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Exclusive Interview: Jadusable
It ravaged the internet with its creepy story, interesting episodic storytelling method, and general lack of disconcern of how you may want to play Majora’s Mask. That’s right, the Majora’s Mask “Creepypasta” as it is known was the topic of a lot of discussion on forums, image boards, and even news sites alike. The basic gist of this is this: a guy finds a Majora’s Mask cartridge and starts to play it, but it’s haunted by this spirit only known as BEN. The hero of the story ends up documenting what happens with the game, ranging from spontaneously combusting, teleporting all over the game, and summoning Elegy of Emptiness statues, to the game actually talking to the player reciting the now popular line, “You shouldn’t have done that.”
Shortly after the conclusion of the Majora’s Mask story, a site popped up known as youshouldnthavedonethat.net. The url directed to you to a webpage designed for a cult known as Children of the Moon. What started as a simple creepy story had evolved into an Alternate Reality Game, or an ARG. Unfortunately, due to it being such an ambitious project, and the writer being a simple college student, the game had to go on hiatus due to a lack of funds. Since then, the author Jadusable has been opening himself up to donations and emails, as well as changing the site to list things like the ARG timeline and a summary of the story so far. Jadusable hopes to get the game back up as soon as possible.
I got a chance to email Jadusable, asking him for an interview. He agreed to it, and what you have below is how it went.
BearCracker (BC): Why did you decide to put this together/What made you do the Majora's Mask story?
Jadusable (J): It was spur of the moment, really. I decided one afternoon to try my hand at writing a scary story, I had never really attempted to make one before and I've always been curious if I'd be any good at it. Majora's Mask had always been one of my favorite games and it already had a foreboding atmosphere, so I wanted to see if I could translate that into some kind of eerie story.
BC: Do you consider Jadusable yourself, or a character?
J: To me Jadusable is the virtual pen name for the story, he is the character that is recounting his story to the audience.
BC: Have you always been a gamer, or are you just a Zelda fan in particular?
J: Unbeknownst to all but my closest of friends, I'm secretly a pretty avid gamer (or was). I grew up a big Zelda and Star Wars fan and although I hardly have the time anymore I've been trying to squeeze in an hour or two every now and then. Currently, I've been playing a bit of Mount and Blade and I'm trying to get into Minecraft, but other than that most of my time is occupied.
BC: Were you in the shadows of the internet the whole time watching the theorists and players? If so, did you ever go into the discussions in disguise and try to help the players along by giving them hints?
J: I loved spectating my fans and seeing how well each update/video was received by them. I made it a point to stay involved with the community even if they didn't know it themselves. I would drop by some of the more popular chatroom and eavesdrop and there was only one time that I remember where I distinctly nudged players in a certain direction.
BC: Did they follow your advice or brush you off and say you were silly?
J: There were a lot of pretenders trying to "get in on the story", but they ended up following my advice thankfully.
BC: How did you feel about being featured on sites like Kotaku?
J: Surreal. Haha. It was really neat to see that I was making the top gaming news websites like Kotaku, Joystiq, and Digg.
BC: Did you have fun with the project the whole time, or did it eventually start feeling like busy work near the end?
J: Loved every single second of it. Not once did it ever feel like work, which in retrospect is a pretty big sign that I should probably look into doing something in this kind of field for a living. It definitely made me second guess if majoring in Business was the right path for me.
BC: What inspired the Majora's Mask story?
J: I'm not really sure, like I said this was a very spontaneous thing. I guess I wanted to see if I could make a believable horror story and achieve the goals that I had mentioned in my news post on the website (breaking the fourth wall for the viewer, involving them, etc). It was as much of an experiment as it was a story.
BC: How long did you have this planned? The Rosa video was posted a year back, did you implement it into the story, or was that all planned?
J: It was implemented into the story shortly after the first video was posted - so around the 8th I believe. I'm not sure why I had that video up there to begin with, but it turned out to be a coincidence that could work in my favor. I figured it would be an interesting dynamic to add in the story, especially given her cryptic nature in the game she was originally featured in.
BC: Why Majora's Mask?
J: I've found that often the things that aren't meant to be scary end up being the scariest, doubly so if it's something in your childhood that you didn't fully grasp before. Since Majora's Mask was a game many of us fondly remember, that helped serve as a solid foundation for the rest of the story. It could have been any game, but I'm glad that I ended up picking Majora's Mask - and I'm sure Nintendo's Virtual Console sales department is as well :P
BC: Were there any other games you thought about choosing instead?
J: No, Majora's Mask was the first one to come to mind.
BC: Did you do all of this on your own, or did you have someone else help you along the way in some form or fashion?
J: This was all orchestrated by me - the story, the writing, the videos, and the ARG portion were all my doing. There was one brief exception with The Truth document that I released after the fourth video - where I ran it by one of my friends to proof read it. I had been up all night writing it and was worried that what made sense to my sleep-deprived brain may confuse everyone else. Fortunately, he verified the congruency of it and it was later released that day and was pretty well-received.
BC: How many of your friends actually knew you were putting this together? Was it a secret to everyone?
J: I had been working on this in secret, like I said I'm a closet geek haha. It wasn't until after the original TheTruth.txt came out that I actually told anyone in real life what I had been doing.
BC: How did you go about making the videos? Did you hack Majora's Mask yourself?
J: The videos were a combination of elaborate gameshark codes and clever video editing. I wish I could say I hacked the game haha, but what you see there is just product of a lot of creative thinking. I put a lot of work into each video and I'm pretty satisfied with the end result.
BC: Did you ever recieve any unexpected results? Are any of those results still in the final videos?
J: Not really, everything pretty much went according to plan for the most part.
BC: What was the most difficult part of doing the Majora's Mask story?
J: I had a blast doing all of this, but the most difficult thing? Hands down when I was writing The Truth document. There was definitely a lot of pressure riding on that final entry - it had to tie up enough loose ends to wrap up part one of the story and prelude the second without seeming contrived or cliched for the genre. When you have so many unanswered questions in a story detailing the supernatural, its difficult to come up with a conclusion that is both believable and satisfying to the majority of the audience (you obviously can't please everybody). I went through several drafts before finally reaching the desired one... I think I got maybe an hour of sleep before I had to go to class.
Before thetruth.txt came out, a lot of the community was worried that the entire story would fall apart because of a lackluster or cheesy ending - a concern that was very real to me - but fortunately the audience liked it as much as I did and it was universally well-recieved. I definitely got a kick out of seeing people on forums go "DON'T OPEN THE DOCUMENT! BEN'S TRICKING YOU. DO NOT OPEN THE TRUTH.TXT" and the resulting mass panic. I remember talking to one of the staff at Cleverbot a few days later and hearing how much of an increase in traffic the website had gotten since the 15th, that was pretty neat too.
BC: What inspired you to do the Moon Children story?
J: Hard to say. I wanted the next step in the story to elaborate further on the ending of The Truth document and make the relationship the viewer had with BEN a personal one. I wanted to make it look like BEN was inside their own computers and so I came up with the idea of a website that would appear normal at first, but have hidden signs/clues that BEN was toying with you - not Jadusable, but you personally.
BC: Did you initially plan on it being an ARG (Alternate Reality Game)?
J: Although I didn't know that was an actual genre at the time, yes. I wanted the Moon Children story to feel very personal to the viewer and I wanted them directly involved.
BC: How did you go about designing the sites for the Moon Children story?
J: I started off with the intention of creating a cult website - a virtual world - that viewers would essentially be observing through the looking glass. They'd see how the story worked and what the fates of the characters would end up being if left undisturbed and then when time was reset they would be given the reigns to the story and would be allowed to influence key characters at certain points to ultimately change those outcomes. Yet the viewers would be mindful that BEN was still present, watching them - imagine having to combat a foe that could control what you could perceive, bend the rules of reality (or in this case, cyberspace), and could react quicker than humanly possibly to your every move and all the while you're second guessing any progress you've made ("did I get this far because of my own ability, or is it because he allowed me to?") because after all, Jadusable certainly couldn't outsmart it. That, to me, is damn horrifying.
Everything about the website had subtle parallels to Majora's Mask - the moon children, an otherworldly evil being released, a hero in another dimension - I even made the first 3 day cycle purposely coincide exactly with NASA’s International Observe the Moon Night (in the video game you could trigger the Fourth Day glitch - which started this whole story - by looking through the Observatory telescope at the right time on the 3rd day). I started off by brainstorming characters that would be the major "protagonists" in this website. I really took a step back and thought about how I would construct realistic characters out of a total genre cliche (I grimaced when I realized that initially the introduction to the website could probably be summed up as "So there's like this evil cult, right?").
I surmised that to create a generally believable atmosphere it would probably be less of a "GOD I HATE EVERYTHING SO MUCH" vibe and more of a "ticking time bomb" kind of feel to the whole website. I had to ask myself what would be believable for a religious cult, how would its members act? These people were probably ostracized by conventional society so they turned to some place that would accept them - a lot of these people would probably just be looking for that sense of belonging. Take Chris for example, he's a young kid caught up in this cult who sticks out as not really being a bad person - he's just someone who is looking for acceptance. They probably would display anti-social tendencies, so I gave hints of that in their posts. I wanted them to also exhibit a distinct lack of concern for human life to show just how much they believed that Luna would grant them some kind of paradise in the afterlife, so I had them imply that some of their more malicious members were about to go out and cause harm to people. I suppose I may have overdone the believability factor a little because someone actually called the cops in real life because of certain posts. That was interesting. Other than that, I had a lot of fun crafting this virtual environment.
BC: So some people called the cops about it? Did you ever hear anything back about that?
J: Yeah haha, it was an interesting experience. Needless to say I took the sensitive content down and replaced it with something far less... realistic?
BC: What was the most difficulty part of the Moon Children story?
J: It was too ambitious for just one person who has to juggle school and a social life, for the short while this was going on it was insanely time consuming, but as I said earlier I didn't mind it one bit. But I eventually had to call it because it started chipping into those other two aspects.
BC: How has the fan response been to the story so far?
J: Overwhelming. With my schedule I simply don't have enough time to answer all of the emails I get, and that kills me, because I want everyone to know how appreciative I am of their support and how much it means to me and I don't want anyone to get the impression that I'm too good for them or ignoring them. I've gotten this far because of my fans and I owe my success all to them.
BC: How has the response been to the early ending/hiatus?
J: I was really surprised that I hardly got any hate mail from fans. They were all telling me how great it was and how much fun they had participating in it. They were totally understanding about it.
BC: What were some of the funniest or strangest questions you got when people were emailing Ifrit?
J: People wanting to join the Moon Cult (serious ones). Yuck.
BC: How many people did you get emailing you thinking it was real? Did any them ever email you after the game went on hiatus?
J: Surprisingly I got quite a few, easily a few dozen people legitimately thinking it was real. And yeah, a few of them did, I wasn't sure if they got the memo that the story was on hiatus :P
BC: If you could go back in time to before you started putting the story into motion, what would you do differently?
J: I would at least enlist the aid of a few people before I started the second half of the story (the ARG part), having to do everything myself was definitely one of the contributing factors to having to put the whole experience on pause.
BC: Do you regret ending the Moon Story early?
J: More than you can imagine.
And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. It was definitely a pleasure getting a chance to talk to Jadusable and I’m very grateful for the interview he allowed me to give him. If you haven’t read his story yet, it’s definitely an interesting read, and the added videos that go along with the story just make it all the sweeter. I’m looking forward to what Jadusable has planned for the future!
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