Monday, August 30, 2010

Haiku Quest – an RPG featuring haiku poetry and Christopher Walken

It’s taken me a long while to finish my latest game, Haiku Quest. Mainly I had trouble recruiting voice actors to play the parts (as in very few volunteered when I asked, my request topic was mysteriously deleted, and even less replied after I’d sent them the innuendo laden script). But, on a whim which I never expected to work, I emailed Christopher’s agent and, intrigued by the idea of a non-profit independent game based on Japanese poetry, he took five minutes from his schedule to record the lines on someone’s laptop and emailed me a giant WAV file to cut up. If his voice sounds a little off, it’s because he was pressed for time (he apologises) and it wasn’t done in any kind of sound booth. I did my best to clean it up though.

The game was inspired my experiences with the haiku mini-game in Boku no Natsuyasumi 3. This was in Japanese though, and I wanted something analogous in English for western players to appreciate.

The poems are generally free-form, but I tried to adhere to most of the rules for writing English haiku. Since only fellow game players are likely to take an interest, all the poems were based on well-known videogames. I suppose the great failing of this endeavour is that you need a background in games to understand them. Christopher mentioned he only got a couple of the references.

The game features:
* A JRPG style of design
* A large overworld to explore
* Villages to visit
* NPCs to speak with
* Stores and inns to stop by
* Unique “instant-time” battle system
* Five different monsters to fight
* Streamlined inventory system
* 125 different poems to compose
* 5 true haiku to decipher
* A special "hidden secret" from the gods of haiku
* An incredible ending which will leave you floored
* The voice work of Christopher Walken

Download it here!

TIP: When playing, please do NOT hold down the arrow keys, rather tap them, since otherwise it may skip certain poetry sections.

And if you like it, be sure to spread it around.

Now all I hope is that someone tips off those lovely chaps TIGSource and this gets some kind of news entry. Heck, email Kotaku too, while you're at it.


  1. Can't download it right now; I'm guessing too many people beat me to it.

  2. There must be a better place to host the file...

  3. I managed to download it but when I posted it to metafilter others were having issues downloading it. Would it be ok for me to post it to another download site?

  4. It's freeware, so anyone can feel free to rehost it elsewhere.

    I was going to put it on HG101's servers, but I'm not sure if Kurt is happy with a 5mb file going on there.

    But by all means, anyone has my blessing to rehost it elsewhere.

  5. I put it on filefront:

  6. Holy ****! Christopher Walken! :o
    This is so cool.

  7. Doesn't sound like Christopher Walken? Either that or he's doing a very good job to disguise his voice.

  8. None of the sound samples sound like Walken at all, nor is there any real proof he helped you posted. Hoax for free publicity?

  9. Well, 1up linked it!

    I replaced the link with one on the main server too for ease of download.

  10. This is sort of pathetic. Not even a good hoax.

  11. Could have just been some guy -named- Christopher Walken.

  12. Kind of sad you'd lie about something like this. I hope you get sued by walken.

  13. I'm very disappointed with HG101. I come here for the intelligent articles about classic gaming--only to be confronted with this infantile prank. Were you that desperate to gain attention for this game?

    For the record, Haiku Quest isn't a very good game. Sorry. :/

  14. Why all the hostility?, It's just a silly game with nerdy videogame references and an obviously outrageous claim for the voice acting. I could see people freaking out about the ending (for the record, it's quite unlikely that a modern operating system would let a program executed in user mode do that), but from the comments, I don't think many made it that far.

  15. Wow, some of you anonymous guys are quite stupid. Maybe when I make a freeware game supposedly voiced by Obama, you guys will repeatedly decry me for scaming you. Out of curiosity, are you the people who accidently install SpyWare on your computer because, hey, it says it will fix viruses.

  16. @Refa

    Personally, I regard HG101 as a serious source for essays on gaming. So, yes, some of us would take it pretty seriously.

    I agree that it's only a trifling hoax, but I think a lot of people would have been more receptive to playing 'Haiku Quest' had JS not trumpeted Christopher Walken's participation over and over again. When I read this article yesterday morning, I believed it. After all, I could actually see Christopher Walken being into doing a voice-over for a niche, freeware game. I wouldn't put it past the guy.

    Still, kudos to JS for getting my attention. 'Haiku Quest' is a pretty nifty game. ;)

  17. I've always regarded the blog as being more light-hearted than the main site - one is a blog of various people's sometimes only tenuously game-related thoughts, the other a well-respected website with a rigid order of process before a feature goes up (all of which must meet approval with the editor).

    The full explanation behind this game, a detailed Making Of you could say, along with my motivations for certain choices, will be up probably in a couple of days.