The Night Journey project is a game project conceived by Bill Viola, an internationally acclaimed artist and MacArthur fellow, which uses video game technologies to explore the universal story of an individual mystic's journey towards enlightenment. The game is being developed in collaboration with a team from the USC Game Innovation lab, including myself, Kira Perov, Scott Fisher, Andreas Kratky, Todd Furmanski, and Kurosh Valanejad.
Our team has spent the past several years exploring narrative, visual and procedural themes related to the topic of enlightenment and the possibilities for the project allowed by the game medium with the objective of creating a work that stretches the boundaries of what games may be possible of communicating with its unique content and mechanics.
Narrative inspiration for this project includes the lives and writings of great historical figures including: Rumi, the 13th century Islamic poet and mystic; Ryokan, the 18th century Zen Buddhist poet, Shankara; the 8th century Hindu mystic and commentator on the Upanishads; and St. Anthony, the 3rd century Christian desert father.
Visual inspiration has been drawn from the prior works of Bill Viola, which afford reference for 3D objects, scenes and presences in the world; provide textures for the landscape and objects; and permeate the world itself, creating a bridge between the "real" and the "imagined," memory and experience.
Procedural inspiration is based in a set of deign goals that have arisen from a central question asked early in the design process: what is the "game mechanic" of enlightenment? How can we abstract and systemize such an intensely personal, yet archetypal experience?