The Story Of Indie Video Game Rime Is Proof That Inspiration Can Come From Anywhere
When indie developer Raúl Rubio Munárriz was visiting the Mediterranean with his girlfriend, the two of them decided to go for a swim - each dared the other to swim about a mile-and-a-half to a buoy visible just off-shore. Munárriz knew his girlfriend was a strong swimmer - stronger than him, at any rate - but he wanted to impress her...so he tried something stupid. When the two made it to the buoy, he was virtually exhausted.
Pretending he was only a little tired, he told his girlfriend he'd catch up with her. She could swim back without him, for the time being. That was a mistake; one that nearly cost him his life.
"The buoy was slippery and I could not hold on," he said describing the experience to Polygon. "I thought, I will try to get back to the beach slowly and calmly. That lasted for thirty seconds. I had a panic attack. I tried to swim, and I remember that my body said 'it is over' and I started to drown."
Though he obviously survived (his girlfriend's brother leapt to his rescue and brought him safely to shore), he says the experience taught him something about loss.
"When you are drowning, it is really weird. It tells you a lot about how you face loss, and in this case, the loss of your life. It was really strange. I accepted death quite easily, but I was not really thinking about death. I started to think about what I was leaving behind, like my family."
Recounting his brush with death, Munárriz couldn't help but recall all the trivial, bizarre memories that popped into his head. The whole experience, he explained, was absolutely surreal. Even now, it doesn't feel entirely like it happened. At the same time, he continued, though there exists commonalities death is nevertheless an intensely personal experience. "Probably the silliest memory I have is that I left my car in the garage in a really tight spot and I knew it would be difficult to take the car out. Nobody would know where the keys were. I was thinking, haha, they will have a really hard time taking the car out of the garage. Good luck with that!
"I don't want to trivialize [death] but it is really personal. Loss and acceptance of loss, everyone is different. At the same time everyone is the same."
All this together forms the core of his upcoming game, Rime. It's a title that's all about life and loss, and about the surrealism involved in death. Aside from that, we know very little, save that there is no combat, and that it stars a boy stranded on a strange, mystical island.
It will be a beautiful game, says the developer, but one that at the same time has an aura of 'wrongness' about it. Though the player will be seeing the world through the bright - and innocent - eyes of a child, there's also a healthy dose of darkness inherent in the whole experience.
"In the game, you have lost your home. You are stranded and alone. The logic of the island is not your own logic so that makes you feel more stranded. When you lose something there are several states that you have to go through before you accept that loss and that is the basis of the game and the tale."
According to Munárriz, his brush with the reaper helped him understand something knew about what it is to lose something - this knowledge, he explains, is now infused into Rime's every fiber. It's a strange thought, really, that a developer's near-death experience might lead to something like this. It just goes to show, though - like inventors, game developers can draw inspiration from just about anywhere, if they know where (and how) to look.