Of Moons and Mania is a game by Absurd walls but also an interactive psychostic break, based on lived experience. It uses elements of its design to help players understand the struggles of people who experience psychosis, and tells a personal story about mental illness.
In 2018, my junior year of college, I started to notice cracks in my reality. The narrative in my head went from chronological strings of events to random threads that I could only follow for a while at a time. I stopped sleeping and started to notice connections between things that weren't there. My symptoms progressed into a complete psychotic break, and I eventually checked myself into a psychiatric hospital. After spending nearly a month in the hospital, I embarked on a long journey of recovery. Coming down from a manic episode, your mood swings from the extreme high of mania to an equally extreme low. This meant that I spent the next year deeply depressed. I struggled to take basic care of myself, and certainly struggled to continue my life long passion of making games. It felt like there was a good chance I wouldn't finish a game ever again, but I ruminated constantly on the systems at play in my brain. I wondered how I could turn them into gameplay systems. I had a vague idea about a dialogue system with intrusive thoughts, where the intrusive thoughts go from merely a background decoration, to an active element that players have to contend with. Over the next few years, the fog of my depression slowly lifted as I worked on developing a game engine. In October of 2021, there was a breakthrough moment where the idea for Of Moons and Mania clicked and I felt I had a strong vision for how it would work.
A Healing Process
Starting in October 2021, while working a regular full-time software engineering job, I devoted my weekends to developing this game and its engine. It slowly took shape over the course of a year. I developed the game in the order the real events happened, slowly reliving them. I didn't realize until later that I was also, unintentionally, finally processing everything. I had struggled with a cloud of thoughts around the hospitalization. I was ashamed of my behavior, traumatized by some of the events, and confused about what actually happened. There came a point in writing the game where I clearly needed to come to some kind of conclusion about these problems for the game's story to make any sense. It was the hardest part of the game to write emotionally, but it forced me to confront my unpleasant thoughts and work to get to some kind of closure. I feel that making this game helped me tremendously to heal from a traumatic event, and it's my hope that it can do that for other people, too.
- Inhabit the developer's mind and build your own responses to dialogue.
- Experience an Autobiographical story detailing the experience of a psychotic break.
- An hour of gameplay.
Release Trailer — YouTube
Logo & Icon
About Absurd Walls
- Absurd Walls (formerly Ludiorum) is a game development outfit consisting of Adam Waggoner and sometimes friends. Adam has been making games since the 2010's, focusing on thought-provoking gameplay.
- More information
- More information on Absurd Walls, our logo & relevant media are available here.
Of Moons and Mania Credits
- Adam Waggoner
- Design, Programming, Writing, Art
- Enzo Derosa