Guten tag! Dear reader, I’m happy and excited to announce that I’m writing this blog post to you from Berlin! I’ve been here for four weeks now, and I’m beginning to settle in. I found a flat, which was stressful, I set up my workstation, I’m exploring the city, and it feels good. The excitement and thrill of moving to a new city is upon me, and I am energized! I’m living in Kreuzberg, a lovely part of the city with lots of cute hipsters and good coffee.
Those of you who follow me closely on social media will know that the diary of Franz Schmidt, Nuremberg’s executioner from 1578 - 1617, has been a huge influence on the setting and aesthetic of my game, so it feels good to be here in Germany working on it. At some point soon I will make a field trip/pilgrimage to Nuremberg to visit Henker Haus (Hangman’s House) myself. After immersing myself so fully in the world of Franz Schmidt and reading two books about him, I feel oddly connected to this reluctant early-modern dealer of death and physician on-the-side. For those of you interested I highly recommend reading ‘The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honor and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century’, by Joel F. Harrington.
Speaking of pilgrimages, let’s talk about my family connection with Berlin. My Grandfather was a Jew born here 1925, in the well-off district of Charlottenburg. To be blunt, it was a bad time to be a Jew in Germany. During the 30’s, the increasing hostility that resulted from the propaganda war waged by the Nazi government against the Jews was catastrophic for the family. His Grandparents, who owned 5 shops selling ladies hats in the city, were forced out of business and, unable to find asylum in another country, committed suicide. His father became sick with Tuberculosis and was unable to leave the country to seek medical aid, and died at age 36.
As many Jews were beginning to be taken away to concentration camps, being left without a father gave my Grandfather, who was 11, and his younger brother priority to leave the country on the famous Kindertransport, which was a train organised by the Jewish authorities to get children out of the country. In 1936 my father went to a foster home in the lake district in England, and the rest, as they say, is history. His mother eventually escaped too, but was not reunited with her children until later.
I’ve always wanted to reconnect with that side of my families history, and my first stop on that journey was a visit to Katharinenstraße, the street where my Grandfather grew up. Today, all the buildings from that era were gone, replaced with modern architecture, but it was still interesting to try and imagine the street as it once was. Next, I’ll attempt to find the grave of my Great-Grandfather, which will be much harder as nobody living remembers where it’s located, or even which cemetery it’s located in. Wish me luck.
The introduction to this post, as if you couldn’t tell from the fact it was typed in Courier New, is the beginning of the first ‘Sentenced’ script. Writing is now fully underway. Since I now have space to set up my Vive once more, I’ve also been back into the game engine, testing and improving. I’ve updated the character physics a little to make interactions less ridiculous, and figured out a way to make bloody slashes appear on a model if struck with the sword. This game is horrible.
It’s full steam ahead from now on (apart from in October when I travel to Japan for the month), so as usual, watch this space and social media for all the latest.
Keep it weird,