The release of Martha Is Dead is getting closer and closer, and with it also coincides the 6th anniversary of the release of ‘The Town of Light’! (TTOL).
Yes… it’s been 6 years, and the amazing thing is, TTOL continues to reap its small success. The game continues to do well on Steam, player reviews keep coming and I keep getting excited, I admit it. This was our dream.
But Martha Is Dead and TTOL have much more in common than just both releasing at a similar time, (24th and 26th Feb, respectively), they differ by two days.
Many aspects of Martha Is Dead are also present in TTOL, so we thought we’d take a quick run down of their links and similarities for fans of The Town Of Light, and maybe introduce it to some people who have never played it before!
The Tuscan countryside is the setting for both of these games. In TTOL we were in Volterra, in the Maremma (an area of Tuscany), with MID we are in the northern area of Chianti Classico, near Florence. We like to work with a territory that we can touch with our hands.
There is no better, more detailed a reference document! And then you also need to close your eyes and breathe the air of a place to fully understand it. Once an environment has become part of you, then you have the right sensibility to describe it without fear of being wrong or inconsistent.
I thought about setting the next game in a nice warm seaside place, at least we’d have to stay there for a couple of years to immerse the team at the right level. I will discuss that with Wired Productions (our publisher) 😉 Cape Verde? Sao Miguel? you choose, we go!
A precise historical context is the second great reference manual. Again, you can move with more confidence in a real historical context and then there are many stories that enrich your awareness of the context and sometimes even end up in the game. This happens in both TTOL and MID, by the way the period chosen is very close, it was 1938 in TTOL and 1944 in MID. 6 years difference, what a coincidence! I just discovered this myself while I’m writing, 6 years is also the distance between the two game releases!
The Narrative Approach
Is very different. TTOL was a story being told, in MID we live the events while they happen. Nevertheless, the methodology used to create the protagonist remains the same: a real character. I have to have the feeling that I really know them, and to achieve this, the number of details studied, pinned down, written or just thought about are enormous, many of which are not present in the game, of course, but essential to give Giulia and Renée the credibility they absolutely need to enable the player to develop empathy with them.
Sometimes I hear music that relaxes me, tracks from the soundtrack of MID, Ludovico Einaudi, but also some singer that I particularly love, like “Coco Rosie”, “Michelle Gurevich” or… K.òla to mention a not famous talented one I would love to work with (“Finna Fyrir Þér” is super).
But back to us, with music and eyes closed, I imagine clips of the protagonist’s life, moments of an ordinary day. How she behaves in everyday life is the essential starting point.
If you don’t know how a person behaves in routine, you can’t say you know her/him!
This was a great teaching of my father who was a history buff and suffered from seeing his son (me) getting poor results at school (to be kind) in the very subject that represented his passion. He told me: “If you want to understand history you have to understand how people lived in everyday life” and he gave me a collection of books entitled: “Everyday life in the Middle Ages”, “Everyday life at the court of Luigi XIV” etc.etc. I have loved history ever since.
I kept getting bad grades because I would forget dates and names, but I knew what was going on at the time. I knew that peasants in the Middle Ages were completely illiterate and it was clear how this ignorance could be used by those who were more educated. And that was one of the main basis of how the feudal system worked. Little matter what was the name of that lord and on what date he died. But I’m going bit off-topic, excuse me.
Returning to Giulia and Renée, I can say that I have a very different relationship with them.
I like more Giulia, I love more Renée! Giulia is a very open-minded girl compared to the years in which she lives, thanks to a family that is half Italian and half German, she speaks two languages, she lives in a very culturally evolved environment. Renée was born in misery, she didn’t have any opportunities, sadness always dominated her. Giulia is one who acts, maybe in a paradoxical way, but she acts (I can’t add more), Renée huddled in a corner and closed the doors with the rest of the world. You can talk with Giulia about everything in front of a good beer (she doesn’t love wine), she likes also to argue, Renée needs only your caresses and your reassurances. Two fragile girls, two completely different ways of defending themselves.
The ties between TTOL and MID go beyond that. There is something tangible just inside the two games that connect them. I’d like to tell you what, but I think it’s much more interesting for you to find out by yourself. In TTOL there are traces of MID and in MID there are traces of TTOL. And in the next title in all likelihood, while changing times and places, there will be traces of both! It’s something I want in every way because for us, our games are not disconnected products, they are our journey.
Lastly, but the most important thing, is the interest in investigating the human mind, in digging into those folds that we try to hide, but that, in some way, are part of all of us as human beings. It’s a theme that, although in a different way, deeply characterizes both titles and, more generally, our path. No one should think they are immune to psychological issues.
I believe that everything is in us, potentially, and this is the real reason why “madness” (a very bad and misleading term) has this very strong appeal on all of us. We just have to be strong enough and also lucky enough to let many of those “folds” remain closed. There are those who are not lucky enough or strong enough, unfortunately.
These are our protagonists!
So there you have it, a super quick list of some of the links – literal or otherwise between Martha Is Dead and The Town Of Light!
You can discover some of these links for yourself on Feb 24th!