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Filipino themed game?

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radioactivemouse
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My first game is about to be released at the time of this writing and, just like most of the designers on this site, I have a lot of game designs on the back burner.

One of them involves a subject matter I'm not too sure will click.

I'm Filipino. More specifically, I'm first generation Filipino and I've not been to the Philippines. As such, I'm very...Americanized. But there is some urge in me to create a game that, at least, touches on my heritage.

So I've been thinking about a game using Filipino mythical creatures as enemies. Many fantasy games are based in European fantasy...some in Oriental fantasy. It would be a nice change to the fantasy genre and would be just unique enough to stand out.

I guess my question is: Will a Filipino fantasy themed game be interesting enough to be viable in today's game industry? Of course the vernacular and game design would be American, but the subject matter would be Filipino.

The design would call for tarot-size cards using a Filipino-like primitive style for art. It would definitely be its own style.

There are games out there that explore different fantasy genres including Arabian (Arabian Nights) and Asian (Legend of the Five Rings). These games have moderate success, but of course the gameplay will have to be at the forefront.

What do you think?

wombat929
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radioactivemouse wrote:There

radioactivemouse wrote:
There are games out there that explore different fantasy genres including Arabian (Arabian Nights) and Asian (Legend of the Five Rings). These games have moderate success, but of course the gameplay will have to be at the forefront.

What do you think?

I think this last sentiment is correct -- if the gameplay is good, an original theme will help (and be a good sales point) distinguish your game in an crowded marketplace.

Congrats on your other game.

radioactivemouse
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wombat929

wombat929 wrote:
radioactivemouse wrote:
There are games out there that explore different fantasy genres including Arabian (Arabian Nights) and Asian (Legend of the Five Rings). These games have moderate success, but of course the gameplay will have to be at the forefront.

What do you think?

I think this last sentiment is correct -- if the gameplay is good, an original theme will help (and be a good sales point) distinguish your game in an crowded marketplace.

Congrats on your other game.

I just know that a Filipino theme doesn't fare as strong as, say, a Japanese theme. People are far more enamored with Japanese than they are with Filipinos.

But I suppose if the game is good, I could snag the Filipino market.

Black Table Games
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It might not have the

It might not have the immediate fanbase that a game with a Japanese theme would have, but that market is also FLOODED. The Filipino market is, as you have pointed out, is pretty untapped. If the game is well-designed, you could market the game as also a way of introducing people to a foreign/exotic culture.

Good luck!

radioactivemouse
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Good Point

I think if I made a good micro game, I could pull it off. Thanks for the advice, BTG!

Zag24
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Simply because I know nothing

Simply because I know nothing of your culture and I've never seen a game that claims a Filipino theme, I would at the very least pick it up and look at it. At that point, it has to be fun, but at least you've gotten your foot in the door. There are lots of possibly great games I haven't even looked at because they were based on a theme that's been done to death, so I didn't even bother.

I say go for it!

radioactivemouse
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Zag24 wrote:Simply because I

Zag24 wrote:
Simply because I know nothing of your culture and I've never seen a game that claims a Filipino theme, I would at the very least pick it up and look at it. At that point, it has to be fun, but at least you've gotten your foot in the door. There are lots of possibly great games I haven't even looked at because they were based on a theme that's been done to death, so I didn't even bother.

I say go for it!

Thanks. I would say a definitive style would help and a unique mechanic will solidify it. From my research there's a lot of mythical Filipino creates I can utilize for this project, all I need is a good story and a good mechanic.

Centaur255
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Go for it!

I grew up in Hawaii (so a lot of my friends were Filipino, Samoan, Tongan, Okinawan, and Japanese), and while I love fantasy, I didn't hear much about Filipino fantasy creatures growing up. This means that if I saw the game, I'd be thinking, "Huh: that's new," and I'd want to take a look at it.

Similar to what Zag and others mentioned earlier, I think it gives you a niche that will appeal to people beyond the Filipino community and those outside of it because we're used to seeing games that follow European/traditional high fantasy. The game I'm designing intentionally integrates a variety of Eastern and Western mythical traditions because it's wildly different from what people normally see.

I'd say go for it!

radioactivemouse
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Yes!

Centaur255 wrote:
I grew up in Hawaii (so a lot of my friends were Filipino, Samoan, Tongan, Okinawan, and Japanese), and while I love fantasy, I didn't hear much about Filipino fantasy creatures growing up. This means that if I saw the game, I'd be thinking, "Huh: that's new," and I'd want to take a look at it.

Similar to what Zag and others mentioned earlier, I think it gives you a niche that will appeal to people beyond the Filipino community and those outside of it because we're used to seeing games that follow European/traditional high fantasy. The game I'm designing intentionally integrates a variety of Eastern and Western mythical traditions because it's wildly different from what people normally see.

I'd say go for it!

I've already started doing initial research on this. The thing i have to note is that a large part of the Filipino community is Catholic/Christian and I'd have to take that into consideration. I was thinking of a horror theme (a lot of these creatures are pretty morbid) with players having a morality meter.

I'm playing around with it more. I think I'm going to run with this.

nicanorrr
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I'm a Filipino Game Designer

Hi! I think this will be the first time for me to comment in bgdf because most of the time I just lurk and I'm still quite new to the site. I'm a Filipino game designer and I've lived in Manila all my life. My game design group also wanted to make a Filipino folklore tabletop game some time ago but we shelved it for now because we became busy with other projects.

Others have already said that as long as the game has fun mechanics then the theme won't be a hindrance to the game and could even be an exotic selling point. I agree and I am all for making Filipino games. However, I want to say that you have to be careful in designing the game so that it doesn't misrepresent Philippine culture. The problem with Philippine culture is that it is not well known (as seen by the replies of others). Even in the Philippines itself our own folklore is not well known. This makes it very vulnerable to being misunderstood and misrepresented.

For example, if you take the typical western high fantasy rpg and you replace all the monsters with aswang, tikbalang and other creatures of lower Philippine mythology, you are essentially still playing a western high fantasy game that has just been re-skinned. If you want to make a Filipino game, I suggest you have to delve deep into Philippine culture and psyche: what is the mindset of a typical Filipino? What are their goals in life? What do they strive for? What do they eat? What are the challenges in life that they go through? What do they live and die for? There are so many other things that make up a culture. If you can really delve into those details, you might even find inspiration for new game mechanics and you'll make something truly unique.

For example, a game where the creatures of Philippine mythology are enemies seems very western to me at its core because many mythological creatures here are not really seen as evil things to be vanquished but as entities you respect and just have to live in coexistence with. It's similar to Japanese culture where you live with spirits instead of trying to dominate them. They're not dragons you go on quests to kill.

I'm sorry if I assume you don't know too much about Philippine culture. I'm just basing my assumption on what you said that you are very Americanized. Ask your parents and your other relatives how life was back here before they migrated. I'm sure you already have lots of insights about Philippine culture from your family. Why they migrated is in itself already a great starting point to delve into Philippine culture because lots of Filipinos leave the country.

I suggest don't go first into pre-colonial culture because even that is difficult for us to research and we are already in the Philippines. The Spanish did a pretty good job of erasing most records of pre-colonial culture. I'd suggest you go into today's culture which is still very much alive with supernatural and paranormal beliefs. Especially in the provinces beliefs in aswang are still solid. By keeping it modern you can also explore our own strain of Folk Catholicism which is something very interesting when you pair it up with aswang, multo, duwende and other creatures. If you haven't read it yet, I'd recommend you read the paranormal noir comic Trese by Budjette Tan.

Hope this helps :) I'd also be happy to share research and insights with you :) If you need more information, I'd gladly help (as long as I can squeeze it in my schedule somewhere).

Oh btw our game company is called Balangay Entertainment which you can find here (www.facebook.com/BalangayEnt). We haven't had the time to setup our own website yet :)

radioactivemouse
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Awesome! This is the response I was hoping for!

nicanorrr wrote:
Hi! I think this will be the first time for me to comment in bgdf because most of the time I just lurk and I'm still quite new to the site. I'm a Filipino game designer and I've lived in Manila all my life. My game design group also wanted to make a Filipino folklore tabletop game some time ago but we shelved it for now because we became busy with other projects.

Well I'm glad I have been able to get you to respond here. I am currently in the midst of releasing my first game, which as of this writing is in pre-order and should be officially releasing this week. Check it out here: http://www.victorypointgames.com/conquest-at-kismet.html

nicanorrr wrote:
Others have already said that as long as the game has fun mechanics then the theme won't be a hindrance to the game and could even be an exotic selling point. I agree and I am all for making Filipino games. However, I want to say that you have to be careful in designing the game so that it doesn't misrepresent Philippine culture. The problem with Philippine culture is that it is not well known (as seen by the replies of others). Even in the Philippines itself our own folklore is not well known. This makes it very vulnerable to being misunderstood and misrepresented.

For example, if you take the typical western high fantasy rpg and you replace all the monsters with aswang, tikbalang and other creatures of lower Philippine mythology, you are essentially still playing a western high fantasy game that has just been re-skinned. If you want to make a Filipino game, I suggest you have to delve deep into Philippine culture and psyche: what is the mindset of a typical Filipino? What are their goals in life? What do they strive for? What do they eat? What are the challenges in life that they go through? What do they live and die for? There are so many other things that make up a culture. If you can really delve into those details, you might even find inspiration for new game mechanics and you'll make something truly unique.

I'm very aware of this and to me, this would be a way of showing that we do have a folk culture with mythical creatures and fairy tales. My plan was to make a very simple game, using the thought that many of these creatures can only be seen by the pure of heart (which I can use as a tracking/scoring mechanic). I also understand that our culture has a very high Catholic/Christian population, so I won't really go too deep into actual stories or lore, so the creatures highlighted in my game will, more or less, be just an image of the creature with a small description and a power related to their character. I don't think it will be a re-skinning of a western game because I'm very much into creating games that are unique to that game and are thematic at the same time.

I suppose my advantage comes in my training and education. I'm a veteran of both the video and board game industries (well...still in board). I've been teaching board and card game theory on the college level for over 5 years and I have access to some of the most resilient and active board game designers at my fingertips. To me, this is a challenge and an honor.

nicanorrr wrote:
For example, a game where the creatures of Philippine mythology are enemies seems very western to me at its core because many mythological creatures here are not really seen as evil things to be vanquished but as entities you respect and just have to live in coexistence with. It's similar to Japanese culture where you live with spirits instead of trying to dominate them. They're not dragons you go on quests to kill.

Yeah, if I were to do this, I'd make sure that it wasn't...westernized, though according to my bio, it can be interpreted that way. I did see a lot of pretty morbid mythical creatures, so I was thinking semi-horror theme where the players must stay pure of heart to see these creatures and avoid or appease them. The initial design was that players can choose between 3 facedown cards where they can either 1) take one blindly, 2) give 1 to an opponent, or 3) look at a facedown card (if your spirit is "pure", according to the game). Players can then play cards that raise or lower their "purity", which can give them an advantage in the game (assuming many Filipinos strive to be pure of heart).

nicanorrr wrote:
I'm sorry if I assume you don't know too much about Philippine culture. I'm just basing my assumption on what you said that you are very Americanized. Ask your parents and your other relatives how life was back here before they migrated. I'm sure you already have lots of insights about Philippine culture from your family. Why they migrated is in itself already a great starting point to delve into Philippine culture because lots of Filipinos leave the country.

I suggest don't go first into pre-colonial culture because even that is difficult for us to research and we are already in the Philippines. The Spanish did a pretty good job of erasing most records of pre-colonial culture. I'd suggest you go into today's culture which is still very much alive with supernatural and paranormal beliefs. Especially in the provinces beliefs in aswang are still solid. By keeping it modern you can also explore our own strain of Folk Catholicism which is something very interesting when you pair it up with aswang, multo, duwende and other creatures. If you haven't read it yet, I'd recommend you read the paranormal noir comic Trese by Budjette Tan.

Hope this helps :) I'd also be happy to share research and insights with you :) If you need more information, I'd gladly help (as long as I can squeeze it in my schedule somewhere).

Yes please and thank you so much. You are correct in assuming I don't know much and I'd love some guidance. Most of my information was strictly from my own knowledge and the internet. I'd really appreciate a perspective from the Philippines proper.

nicanorrr wrote:
Oh btw our game company is called Balangay Entertainment which you can find here (www.facebook.com/BalangayEnt). We haven't had the time to setup our own website yet :)

I have checked it out. I'd like to know more. Maybe we can help each other :)

Midnight_Carnival
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If they don't know what they're eating...

It is my feeling that telling people that you are creating a specifically Filipino themed game would be a mistake.
Creating it would be great and I'd love to play it; telling people that you are creating a game which draws on a particular culture/mythology would make it very attractive to people who are interested in that culture and to people like me who are into mythology/tradition from various parts of the world. Others will overlook an otherwise interesting game because they don't want “a history lesson”. This is sad.

My advice is that you make the game as you would, perhaps you could go further than just making Filipino monsters and add mythological weapons and or spells/heroic abilities? Tell people that it is unique and they will go crazy over it. Later, someone will look up one of the monsters or something like that and they'll say “hey, this is from Filipino mythology, all of it!” hopefully by then it will be established that your game is fun to play and interesting, this will make your chosen mythology/tradition fun and interesting. If you reinterpret some aspects it will be because you were making a fun interesting game and people who take things way too seriously will be glad that you made the game (making their particular field of interest popular and suddenly making them seem fun and interesting), they will be delighted that you give them the opportunity to correct you by telling people that things in mythology/tradition are a little different to the way you portrayed them in the game, but this won't be criticism, just some “look how clever I am”.
The alternative, as I see it is that the game only appeals to a small group who were interested in that specific tradition/mythology to begin with and among them there will be those who criticise you for “getting it wrong” - that is offering an interpretation of things which differs from their own interpretation.

Well, whatever you do, please do make the game. Even if (as with Japanese or Irish, etc mythology/traditions) it one day becomes so popular as a theme in popular culture that people actually end up avoiding “just another Filipino game”, your game will be remembered as the one which made it all happen.

radioactivemouse
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Midnight_Carnival wrote:It is

Midnight_Carnival wrote:
It is my feeling that telling people that you are creating a specifically Filipino themed game would be a mistake.
Creating it would be great and I'd love to play it; telling people that you are creating a game which draws on a particular culture/mythology would make it very attractive to people who are interested in that culture and to people like me who are into mythology/tradition from various parts of the world. Others will overlook an otherwise interesting game because they don't want “a history lesson”. This is sad.

My advice is that you make the game as you would, perhaps you could go further than just making Filipino monsters and add mythological weapons and or spells/heroic abilities? Tell people that it is unique and they will go crazy over it. Later, someone will look up one of the monsters or something like that and they'll say “hey, this is from Filipino mythology, all of it!” hopefully by then it will be established that your game is fun to play and interesting, this will make your chosen mythology/tradition fun and interesting. If you reinterpret some aspects it will be because you were making a fun interesting game and people who take things way too seriously will be glad that you made the game (making their particular field of interest popular and suddenly making them seem fun and interesting), they will be delighted that you give them the opportunity to correct you by telling people that things in mythology/tradition are a little different to the way you portrayed them in the game, but this won't be criticism, just some “look how clever I am”.
The alternative, as I see it is that the game only appeals to a small group who were interested in that specific tradition/mythology to begin with and among them there will be those who criticise you for “getting it wrong” - that is offering an interpretation of things which differs from their own interpretation.

Well, whatever you do, please do make the game. Even if (as with Japanese or Irish, etc mythology/traditions) it one day becomes so popular as a theme in popular culture that people actually end up avoiding “just another Filipino game”, your game will be remembered as the one which made it all happen.

That is a very interesting perspective on this and I see everything you're saying.

I'm shifting gears at the moment to focus on a party game because Hasbro has opened up a contest for this month. But I'm coming back to this.

Thanks for the advice!

firstcultural
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I would love to see this

I would love to see this game. So many board games focus on only the biggest cultures like Japan or Ancient Rome, it'd be wonderful to see something that looks at something new and can help people connect to their heritage.

nicanorrr
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Sorry for the late reply

Hi sorry for the late reply. I just got married XD I'll try to be more active from now on :)

radioactivemouse wrote:
I'm very aware of this and to me, this would be a way of showing that we do have a folk culture with mythical creatures and fairy tales. My plan was to make a very simple game, using the thought that many of these creatures can only be seen by the pure of heart (which I can use as a tracking/scoring mechanic). I also understand that our culture has a very high Catholic/Christian population, so I won't really go too deep into actual stories or lore, so the creatures highlighted in my game will, more or less, be just an image of the creature with a small description and a power related to their character. I don't think it will be a re-skinning of a western game because I'm very much into creating games that are unique to that game and are thematic at the same time.
I suppose my advantage comes in my training and education. I'm a veteran of both the video and board game industries (well...still in board). I've been teaching board and card game theory on the college level for over 5 years and I have access to some of the most resilient and active board game designers at my fingertips. To me, this is a challenge and an honor.

Okay, it's good to know we are on the same page on the culture part :) Sorry if I seemed judgemental. In the future can we ask for help on game theory and the connections to designers over there? :) The designer community here is still very young and it would really help us if we could tap into the experience of veterans.

radioactivemouse wrote:
Yeah, if I were to do this, I'd make sure that it wasn't...westernized, though according to my bio, it can be interpreted that way. I did see a lot of pretty morbid mythical creatures, so I was thinking semi-horror theme where the players must stay pure of heart to see these creatures and avoid or appease them. The initial design was that players can choose between 3 facedown cards where they can either 1) take one blindly, 2) give 1 to an opponent, or 3) look at a facedown card (if your spirit is "pure", according to the game). Players can then play cards that raise or lower their "purity", which can give them an advantage in the game (assuming many Filipinos strive to be pure of heart).

As for your game idea revolving around the "pure of heart", I feel the concept of purity might not be a good reflection of how people here view it (based on my experiences). I'm assuming when you say purity, you mean more of "innocence" rather than "goodness" because you said it is the "pure" who can see the creatures. From my experience, it is more of the "innocent" who see the ghosts and other things. For example, I have a cousin who is autistic and she regularly sees spirits and my relatives rationalize it as because she is child-like and innocent. Most of the time it is children who see things or people who have the third eye (which is not connected to purity at all; it runs in the family). The problem I see with your idea is Filipinos don't really strive to be "innocent", they strive for the "goodness" kind of purity. "Innocence" is just a state you are in when you are a child but if you lose it because of growing up, it doesn't make you any worse and it's not something you can regain. "Goodness", however, is something you can actually strive for. If you mix the concepts of being "good" and being "innocent", it might not really resonate with the culture of the Philippines. Also, I don't think innocence really protects you from much of the monsters. The Manananggal, for example, eats the fetuses of pregnant women (and are probably how our ancestors explained miscarriages) and there is nothing more innocent in our culture than an unborn child. The monsters here don't seem to have a sense of morality: they just victimize who they can or prank whoever crosses them. Appeasement also depends on the specific creature because some are pranksters while others are just evil. For example, a way to appease a nuno sa punso (Dwarf in the Mound) is to say "Tabi tabi po" ("Excuse us") when passing a termite mound which is pretty simple. Removing a Tikbalang (reverse centaur demon) curse that gets you lost in the forest involves removing your shirt and wearing it backwards. Aswang are just plain malicious so there is no appeasing them: you either keep them away or you kill them.

I have to admit the concept of being protected by being a good person is somewhat prevalent but I feel this might have come from the Catholic Church since it's often connected to being protected by your faith in God. It's common to protect yourself from aswang by using holy water and a crucifix and praying. Also, I feel that is more in connection with the malicious creatures and not the prankster ones.

Can I make a suggestion based on your mechanics of passing cards around blindly and looking at them? I don't really have concrete mechanical suggestions but I can imagine it as a fun game where you are in a haunted house :) One player is the player with the third eye meaning only that person can sense the creatures. That player is the only one allowed to look at the bottom of the card but is not allowed to tell people explicitly what it is. Maybe they can only describe it? In my experience, most of the time people with third eyes can't really say what's there because it's all emotions and just blurs in your peripherals. Filipinos strongly believe in haunted places and there are lots of haunted places because of natural calamities and world war 2 :) As for actual win con and gameplay, I can't think of anything for now. I've been in a few haunted places myself and I'd rather play a game about it than go to one because I'm a scaredy-cat :P

I also agree mostly with Midnight_Carnival :) I don't think it should be too technically correct because the most important thing is to make it fun. Just putting attention into our culture and popularizing it is important as it is. Besides, getting it perfectly right is practically impossible too. Culture is way too complex to properly model in a single game. However, I think there should still be a conscious effort to keep the core of it true to the culture for game design and cultural preservation reasons. The cultural preservation reasons are obvious and have been discussed. As for the game design reasons, drawing from the core of an untapped culture can really give the game the uniqueness to stand out. Taking too many liberties (especially if the liberties come from outside the culture) can dilute the uniqueness which can hurt the game and just make it another ____ game. I guess the best we can really do is just keep trying and checking if it's still loyal to the source :)

Midnight_Carnival wrote:
they will be delighted that you give them the opportunity to correct you by telling people that things in mythology/tradition are a little different to the way you portrayed them in the game, but this won't be criticism, just some “look how clever I am”.

However, I feel this statement is a little harsh. Yes, there will be people who fit this description but there are many others who will be critical not because they want to show they are clever but because they are defending a disappearing culture. I'm sure there are Anthropology and Filipino language professors who will have an opinion or two but these are the people you would like to talk to the most because they can offer insights that can spawn multitudes of other game ideas. And I'm sure no matter what their critique, they will be grateful for your contribution :)

Hope I helped :) Let me know if I can help you with other resources :)

Midnight_Carnival
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"However, I feel this statement is a little harsh."

Sorry, I'm doing that again, I'm a deeply sarcastic person but it doesn't always come across well on the internet!
If I make a suggestion it's your choice whether you want to use it or not, similarly, if I make an observation it is up to you how seriously you want to take it. Normally it is best to use a desatruation filter and assume that I don't nessesarily mean it seriously.

Off topic: I see nature spirits, ghosts, angels, etc all the time and I'm nobody's definition of either pure or good, but I'm not a Filipino so I'll just shut up and try not to subvert your discussion. :P

nicanorrr
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Third Eye

Midnight_Carnival wrote:
Sorry, I'm doing that again, I'm a deeply sarcastic person but it doesn't always come across well on the internet!
If I make a suggestion it's your choice whether you want to use it or not, similarly, if I make an observation it is up to you how seriously you want to take it. Normally it is best to use a desatruation filter and assume that I don't nessesarily mean it seriously.

Off topic: I see nature spirits, ghosts, angels, etc all the time and I'm nobody's definition of either pure or good, but I'm not a Filipino so I'll just shut up and try not to subvert your discussion. :P

No offence taken and I hope none was given :) I too am misunderstood on the internet a lot but in my case it's usually bad jokes that no one get :)) Your points were very valid and I agree with most as I had said :)

Just about the off topic comment: You have what we call a third eye :) Usually it's hereditary since it's common that if someone has a third eye, some of their children or grandchildren have it too. Does it run in your family? People who usually see the supernatural in our culture are either the innocent or people with third eyes :) My stepdad and two of my cousins have third eyes. There are freaky times when they both suddenly glance something in the distance and just go

"You saw that?"
"Yeah"

radioactivemouse
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Thanks

nicanorrr wrote:
Midnight_Carnival wrote:
Sorry, I'm doing that again, I'm a deeply sarcastic person but it doesn't always come across well on the internet!
If I make a suggestion it's your choice whether you want to use it or not, similarly, if I make an observation it is up to you how seriously you want to take it. Normally it is best to use a desatruation filter and assume that I don't nessesarily mean it seriously.

Off topic: I see nature spirits, ghosts, angels, etc all the time and I'm nobody's definition of either pure or good, but I'm not a Filipino so I'll just shut up and try not to subvert your discussion. :P

No offence taken and I hope none was given :) I too am misunderstood on the internet a lot but in my case it's usually bad jokes that no one get :)) Your points were very valid and I agree with most as I had said :)

Just about the off topic comment: You have what we call a third eye :) Usually it's hereditary since it's common that if someone has a third eye, some of their children or grandchildren have it too. Does it run in your family? People who usually see the supernatural in our culture are either the innocent or people with third eyes :) My stepdad and two of my cousins have third eyes. There are freaky times when they both suddenly glance something in the distance and just go

"You saw that?"
"Yeah"

I've been reading all the posts and I agree with everything that has been said. Since I wasn't born in PI, I have to rely on people that have live or have live there so that I can make a game that's respected.

For me, it's a way to tap into my heritage since I've been so...American all my life. Thanks all for the responses. I can tell they are well thought out and genuine :)

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