The Yawhg is an interactive fantasy horror game where players are given multiple branching paths as they await the coming of The Yawhg. We had the pleasure of having a short discussion with Damian Sommer about The Yawhg, and the inspiration behind it.
TechZwn: The Yawhg is pretty interesting, being based heavily around the player’s decisions, then tying in a horror element. What experience do you hope players will have?
Sommer: Really, every playthrough can be so different, I just hope that they enjoy themselves. There’s been games I’ve witnessed that are just so completely tragic, and some that are just absolutely hilarious, but most lie somewhere in between.
The readme for the game has elaborate instructions on how to play an ideal game of the Yawhg. It involves wordlessly waiting in a room with your friends until it is dark, and lighting black candles around your computer. I wrote it as a joke, basically as an Easter egg, as very few people actually read readmes, but someone actually played the Yawhg with their spouse by candlelight, and said it was incredible and intense experience, which is really rewarding to hear. I’ve been told that some people have cried while playing the game, which, while also rewarding, is kind of bizarre to hear, because when I play with my friends, there’s always a lot of laughs.
TechZwn: You describe The Yawhg as a multiplayer choose-your-own-adventure game. What are your thoughts about video games as channels for storytelling? I know there are some different takes on what the medium allows for this.
Sommer: Almost all of my favourite games are either incredibly light on story, or have no story at all. At the same time, they also have potential for stories to be created out of the actions players take. I love games that aren’t just you plodding along through a preset sequence of events.
Some of the best stories I’ve experienced in games have taken place in ones that have almost no linear story elements at all: The time when my friends and I fluked our way to the final level in Spelunky, and we laid out a gameplan for 15 minutes of what we should do (and failed miserably). The time when I got sent into the Abyss by a Dark Elf, away from my legions of orc followers in Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup, and managed to get out, using every ounce of my strength, only to be sent right back by the same mage. The time when I took on a troll in Dwarf Fortress, with my band of heroes, only to be thrown back, my leg broken, and forced to watch as all my friends were slaughtered before me.
While the Yawhg doesn’t allow for this level of emergence, it still does have a lot of possibilities as to how a story can unfold. I don’t really like drumming up controversy, so I’m just going to stick to saying the stuff I like