Fear of Twine

The Matter of the Great Red Dragon

Fear of Twine is an online exhibition of text-based games made by a highly diverse group of people from all around the world. It’s not just diverse in its list of authors, though: it has everything from fantasy to horror to science fiction to deeply personal explorations of kink to abstract political fiction about working-class politics. The site’s a little minimalistic, but the content is fantastically rich.

Fear of Twine features my new Lands of Dream game, The Matter of the Great Red Dragon. I know I’m supposed to be either insincerely humble or ridiculously boastful for the purposes of marketing, but the truth is that I’m just really happy that I got to make this game. It turned out exactly as I wanted it to and thinking about it gives me the warm, fuzzy feeling of having met some old friends and found that we still get along. So there you go. I hope you enjoy it.

Fear of Twine also includes Verena’s first solo game, Zombies and Elephants. Personally, I think it’s pretty awesome, with a lot more layers to it than the title might suggest (as is true of a lot of pulp fiction), but then again I may be biased. (I’m not. I’m a very harsh critic.) I know there are still a couple of things that Verena would like to change, but you know what they say about art. It’s full of the undead.

There’s a lot more to Fear of Twine, though I can’t figure out how to start another sentence with it. I haven’t played all the games yet, but I should definitely mention Abstract State-warp Machines by my dear friend and accomplished, original poet Ivaylo Shmilev. Interactive science fiction poetry! You’re in for a challenge and a treat. (And then there’s Workers in Progress by Konstantinos Dimopoulos and Truth is Ghost by Joel Goodwin and and and…)

I hope this exhibition will gain some traction with the press. I don’t think there’s ever been anything quite like it, and it deserves some attention.

Note: As this is a guest post from another site, we’ve decided to keep the strange reference to “games.” – Julian the Announcement Fox

Project Update

Posted earlier today on The Unofficial Jonas Kyratzes Website:


I recently finished my text game for the upcoming Fear of Twine exhibition. It’s called The Matter of the Great Red Dragon, is set in the Lands of Dream, and has turned out quite wonderful, even though the whole thing came to me in a flash at the last minute, after I’d thrown my original idea out the window. I don’t mean to brag, I’m just really happy with how it turned out. You should be able to play it in a week.

I am now returning to work on The Council of Crows, which may or may not be a working title. This is a short(er) Lands of Dream game – bigger than The Book of Living Magic but not as huge as The Sea Will Claim Everything – and will be free to all those who supported our Indiegogo. The rest of you will be able to get it for an affordable sum. Chris Christodoulou has written absolutely fantastic music for it, and Verena has drawn some of her most evocative art so far. I think it’ll be beautiful.

(The screenshot is old and a little unpolished, but that’s pretty much what it looks like.)

Incidentally, this game was supposed to come out much earlier, but I ran into a serious problem with how Windows 7 handles fonts in Multimedia Fusion games, and had to engineer an ugly but functional solution. This has also caused a delay for Ithaka of the Clouds, but don’t complain – you’re getting a free game!

(If your text looks weird and a bit jagged in The Sea Will Claim Everything, it’s a Windows feature called ClearType. There’s nothing I can currently do about it, so if it bothers you, you’ll have to turn it off before playing. I’m very sorry about this, and more than a little irritated. There doesn’t appear to be a simple solution, and I cannot currently go back and rewrite all the code for a game that sells almost nothing. Thankfully, not that many people seem to have had this problem or noticed it.)

I’m also working on a few other projects in parallel, including a platformer and another text game which… pertains to the Lands of Dream, to slightly paraphrase Dunsany. In fact, I’m quite in love with text games at the moment. Or actually with writing in general. Every now and then I get a chance to do really write and I remember that writing is actually what I’m all about.

And then there’s the Secret Project I’m Not Allowed To Tell You About, which does not involve squirrels, scorpions, or the use of the word “pronk.”

Exciting times. Now to just convince my body to defeat the common cold.

Mission Statement: Clown-Free Products

We here at the Lands of Dream Official Website are aware of the serious problems many people face in our society, issues which are never addressed by the oppressive clownophiliac mainstream. Too many products in this modern world are created by processes involving, affiliated with or secretly watched by clowns. Unlike the production of goods by slaves or the impoverished state of the working class, the issue of clowns is one that cuts to the very heart of who we are as a society. So today we pledge that none of our products will under any circumstances:

  • contain clowns or clown byproducts
  • be manufactured by clowns
  • be distributed by clowns
  • resemble clowns
  • smell of clowns
  • support narratives of clown privilege
  • be spiritually connected to the ghosts of clowns
  • continue the clownification of games
  • make any reference to clowns that is not broadly derogatory
  • in any way suggest that clowns make acceptable pets or astral companions
  • use words specifically associated with clowns and problematic clown practices
  • mention the clown standing behind the reader

In this way, we will demonstrate our allegiance to creating a 100% clown-free society, which means this website is morally better than the majority of all websites, which you don’t read but which almost certainly contain nothing but clowns. Any claims that this alters nothing about our current production methods is itself a sign of clownophilia and will result in an angry tweet from Pennywise the Clown, a valuable ally of our movement who has embraced Critical Clown Theory. We hope other websites will join us in our crusade for lasting change.

Thank you, and remember to minimize your clown footprint.

Merry Satan Christmas Discount

Ever since his father had turned into a boy band and his mother had joined a frog, little Timmy lived in the Orphanage for Very Sad Children in the grey, depressing city of Dull. There was only one time of year when he was truly happy, and that time was Christmas. You see, Timmy loved buying gifts for all his orphan friends. But gifts were expensive, so little Timmy wrote to Santa to ask for help.

Dear Santa,

The greatest gift is giving, but I know we live in capitalism, so all I want for Christmas this year is a discount on my favourite game, The Sea Will Claim Everything, that wonderful adventure in the Lands of Dream which is very funny but also surprisingly touching. Could you somehow make it so the game is cheaper until January 1st?

Yours sincerely,


Sadly, little Timmy was not just an orphan, he was also dyslexic, and the letter never reached the North Pole. Instead it found its way to the deepest pits of Hell, where it was received by Stalin’s cousin, Satan. Satan detested little children, since most of them did not listen to heavy metal… but due to an inexplicable sudden merriness, he decided to grant Timmy’s wish anyway! It was a true Christmas miracle.

Satan was rather confused.


Notes on the text:

  1. Satan’s first name is also Joseph.
  2. Timmy later sold his soul and became a Bitcoin millionaire.
  3. The makers of The Sea Will Claim Everything do not condone the use of inverted monotheism for the selling of products.
  4. This text was written by an elf.
  5. Probably one of the Noldor.

Ithaka of the Clouds team announces new DLC

The owners of the Kyratzes Corporation are very pleased to announce that their upcoming game Ithaka of the Clouds, successfully crowdfunded earlier this year, will expand its unique gameplay with groundbreaking, innovative DLC that will change gaming forever. This innovative, groundbreaking DLC, perfectly designed for the needs of our core customer base as well as casual players, will add several new features that we just know will totally amaze you.Our company motto: we just want your money and don't give a shit about art.

The colour blue. Previously unavailable to all except those who bought the game via the special Red Edition available in select watermelons around the world, the colour blue will significantly expand the game’s palette, giving you a completely new, groundbreakingly innovative experience.

We're all about the words.

 Words™. A unique, innovative concept based on the generation of meaning from parsing groups of symbols associated with sounds, this groundbreaking gameplay experience will add a whole new level of excitement – especially to the endgame!

Yeah, plus five baby!+5 mushrooms! Nuff said!

Easy Target For Satire - 4/5

30 new achievements, to make up for the lack of achievement you feel as you toil under the horrid conditions of late capitalism make your life even more funner!

 And that’s just the beginning!

  • Now compatible with 3D devices! You can play the game on any three-dimensional device that is also a PC, while using controllers that exist in three-dimensional space, like the mouse or the keyboard. (Doesn’t support touchpads and overly flat tablets.)
  • Due to popular demand, Ithaka of the Clouds will now include microtransactions. Using our fictional currency of “drachmas”, you will be able to purchase a variety of special items, including the Plot Overdrive, which will take you directly to the end of the game without the need to experience the story or interact with anything except the IthakaStore®.
  • Finally, with the cooperation of the Greek government, we have implemented a special algorithm that will adapt the meaning of Cavafy’s poetry, which is a major source of inspiration for this entry in the Lands of Dream franchise, to suit the needs of our beloved ruling class and their unique allies in the innovatively groundbreaking criminal/fascist crossover scene.

All these features and many more will be included in the DLC, entitled Violence Is A Dangerous Thing Except When It Upholds Our Authority: Dawn of the Sun of the Patriots Who Really Aren’t Thugs At All: Fall of Wargrind: Operation Grim Corridor (Quirky Indie Edition), which will come included with all versions of the game and can quickly be unlocked with an online blood sacrifice or 300 “drachmas”.

Day-one free-to-play DLC for hardcore casual indie AAA gamers.


Jorrum Dooga’s Book of Likely Facts

The Lands of Dream website is proud to announce that we will be regularly publishing extracts from acclaimed Oneiropolis University scholar Jorrum Dooga’s new masterwork, The Book of Likely Facts (Oneiropolis University Press). Though the author requires little introduction, he has humbly requested that we nevertheless introduce him, particularly since this website reaches a large audience of bees, who may not be as familiar with his work as other readers. So, briefly:

Jorrum Dooga bzzzzzbzzzzzzzzzzzz bzzz btzzzz. bzz. bzzzzzzzzzz bzzzzzzz, academic pheromone #3, bzzzzzz, bzzzbzzz, dance dance disco dance, bzzzzzzz bzzzz bzzz bzzbzz bzzzzzz bzzzzzzzzzz bzz. Bzzz bzzz, bzzz bzzzzz bzz.

That said, let us now enjoy the fascinating new insights that Jorrum Dooga has prepared for us.

Today’s fact:

Most people learn the classical names of large numbers in school: million, billion, trillion, quadrillion, bajillion, gazillion, fnudrillion, godzillion, trevillion, fubrillion, squillion, and so on. But there is one number that is less well-known to the human public: the number catillion. This number is defined as “the amount of tuna a cat would like to have” and was originally devised in an attempt to measure infinity. What makes the number particularly unique, however, is that it is always one unit smaller than itself, because cats always eat that one portion of tuna straight out of the definition.

Mathematicians have concluded that this makes the number very confusing and have signed a pact never to discuss it in public.

This fact and others will be collected in the Likely Facts section of the site. We would like to apologize for the fact that this section smells slightly of fox fur. Julian the Announcement Fox, who is totally not writing this, sometimes used to sleep in that section when it hadn’t been opened yet.

Not on Steam Sale

The Sea Will Claim Everything and a whole bunch of other indie games are on sale right here:

Not on Steam Sale

We love Steam. But there are lots of great games you can’t currently find there! Discover some of them here, and support indie development.

The minimum amount off is 25%, but many games – including TSWCE – are even cheaper. A great opportunity to support some of the smaller indie developers and get some awesome games for relatively little money.

If you already own TSWCE, remember that you can also get a copy for your grandmother, cat and/or imaginary friend.

Ithaka Update #2

The human called Jonas wrote this on his website:

The time we spent in Greece was great for Ithaka of the Clouds. Verena did a lot of drawing every day and, after some stylistic experiments, finished most of the images for the first part of the game. Yes, the game is divided into parts… but I really don’t want to spoil this stuff for you, so I won’t tell you everything. The first part is not the biggest part of the game, but it is fairly extensive and very important to the story, and being able to engage with it as we did in Greece really helped us to further define and shape what the game will be about.

I don’t know if this makes sense to anyone else, but one of the things that terrifies me about working on a new project is that trying to imagine something that is still just an abstract concept isn’t really possible. I remain quite nervous until the project turns into something specific, until it has characters and places and ideas I can work with, even if they’re flawed and require revision. That’s where we are with Ithaka now: it has people in it. And creatures. I believe I can honestly say that they include some of our daftest ideas yet, and that’s coming from the people who brought you a sentient piece of toast. So, yeah. The valley of the trolls is starting to feel like a real place now.

In other good news, Helen Trevillion, the composer of The Strange and Somewhat Sinister Tale of the House at Desert Bridge and The Book of Living Magic and most of The Fabulous Screech will be contributing some music to Ithaka! I’m extremely pleased about this, since Ithaka ties the previous games together on a variety of levels and it would feel wrong not to have some of Helen’s music in there. I still can’t believe how lucky I’ve been with the composers I’ve worked with over the years.

The updated versions of The Book of Living Magic and Desert Bridge are both still scheduled for later this year, and there might even be some other surprises. As for Ithaka itself, it will still take us at least six months. The reason for this is that I think we should not, under any circumstances, rush the game. We’re working on it constantly and we’re not wasting your money, but I think the only way to do the story justice is not to let ourselves be forced into cutting the game down to meet a self-imposed deadline. That’s the freedom crowdfunding has given us, the freedom to make the game right, and we want to embrace that. If you enjoyed our previous games, believe me when I say that the result will be worth it.

(Let me put this another way: a week ago or so Verena drew an image with ninety mushrooms in it. Ninety. God. Damn. Mushrooms. Yes, the images are bigger than those in The Sea Will Claim Everything. No, I have no idea how I’m going to write so many mushroom puns after having already filled several games with them.)

Now I will go back to work, and later Verena and I will celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary. Yay!

Thanks again for your support, everyone.

An Interview with Professor R.L. Smith

The work of Professor R.L. Smith hardly requires introduction; her books of history in particular are amongst the most cherished and acclaimed in all the Lands of Dream, noted for their beautiful language, devotion to detail, and carefully laid-out Marxist analysis. She is also noted for the inclusion of part of her life story in the Book of Living Magic, and in various translations and transubstantiations of that work.

We met Professor Smith in her office in the Infinite Cellar of Oneiropolis University, where she is currently researching her next work, Ithaka of the Clouds.

Honoured to meet you, Professor Smith.

Please, just call me Raven. I got used to the name a long time ago.

Speaking of a long time ago, how do you view the events recorded in the Book of Living Magic?

Fondly, I would say, in a way that sometimes breaks my heart. It was such an innocent time in my life, when it seemed you could just walk away from an unjust system and find freedom on your own. Back then, it really did seem possible that to change the world, you needed to change yourself. Now I’ve come to realize that changing yourself does matter, but only in so far as it means actively opposing the powers that be. I was making that choice, though I’m not sure I fully understood the extent of the consequences. I suppose few do, at first.

And how do you feel about the transubstantiated version of your story?

It’s not bad. I can’t complain. It can’t fully capture the experience of really opening the Book of Living Magic, but it carries enough of the truth in it that those who have never seen the Mountains of Oddness will get a glimpse of that beautiful land and its stories. And after all, I’m pretty much trying to accomplish the same thing with Ithaka of the Clouds.

I was going to ask about that. What exactly are you working on?

Well, as you probably know, troll stories are, by their nature, like the Book of Living Magic. Many scholars believe, in fact, that the Book of Living Magic was created by a troll, or at least made in the troll way. Ithaka of the Clouds is one of the most beloved troll stories, though its fame does not extend as far outside the troll diaspora as it deserves to.

My project is twofold: to make the story and its historical context better known in the Lands of Dream, and to create a transubstantiated version for those lands where the authorities would not allow the importing or distribution of troll stories. In the process I am also translating and annotating a remarkable work called The Book of Trollish Wisdom that was recently discovered in the reading toilets of Undertree Library.

Why have you chosen to work on Ithaka of the Clouds? What is it about this story that appeals to you?

Partially because I believe it deserves to be known, partially because I believe it is deeply relevant to the events of our time. Understanding the past is the only way to change the future; and sometimes this understanding can also give us hope, in ourselves and in the world.

What do you make of the recent attempts to silence your colleague and collaborator, Kohlrabian Dialecticus?

A disgrace, but not a surprise. Always watch for those who claim not to be friends of Urizen, but do not fight in the struggle against him.

Agents of his?

No, liberals.

Do you think your radicalism has caused you problems over the years? Many think that to speak out so loudly is to invite trouble.

Urizen marches on Oneiropolis. How much more trouble could we be in? How much worse do things have to get before certain “moderates” let go of their precious illusions? But I’m not as worried as you might think. Here in Oneiropolis itself, the doctrines of self-delusion have never caught root.

Do you have any plans for after Ithaka?

I do, actually. If the political situation permits it, my old friend Provatica and I will go out on the road. Ithaka of the Clouds has inspired me, you might say, or perhaps simply reminded me of the value of seeing the world with your own eyes.

Another adventure, then! We look forward to hearing about it, and to Ithaka of the Clouds. Thanks for your time.

You’re welcome. By the way, was that mushroom already growing on you when you came in? If not, you might want to drink this potion. Quickly.

Oneiropolis Compendium: The Moddey Dhoo

The Black Dog, as illustrated by Verena Kyratzes, from the Oneiropolis Compendium

It’s taken far too long to finish this new entry in the Compendium, which was promised a long time ago, but I’m glad it’s finally here, despite accidents and surgeries and other painful things.

  • Monkeys