Interview: Mark Warner of Cadence is Elsewhere

Cadence is Elsewhere

I love indie games, and I love to help spread the word of new upcoming ones as well! Cadence is Elsewhere is one of those games that needs help spreading the word. It’s a story styled RPG, where the choices you make changes the outcome of the storyline. In this game, you play a pink AI teddybear who is trying to find her owner, Cadence. To find out more, I spoke with Mark Warner the creator.

PewPewCat: You just launched your Kickstarter for Cadence is Elsewhere, what is this pink-teddybear adventure about?

Mark Warner: Our story is about a post-apocalyptic pink teddy bear hero! No, seriously. Rosalind (that’s our hero) wakes up in a world where all of the humans are gone. Through her, we learn pretty quickly that a swarm of aggressive nano-machines have blanketed the Earth in some kind of an attack, wiping humanity out in just one day.

All that’s left are the ruins of their society, which happens to include all of their (ubiquitous in 2191) artificially intelligent robots, appliances, and so on. The world keeps on living, but most of it is carrying out tasks for people who aren’t there. Rosalind, who’s been out for awhile for unknown reasons is on a mission to find Cadence, who has somehow contacted her.

Cadence is Elsewhere

PPC: What inspired you to create Cadence is Elsewhere?

MW: Oh gosh a bunch of things. Where do I start on this? So much milling around in my head when it comes to this concept, these characters, and this particular story!

I started tinkering around with the idea of digital immortality in my early twenties after reading all sorts of sci fi. Some of it was pulp, some pretty great. Particular influences on me at the time were probably Tad Williams’ Otherland, Bruce Balfour’s The Digital Dead (which I think few people have ever heard of), and just about almost everything by Charles Stross. 

My attempt at a manuscript dealing with the concept which was never completed, was a wandering mass of pages called Souls of Glass. It explores a world where the consciousness of immortal humans from our near future, are housed in indestructible data jewels. They had survived multiple apocalypses and were trying to rebuild the world for the fourth or fifth time. Yeah, it didn’t really develop very far.

Cadence is a whole different spin on the digital immortality thing. In the future, it’s decided by humanity that AI is just too dangerous (cut to video of robot arm beating a mannequin head with a cheese puff here.. heh) and is outlawed basically everywhere, much to the dismay of the tech sector. One company, CogniScape, comes along and saves the day by developing a mind upload technology. They scan a human being and upload their consciousness into a digital matrix, then “humanely” remove all of their memories, most of their personality and so on. It leaves an intelligence suited to a task, but allegedly with a human conscience in tact, making it safe. These constructs are called CFIs (Constrained Fractional Intelligences) and they replace AI in our world. Our hero, Rosalind, is a CFI who was Cadence’s toy before the disaster.

I’m going a bit long with this answer, eh? Aside from my interest in digital immortality, what I really wanted to create was an apocalypse story that ISN’T nihilistic. There’s enough nihilism in our popular entertainment right now. Not to disparage it or anybody, but I think we need more upbeat, positive stories out there that still deal with the same material (apocalypse stories have a special place in our hearts, especially when our political landscape seems dialed up to 11,) but with a stubbornly optimistic message. Rosalind is pretty much the embodiment of childhood idealism and optimism, but without actually being portrayed as childish or idealist. She’s pragmatic, brave, strong, and is stubbornly a bright little light in a terrible environment.  That’s what appeals to me in CiE.

Cadence is Elsewhere

PPC: What are you most excited for when it comes to Cadence is Elsewhere?

MW: Being finished with it so that I can sleep, and so that I can play it. LOL.

Really, though, I really want people to “get” Cadence is Elsewhere. I want them to see a stubbornly heroic character who doesn’t necessarily become grizzled or jaded. The world is ending, and she’s going to make it OK anyway. Probably. If you play the story through “correctly”… 😉

And of course I’m excited just to have people play it and see all the hard work that I and my collaborators have already done and will continue to do if our project is funded. Stories are meant to be shared and I very much want to share mine. It’s been banging around in my head for over a decade and a half in one form or another!

PPC: What inspired you to get into creating video games? 

MW: Almost certainly: playing video games! When I was 3 years old I won an Atari 400 (yeah, I’m old) in a scratch off sweepstakes at McDonald’s. We didn’t have any games for it, but we had a book of BASIC programs you could type in by hand. My dad did it for me when I was little, then taught me. We didn’t have and couldn’t afford a tape drive or anything at the time, so the game would last only as long as the computer was switched on. Turn it off, and all gone!

From there I graduated to a Commodore 64 and discovered role playing and point and click adventure games and became totally hooked. Some gamers play for the twitch stuff, and I like that, too, and a lot of us play for the chance to be in the story. I think video games are finally starting to get some long deserved respect as interactive literature/interactive fiction. That’s what Cadence is Elsewhere strives to be, and it’s definitely my favorite sort of game.

PPC: Do you have a rough estimated projected time for when Cadence is Elsewhere to be released? 

MW: We’re targeting a February 2017 release, which is aggressive but achievable. I’ve been going full steam for almost 3 months already to get Cadence to a basically playable state with all elements present and the concept almost fully demonstrated. If we can achieve our crowdfunding goal, which will be tough in a saturated environment and recent letdowns in the crowdfunded gaming world, we’re easily on track to release by then with a beta available in the Fall!

To find out more on Cadence is Elsewhere, you can find it on the Kickstarter website.

Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/madmuppet/cadence-is-elsewhere-an-explorable-visual-novel-st

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