SIGGRAPH 2019 featured an array of posters with diverse topics, many of which clearly focused on future technologies. One immediately stood out though, invoking imagery of the past. The image depicted appeared to be an older Chinese painting.
It was for a game called Meet in Rain, which showcased traditional Chinese poetry and painting. According to its solo developer, Ye-Ning Jiang, it’s “a simple adventure game” that covers “important points in the Tang dynasty.”
Acquisition Vs. Appreciation
Jiang normally studies graphic design at Chang Gung University. But in a class about making games, Jiang started developing Meet in Rain.
“The teacher used to tell us how to make a game in Unity,” Jiang said. “And I’m very interested in traditional Chinese literature, so chose Chinese poetry as a topic.”
Jiang said that the game helps players better appreciate Chinese poetry through an interactive experience.
She co-authored the SIGGRAPH poster on Meet in Rain with her advisor, Hiroki Nishino, a professor at Chang Gung. Their poster observes that Chinese poetry has been the topic of a few games before, but they mostly focused on “knowledge acquisition.”
Her poster described examples like Da Tangshī Lu‘s fill-in-the-blank quiz questions. This encourages players to learn facts about Chinese poetry, but doesn’t concentrate on fostering an appreciation for the literary form.
“I think it’s more important to help players appreciate the atmosphere of Chinese poetry,” Jiang said.
Themes of Water
According to Jiang, a small part of the game has already been made. She showed demo footage of the first stage on her tablet device.
The game’s menu featured an umbrella which, besides looking elegant, also served an in-game function. Jiang explained that “sentences of poems” will appear on the umbrella as the game progresses. She added that the umbrella can also reveal previous levels.
The title Meet in Rain refers to various elements in the game besides the umbrella imagery. Jiang said that each of the poems revolves around the rain and water. People play as a fisherman. Even the game’s cursor can switch to a small graphic image of a fish stuck on a hook.
“I also think it’s important to add sounds of nature, such as sounds of rain,” Jiang said.
Why rain though?
“Rain is a good word,” Jiang said. “In Chinese culture, a lot of poets would write about rain.”
Creating Historical Art
Jiang’s recreations of traditional Chinese painting styles helps the game’s efforts to foster a greater appreciation for Chinese poetry. Nishino said her art “tried to capture the essence” of traditional Chinese art.
Jiang shared that she had tried another painting style before selecting the Tang dynasty aesthetic. It was an early draft with brighter colors.
Jiang added that it might return as the second stage. She hopes to make five total stages for the game. (As for possible distribution in the future, Nishino shared that they’ve been considering the possibility of making Meet in Rain downloadable on iPad.)
In any case, the visuals of Meet in Rain at this year’s SIGGRAPH were more than adequate. They were an effective and lovely tribute to earlier Chinese art.
“I draw all of the pictures [in the game],” Jiang said. She elaborated a little more on her process, explaining that she used her Wacom tablet to make the art after studying “some typical examples of Tang dynasty” painting.
Jiang added that a friend of hers had done the calligraphy.
A copy of the SIGGRAPH poster for Meet in Rain can be found at the ACM Digital Library.