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ZiMo23 Interview: Nico MacDougall

Nico MacDougall is raising money for the River Spirit, a solo journaling game. The project is raising money on Crowdfundr, but you can also find their other works on itch.


Q: Easy question first: Give us the elevator pitch of your project. Tell us about it in two sentences or less.


A: The River Spirit is a guidebook for a solo journaling experience that uses a deck of cards to help you create memories of your hometown and the community found there, only to remix them into new stories and eventually sacrifice those memories for the greater good. What are you willing to sacrifice for your hometown, and will it be enough?

Q: Is this your first ZineMonth project or have you done it before? If it's your first, talk a bit about what inspired you to give it a shot this year. If you've done it before, what's something you've learned from previous crowdfunding projects that you may be doing differently this time, or, if you're not doing anything differently, talk a bit about your previous projects.


A: This is my first ZineMonth project and only the second time I've ever even been aware of ZineQuest/ZineMonth happening. Last year when Kickstarter made the...interesting decision to move ZineQuest was my first introduction to this particular part of the indie scene. I backed a few projects last year and was really impressed by the creativity on display. Fast forward to about a month ago and I saw a video from Plus One Exp called "What's going on with ZiMo 2023" that detailed the plans for this February, and suddenly a few things clicked for me. First, the video (and the several other workshops from last year's ZiMo) made it all really approachable and accessible, like it was something that I could actually achieve. Second, there was this game that I had been tooling around with off and on for several years but just couldn't seem to fully finish that would be perfect to finish polishing up before this February. These two things together made me decide that this was the time to actually take one of my perpetually in-progress projects and actually finish it. A big part of embarking on ZiMo 2023 is just the desire to make something and put it out there for people to enjoy.

Q: Finally, tell us something about your current project that really excites you but the average backer may not be aware of. Maybe a twist to an old trope, a new way of presenting something, or maybe just something you've never tried before that you're using this as an opportunity to try out.


A: Something that I'm really excited about is the ending phase of this game where you start to destroy everything that you've done up to that point. To save your hometown and end the drought, you have to make a sacrifice to the River Spirit in the form of your memories. You do this by dripping water on the entries that you've written over the course of the game and then removing those wet parts of the page. I don't give much guidance beyond that, so players can target specific entries or drip randomly, do it all on one page or try to spread it out. It's completely up to them, but at the end of the game they'll have this artifact of play that has been permanently altered by the process of playing. You could come back to this journal later on and read these destroyed entries and maybe half remember what it was that you took out, or you might find that you've completely forgotten, and I think that's a really cool and completely unpredictable experience that you'll get from this game.

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