1000 Heads Among the Trees is a game where the player visits a small town in rural Peru and gets to know the people through their improvised stories about the pictures s/he takes in the search for spirits. It is based on time I spent with a brujo (sorcerer) in the desert suburb of Cachiche, a town that was founded as a refuge for witches during the Peruvian inquisition, where descendants of witches still live and continue to practice traditional healing and fortune-telling. The player takes the role of a visitor who spends the nights exploring the quiet town taking photos of possible ghosts, and sharing these pictures with local people who tell generative stories about the photos, based on interviews I conducted at the site.
The intention of this project was to take elements of documentary design process and open them up to the unknown by putting my stories through the blender of procedural story generation. Interviews and experiences are reconfigured and applied to the elements in the photos the player takes in game. It came from an interest in playing with the inability of traditional documentary to tell a genuinely objective story and a desire to make a narrative that I was familiar with become constantly new and changing.
Using photos to get stories from characters in the game creates a unique conversation mechanic where the player searches to communicate with people through his/her photography.
As it is an open-exploration game, there are no levels, but it generally takes a couple hours or so for the player to find the ending. After the ending is found the player can generally come back and continue playing to look for areas, events and conversations they may have missed.
The target audience includes people who play artgames, docugames and the horror genre.
- Surprises revealed in photos the player takes.
- Short generative stories told about the pictures build up to a larger narrative.
- 3D world with sounds and textures from the Peruvian desert.
- Storyline that touches on contemporary issues in a struggling rural tourism economy.
- Free exploration of a living environment at night.