Untitled Small Games Club - Beeswing - March 2020

So, it occurred to me, like… last week, that the name is probably “bee’s wing” and not… “bee swing” like I thought it was.

How do you read it?

  • The wing of a bee
  • A swing built for a bee

0 voters

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Now that you’ve put ‘bee swing’ in my head, I refuse to consider any alternative.

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This is so good. I never knew the joy of envisioning a bee on a swing before now.

(I totally voted with my head instead of my heart tho :smile:)

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I didn’t even think this game was pronounced anything else until you split the words. I can’t be helped, they didn’t use an apostrophe!

In case anyone needs it, there’s a guide I found on Steam on how to find a lot of the stuff in the game. Most of it is pretty straight-forward, but some of it is kind of confusing.

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I unfortunately haven’t had the time or energy to dive into this fully yet. I did play a little bit and want to say that I like how characters are drawn in different styles. The lack of cohesion embroiders the village into a distinct set of characters, not just NPCs standing about.

It’s cool.

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So, I’m incredibly excited to hear how others feel about this game! I think there are some really beautiful stories and segments of this game. There’s such a huge range of tone here. It can be deeply sad and absolutely hilarious in the same minute. It’s also so thematically rich, of growing up, of aging, of leaving home.

On returning to it, I think the reason I love Beeswing so much is because it is intensely personal in a way I had never seen in a game before. Everything from the art to the writing just feels incredibly close and open and willing to share the creator’s interiority. I don’t know how much of the game is autobiographical, but there is an intimacy in this game that is unlike any other I’ve played.

I think this exposes to me the kind of intimacy games are capable of. Games like Beeswing aren’t essays or stories; they’re diaries, put up as wallpaper. It’s a personal space to explore. Thoughts and emotions are dispersed through it, and being able to explore them as a player can elicit those those same experiences in you. It takes your hand and says “live with me for a minute here.”

And I think that’s is a really powerful and beautiful thing.

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On the name: I found this song while googling the game, in case you want to hear someone pronounce it!

I just played through! Unfortunately I ran into a glitch with one of the characters and wasn’t able to complete their arc; when I returned to Andy and tried to answer the phone, a page with just the word “Text” appeared and covered the screen. It stayed every time I left and re-entered the house :frowning: . Aside from that though, I completed all the tasks!

I love the art style of the whole game. The transitions between different forms of presentation and music were great!! I also liked that there were a lot of “empty spaces”, landscapes and interiors that didn’t have any text or objects to interact with.

I felt really melancholy throughout most of my time playing. Of the themes @vehemently mentioned (and all that I picked up on), the one that struck the strongest chord was the experience of leaving home/a community. Talking to the children at the playground and the people in the care home and, well, just about everyone feels a lot like when I think about the suburbs that I grew up in. Remembering neighbors, wondering about the lives of teachers I once thought strange, guessing what happened in the spaces of town I never visited; there was so much more going on in their lives than I could have ever known at the time and ever will know. I can only project my current anxieties and assumptions on to them. The jumps between laying in bed with your partner and exploring the town, and the fact that children speak so bluntly about things children wouldn’t know and the different art styles for different spaces really nail the feeling that it’s all memory/reflection.The game felt like a meditation on the experience of looking back at your life and realizing your own understandings of the world were incomplete, while also coming to terms with the fact that you’ve changed and will continue to change.

It felt kind of cynical and scary to me, but there were also some really funny moments. I burst into laughter when you find Ben and after telling his mom she mocks you for telling her about it. The cynicism also doesn’t feel particularly negative, in a way? I don’t know how to explain it but once I wrapped up my time with it I felt really compelled to engage more with life and focus on my writing. The writing and art are really wonderful and inspiring. I would’ve never played this game without this suggestion and I’m super glad I did!!

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This game is really good. And it hates TV.

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Getting called out by this game

This really was delightful. A sidelong view into village life, with the wonky aesthetic. Calling it a “diary” feels very apt. At the very beginning I was a little frustrated how every character sounded somewhat similar, but more and more I realised that it was a projection more than a depiction. Everything here is coloured by the Jack’s own recollections and ideas of Beeswing, rather than being “true to life”.

I agree too about the cynical components not really being negative, because the joy and humour balanced it out well. The game doesn’t feel like it’s despondent and cynical throughout, it’s just included as a fact of life. Not including it would probably make this game feel far too twee and chipper, a sanitised take on rural life.

I’m not sure how closely this maps to others’ experiences. But certainly in the Republic of Ireland, small villages and rural communities are being somewhat left by the wayside with intense urbanisation happening. A lot of services are concentrated in large towns and cities, leaving smaller communities to fend for themselves. That vibe permeated my experience of Beeswing.

I got the same bug as Rupa with that quest, which is a shame because I really did want to see what happened when returning with some guidance from the city priest, even though there was a church right by the terrace. It was just inaccessible. I’m not sure if that really would’ve meant much in the conclusion but I was certainly thinkin about it.

Time to go play that copy of Dujanah I’ve had for a year now.

Also! Voting for the next game to play is currently underway in this thread:

Come vote for what we play and discuss in April.

But of course continue Beeswing discussion in the mean time. :slight_smile:

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I’m glad that y’all found it as lovely as I did; I was worried as I was replaying that my delight was an exception!

I completed the bit with Andy and took screenshots for those of you got an error. (@Rupa @SuperBiasedMan) It does not go where I was expecting, haha.

Spoilers

Also, this album :heart: :heart: :heart:

EDIT: for the record, this album is where the song Hell To Up comes from, which is played live by Silverley Allen in the bar in Beeswing

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Response to Spoiler Above

Haha, amazing that’s not what I was expecting either but I love that expression of Andy’s character.

After a very tumultuous month I finally played this to a satisfying end. I also ran into the bug with Andy (thank you vehemently for the caps!), but maybe more notably almost no music tracks played for more than a few seconds which gave the game a bit of an empty feeling.

It’s very personal nature always took some effort to get into the mindset for, which isn’t a negative – it’s just been one of those months. In the end I didn’t feel it to be overly cynical, rather very bitter about how the mechanisms of our current society throws people away, but hopeful in that people can still care for each other.

Favorite vignette: Tony.

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I like how the art shifts abruptly as you move between places: sometimes it feels incomplete, sometimes raw, sometimes warm, sometimes cold. So many games chase an aesthetic coherence, and Beeswing ignores such conventions.

The dialogue got some getting used to. The villagefolk don’t talk like people. At the beginning it felt a bit wordy, and the font was a bit hard to read. A lot of it is philosophical and bleak, and the topics seem almost randomized across all the NPCs. What does it mean to have a crudely drawn kid spout ruminations on life at you? As it went on, the overall effect was like, not so much getting to know the people in this place, but more like it’s creating a gauzier feel of the people and the town, like it’s either representing a burrowed worldview inherent to that place, or a person’s specific associations of that place. Lots of death, and existentialism. One of the locations after all is a cemetery, another a senior care home.

The visual and aural aspects were really striking, and the writing for the most part was also pretty good and sincere. There are really some affecting conversations and stories, like one about Beatrice (which was quietly devastating), or about your cat. I’m not sure that the slow walking quite worked for me; it didn’t really feel like exploring, especially indoors spaces. The reading already enforces a certain pace, and the walking between characters sometimes felt like… if I had to wait between the pages of a book. I think I might’ve liked more of a point and click interface, and there was a less exhausting font. Maybe that changes too much.

I did appreciate it a lot! It feels personal, from the singing to the art to the anecdotes. So many games have a distance to them.

I see the diary aspect a lot in what other people here are describing. Is this game really cynical, even? It felt more… well it covers a lot of emotions. Scared? Grounded? Stoic? Its concerns scales up and down a lot.

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Just to drill down more specifically, I had a bit of a different read on things. I didn’t read it as just “the town”, I read the dialogue as being what the protagonist, Jack, projected onto people. But he was projecting his understanding of those people. So the kid is eloquent because Jack understands the kind of idea about the world that kid has, or perhaps will develop. But the kid themself couldn’t yet express islt in the way Jack does. This creates a weird effect because of how people offer different ideas, but they’re all through a strange filter of expression.

For my part, I felt some characters expressed cynicism. But that was just one viewpoint among many.

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So, this is something I’ve been thinking about. I’ve been very happy to see people enjoying this game; I was worried that I would be alone in my delight. But a lot of folks here have expressed this feeling of cynicism underlying the game, even if they end up not feeling that way by the end.

So I’d like to examine that word: “cynicism”. When I hear that word, I often find myself wanting to tack on the word “naive” in front of it. To be cynical is to be sardonic, to sneer at others for their beliefs, to take others in bad faith. It’s not a generally kind term; the name doubles as an insult (kuni- also means “doglike”). And I’m someone who considers myself a kind of cynic!

But in that capacity, I do not think the term “cynical” is appropriate for Beeswing. What I do see in Beeswing is an attempt to be realistic. Cynicism is often mistaken by its practitioners as realism, but what I see in this game is honesty about the situation. It feels like the voice of the game is willing to be pessimistic about situations that call for it.

Where I feel this pessimism most is the visit to the nursing home. In this segment, I feel like the game is very willing to accept how sad some of this situation is. There are gags and plenty of sweetness there, sure, folks dance and discuss love. But there is a deep sadness attached to the whole situation. You speak with people in their rooms, a tenant expresses horror at their aging, another expresses living with his wife’s dementia, another teleports you into a musical number about being abandoned. At the same time, I think about the balloon bit. You hear the story of a relationship that ends. And then, abruptly, the balloon pops. Or for completing Ben’s sidequest to be appropriately meaningless. These have the cadence of a joke. There is, along with a pervasive melancholy, a pervasive mirth in Beeswing.

There are stories in this game of death, of aging, of pain, of hatred, of disgust. And I think what Beeswing attempts to do is sit with those feelings. To address head on the stories of people like Beatrice, like Tony, like Pipkin, and Danny, and Jack, and admit that these stories are both sometimes funny or sweet and sometimes very sad.

I think about what Danny says when you visit him again.

“I have bad days, and I have better days.”

Me too, buddy.

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Right, it means the kid isn’t actually just a kid. The playground was one of the first places I visited to on my last play session, and where I really thought about what all these characters meant. Like I said, I thought some of the dialogue felt almost randomly matched across the characters, so some of them felt like they were representatives of idle thoughts and memories as Jack walked along (or thought back), and not specific people that Jack talked to and then projected onto. Although now I’m crossing into Jack-the-author territory. But projections is a good word to describe them.

I briefly grappled with whether calling the game’s tone “celebratory” would be correct. Decided against it, and thought about “accepting” or “resigned.” Then settled on stoic. Which are all very different! Realistic is right. Melancholy is right.

I’m looking through that tourist’s guide, and I missed a few of the side stories. I’m said I missed more about Beatrice. I might go back and follow that thread. And that balloon!

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I don’t recollect that Beatrice has any dialogue outside of silence? If others know that’s not the case, please let me know!

I believe she has a scene where she shows you a photo and talks a bit, but I can’t recall the specifics? Maybe I’m wrong.

Enjoying the discussion here, and as April begins I just want to link to our new thread for Where the Water Tastes Like Wine

Discussion here can continue of course!

Also, if you enjoyed Beeswing please consider supporting Jack with a purchase, or check out his other projects, like Dujanah.

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