Entropy is the upcoming debut title from a studio that describes itself as “Team Kendobi, based in a cloud of fog in San Francisco.” Inspired by creator Kenny Kong‘s psychedelic walk through the woods, this exploration game hopes to capture moments of spiritual awakening. You can follow Kong on his Twitter and subscribe to the Entropy newsletter through its website.
Q: What was happening in your life before that fateful acid trip which would later inspire Entropy?
A: At the time, I was in a super explorative phase in my life. I was living in a new city, Baltimore, having come from the Bay Area in California, and I made all new friends, was going out and breakdancing all over the place— life was one big adventure.
My good friend and roommate at the time, V, had acquired some LSD somehow, and we wanted to go out to the woods and enjoy ourselves. I had never done it before, but I was always open to new things, so we hopped in his car and drove up to the reservoir north of Baltimore. He gave me a little piece of paper, I put it in my mouth, and the roller coaster began.
A: What were some of your first impressions?
Well, by the time we got there, the effects were already kicking in. I remember stopping among the trees and just looking around—the trees and plants seemed so vibrant and pulsed with life and it struck me that I was standing among a bunch of living, breathing, beings—not the solid, immobile matter that trees usually seem. It felt like I was on an alien planet surrounded by strange new life forms.
My friend called me over to him, and he was standing there looking at the ground with a delirious grin on his face. I went over to see what was making him look so dumbstruck, and behold, a mushroom! The mushroom had its gills facing upward, though, and it was breathing—undulating with life. Was I hallucinating? I can’t honestly say, because my friend was seeing the same thing, and now I had a delirious grin on my face just staring at this dancing mushroom.
Q: Can you describe that moment of connectedness and inspiration? What led you there?
A: There was a stream nearby that fed into a large reservoir, and as I stood there, the trickling of the stream, the small waves on the lake, and the way the wind rustled the leaves of the trees, it struck me how everything was connected. The way in which the wind blew dictated the pattern of waves, and made the leaves sing in such a harmonious way that it became instantly clear just how everything was tied to everything else. It was all part of a holistic system, perfectly balanced and coherent. It wasn’t necessarily a conscious understanding—like how you learn in science class— but intuitive. As if God was revealing his secrets to me. Or, like how Neo felt at the end of The Matrix.
Q: Have you felt moments like that since?
A: I’ve definitely experienced moments like this since then, but not quite with the same intensity and full awareness. Being in nature always has this kind of effect to some degree, I think, on all of us. Also, for me, getting down on the dance floor with my friends brings this sensation of connectedness to me. I’ve also felt this way in dreams. Opening up the subconscious is a tremendous source of insight and dreams are a powerful way to do this.
Q: Will you include all the moments of your trip or just some?
A: I probably won’t include the sucky moments. Just like dreams open up the subconscious, so can drugs, and not always in the best ways. I’ve always felt like acid is a roller coaster on the edge of sanity. While you have moments of beauty and clarity, you can also have moments of dread and paranoia. As we drove back to Baltimore and away from the trickling streams and enchanted forest, it was dark, and now instead of trees I saw abandoned buildings, walls of concrete, tons of people and cars. I love Baltimore, but it was not the best setting for an illuminating experience.
Q: How are you translating your trip into game form? Have there been any particular challenges, or parts that came easy?
A: Just to be clear, the trip in the woods was only a starting point for Entropy. I don’t want the game to just be about taking drugs. I’m trying to get at many different experiences of harmony and interconnectedness.
All of my work has been fueled by a curiosity toward moments of oyre illumination. Whether through painting a picture and finding that perfect stroke, or dancing in the middle of a dark club, or walking around in the forest high as a kite—I’m really looking for those moments when you’re lost and exploring and discover something new, miraculous. To me, this takes a lot of letting go, and trusting the process.
I’ve taken this approach to making Entropy. I have a rough outline of what it’s going to be like, but I really wanted it to be an organic process of creation. Making games is tough—there’s so much that needs to get done—and in traditional methods, it’s very orderly and structured. I wanted to open it up and let the process emerge more organically. As a consequence, I leave a lot of things open-ended. It’s a lot of exploration, trying things out, iterating, and evolving. New ideas come forth as I work, and I just try to keep up with them. I think that’s why I’m calling it Entropy— things are always changing, evolving, and moving forward. That’s the idea I’m keeping in mind during the creation process.
In the end, I think Entropy is a collection of my dreams, trips, and other spiritual moments. It’s a culmination of me exploring these experiences, and putting them into interactive form.
Q: Is there a specific premise behind Entropy or is it more general exploration?
A: The premise is that you explore this dream world, discover a surreal landscape, and bring it to life. As you approach a tree, for example, it blossoms with color and life: leaves grow, the branches pulse and breathe, and it sings with music. I’m aiming for it to be musical in nature—with everything having a musical sound to it, that contributes to a greater song that plays as you walk around. There will also be a series of key moments that I’m looking to incorporate. Like the dancing mushroom, or looking out on the water. I’m highlighting a few things in the world that give you pause, make you reflect. Like a flying whale dragon.
In the end, though, it’s much like a walk through the woods. There are no clear objectives, because when you take a hike, or walk in the woods, you’re not trying to accomplish anything. You’re just enjoying the ride. I’m approaching Entropy the same way. It’s a walk through the woods, just one of the trippiest, most surreal walks you can imagine.