ABOUT BITTER WIND:

Bitter Wind is an adaptation of the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus’ tragedy Agamemnon. Through the HoloLens and a set of 3D fabricated puzzle pieces, players must learn the identity of the character whose POV they occupy, the backstory of the world she lives in, and why she has a murderous rage. Bitter Wind is supported by a grant from Northwestern’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research in the Arts.

Q&A with Elizabeth

How did you come up with the idea for the project?

After building a 2D side scroller combat adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, my team wanted to work on another canonical text to give the player the sense of what it means to live inside a famous story. After we did a HoloLens demo, we became fascinated with the idea of occupying someone else’s POV. This inspired us to think of the story of Agamemnon.

Describe the production process.

The project is still in development, so we are exploring a lot of different ideas. Right now, we are trying to figure out how the storyline will play out as well as what elements work best in the HoloLens. We are also in the process of working out how the 3D printed puzzle pieces will work.

What was your biggest hurdle in creating the project and how did you overcome it?

We’re at the beginning stages of our build, so the biggest hurdle to date has been finding answers to specific tech challenges. The technology is so new that there aren’t 50 online videos for every possible problem that might crop up. Fortunately, the people who are offering advice online are enthusiastic and helpful, so making personal connections and building community has been easier for a HoloLens project than it might be with, for example, a 2D side-scroller (like our first title).

What advice do you have for someone who wants to start building for mixed reality?

The mixed reality community is really open and welcoming, so I’d start by joining the Holo Developers Slack channel and reading through some of the posts there. I’d also recommend getting a demo on a headset from someone with a little experience with the system, because the possibilities for storytelling with mixed reality are pretty different from virtual reality–and from regular reality.

What excites you most about the future of mixed reality?

My theoretical research explores how video games create an opportunity for a new kind of performance, wherein players are the audience and the enactor at the same time. I’m excited about the opportunities for storytelling that mixed reality offers. The technology allows the storyworld to bleed over into the player’s environment. In a mixed reality experience, we’re simultaneously aware of ourselves and of our altered POV–and of our regular space, but inhabited by other presences. To me, it seems mixed reality isn’t an escape to a fantasy world–it’s a chance to see the actual world through new eyes. For a storyteller, that possibility is intoxicating.

Microsoft provided mentorship and guidance to each creator as part of this initiative.