Heatwave - A Cyberpunk Short Story

Started by Scavenger, Mon 25/11/2013 21:54:49

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You are but mere words.
Would you speak as with that mask,
With what lies underneath?

Heatwave is a short story set in the same world as Death Wore Endless Feathers. It takes place in a future California, where Dai Araiguma is playing a VR game in the middle of an abnormally tenacious heatwave.

Originally developed as a MAGS game, it took way too long, so I decided to extend it a little and give it a lot of polish. It features a full soundtrack and quite a few animations. I hope you all enjoy it!


The game's entry in the archives.


Congrats on the release, very cool retro graphics. :-D


Will give this a try right now. Links are misspelled, try these:

That was great; ditto about the walk cycles, but the rest more than makes up for it!


I love the cut scene at the beginning, what an excellent intro ;-D. The music, the graphics, everything is so retro and just wonderful. The world you created is one I'd certainly like to visit again. Had a bit of a hard time reading some of the 1337 speak, but it adds to the atmosphere and the whole idea was a pretty cool one. It's nice that you have mirrored reality, as any good cyber punk world should. Perhaps the only flaw here is that the walk cycles can appear as slow and a bit stiff - but certainly a small flaw in what is essentially a very cool game. Nice work!


That was a super pretty game with a super pretty story!!


Thanks for the feedback, everyone. I'm glad you all enjoyed it! There'll be plenty more cyberpunk adventure coming soon, with much better animations, and much more length and depth! I'd love to hear more people's thoughts on the game, too!

Also, Heatwave got it's first review today!

qptain Nemo

It's a cute short game. I didn't enjoy the puzzles much, but the style and the story were quite charming.

Monsieur OUXX

I must confess I was always sketical each time I was seing your weird furry character sprites, as well as manga-ish high resolution drawings.

I never suspected that your video game art was actually closer to mythical 90's demos, with cool distortion effects and electro music.
Your game IS cyber punk. Your game IS cool and DOES look cool. Damn! I want more games like this.



Finally got around to playing this one, and I'm really glad I did! The 90s cyberpunk feel is perfect - the colours, the music, the cheesy distortion effects, zany animated sequences, cyberpunk terminology and lore - delightful. And the world feels really well established, even if you disregard DWEF. The simple short story itself worked really well too, and the puzzling was about right. The only thing I wasn't too keen on was the interface - there was a lot of double-misclicking for me, even despite the slider, and a lot of instances of Dai covering the hotspots with his massive body and tail, which, coupled with the double-click problems, led to some frustration. Not nearly enough to ruin my experience, but still.

Thanks for this nice little treat, looking forward to seeing more! :)


( I wanted to write a comment in the database but I ended up writing a lot. I place my comment here instead, although it's aimed at people about to play the game, not at the author. I hope this is not breaking any rules. )

Subtle echo of the struggle for the best possible

For me this is art of rare quality. At the surface it describes a view of our world, a subjective view like each of us is capable of. There is enough detail to remind us that, in comparisson with what we are on the outside, the world is infinite. At times we have to deal with so much detail that it becomes suffocating, like the perception of reality that subjectivity can amount to. Don't worry :) This aspect is dealt with in a subtle manner and if you're at home in online virtual worlds, then probably you won't even notice it. But it's there. Now, in most games, if the atmosphere doesn't suit you, then you just pull yourself out. Heatwave offers an alternative: another infinite dimension, perpendicular to the first - the dimension of the interaction of the human spirit with life in the real world. It's not like a door opening suddenly towards a different level of the game when action at the current level begins to stall (see the segment where you have to deal with the car break down), but rather it's an awareness that grows inside you from when you start playing and at some point it becomes clear enough. Only the dialog towards the end, when the protagonists eat icecream, tends to detract from the subtlety and even threatens to reduce the meanings of the game to something less profound; this is just one opinion, of course. The game is basically about the fight for a better experience of life. What else can the Nephilim be than the monstruous creations of our society, like the tolerance for polution and the domination or exploitation of others? Or the bad tendencies from within, that are at the basis of the outer problems, let grow until we cannot control them? In the beginning we see the lower self accusing and being demanding vs. a fellow being. It won't let go of control and the heat is rising. Then, by intervention of the divine fail-safe system in man perhaps, a power shutdown makes the ego awake. He's aware that he needs to cool off and looks for the problem in the immediate, outside world surroundings. He meets the fellow being again, this time from a rather defenseless posture (the loss of the suit was another subtle touch) and they find common ground in simple needs and situations of life - reminding that we are all in this together. Then, an incident brings the protagonists in a situation where they have to work together; this is more than enough explained in the icecream-by dialog :) By the way, during that dialog there are subtle references to a time when the absence of technology (and perhaps even of diversified social roles) forced people to work together more to face common problems. The 4th-of-July flare must an allusion to independency as the power from within to confront the lesser and inferior, both in the human being and in the world. In the process of working together, energy previously taken from the lower self is fueled into the higher self which eventually emerges. The moment is beautifully described through the standing up of the protagonists: they are the Sun shining through the rain, which stands for the gentle touch that all the past pains and struggle are reduced to in the perception guided by the higher self; and it was a treat to have the rain fall, as a bigger reward, after they shared the icecream. The two may have continued to cooperate in simple or unimportant matters, but the bigger picture is that the individual can only evolve in cooperation, in harmony with other individuals. An important aspect is that, in this context, each individual matters, individuality matters - independency in the way indicated above, regardless of the external passive expression through choices of clothing, makeup and slang words. In many cases, I think, the youth meet only with challanges in society, where there should also be guidance. The reaction to this takes forms like the punk subculture or the spending of a great deal of time in virtual online worlds. But the essential positive consequence is that, also in these contexts, people find each other, they establish connections that - more than offering an outlet for rebellious tendencies or a place to hide - help them grow. (The cyberpunk) Heatwave illustrates this fact well. Worth mentioning is also the lack of romance between the male and female protagonists - there being something greater at stake about their relationship. I stop here, although not having said anything about the techniques used to tell the story; probably this comment would have been at least double in size. If you have not yet played this game, be ready for a lot of goodies :)


Wow, I've never felt so understood before. you got almost everything I was going for.

It's a rare feeling, to be sure. I hope to continue the depth of meaning in my next game, this has really raised my morale!


My admiration for Heatwave continues to grow. I have recently remembered the game and realized more about it. This realization may not have come when I played the game. In part because the exterior of things is often very distracting. In part because the concern for harmony of expression was not yet crystallized in my awareness. I am currently working at a project, the idea of which is akin to the idea of Heatwave, although mine is much simpler, almost one-sided. The relationship idea-story is also similar with that in Heatwave and I think that the study of Heatwave can be very instructive for all makers of games based on a profound idea. Mind you, I am Not implying that making games just for fun is bad or inferior - I'm just marking the difference between having and not having a profound idea because the approach to making the game is different and because, in the case of a game made for fun, the player doesn't have to dig in understanding deeper than the surface of things. I will write a few words here about harmony, understanding and the relationship idea-story. Since Heatwave inspired me I think it is a more proper place than a blog post or a forum thread about my future game. Besides, I don't know yet if my game will achieve the same as Heatwave (in terms of what I am about to say) :)

Heatwave allows 3 levels of understanding. The first level, obvious when you play the game, is that of the main character in the game world. You follow the main character as he goes through a series of events and this constitutes your adventure. The first level of understanding is possible because the story is coherent and told gradually; that second quality is (also) responsible for allowing the player to connect to the main character. You don't even need to realize that the game has an idea in order to enjoy it: the story and the idea are independent. And yet connected! The second level of understanding is that of the player's inside vs. the exterior of the game world; my first post on this thread was based on the second level. This level is made possible by the fact that the elements of the game world and the events of the story are also symbols for the relationship between a human being's self and the exterior world. You may reach this level by taking a step back and wondering what is it all about. The third level of understanding is that of matters which can only be realized by the self in awareness, separated from exterior things. At this level the game world and story are an allegory, the assembly of interconnected symbols; in alchemical terms the metaphors are the life that the human soul connects through to the symbols. I think you can only reach this level some time after having played the game, when the impression it made on you has matured. The only "problem", generally, with this level, regardless of the player and the author's capacity for comprehension, is that the player can only guess what the author hints to. For example, the Nephilim and Death (ending) may point to the weaknesses of the body and mind (beyond the bad habits) that are to be overcome in spirit? Anyway, once you reach the light you don't much care for shape anymore :)

You may have noticed that the recipe I proposed for achieving a game like Heatwave became less clear as the level of understanding spoke of increased. Like someone said on this forum (and this post is also meant to deal with some loose ends from our discussion, at least from the public's point of view), once you are aware that more is possible you have to do something about it. And that is to demand more of yourself. We cannot compose a profound idea as we do with the story or the graphics. All we can do is dedicate ourselves and work. The rest is given to us, if we are ready and suitable. Sometimes it takes going through some serious life hardships to prepare. It is the way of this world, to be at most with a foot on Earth and one in Heaven; the way imposed by the animal body and animal socializing (hints about some characters in Heatwave). Games like Heatwave may be necessary in order to inspire in players the enthusiasm for reaching for more in spirit; my titles so far were rather about the pains on the path. I also see in games the reminder of a possible different, better world. This would be the world of spirit that each of us can reach individually; and subsequently share in the physical world the influences of the former world, thus causing real and solid good changes (as opposed to patching up done so that we can somehow stand each other). Heatwave describes realistic interaction with a realistic world and this is why it can relate to us on all 3 levels of understanding. The contrast between the virtual world where the protagonist plays and the outside world where he deals with the ice cream truck is similar to the contrast between the spirit world and the physical world. The more we grow, the greater the distance between Heaven and Earth is and the more we are able to materialize. It's a life long journey and, I mention them again for a closer to complete picture, we can only be thankful for those other games, the games made just for fun (within limits of decency, of course), the smaller joys of life that we can indulge in, now and then, for refreshments :)

added on 26-04: OK, the way I could say things is an obvious mess. Bad structure! Also, I wrote about more than I announced in the first paragraph... I tried to justify some confusing points about the 3rd level of understanding by explaining that it cannot be handled with the intellect, at least not entirely that intellect adapted to dealing with the exterior world. But I drifted towards other matters. The main point is that a harmonious game can help you reach inside yourself up to that 3rd level of understanding. After that, whatever meanings were implied by the author through the game have achieved their real purpose and don't matter anymore. Harmony is achieved through care for proportion and interconnection - the latter not only between different elements of the game, but also between the game and the player. In addition, the author must work with an idea connected through symbols to a story (the events that take place in the game world). The idea generally is about the relationship between the self-intellect pair and things from above, relationship established entirely on the inside of the human being; some choose to think in terms of the left-brain-right-brain pair but important is that inspiration can be more than the effect of brain activity. Absolute harmony could perhaps never be achieved. We can only strive to have as few missing links as possible and keep trying to improve our expression :)


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