Devlog #11 - The Importance of First-Hand Experience in Writing

Hello! Long time no see, I’m Mira the Cultural Content Director for Pamali: Indonesian Folklore Horror! As you may already know, my job here is not only to make sure every single aspect in the game depicts a real representation of Indonesian culture, but also to write the stories.

And in this devlog, I want to share my experience of writing a ghost story and the inspiration behind the story.

I’ve been writing a lot, but horror? It’s actually my first shot. I must admit that horror isn’t my strongest suit. In addition, I’m a big coward lol. I don’t like ghost stories or thrilling tales. I love myself some fluff and romance :( but I also want to challenge myself and create a stories with a genre that isn’t in my comfort zone.

Long story short, as Pamali is heavily influenced by folklore of Indonesia, I must do some research on Indonesian traditional value and culture that is still regulated among the society. I have piled up many ghost stories, reading them one by one and analyzing them thoroughly. Maybe it’s me who’ve been working too hard or it’s that I’m too tired or it’s just my bad day, I was the only one still working on The White Lady story, alone in the office, in the middle of the night.

Yeah and you know it--yeah, when I was alone, I think, I wasn’t alone at all.

Ehm, so it was like this.

I was sitting alone. The light was still on and the only computer that’s working was mine at that time; everything else have been turned off.

Simple depiction of our office

It was, I think, very late at night--later than 12 AM. I was still typing and typing, looking up at websites and some research reports I’ve been compiling for the last week. That was around the time when I felt something cold and wet brushed my bare foot.

Um, yes, “shock” was the very simplified version of what I felt that time.

Maybe it was a lizard brushing off its skin against my foot. Maybe it was the cat, licking me and then mysteriously gone into the wind. Maybe, I was too tired and hallucinating. Nevertheless, I was definitely not tired anymore.

And ready to go home.

And ready to call the day off.

However, when I was getting my stuff hurriedly, I started to hear some kind of laughter and humming in the air. It was very, very low and soft. It was a lady’s voice and she sang very beautifully, but also chillingly freaky and sad at the same time, and also creepy. I mean, it was 12 in the midnight for God’s sake and I was the only one there. I’m tone-deaf and definitely couldn’t sing AT ALL and didn’t even understand the language she’s singing in (I think it was in old Sundanese).

And yeah. I couldn’t think straight anymore and was like, fkk it, I’m done…… and starting that day, if I have to work late, I’d rather bring the work to home and not working alone at the office anymore. It’s not that the office is haunted though! I’m the only one who experienced the weird, probably easily understandable situation (I was dead tired that moment and maybe I was too immersed to the stories I was reading). But still, believe it or not, I’m scared.

However, the silver lining of getting almost die from fright is that, I can understand first hand how ghosts can affect a person’s emotion. How the ghosts appear. What kind of senses that will be tingling when you’re scared, and which ones will be extra sensitive. It made me understand which part I should put into great amount of attention and which one I should take with extra care. You don’t always need to have a first-hand experience for writing, but it certainly helps because you understand what kind of emotion, feeling, and message that you want to send to the audience. You want the horror to be scary? Well, do you know what does it take to be scared?

Sorry it’s not some technical sophisticated stuff about the game itself, but thank you for reading, though! <3

I hope you’ll enjoy Pamali once it’s out! The White Lady is coming soon on Steam!

With loves,

Mira Wardhaningsih

Cultural Content Director.


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Awas mbak, munkin itu ririwa. (Salahsatu hantu dalam folklore sunda, dan mereka hanya sekedar jahil)