Recent shocking developments in the world of Where the Water Tastes Like Wine

I haven’t written recently about Where the Water Tastes Like Wine, but it jumped back into the news twice over the last week. Here are the facts:

Where the Water Tastes Like Wine has Sting in it

You know the wolf? This narration wolf guy?

He is voiced by the musician Sting.

There is a big story there that I don’t remember the details to/is not mine to tell, but the basic deal is that Sting did all the wolf’s VO. I’ve known for a while now, and when the story trailer came out, I spent one day showing all my coworkers that video and feeling secretly smug that I knew they were all ignorantly listening to the voice of The Musician Sting.

I wasn’t worried about millennials knowing what Sting sounds like because Sting is old as hell. But there was definitely one man to whom I showed the trailer who could be classified as “a contemporary of Sting,” or at least “a semi-adult consumer of music during the time when Sting was most popular,” and halfway through the trailer I looked at him and realized there was better than 50% odds he had heard the speaking voice of Sting and that I was screwed.

Luckily, nobody knows what Sting’s speaking voice is like, and fewer people know what Sting sounds like when Sting is pretending to be a wolf, so nobody noticed. Nobody in the world noticed that Sting was growling on any of our trailers, ha ha ha!! You are all chumps!!

Where The Water Tastes Like Wine got nominated for the Excellence in Narrative award at the IGF

This is very very cool to me. If you’d cornered me in 2006-2007, when I started paying attention to free and “indie” games on the internet– if you’d cornered me at that time and asked me what I thought my future was in games, I probably would have said

  • I don’t have a future in games? How can I have a future in games? I am a girl who does not code
  • All I want is for my college to allow me to make an Inform game for an English project, that will be my supreme games accomplishment in life
  • My other games accomplishment will be running a blog! Games blogging is very cool!!
  • Leave me alone, I am going to go lurk on tigsource for three hours a day on the top floor of the library, I need this to survive

The moment I learned that the IGF existed, I started to pay a shit ton of attention to it; I remember describing it to my mom and dad as “the games Oscars.” The next three years were absolutely wild to watch– I saw indie games take off on Steam and had the surreal experience of explaining “games criticism” to the elderly professor who advised my creative writing thesis. (He eventually refused to allow me to make an Inform game for this project.) At no point did I ever seriously believe that I would ever make a game that would get into the IGF. I assumed that I would have to make a successful game a) solo, as b) a triple-threat ultra-developer who can code, and c) that I would have to find a way to get popular, because indie games were a tiny fucking community where it seemed like everyone knew each other and personal popularity was pretty important. So for the first six months after graduation, I lay around and home and tried to get a job as a textbook editor in NYC.

But it turns out all my cynical beliefs were false and wrong. And, uh, here we are????????

It has been an incredible honor to work on WTWTLW. I do not really deserve this. I did not have a body of available commercial work justifying my participation in the project before Johnnemann invited me, I did not know any of the folks who wrote the 16 main characters, I had been working on the same project for 4 years without releasing it, my job was super confusing and chaotic, and I was honestly feeling quite a lot of despair about my future “in games” in general.

It has been weird figuring out how to talk about my work on WTWTLW because it’s truly a group effort– there were 25 writers, many of whom are very well-known in our scene, and everyone’s work is mixed together in a way that makes it hard to just follow one person’s writing through the game. The idea of having a bunch of writers write in different voices on one game is not new– I mean, just look at Bioware games– but WTWTLW is a game that embraces heterogeneity in a way that no other project I’ve ever seen actually does. For the main characters, editing was all about highlighting and preserving everyone’s unique style choices. The characters use punctuation differently. They spell words differently. And to make the conversation system provide the player with adequate feedback, I actually had to add dialogue to every character by precisely imitating those writers’ unique voices. WTWTLW for me has been a project about marinating myself in a giant vat of Other People’s Good Writing and just absorbing its vibes, or whatever. It is certainly not the kind of thing I ever thought about working on when I was wistfully reading games blogs by Magic Ultracoder Cool Design Dudes on the top floor of my college library in 2007.

Anyway, working on this project has been an amazing experience that made me a much better writer and editor and gave me opportunities to meet and become friends with a lot of people I’m very glad to have met. And even aliens were to swoop down to earth today and delete all video games with a giant space laser, and I never got to see this game release or appear at the IGF, I would still feel like so much of a better person than I was before I worked on it– not only for making so many friends and reading so much of their amazing work, but for having finally been given the opportunity to meet such a serious challenge and do such satisfying work.

I can’t wait for you all to play the game!

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