Vancouver-based artist ceMelusine has been working on the East Van EP for the past couple of years. It’s a collection of four games that ceMelusine has been steadily working on in order to grow as a game maker. The effort goes towards trying to make games more like music by packaging them in a similar way—as in, an EP—but it also drives ceMelusine to make games that are “extremely experiential (moody, readily interact-able, aesthetic).”
The first of the games in the East Van EP was ΘRAΩLE, back in 2014, which was about playing as an oracle and seeing surreal images that acted as prophecies. The second game arrived last year, called Summon the Apgrod, and could be described as a bizarre, dreamy bartender simulator. Now ceMelusine has a release date for third entry in the East Van EP. It’s called Star Swim and will available on January 5th 2017.
Star Swim is said to be a short horror game that takes place at an isolated public pool. You wake up in your car in the middle of the night. You’re parked just outside the pool. The gate to the pool is open and nobody is around, and so you wander inside, perhaps to take a dip in the water under the stars …
When I asked ceMelusine where the idea for Star Swim came from I didn’t expect to get a mysterious story in return. But I did. And now I must share it with you:
“I’ve always been in love with cities at night. East Vancouver (where I currently live) has a treasure trove of neat places that are more or less abandoned after the sun goes down, and whenever possible, I like to wander them,” ceMelusine begins. “Over the summer of 2016 I spent a lot of time at a place called New Brighton Park. Its a nice little space that’s wedged between the traintracks and Vancouver Harbour, and flanked by some of the more industrial parts of town. The park also features one of Vancouver’s larger outdoor public swimming pools.”
“I spent a particularly nice day out there in early July and as the sun went down, my best friend (who incidentally wrote all the music for the game) and I decided to stick around for a bit. We heard there was going to be a meteor shower that night and we thought the park to be a good place to watch it from.”
“As we were sitting there, we heard a big splash from the pool and went over to take a look. We thought it would just be some teenagers who had broken in and were goofing off, but when we got close nobody was around. The pool was long closed but the gates were wide open. We couldn’t locate the source of the splash either. It was as though something had visited but vanished as soon as it hit the water. Or perhaps it was still there, and we simply could not detect it…”
Whether you find that chilling or magical is up to you. Either way, it’s this strange incident that inspired Star Swim, and so I can only imagine that the game will reflect that experience and provoke a similar reaction from you when you play it. For ceMelusine, it’s the next step on this journey of personal growth through mystical videogames. But what does that mean?
“In the 2(+) years that I’ve been working on this project, I’ve learned a lot about what makes a place feel interesting and meaningful to me,” ceMelusine told me. “I think Star Swim displays everything good about that process. My hope is that it is a buckshot of feelings I have about East Vancouver and digital space.”
CeMelusine also hopes that Star Swim will function as a palate cleanser to get people in the mood for the fourth and final game in the East Van EP. It’s called Scary Tapes and ceMelusine has been tinkering with it for a little bit over a year now. We’ll have to wait a bit longer to find out what it’s all about.
You can purchase the East Van EP on itch.io to receive Star Swim and the other games made as part of it.