powerful narratives from original voices, placing the emphasis on the authorial expression of the director and the imaginative power and intellect of the player. The studio is redefining the medium as an auteur’s format, reinvigorating the notion of independent games and creating content that isn’t afraid of taking risks.

Questions about reality

An underlying theme of Beckett is the nature of reality and what it is to exist. And while Beckett as a fiction doesn’t exist in any physical sense, for those of you who play Beckett, he’ll exist within the confines of your imagination as much as anything or anyone else.

The encounter can only leave an impression. Sure, he’s not real, but then – in absence – who is? We’re all reality fragments in other people’s mental reconstruction of event. We’re all part of an existential jigsaw: real in the moment, abstract in absence.

We’re all memories waiting to happen. We’re all memories waiting to fade.

Beckett is a story told as a game. It will make you reconsider what it is to exist. It is unlike anything else you have ever played.

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Available on Steam for PC & Mac

 

 

 

 

 

Beckett doesn’t exist

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We are aware that we’ve been keeping things from you.

We know that time moves on, people forget. Early images fade.

We know that Beckett has no imprint on your mind and, as yet, it doesn’t exist.

Some have seen Beckett. They can confirm this. The game is all but complete. Our game testers have been breaking it. We’ve been fixing it.

The V&A has seen Beckett. They have chosen to include it in their new Museum. We are proud.

Our publishing partner Kiss Ltd has seen Beckett. We’re aiming for a February 2018 launch. Together, we’re devising ways to let the world know of it’s existence. Let us know if you want to be involved.

But you haven’t seen it. You can only take our word that it exists. Or chose to ignore. There’s other things to be done.

Beckett doesn’t exist.

 

 

Beckett: Amy Zabinsky is Gone

Beckett is in love with Amy Zabinsky.
She died many years past.
There’s evidence that she existed.
At The Flower Garden.
She played beautifully.
A new composition: While We Wait.
He can still hear her song.
It was 31 July in a year that doesn’t matter.
Dreams form and shatter. Memories fade and form.
She plays beautifully. He can hear her song.
She stands alone in an upstairs room, with Beckett.
Amy Zabinsky is gone.

Beckett is an experience that plays with time. It plays with remembrance and emotion. It plays with importance and meaning. It asks why? and who cares? It demands answers. It wants to change you. It wants to offend. Don’t let it. Play, think and respond. Life relies on replay. We revisit. We question. Yet every time we look back the truth is distorted until we can’t be sure of anything. We all are victims of our past. Are we all victims of the future?

The Secret Experiment operates on the fringe of videogames, crafting uniquely authored experiences as pioneers of The Alternative (movement).

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We are all memories waiting to happen

Tik Tok Pok

Father had a friend whom Beckett called Pok. Pok wasn’t his name. That detail is lost to the mystery of time. Beckett was 10 or thereabouts. It’s unfathomable. It’s inconsequential.

Pok was a philosopher, the kind who only practices their craft on children. Pok told Beckett that time didn’t exist. Tick. Tock. Pok told Beckett that they didn’t exist, not really. No, he would in insist, to exist is to be infinite. You are finite. You will be lost in time. At a minimum you’ll need to have a meaningful impact on the infinite, to exist, Pok Pok Pok. You are finite. Our – he said, referring to the collective human race – our impact is negligible and our life aims are pitiful. We are insignificant finites. Beckett gawped: a 10 year old insignificant finite. Pok’s sculpting hands pushed hard on a his brain and the impressions stuck. These things matter. These things are infinite.

Take your mother (“takiyamudda”), Pok would say, she is a lovely woman, a full figure, enchanting eyes, a genuine heart, but none of that matters. She’ll live her life, she’ll die, she’ll be forgotten and none of that matters (“nanadatmadders”). She has no meaningful impact on the infinite.

Pok would often look into Beckett’s eyes. His voice would become a whisper: You’ll die and not be missed. He’d insist. This was back when Beckett could cry, and tears would well up in his eyes and run in straight channels down his cheeks.

After Pok left, laughing and play-punching the boy on his shoulder, Beckett would search out his mother and her cradling arms. She would hold him tight, her bellowing heart in motion beneath his ears, her chest expanding with each breath (counting up and down). Don’t listen to Pok, she would say, soft as hay, the man is an idiot. Of course I’m real, she’d insist, of course I exist. She insisted. She existed. Mother died 31 years ago. She doesn’t exist.

Tick Tok Pok.

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Beckett’s past is as important as his present… to understand how you must understand why

Beckett: beauty is over-rated

The word beautiful is often banded about in the context of videogames. It has become a milestone of the medium to create works of beauty – whether it is in the pristine rendering of an evergreen forest, lost in the dark foreboding shadows of an underworld, or sweeping across the flowing sand-dunes of some forgotten desert. But you know what, beauty is over-rated.

That’s not to say we want to make ‘ugly’ games, or that we’re preparing to tell you that Beckett is an ugly game. It’s not, at least, not in the way that the industry, its audience and the press use it. Ugliness in the context of games contours up badly rendered artefacts, poorly conceived animation cycles and a general air of unprofessionalism in the product. It’s throws up an idea of a lack-of-polish, something unfinished, jittery, poorly executed and, ultimately, bad. We can’t think of any highly-rated ‘ugly’ games. But, let’s step back a minute, readjust our notions of beauty and consider the potential of upsetting our highly-tuned senses.

Beauty offers a sense of comfort. Derailing an audience’s sense of comfort is a very powerful thing. In the art of storytelling, challenging convention, putting the audience outside of their comfort zone and causing people to re-evaluate their opinions is the Holy Grail, to us anyway. Maybe you’re more into Hollywood casting, primary colours or zen-like retreats. This isn’t Beckett… by design.

Inside Beckett (the vidoegame) you’ll encounter all kinds of ugliness – the kind that our own world throws up on a daily basis, the kind that exists secretly in the back of people’s minds, the kind that comes with corruption and self-centred ambition. You’ll also find compassion, fragments of hope and desire. You’ll find a story that questions what it is to be human, and the imprint we leave on the world in which we exist.

So, yes, Beckett is pretty ugly. But within ugliness lies intrigue, with within that understanding. And when you start to understand ugliness, you start to see its beauty. Something like that, anyway.

Beckett_BuildingSiteBeckett intercuts memories with gameplay – fragments of what was to inform what is.

Beckett: a protagonist with flaws

Sitting across the room is an older man, he’s oblivious to the fact you’re watching him as he digs deep into his nose. He has a thick hair clasped between his finger nails and wrestles with its removal. An unsightly habit that makes this person human / makes this person real.

Lead characters in videogames are typically designed as eye candy or aspirational beings. As a rule we are expected to like the character that we are playing (human or otherwise). It’s built up from a notion of roleplaying where we want to experience what it would be like to be something different (where the difference comes with positive attributes). As a parallel, we can look to Hollywood or Disney – action heroes and cuddly toys. But none of this is real. It’s all fantasy (even when it’s based on reality). And there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just it’s not what we’re into. We can’t promise you’ll want to be Beckett, he’s far too real for that.

Beckett celebrates what it is to be human, where what it is to be human is characterised by imperfection, uncertainty and conflicted desires. Beckett has lived his life and is a product of the choices he has made. The outcome isn’t a poster image of perfection, yet there’s no internal conflict around who Beckett is, regardless of whether you like him or not. His love for live has diminished and the future no longer excites this ageing investigator. He exists to exist. He is who he is. Dirt collects under his finger nails and he’ll use his teeth to remove it. He’s suffered loss and uses fading recollections to call up the past. You chose what you want to believe.

The player experiences the world via Beckett (it’s a processed reality, a subjective interpretation). The world you’ll see and hear is morphed and rewritten through the protagonist’s psyche – a mash of the prejudice, opinions and experiences that make Beckett Beckett. With every moment spent in this world, we edge closer to understanding who the protagonist is, gaining information that will steer our final choices and the future of a character who doesn’t really exist.

Beckett’s processed reality is a place we all fear, as it is one of the horizons of our own existence. We sympathise and want to learn from his mistakes. And for all of Beckett’s flaws, he’s fascinating and someone you want to know. He’s someone who you need to understand. He’s someone you want to come out of the other side with the answers he seeks and in a slightly better version of reality than the one he’s trapped inside. In many ways Beckett is you. It’s our flaws that make us interesting. It’s our flaws that make us real.

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Beckett enters Nijinsky’s bar

Without you, Beckett is nothing

There’s a trend towards realism. There’s a trend towards giving you everything. Why use your imagination when we can show you exactly what you’re meant to be seeing? This doesn’t appeal to us. This isn’t what Beckett is about. Beckett needs you to think. Beckett needs you to project. Without you, Beckett is nothing.

We met someone who said words have an infinite budget and our minds began to spin. We saw a play where a single prop transformed a stage into a universe, with characters more real than anything we’ve seen on the big screen. We listened to music that wasn’t, where landscapes were painted in front of our eyes and we were moved to tears.

Beckett is a game that needs its audience. A screen shot will cause confusion. To play it is to be transported somewhere you may not want to be. It is a videogame that requires your imagination. It is a story that requires your interaction. It is a work of art that will shock, offend and delight. It’s something you’ll never forget. It’s something we are making because it’s important. It’s something different. We’re not like the rest. Hopefully it’s the start of something new. We’ll let you decide.

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Beckett in conversation with Daisy Starlight

Characters don’t conform to realism in Beckett. Everything you see is subjective and open to interpretation. Make of it what you will.