Sensational December Machine is a short story with digital spice

The Sensational December Machine is a fantastical short story with digital spice

Simogo's The Sensational December Machine is fresh look at what's possible with digital fiction.

Simogo, the creator of The Sensational December Machine, is an indie developer with a refined aesthetic. Here, we see the piece’s title page with a whimsical, custom typeface.

Length: About 5 minutes
Devices: Desktop, OSX and Windows
Cost: Free

Simogo’s The Sensational December Machine is a charming fiction piece that delivers a fresh perspective on multimedia storytelling. With a thoughtful short story at its core, the piece essentially takes the concept of a storybook and rethinks it for the digital age.

Set in a society where people use “all kinds of clever machines,” this piece follows an inventive woman who “was born with an eternal longing” to touch people’s hearts. In other words, everyone else’s machines are simply practical tools, but our protagonist desires to create a machine that will make people feel.

We begin the text with, "There was a town in a faraway land..." – a fairy tale opening to match the piece's storybook presentation.

We begin the text with, “There was a town in a faraway land…” – a fairy tale opening to match the piece’s storybook presentation.

It’s a fairytale-like story that’s complemented well by atmospheric music and a 3D environment. Interestingly enough, the environment is filled with 2D artwork, a choice that helps create the piece’s storybook aesthetic. Last but not least, the music evolves as you progress through the story – and how cool is that?

The interactivity in this piece is simple: A left click proceeds through the story, whereas a right click sends you backwards. Given this little amount of control, the piece’s world feels especially intriguing – you really wish you could go off the story’s rails and explore it a bit more.

The piece makes good use of parallax. Here, the text each line of text pops up at different depths as you move through the environment.

The piece makes good use of parallax. Here, the text each line of text pops up at different depths as you move through the environment.

Simogo, an indie game developer, has other great literary projects in its catalog in addition to The Sensational December Machine. Their creations include The Sailor’s Dream and the digital novella Device 6, one of our favorite projects, which won an Apple Design Award in 2014.

Simogo’s projects can often feel less like games and more like interactive literary experiences; The Sensational December Machine is a nice part of that tradition. It’s also interesting to note their approach to digital storytelling and how it differs to that of, say, Inanimate Alice.

The 2D figures here represent the townspeople who are skeptical of the protagonist's creations.

The 2D figures here represent the townspeople who are skeptical of the protagonist’s creations.

Both Inanimate Alice and The Sensational December Machine operate on the same general premise – a text, artwork, music, and elements of interactivity – but it’s exciting to see how radically different their outcomes are (Inanimate Alice was also conceived years ago, but I think the broader point of diversity in digital fiction stands).

It’s hard to not see a bit of Simogo in the protagonist of The Sensational December Machine; like her, they try to create things that make people feel emotions – they try to make art. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but It’s a noble goal, and we’re happy to have another developer experimenting with the written word on the radar.

One of the final frames of the story shows the December machine itself, seemingly abandoned in the snow (but with so much love inside of it).

One of the final frames of the story shows the December machine itself, seemingly abandoned in the snow (but with so much love inside of it).

Be sure to check out Simogo’s website, as well as their Facebook and Twitter!

About the author

Ricardo Morales

Ricardo Morales is a programmer, digital literature enthusiast, and founder of AltSalt. Perpetually stricken with wanderlust, he enjoys playing music, social dancing, and making awesome work with talented people.

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