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Drawing from your country’s mythology - I do it, the Japanese do it, maybe you should too

by Pedro Furtado on 03/09/15 07:00:00 pm   Featured Blogs

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There are lots of mainstream historical mythos, known worldwide. What comes to mind is Greek and Nordic. I’m not an expert at all in the subject and that’s not what I want to write about. Instead, I want to write about why I’ve decided to include Brazilian culture in to my game, Daily Espada and why you should consider basing one of your projects on your country’s culture.

How the Shin Megami Tensei series of games influenced me

Shin Megami Tensei is a series of Japanese games that use mythos from the entire world as it’s enemies and allies. Think about Pokemon, but Gabriel, Loki and Shiva can be your “pokemons”. It’s a series with lots of spin-offs too, I always find myself reading the lore in the games and immersing myself in their stories. This immersion has been so enjoyable that I even based a short game of mine, Bael’s Children (beware, it’s a very ugly game, made it when I was starting out), in to the demons of Goetia, which I learned about in those series.

So the other day I was playing Persona 4, which is labeled as a Shin Megami Tensei spin-off, and the main character`s Persona is Izanagi, which is a Japanese Deity. I had never heard of Izanagi before and later on towards the game I felt the necessity to read about it’s story and found out that there is some simbology going on between the game’s story and Izanagi’s story. I thought that was pretty cool, it was a good feeling to research the origins of the game and find out the connection by myself.

Then I started thinking, how many people even know Izanagi? How many people from outside of Brazil know about Brazilian mythology? Why do I know about Izanagi? Well, I know about Izanagi because I played Persona 4. What if I could do to other people what Persona 4 did to me? And so I’ve decided to use Brazilian culture in my game.

Researching is a joy

You’ll be amazed at the stuff you’ll find when researching the mythos of your country. Most of mythos’ origin I’ve found is some very dark stuff. One of Brazilian’s creatures is the headless mule, which is a mule that has no head and spits fire through it’s neck instead. That’s a very cool concept already, but that’s not all there’s behind it…

A gif of you fighting the headless mule

Legend says the mule was originally a woman that committed adultery and was cursed by God. Other tales say she was a woman that seduces a priest in to corruption and became the mule to pay for her sins. Man, that’s so interesting! Just imagine the sort of stuff that is hidden in your country’s culture.

Blending reality and mythos

One thing about the SMT series is that it is often staged in our world, very close to our time. It’s often also staged in Japan (which would make a great article about situating your game in your country, but let’s leave that for another time). So it’s always blending the mythos it features with the real world, which is something I also really like. So yes, while you can create a complex fantasy world to house all those creatures, it’s not necessary and it might be a cool mix if they appear in “our world”.

Since I situated Daily Espada in the near future, there are lots of features I like, like receiving email from your family and how everything happens in a twisted reality show. It just feels like the dark creatures contrast better to our world.

Unknown world-wide but very known at home

So Brazilian folklore is pretty well known in… Well, Brazil. And game development is still starting up here, so there aren’t a lot of games. So it’s a bit of a chance for the press to cover you, since they have something unique to say about your game. This is a bit of a theory, since I’ve never felt like I got featured in the local press specifically because of this. Which brings us to my final point.

It’s not a magic ticket… I think

I used to think it would be a magic ticket for coverage and sales, but it isn’t, especially since the first version of Daily Espada was very unpolished (new version is much better, I hear). Very few sites covered me during my first launch in Desura. It’s an element that helps but won’t do your job for you.

So that’s it guys, if this article has made any of you at least a little bit curious about your own culture, then I’m glad to have written it.

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