Milky Way Prince

Culture - 29 July 2020

Milky Way Prince is the first videogame experiment by Lorenzo Redaelli, student of the IULM Master in Game Design. In a few days it will be published by an independent Italian publisher and marketed internationally. Read the interview!

A first-person visual novel that stages a psychologically abusive relationship with a person suffering from Borderline personality disorder. A love story between a boy and a shooting star. Milky Way Prince: The Vampire Star, is the first videogame experiment by Lorenzo Redaelli, IULM student of Communication, Media and Advertising first and then of IULM Master in Game Design, which will be published on August 13th by the Italian independent videogame publisher Santa Ragione. A very uncommon result considering that it does not often happen that a project developed in a university programme is released by a publisher and marketed internationally.

From Kunihiko Ikuhara's animations to Robert Wilson's set designs, from Bertolucci's hazy atmospheres to Lana del Rey's musical imagery, to Antonioni's silences. There are many different inspirations and artistic, literary, cinematographic and musical references that coexist harmoniously in Milky Way Prince, an authentic and ambitious project that makes Lorenzo one of the most promising independent authors of narrative games.

Read the interview!

Milky Way Prince is going to be released in a few days by the Italian independent video game publisher Santa Ragione. Really an extraordinary result considering that it doesn't often happen that a project developed in a university programme is released by a publisher and marketed internationally. Even more extraordinary if you think that this is your first videogame experiment. What do you think is the strength of Milky Way Prince? How did the idea for this video game come about and what were your inspirations?

It's really incredible, for me in the first place! I think the main thing about Milky Way Prince, but also what scares me the most, is its authenticity. The whole project is inspired by a real event in my life. Milky Way Prince is in fact, for me, a sort of personal diary, a way to overcome, exorcise, analyze a complex and difficult moment. I needed to tell myself, to reinterpret myself, to look at what had happened to me from different points of view and I believe that the videogame tool is fully suited to this aspect, the videogame becomes a machine capable of collecting different parallel and alternative possibilities, explorable according to a precise logic that is what the artist gives to the project. Although I wanted to show a portion of my private life, I remain a reserved person, for this reason I decided to give the narrative a metaphorical layer, that of the stars and astronomy, a sort of veil useful also to deal more simply with a sensitive topic such as mental disorders. To do this I was mainly inspired by the Japanese animation director Kunihiko Ikuhara, master of symbolist narration, able to reduce complicated and sometimes incommunicable concepts to a minimum symbol. Then, of course, I tried to integrate in an organic and continuous way aspects derived from my many passions, from Robert Wilson's essential theatrical sets to Bertolucci's hazy atmospheres, from Masaaki Yuasa's character design to Suehiro Maruo's plastic poses, from Lana del Rey's musical imagery to Antonioni's silences.

When and how did your passion for the world of videogames begin?

Actually I've never been the typical gamer, in fact I think I'm also quite poor as a videogame player, I've always been more attracted to cinema, at least in my first twenty years. What has always fascinated me, though, since I was a child, has been the extremely immersive and multimedia narrative ability of videogames. When I played Pokemon I didn't fight, I was enchanted by the poetry of the journey and the exchange of the same two lines of dialogue with the various NPCs of that world. When I was 19 years old, however, I was struck by the Japanese visual novel Umineko No Naku Koro Ni - "When the Seagulls Cry", nothing particularly innovative from a technical point of view, in fact a linear, simple work, a fantasy/mystery novel to read on the computer in which, however, the text was enhanced and supported by images, animations, music and sounds. The technical simplicity was, however, compensated by an extreme complexity of the plot and the infinite levels of reading the story, a narrative puzzle in which what could not be shown was completed by your imagination. I was really enraptured and from there I began to wonder about the possibilities of this narrative technology.

How much the skills acquired during the Master allowed you to achieve the excellent result obtained with MIlky Way Prince and which doors opened to you once you finished this course of study?

How much of the skills acquired during the Master have allowed you to achieve the excellent result obtained with MIlky Way Prince and what doors have been opened to you once you have finished this course of study?

The Master was fundamental because it allowed me to dissect and analyze every aspect of the videogame medium in a microscopic way. Moreover, it was really enlightening to get in touch with the indie reality, where real experimentation and novelty happen. It was, basically, an excellent exercise for mental and imaginative suppleness, how to range and expand while remaining focused on a concept that must always be supported by design elements. I hope never to lose this approach and this rhythm! After finishing my studies, thanks to the publication of Milky Way Prince, I can say I'm pursuing the dream of establishing myself as an independent author. Among festivals and contracts I hope to be closer every day!

Going into detail about your work, how does the process of designing a videogame work?

I'll say that I think I'm a case apart, since I consider myself as belonging to the alternative reality of production. I deal with narrative games, so, as for a novel, I start from asking myself "what do I want to tell" followed by the technical implication of "how can I tell it", then find a technique that supports the answer to the first question. Once I find this combination, at least for me, it's all quite easy. Then I move on to the aesthetic aspects, in a broad sense, making an obsessive search for artistic, literary, cinematographic and musical references that can live peacefully within the universe I want to create. Having done this I start making prototypes on the editor I want to use. For me it is useful to find a basic "atomic" structure of the game, which can be repeated, and dedicate myself to it as if it were the pilot of a series. I spend about a third of my production time only on the first chapter, just because that will be the unit of measure of the whole project (and it will be what the publisher will see, as well as my first demo).

Do you already have other projects in the making?

Yes, I'm working on a new game, a very Italian one, about the demons of my generation in Italy. I perceive it as a digital and interactive graphic novel, a "graphic visual novel". With this new project I hope to bring my production to a better quality level, so that it is also a tribute more than worthy to the many cultural personalities of our country that are inspiring me.

Which suggestion do you have for those who dream of making a videogame?

Not to imagine a videogame as a videogame. There is so much unexplored territory! Not every videogame has to be fun or entertaining, you don't have to shoot or walk around, just as not every movie has to be comedy or full of explosions. So if the desire to develop a project is born out of expressive needs, don't be influenced by what is standard. It's the best way to be noticed! You can be boring, obnoxious, sad if you need to be. Above all, don't make videogames for videogamers, only then will the medium acquire a dignity equal to that of a book or a film.