Game Idea #21 is about Diaphainein, a Cloud City. It is one of the visions I maintain about my favorite story in Italo Calvino’s “Invisible Cities”, the story about the portable city Sophronia. I imagine Diaphaeinein as a nomadic city, a wandering star, a cloud city that moves with the winds and hides behind clouds to protect itself from the eyes of too ambitious earthlings.
To connect this idea to another novel of Italo Calvino: I also imagine Diaphainein as the final destination of Cosimo, the hero in Il Barone Rampante.
Anyway, now let the game speak for itself. Here comes:
Game Idea #21:
The next time when you look up to the sky, be patient and look deep into the clouds. After a while your eyes will see in a way they haven’t seen before. Then you will notice a big cloud within the clouds. It has a slightly different shade and shape. Very gently this different cloud will come to the foreground. Then you will suddenly see the white ropes and white baskets attached to it. And the big white magnificient balloons… Ah, there it is! You see it now: Yes, this is Diaphainein. Loft like an ocean of cotton it is. Enjoy this moment in which it reveals its beauty to you; close your eyes, carve this image into your memory. Imagine yourself up there, yes, look down to the slowly travelling fields and rivers below. Feel the wind in your hair, greet the birds on their way to the South. Now open your eyes and look at it again… Ha! It’s gone. There the clouds travel along with the busy winds, carrying away with them the most amazing of secrets. No, don’t even try. Noone will believe you.
In Diaphainein you are the captain and major of a cloud city. Your goal is the steer your city safely through the skies through valleys and over mountains and oceans without exposing it to the ambitious earthlings that are a threat to your peaceful lifestyle. In the process you must collect resources, protect yourself from storms, grow the size of your population and city, build new housing units, public spaces, and most important, maintain your altitude.
The game ends when Diaphainein touches the ground or is shot down by evil earthlings because it was exposed to them.
A Different Scenario
“It was a wonderful afternoon. I ran through fields, climbed on trees, walked through shallow waters. I played with everything I could find: Sand, mud, stones, roots, grass. Soil; red soil, brown soil, black soil. Earth was so rich.
Finally I laid on the gentle ground of the greenest of clearings and watched the clouds passing by. “How different they look from here I thought”, and fell into a sweet sleep. In my dream I saw Diaphainein floating through the air above me. It filled my heart with bliss and joy to imagine it this way.
When I woke up, the sun was almost sinking. “It’s late!” I heard myself saying. The way these words came out of my mouth -almost automatically- made me even more anxious. I ran the whole way back to the spot where we had anchored. And when I finally arrived there and looked up to the sky, all I saw were clouds. Big white clouds. My city was gone. Diaphainein had taken off without me.”