Opertoon: Interactive IPhone Comic

Ezra Claytan Daniels, whose self-published graphic novel The Changers I recommended years ago, made me aware of a new iPhone app he illustrated.

Opertoon screen

Created by Erik Loyer, “Ruben and Lullaby” is an opertoon, described as “a story you play like a musical instrument.” Here’s the promotional copy:

Ruben and Lullaby are lovers having their first fight, and whether they break up or make up depends on you!

You can shake your iPhone or iPod touch to make Ruben angry, stroke the screen to make Lullaby sad, and more. The characters respond to your actions–and to each other–according to how they’re feeling in the moment.

Like a game of solitaire for the emotions–casual, engaging, relaxing, and replayable–Ruben & Lullaby has no dialogue, just the expressive faces of the lovers and a moody jazz soundtrack that responds to your actions. Try to keep them together, try to break them up, or just enjoy the music you can make out of their circumstances.

That’s a creative use of both graphics and the motion abilities of the iPhone. Here’s a demo video to show what they mean:

The game is $2.99 from the app store. They plan for additional stories that incorporate movement, art, and music, aiming to turn graphic novels into games. (Although a graphic novel, in my mind, would have to have more than one scene, but it’s early days yet.)


2 Responses to “Opertoon: Interactive IPhone Comic”

  1. Hsifeng Says:

    the promotional copy Says:

    “…You can shake your iPhone or iPod touch to make Ruben angry, stroke the screen to make Lullaby sad, and more…”

    That’s odd. According to the demo video, you can shake your iPhone or iPod Touch to make either character angry and stroke the screen to calm either character down. That’s better than what the promo copy implied. :) Who you are angering or calming depends on who’s on the screen which seems to depend on which way you tilt the device (left for Ruben, right for Lullaby).

    I don’t have an iPhone or iPod Touch myself but I still think this is an interesting artwork. Now I wonder how to see Ruben and Lullaby make up. Are there more than 2 endings, instead of just a single make-up ending and a single break-up ending? If so, does 1 of the make-up endings involve angering both of them to the point where one points at the screen, the other has a look of realization dawn on his or her face, and then both turn towards the screen to face this 3rd party who’s pissing them both off? ;)

    Meanwhile,
    Emily Short Says in Column: ‘Homer In Silicon': An Improv Love Story:

    “…This is rich territory for video games, and only partly explored. I’ve played plenty of titles that got me energized or nerved up, and some that made me dizzy or nauseated or stressed out by frustration, but few that used the expressiveness of physical gesture to provoke or explore gentler feelings. ‘Ruben & Lullaby’ does go there, and it’s really cool to see…

    “…I don’t want to oversell. There’s a lot that isn’t present here that one might reasonably look for in an interactive story. ‘Ruben & Lullaby’ is pretty low on surrounding information about its protagonists. The text in the tutorial — the only text in the whole piece — explains that Ruben is a bike messenger, Lullaby a project manager at a non-profit. They’ve been together for five months and are now having their first fight. From the drawings we can also infer that Ruben isn’t the snappiest dresser and that his backstory includes some poor choices about sideburns.

    “This is more or less the extent of their characterization, and even the details about their careers really don’t matter much. The help explains that you ‘get to choose’ what the fight is about, but this is choice in the sense that you’re invited to project your own fantasy entirely outside the application. At no point does the player have a choice to make within the game about why they’re fighting, what the stresses and motivations might be, and so on…

    “…I do wonder how a gesture-based handling of emotional feedback might fit into the context of a larger game or interactive narrative, and that’s where I think future potential lies. ‘Ruben & Lullaby’ is memorable, but gains a lot from being formally unique — it’s the new experience that draws me in, not the specifics of a tale that I could retell to someone else.

    “Though I admit I feel warm and fuzzy when I can get the two of them to hug at the end.”

  2. Neil Says:

    It might be helpful to say that ‘opertoon’
    produces NO RESULTS when searched for in iTunes – unbelievable!!




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