Artist Statement
"Osadniks" was inspired by the family of a good friend of mine. Their story,
that of the Eastern Polish experience during World War 2, was both historical
and deeply emotional. I was especially excited about this topic, and simultaneously
greatly honored, because the family was willing to share with me the unpublished
memoirs of one of the few members of the family who survived the ordeal.
I often worried that my approach to telling this story wasn't expressive enough,
and would be interpreted as too literal. I realized, however, that Zofia's memoirs,
written in the last years of her life, were very objective. Even fond memories were
catalogued with factual details and descriptions. Like the author, I wanted to show
the circumstances of the Russian gulags, both the journey there and the life within,
as they really were, not obscured by metaphors and forced artistry.
"Osadniks" is, at its core, a role-playing game, built in the Neverwinter Nights 2
editor. However, I tried to really push the toolset in several directions that do not
attribute themselves to traditional RPG systems. I did choose to go very narrative
heavy in areas, to the point where the whole first level became almost entirely text
based, but I also tried to pull out different mechanics throughout the game. Once
in the camp, the character's world becomes a series of checks and balances. To
survive, you need food. To get food, you need a voucher. To get paid, you need to
work. To work you need to keep warm. To keep warm you cannot venture far from
the fire for too long. When you do finally get your hard earned food, you have to
decide if you'll use it to keep yourself alive, or give it to one of your sick family
members. Then you realize: your character is only ten years old.
That was the moment I was looking for, the experience I wanted to share: that
overwhelming, unfair burden on someone so young. Whether I successfully
communicated that feeling or not, I hope at the very least that it gives those who
play it pause, and that they take the time to consider the impact of the overlooked
corners of history. Since the timeframe for working on this project was so limited
(I believe it boiled down to a little under nine weeks.) my focus with this prototype
was to get all the different systems and features I wanted working and in play.
I did manage to achieve this goal, and even added a few things I didn't initially
consider. The game consists of exploration through text, cold, hunger, and illness
systems, rewards and trading, and several lines of Russian translation, among other
Unfortunately many of the files I would need to share the game with you are out of
my reach now, but I do have a couple of screenshots: