And, the above seems like something of an indulgence. I can't however, express my feelings another way - it was hard to put together the drive to establish another article. I have changed subject, means and delivery multiple times, so I hope his works.
Cormorant are an awesome band, to start with - and Dwellings is one of those albums I would have placed in my contender for 2011's Release of the year. Let's get those minor details out of the way; so we know where I stand. It's a seamless work of Progressive Heavy Metal and hits like a truck ... if the truck was a perfect hybrid mixture of the 1970 and 1990's made by an impressively talented collective of auto-autists. However, my review of the actual album will have to wait, this post is a little more obsessive over a detail.
I had the fortune of reading a rather intriguing interview of Cormorant that I'll link later, which was both intriguing both in said and unsaid terms. There was valuable insight into the band's tastes through the opinions of member Arthur Von Nagel, the conclusions left me with much to consider as to the band's latest work and music in general .In between references to his history, upbringing and inspiration; his choice of musical passions and his band members, he expressed a succinct and painful concern for his job future - without a college degree and hoping the liquidation papers never rolled in.
Those types of concerns don't get acknowledged enough by all kinds of people, even those whom have a home, a family, a set of economic responsibilities. They change us. They shape us. Those responsibilities become as binding as the need for companionship or escape from routine for our sanity. For too many, accepting those is the 'end' of their credibility and where selling out becomes a concern. Thankfully, this is never uniformly true - embracing our collective need for some kind of finance can also strengthen an artist. Commercial does exist, it's too often sidelined, disrespected or ignored and honestly, I think Cormorant would not be the same band without it.
With all of that; we come to Unearthly Dreamings. This song.
The business of this post won't actually be to deconstruct the song or talk about why I consider it brilliant per se - so let's get the important details set first. Listen to it, The Entire Thing. Right, now that we have done that. The Interview.
Now, there will be spoilers below, since I'd rather discuss the content of the song; do heed this.
Unearthy Dreaming's as a song concerns the ill-fated voyage of the Soviet Cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov, whom died as a result of mismanagement and gross negligence associated with the Soviet space program when his Soyuz 1 vessel crashed after re-entry on April 24, 1967. He died having taken every conceivable action to right the difficult circumstances he found himself in - The Solar Panels failed, leaving Komarov underpowered and without access to navigation systems as well as faulty HF equipment. Despite these factors, the Cosmonaut was able to right the capsule and attempt re-entry, despite the ion engine system designed to assist with this also failing. On his nineteenth orbit, he successfully re-entered the Earth's atmosphere - no small feat for a Man locked in a deathtrap consistently transmitting incomplete or incorrect safety information.
It was at this late stage, he died.
The parachutes failed and the Soyuz 1 crashed into the ground, creating a mess from which few remains could be collected.
Rather anticlimactic, really.
With the right execution, this is potentially powerful stuff - the perfect nexus for a stunning Metal song which delivers a series of aimed, weighted and determined body-blows to the listener. The Cosmonaut's life is retold in reverse order, a sonorous (although compelling) of lyrical presentation. The unconfirmed (but touching) references to Yuri Gagarin aka “You cannot die in my stead,” whom Komarov felt determined to protect; the recordings from his last moments used as intro/outro, “Killers all!” he cried,, the story is clearly established, and I think effectively to boot. His death and the effects, highlighted - Komarov's last journey.
All of this is a powerful reservoir from which to draw, make no mistake. The story here is brilliant in my mind - the song is equally brilliant. However, "Brilliance" and "Legendary" have some gaps between each other; and Cormorant show a level of maturity reflected by their experience in smallest of touches for this song. It's those small details that create something quite outstanding. It's also worth acknowledging that Cormorant have a thing for Anti-Heroes or Villainous characters in their lyricism and their stories; which left my curiosity doubly piqued. Why Komarov? There was an edge to this song I felt existed but could not entirely appreciate, despite the delivery, the narrative, the passion - and the pitiless lyrical delivery. As with much in life, the key was in a small detail - the syntax, so often ignored when listening to a song.
"-- screaming --"
Why the emphasis? Cried, screaming; these words certainly invoke something. Often we bandy around terminology such as a "scream" to the point they lose real meaning- but a scream is supposed to be extraordinary, yes? A yell or a cry would be something moderate; but a scream - a scream has power. Frustration is highlighted, but there's something about this line, when combined with probably the highlight of a brilliant piece in 9.46
"to pluck the planets from a fertile sky."
Sky is delivered in this kind of discordant roar, half rage, half despair. At first I thought it was deft songwriting device. It's not hard to imagine Komarov raging in despair in his last moments either - and they use this to hitch the finale of the song (and the album) into a glorious assault of Dynamic and Triumphant Guitar solos that would make any prog fan most satisfied. There's something rich and indulgent about it, almost confident in the way youth, the energy of a band confident enough to let loose knowing they've hit it right.
But I had to read more, because it's a motif encapsulated by the last line's delivery in the song - 9.46 was already my favourite musical moment of the year. So I read more.
And there's the fact that to some reports, screaming
Reverse Narrative, starting in Medias Res.
Starting with his death.
Ending with his childhood, and his dreams and ambitions.
9.46 Isn't just a clever means to bring about a song's conclusion - it's spine of the song. Before it, narrative and exposition, a story being told. After, energy, guitars, a harrowing recording - and the end. The entire song's true emotional impact is built around a reference so obvious and yet so subtle. It's easy to look at it and go "recalling Komarov's last moments before he dies", as the narrator shifts from third to first person. It's another concept altogether to tie that with the symbolism of the era of innocence in manned spaceflight ending, to contrast the ambitions of a young man with the machine that would eventually cost him his life - as much the Soviet System as the capsule itself. All of the technical brilliance is just building on that.
It's a true sign of a band's maturity - and a sign of Cormorant's maturity as artists and as people, that they can turn cutting loose into something both confident and significant, arrogant and punchy - something with meaning and swagger. That they can build a showy, confident display of musical virtuosity in a way that makes the listener feel this is not just entirely appropriate, but warranty. But all of that is just window dressing - it's one person's attempt at a semi- analysis of a song they really liked.
I like it when ambitious songs try and tell a story. Cormorant set out to do this. The song builds to this.
And just for that one moment, Nagel is Komarov, and he is screaming.
I did promise I would look at something along the lines of Heathen, for a musical point of view.
However, I must postpone this further - or I may never get around to it. I will be working on two things in the future, one about soldier in competitive TF2, but more importantly (and taking priority), some gathering of thoughts about Four Walls / Paradise Circus, aka Massive Attack vs Burial and possibly something about Cormorant. I don't think it will be possible for me to write about anything else until I clear my feelings on this work.
Until then, byebye.
Sweat drop from face and soaks the ground
Bathe in cool salt wind in from the ocean
Melt the chains of day yet paid run free
Laughing Torchlight, cooklight, smoke of motion
Don't be Late don't be late don't be late
Sometimes, music is intimate. Truly intimate. The pressure releases, the tightness in your chest vanishes as quickly as it came. You can even breathe for a moment.
You might even stagger around the room with your headphones off, if you can scramble from the seat. Yes, sometimes music is truly intimate - and that's an experience people are too seldom challenged by.
Daboa's "From The Gekko" is just that.
Forgive me, it's not often I put the punchline verdict in the first paragraph. I probably have a lot of explaining to do, and more than already primed for disappointment. So, we'll begin looking at this little collection of songs, one of those audiophile moments of glory, an album music nerds really can get up on a table and claim to have enjoyed as if it means something. From the efforts of Frank Harris and Maria Marquez comes Daboa's From the Gekko - a rather accomplished effort from two long-time collaborators.
Music. It goes about it's business in many an underhanded and unexpected way/ One might point to the rise of synthetic media as the greatest example of this; crowing on about music created out of time, out of place. We all know this refrain - that said music is just 'constructed' and has no meaning or talent. Anyone (stated as if we all have innate musical talents) could 'do' it. I react predictably negatively to this kind of self-serving instrument-driven solipsistic bullshit, as I would expect most people to - which is why this album is so very indulgent for me. Not only is it aesthetically brilliant while so surprisingly .... genuine, it was assembled by the pen-and-paper equivalent of two underpaid interns who had been churning out editorial comics for a left-wing newsletter nobody gave two shots south of the border about. Take this album and wield it as a compact and beautiful bludgeon against all who believe you cannot create in your very own commercial studio / bedroom / attic / garage shed.
Did I mention this is a folk music record? Probably not. From the get go ... the 'sound' - not music, but 'sound' can leave a listener in awe. For the project of two people in a minor studio, it has a tremendous kick; clever and succinct, grand and subtle, all at once. That flexible duality applies to much more than the sound, however ... which leads me into another tangent.
Kill someone even. Or their dreams. This album is the goddamn Tardis of commercial studio recordings. From the opening minute of the first track 'Canton De Pilon", you know this album has bass - and twang. The crescendo of noise increases in tune with an image of women at work on pounding meal, and the album starts to come alive. In one track, in one experience - this album becomes enormous, as so very TINY as the premise originally appeared to be, a motif that sustains the entire album. There's subtlety, moments where you know the studio trickery went a mite too far, mistakes and glory, while you sit enthralled, uncaring. "Studio Trickery" doesn't seem like a fair comment at all - the experience is definitely achieved through studio editing, but there's an absolute sincerity to the music. There are no distractions or moments which take away from the experience of the album itself, and in that respect the production is naught but a success, uncovering new and thoroughly enjoyable details upon each new listen.
From the Gekko does a remarkable job of advancing the argument that yes ... sometimes those synthesizers and studio tricks are necessary for the best album possible. One listen to Jakarta's relentless chime, the beguilingly exotic vocals of Maria Marquez present on Mi Paris or Bein green, even the enthusiastically triumphant energy My New shoes or Ethnocity, and you might well be on board with me here. Every bit of this is delivered in what might well be described as a 'wave' of sound approach - the wall of power is there, but the delivery is genius. There are momentary lapses in intensity that are felt with such realism, ever so sharp strikes and slaps - you never quite feel like the album is letting up, but each moment has it's own texture and pattern. Joyously, there are few if any moments where the impact of the soundscapes at play ever feel the same. "Don't be Late" is the perfect epitome of this - a joyously enthralling celebration of equal parts energy and relaxation, built around some deceptively clever vocals. A truly astouding piece, on an album of standouts.
Each and every song manages that pleasing combination of continuity and uniqueness, it's identity both as a single track and part of one very complete album. Again the significance of the attention to detail strikes home - bird calls in Canton De Pilon, the rhythmic tapping of a Gamelan alongside Frank and Maria's vocals on "Shadowed Eyes". Rocks in a stream, subtly influencing the direction of each and every track, giving Jarkarta's enormous, almost suffocating depth and grandeur along with jazz instrumentation, Don't Be Late's relaxed album-closing melodies ... much can be written that is better experienced. The end result is an album that demands repeated listening on two levels; to enjoy each individual song as an experience, to be reminded that this is a genuine album as much as it is a collection of individually strong melodies. The fulfilling presence of duality raises itself once more as a result. From the Gekko remains so incredibly easy to relax with, it enjoy ... and yet the passion and complexity in crafting requires a focused ear to really appreciate.
I would like to think I understand how little tolerance an ardent audiophile has for the 'plastic' album. An album that claims to connect with the suffering of the exploited that is few more than a pastiche of soundbytes and reference to cliche, children crying. "Latin" influences played with all the passion and meaning of a tripartite of session musicians over a forgotten drumskin we'd all presumed to forgive and forget. The implications are obvious - if anyone can 'create' music without playing an instrument, the resultant shame leaving all who endure with a lingering sense of disappointment. Yet, repeated listens of this album will leave you with no such pretense, the album has a genuine sort of oneness. One might say that your suspension of disbelief is not only preserved but enhanced by all the content, be it gamelan samples, Maria Marquez's references to Venezuluan and Mexican Sensibilities, the pop-rock synthesizers that Frank Harris chooses to add at points, or even the recordings of what I believe is the Dalai Lama. It is esoteric, and dangerous - but works. Somehow.
Escapism in music is one of those attributes award to a truly exceptional album, one that awards us genuine satisfaction. These triumphs should attack and challenge, our imagination, our senses - aesthetic intelligence in which we are at our peak receptively, when we are truly awake and alive. One can be be challenged by this album at pace which is both comfortable and exciting. The essence feels staggeringly authentic despite the purely studio origins, the music consistently engaging and varied, esoteric and beguiling. You will hear the jungle, and the world - and you will be presiding over a deep sense of satisfaction should you possess top quality audio gear that it has been appreciated here. For those who are into visual stimulation, I contest that you might receive quite a kick out of (ha!) kick-ing back in a comfortable chair with eyes closed and seeing where From The Gekko takes you. The rain sticks, chieftains, Dalai Llama's and Guitar comes together in a gloriously rich little piece of music. Indulgent, even.
Fundamentally, this one of the finest albums I possess, one that I would of course recommend to anyone with the slightest interest in folk, or music in general. It is difficult to imagine that most listeners out there will not be held to an aural account by the detailed and consistent songwriting, or the over-arching strength of the instrumentation and album quality. It seems there is always involved in Folk Music those whom want to create a 'real' experience can all to often find the fruits of their labour as a contrived and 'fake' product. Daboa's From the Gekko is anything but fake, in both intent and execution and should be far more appropriated and respected than it is. Above all else this album is a celebration of limits in Folk Music and what can be done by two very motivated and talented people in a studio.
And by 'celebration' of limits, I of course mean to wholeheartedly ignore them.
There's a number of terminologies applicable to the way I go about video games. De-constructing them in every sense of the word, taking apart the pieces in a myriad of Forms. I play a game with the tightest of self-imposed restrictions in one play-through, while exploring every myriad of the story in another. Metagaming and an unquenchable desire for narrative-based fulfilment more or less run together, to a degree where I can be playing a game for six months attempting to get a "perfect" run-through*. Making sure to check every single piece of code I can, as well as all exploits and notes, to ensure I don't miss a thing.
The game in question is Crestfallen Studios's The Way - a game I would nominate as my personal favourite RPG of all time.
I should begin by noting this with a significant preface - I will be referencing much of the Easter Eggs/Secrets in the game as explained in this guide here, and thus - Spoilers beware.
Characterising the vRPG community - or the RPG community in general is a fascinating and demanding task. Nevertheless, one of the defining aspects of that quintessential bastion of nerdism is the ardent love of the character. Call it fanboyism, even-handed appreciation of subjective qualities ... or acknowledging fact. There's a number of imalleable concepts that a great many "Epic" games in this field establish from the start - the mighty quest of adventurers to stop a world-ending power, of which many variations devise (hello Final Fantasy). There's the equally established - although often more subtle "Refine/Discover/Salve" The self - another category I think brilliantly summarised by examples such as Yume Nikki (play this. cry at the end).
All of these conventions have become understood - to the point where we as a ardent brotherhood of analysis can usually pick apart the great scheme of a plot long before the game finishes. Which naturally leaves us both keeping an even keener eye; we desire jaw-dropping execution of what we know, all the while hoping crossing our fingers that in some fundamental way this storyline will surprise us. It's one thing to be in awe of FLAWLESS EXECUTION ... but to do so in uncharted territory, where others have failed before, that's something. When it comes to RPG plots, the claws are well and truly out, for the backbone of the story better be both enduring and pliable, to meet both the demand for execution and some measure of clever originality. In this context ... The Way starts entirely as a quest about a girl.
Not saving a childhood friend, or an established relationship between two existing characters introduced in the opening five minutes of the story ... the main character Rhue, is chasing the memory of a girl to better understand his past, a girl linked to him through a traumatic moment of violence in their lives. That's it.
At this moment you breathe in deeply. The doubt might have already crept into your psyche upon opening the damn thing - RPGmaker? Talk about setting the difficulty bar from Very Hard to "Very Hard with Hardcore Mode enabled, minus the tag skills, on eleven"*. Those with a fetish for modern graphics might well have shifted from the chair into seven stages of bodily-fluid-based-disgust already, but I implore you to stay (after cleaning up, of course). You will be missing something - as tired as the old cliché about books and covers might be, as well as my use of the cliché in describing it in this fashion. Like every aspect of this game - you have to play it and let it develop naturally. This may be considered by many people as a flaw, I acknowledge this, while disagreeing with it.
*Sue me, I'm playing Fallout New Vegas at the moment.
Purpose, Travellers, The Way ... these are all words you will become familiar with as you start understanding the jargon and setting of this little adventure, set in a standard world of fantasy fare. The Way chooses to seat itself in a Medieval (or thereabouts) world constantly on the move in a circle - no, this is not a poor joke. The "Way" itself refers to the process that all of the people inside the game world are constantly moving forward, relocating belongings, lives ... everything forward. They do this nominally to avoid being swallowed up by a "Fog" which follows behind ... following a path of bridges, roads, trails and wells set ahead of them by mysterious "Forerunners". The motif of forward progress carries a second implication of course ... if the setting is spherical ... it implies cyclical renewal as well, a theme that's rather interesting to reflect upon in the context when you've completed the game.
Of course, in line with the often cryptic details about the setting of The Way, don't expect a clear explanation as to what this all means. I am generally terrible at explanation of plots of course ... so I encourage all those interested to play the first episodes, and see what that's all about.
The plot of course develops - and in a sense this originally very narrow "Plot Focus" assists with things. Rhue's stubbornness in chasing what is more or less a vaporous dream feels so unbelievable and yet appropriate. To use a literary comparison in the Great Gatsby ... we all laughed at his mannerisms and block-headiness, yet the book still resonates with one of the cornerstones of western democracy and upward social mobility. Over time, the plot expands to encompass more characters and many world-spanning and defining organisations, as would naturally be expected. It also goes down that familiar line of becoming increasingly darkier, edgier - and more exciting and unpredictable. The range of environments both social and topographic explored provides a good twenty or thirty hours of play time - and remains focused and exciting without overstaying it's welcome. That of course leaves out all of the ever so enjoyable Easter eggs and Secrets, of which there are truly many.
However, I must note here a clever - and fitting undermining of this classic development idea in that while Rhue becomes drawn into factions with the power to change or save the world, the paradigm of the game itself remains Narrow. Rhue may tilt factional balance in the largest city on the game-world on it's head, and undermine some of the more powerful martial factions ... but the world fundamentally does not end up ripped in half by the presence of the PC. In a lot of respects, I love this it gives so many of the narratives meaning. While Rhue may have provided a direct and indirect catalyst to some of the events that occur, so much of the situation was in place long before he arrived and will continue to be developing - for all the cruelties and moments of mercy, for better and worse, long after he is gone. The absence of a clear direction in all of the endings leaves us with that; even if the cost may be player frustration for a while.
You can walk away from these endings with a growing smile in your psyche and your mind, even if it's not on your face.
Call it a respectable establishment of continuity. This becomes even more interesting when Rhue's identity - physical, spiritual mental, are all called into question (OMFG PLOT TWIST). The fact that the line of Darker, Edgier, more involved is a snowballing sent rolling from the start - as well as the choices of a number of rather introspective and appropriate endings. These range up and down the spectrum depending on how you played, even your actions at the very start of the game.
This game wasn't created by the efforts of a team behind the driving engine - although the legions of testers and doubtless, editors had their say. To bow to Lun's remarkable honesty on the condition of his own psyche through in-game notes - "Challenges bring despair or innovation.", all linked to emotion and energy; all chained to the realities of Human experience. This shines through in the characters and they all seem to have many more flaws than redeeming qualities at many points through the narrative. In short, it all comes together to create a very compelling story and set of character interactions, all worth you time. Furthermore, Lun's willingness to dispose of them is something comparable to Planescape Torment - something both braver than Black Isle Studios and easier at the same time, given the lack of fame associated with the work of Crestfallen. Put simply, it works very well.
The characterisation could definitely have backfired. The reluctant weapon Slade's Blance between "Good", "Evil" and "contextually righteous", the arrogant and abusive Strata, clever, witty, world-weary warrior Traziun could all have been botched with a lesser writter. Gaius and Kloe run ever so close to the tropes of White Knight/Paladin and Annoying-out-of-her-league-lassie, yet become enjoyable side-sto ... I'm carrying on now. The short version is that Lun C - by hook or by crook, design or accident, successfully makes his characters Human. I feel it's significant enough to acknowledge the risk that was taken here. At many a point they feel like archetypes, stereotypes or tropes ... and yet at no point did I feel this ruined the believability. Rather, it enhanced the experience.
Gameplay-mechanics wise, the game reflects the plot - it's basic RPG fare in many aspects, combined with enough originality and pinpoint execution to be "excellent!" in the sound-bite kind of way. The concept that is new is the Mini-game "The Plunge" (as well as a few other minigames), which simulates a simultaneous Jousting/Sword duel fusion, and while simplistic, manages to be surprisingly addictive. The levelling doesn't have a huge requirement for grinding levels or increasing abilities (and is mostly accomplished with using "notches" in swords to hold items), which allows the prospective player to focus completing the storyline - but also fully capable of nerding it up and power-gaming their characters to be tanks. There are even options to skip the combat if that takes your fancy, providing an option for everybody.
The notion of "Experience" is perhaps the best context by with which to evaluate the graphics and all-so-important music. Given RPGmaker, the graphics are obviously going to be utilitarian, reminding any viewer of their SNES days and giving the game a certain charm. The sound on the other hand, is excellent. Drawing from a number of midi files from many a game - Lunar II Eternal Blue being of note and some custom pieces - such as the exceptional A Time and Place made for the game , The Way's soundtrack does a truly exceptional job of setting the scene. Cave battles, running for one's life in a collapsing city-state, trapped in a dream-like recollection of past friends and memories, or traversing an icy tower to find answers ... there's not a single moment the music doesn't truly succeed, I recall. It's all very involving and in some ways it could be overwhelming for some, but I honestly believe it works out as a massive net positive.
A respectable Myriad of people out there do not believe in Video Games as an Art form, or as a legitimate form of Media at all. Naturally, I dispute this and would cite The Way as a primary example. Plot, characters, interaction, dialogue, music sound gameplay ... these are drawn together with their own composite flaws to create what I feel is one of the greatest of the RPG and Video Game experiences. Just as other critically acclaimed games create and attract the gamer into their Experience - The Fallout Series, Deus Ex and Starcraft all being great examples, The Way also strikes it home.
Because fundamentally graphics, gameplay, storylines ... these are means to an end, nothing more. Quake and Doom drew people in their experiences in a completely different way - frenetic action, yet are also timeless classics with good reason. Certainly, I would also posit the polemic that this is why certain generations struggle to understand the appeal of the Art/Media before them - context is important of creating an experience because context defines the audience we create for.
So with that in mind, who is the Way's Audience and why is it such a strongly defined and involving experience that I rate as one of my favourite games of all time? At the risk of becoming too indulgent, I think I'll cite some of the notes of the Author himself.
Note: Why leave this woman here? No one ever sees her and yet she's still here.
Why hesitate to delete her? I don't know. My plans always grow greater and greater
and I thought I'd need her. But now new things occupy my mind.
Note: So I'll just let her stand idle, unseen, and unkown to the average person.
But maybe she'll occupy someone else's mind someday.
Probably the best means of summarising this game comes to light above. The Way is a unique undertaking to play and doesn't get nearly enough of the respect it deserves, an acknowledgement given by Lun all along. It has bits and pieces that probably don't need to be there and could be removed to present a more cohesive experience. The Characterisation could be less ambitious and risky, the aural Involvement assault less obvious ... or the cryptically intricate setting and plot altered to give the player more "fulfilment" in a straightforward conventional sense. But that would for me, utterly ruin the experience.
All of these considerations are subjective, of course; many will dispute them. So instead of continuing on I'd like to refer to the person who can best express the strength of feeling and energy placed in this game - The Author/Creator/whatever himself, Lun Calasari.
Note: It's a late night, but I'm almost finished. Watched some movies tonight with the neighbor
girls. Man, I've got to add enemies to the Forest area after this. I think I'll easily finish
before the end of February. Might do some special stuff for Lexus quest.
Note: Episode 3 got released just a little while back, been getting about 2 or 3 letters a day.
Trying to help everyone who is asking me questions as best I can.
Note: I'm still feeling lots of pressure to do something that "matters". Games are considered to
be silly and childish by a lot of people around me. Or maybe it's just me.
Note: They don't see it the way I do. That's all right.
Call this game a labour of expression. The consistency of the note-taking, the lack of certainty in what he has accomplished ... Lun doesn't pretend to give answers. What he underwent to write this game was agonising and neither fully describable, even by him. A thousand things could have gone horribly wrong with this game; judging by his notes, a thousand did. But the end product is something I can't bring myself to justify any real changes to. Fundamentally, I believe the best value of a piece of art in respect to what it "represents", how "true" it is to representing and portraying the Author/Creator's wishes and "being" ... is by the happiness it brings them. I don't really know if The Way brought Lun happiness in the end, measured on a scale of positives and negatives - just the same way as I can't know if say, The Black Parade did so for the band My Chemical Romance. Only he knows that. However, I do hope it was worth it for him in the end.
It would be a terrible shame if it was his The Pale King By that I'm not so much implying physical (ie, suicide or self-harm or whatever) as a vessel born through a person's great effort and considerable agony that was never truly alleviated. All of this is perfectly epitomised as you walk away from the game at Episode Six - as the stunning "A Time and Place" plays, recognised by Lun himself
If a person doesn't feel anything listening to A Time and a Place at the end of Episode 6
as the credits roll, then maybe I have failed them.
The Way works phenomenally as it is ... and even Even if Lun could have written on and on, an infinite number of words, would it ever have been enough to answer all questions? It leaves you with that doubt on top of the experience - why is this game here and why did the author subject himself to so much misery to complete it? The ending; and indeed, the entire journey doesn't give enough answers for finality. I find it beauteously appropriate that it never will and hope one day, the answer you will be happiest with will occupy your mind.
But I know what my answer is.