*Spoiler* Icarus Doesn’t Die in this One…


In Daniel Merlin Goodbrey’s Icarus Needs, users get to go on a “hypercomic adventure” as they try to wake up “everyone’s favorite mentally unhinged cartoonist, Icarus Creeps”. The premise of this work is that Icarus fell asleep while playing video games and has somehow ended up in a surreal, cartoon-esque dreamscape ruled by a squirrel king??? Icarus needs to find a way out of this nightmare while rescuing his girlfriend, Kit, and defeating a very squirrely squirrel king. Users play as the main character, Icarus, and can control his movements through the story via the arrow keys. as users move through the game, they encounter minor obstacles they must overcome in order to progress. Often, solving these puzzles involves going backwards in the game to locate some kind of item like a key or some apples or a crown from a locked chest at the bottom of a “royal bath” for which bolt cutters will need to be located. This game is designed to look like a kind of De Stijl comic strip, making use of strong blocks of primary colours as well as simple shapes and lines. Users “jump” from one comic panel to the next using arrow keys. Additionally, Icarus expresses a kind of sardonic, almost nihilistic, wit which imbues this work with a strong sense of so-called “Millennial humor” which could also be classified as a kind of Neo-Dada revival.


Like come on I could see this as a Twitter post, 3k retweets easy

To be honest, I was not expecting to enjoy this work. Despite my deep appreciation for Elit and new forms of digital content creation, I’m not the biggest fan of “game” works or works that could be classified within the video game genre. It’s not that I don’t believe these kinds of works can tell a compelling story–far from it–but I tend to find that I am, well, bad at them. Video games are not my forte. So, anything that vaguely resembles a video game is usually moved far down on my list.

Anyway, that said, I found myself drawn in by Icarus Needs. Almost immediately, I was intrigued by the premise. (Icarus being trapped in a dream-world brought to mind surrealist interpretations of dreams, automatism, etc. and so connected this work to art from the start.) Also, I found Icarus’ dialogue to be witty, relatable, and so engaging. I loved the running dry commentary and self-awareness (“It’s a long way down” “At least six panels”) of the character.

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I would say most of Icarus’ speech as well as this work’s story line has a strong postmodern, Millennial sensibility to it. There’s this humorous self-awareness of ridiculous circumstances on both Icarus’ and Kit’s parts that I believe plants the work firmly in Millennial territory. Like, I feel younger generations more than older generations would appreciate this work.

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Reminds me of “screaming into the void” posts on popular social media websites like Tumblr, Twitter, etc.


“Breaking the fourth wall” is another component of this work, in addition to the art style, simple interface design, and text, that I found to be compelling. Not only would Icarus mention the panel bounds of the work, there were also ample mentions/references to flying and falling which seem to reference the myth of Icarus.

Icarus No

These references to the myth, within the context of this work, I would classify as a kind of “breaking of the IRL fourth wall”. It’s an element that is asking readers to step outside of the context of one story and recall the contents of another story. It’s interesting, also, that the whole premise of this work is based around Icarus falling asleep under inconvenient circumstances.

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What really makes this work Neo-Dada-esque for me, though, is the ending. The work just kind of nonchalantly ends with Kit finding Icarus knocked out on the couch and waking him up. It’s one of those “it was all a dream” endings, leaving users to wonder about the nonsensical journey they just went on. I feel like users are left wondering, “Well, what was the point?”

But, that is the point–there is no point.

Traditional Dada an its following iterations can be viewed as a kind of celebration of absurdity, of nonsense, and of pointlessness. The meaning is that there is no meaning. I think Icarus Needs plays off of this sensibility and, really, makes a game out of it. In this way, this work subverts traditional gaming narratives. There are no high-scores or rewards and there is no closure. Yet, I find this work, as a game, is still entertaining and engaging for users. This is accomplished through design and dialogue and, I believe, riffing off of Millennial humor and sense. But, that’s just my opinion.

What do you think????


~Find me #suffering on the Twitter till next time~

On Icarus Needs

Icarus Needs is basically the peak of E-Lit for me; it tells a tidy story inside a video game. Having played similar flash games in the past, it didn’t take me long to finish it, but even so I enjoyed the brief experience, one that justifies the comic formatting and inventory management even if the story doesn’t.

On the surface, I thought this story would be some sort of psychosomatic insight into someone’s dreams, because a little bit of that goes a long way into making a character have more layers than an onion. But it turns out that the truth is a little more uninteresting; Icarus fell asleep playing video games and now he needs to wake up by an unspoken method. One of the constant objectives throughout the game under “Icarus Needs” is “to wake up”. Needs and deeds.

Sometimes the scariest things are the facts.

The game controls very well and backtracking is not much of a problem from how fast you move. But what the game does present as a problem, is the puzzles, if you can call them that. Some are as simple as a cat obstructing a key.


Sometimes you still can’t get away from the evil felines, even in dreams.

And sometimes they get as weird as a key obstructing a key. But in between the item collecting and story progression, you get a little more insight on Icarus. To put it lightly, he’s a little self-deprecating, but nothing ever beyond the levels of humor….I think.


This one almost stings.

Even though the game is brief, it does it’s best to show that you in fact do run into some foreshadowing; running into things and people that you may need down the line. Take the rope vendor for example.


Well, when you put it that way….my rope supply has been kinda short lately.

No less than 4-5 panels later, Icarus runs into some trouble that does require the rope vendor, and when you do, you find out his price. As a long time player of video games, good game design is important, and this is one of the better executions of it.


It rubs the lotion on its skin or it gets the hose again!

Perhaps my favorite part of the game was the air balloon segment, which exists so you can….uh…..fall down a tree and collect some of the required apples. It’s one of those bizarre moments that remind you that you’re in a dream, one of Icarus’s own doing. It’s because of this that I feel the air balloon scene is a little more lovely than it might appear; Icarus has a known fear of flying and dreams of falling, and yet here he is, dreaming of using a hot air balloon to further his quest. One could say he’s even facing his fears.



But of course, being a dream, some of the puzzles don’t really have a particular rhyme or reason to it. I don’t know why telephones make good bridges in this game, but they do, and that’s all that matters.

I don’t care if this is still a dream, this is ridiculous!

The eventual reveal that Kit is “saving” Icarus from his dream isn’t exactly Hitchcock levels of plot twist, but it’s a nice touch that grounds the dream into reality; Kit is someone from his real life and could aid him, even if she doesn’t realize it.


Sorry, but the wife is in another castle!

The squirrel king…..I’m guessing Icarus has a massive hate for squirrels. One thing is for sure, his castle is absolutely gorgeous. And tall.


Not gonna feel afraid until they confirm the feet/height per panel.

The entire game takes place during a dream, so it was to be expected that the goal is to wake up in the end. Even still, there’s a sense of accomplishment nonetheless. It’s not like Wizard Of Oz got any worse due to its ambiguity….sorry if I spoiled that.


Or is it?

Ultimately, Icarus Needs fulfills its job as both a competent game and e-lit piece successfully. It tells a coherent story even if it’s within a dream, has several puzzles that reward exploration and continuity (except for those dumb spoons) and ends with about the same amount of detail that I’d expect from a written story. It’s not too often that you can have your cake (game/story blended together so perfectly) and have it work, but Icarus Needs is one of those rare examples.


Icaurs Needs…*Insert Thinking Emoji Face Here*

“Icarus Needs is a hypercomic adventure game staring everyone’s favorite mentally unhinged cartoonist, Icarus Creeps. Icarus has fallen asleep playing video games and become trapped inside a surreal dream world that’s part video game and part comic strip. What’s worse, somehow his girlfriend Kit has got trapped inside the same dream. Now Icarus needs to locate Kit, escape the clutches of the King of Squirrels and find some way back to the waking world. Can you get Icarus everything he needs before it’s too late?” by Daniel Merlin Goodbrey(http://e-merl.com/icneeds.html)

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The title above was my face when I first read “Icaurs Needs.” I thought to myself, “What does he need?!” and I became intrigued. This is by far my favorite piece all semester. It was interesting, fun, creative, witty, and actually educational. I learned to not eat carrots while jumping on a trampoline. Before I get into the piece itself, I have to talk about the music. I have a love for music. I thought it was a great idea to have the music change throughout each section of the game. Obviously, this is not the main focus of this piece. However, it made me think about the piece I want to do for my final project. Taking the time to focus on the small parts, such as music, is what adds or takes away from the piece.

The concept to this idea is simple; A character who needs to find his girlfriend in the dream before he wakes up. To do that, he needs to locate various items in exchange for more information or another thing. Simple right? Then why is this piece so captivating? My answer would be because of delivery. Daniel Merlin Goodbrey took the letter “I” and turned it into a character who is having real, human issues. He was able to make this a fun video game that was also relatable. In the beginning, Icaurs realizes that he has not wakened up yet and is dreaming. He then enters “Reality,” just one of the many sections of his dream. Once Icaurs approaches another character, the character says, “I am a door. You must find my key”. Icaurs then says, “He didn’t look like a door. Is that racist?” Now, as a person of color, some may find that offensive. I, on the other hand, found it to be comical. Also, to anyone who took that seriously, Icaurs is dreaming after all. (Also aside from the fact that these are not people but letters and characters).

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One question that I had while playing the game was, “Who is talking to Icaurs while is going from section to section?”. Some questions and sentences show on the side. Kit is not on the phone speaking to Icaurs. Is the narrator the character who is a “door,” gave Icaurs the rope or guarded the squirrel king?

Click to view slideshow.

Besides that, I thought this piece was something more “up my alley” and not just because it had a sweet and romantic ending, but because it allowed me to rethink what literature truly is. After playing this game, I reflect on the first class we had at the beginning of the semester. “Is this literature?” I believe that it is. If this e-lit piece were in the form of traditional literature, then it would probably in the form of a comic strip. This can easily be put in the form of traditional literature, which is I why I believe that even though it is in the form of a video game, it is in fact literature.

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“If school is not fun, then what’s the point?” -Professor Hone, Wroxton Collge, Oxfordshire, Banbury England


Icarus Needs: Trapping in a Dream?


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Icarus Needs is an elit piece taking the form of a video game created by Daniel Merlin Goodbrey. It looks very interesting, and the style is classic.

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The rule is simple. Press WSAD to move the character and help him rescue his girlfriend Kit and get out of his dream. So let’s get started!


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The BGM is quiet and depressed. The hero, Icarus, is presented as a shadow. In this blue room, the game says to you, “You didn’t wake up, this is still a dream”. It is quite interesting for it to use second-person. Is it referring to me? Am I still in a dream, like Iracus does?  

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After revealing the fact that you are still in a dream, there is a task for you in the taskbar on the left, “to wake up”. I don’t have any clue yet. I’ll just keep walking. 

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Soon I arrive at this crossroad. I can choose to go upstairs, go down into the sewer, or keep moving through the corridors. Let’s go upstairs to have a look. 

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Go upstairs and turn left, you will come across an unfriendly cat. Behind the cat, there is a key. According to my experience, this key will be very important later in the game. So I have to distract the cat and find something to break the glass. 

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Then I go right. A rat shows up and runs away. Here, Kit “shows up” in the phone. 

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Then I literally “pick up” the phone. Now I have it in my pocket. And I have another task, which is to find Kit. 

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Then I go downstairs into the sewer. The tone becomes green, and the BGM becomes faster and more dangerous. 

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Then Iracus says a bunch of nonsense. This is what people do when they sleeptalk. 

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Walk to the left, it’s a dead end, which doesn’t have any other functions except for joking. Capture i13




Ah-ha! The telephone is not only a bridge for communication, but it can be a real bridge for me to cross the well. But how did I put it in my pocket? It’s almost as tall as me. 

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Someone left his/her fishing equipment here, just beside the sign saying “no fishing”. Interesting. I like this net so I put it in my pocket and walk away before anyone sees me. Now I have this net. I’m going to catch that rat and sent it to the cat to distract it and get the key! 

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I get the rat immediately and put it in my pocket.

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Then I present the rat to the cat. I look like a jerk in some kind of school bullying game. 

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I get the key and say sorry to the rat. Wow! The key is in my taskbar and I’ve finished the task. 



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Then I go back to the crossroad and turn right to the “reality”. 



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This strange man says that he’s a door and asks for the key. Luckily, I’ve got the key. What is he guarding? 

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Then I find myself outdoors. The scene becomes orange. The BGM becomes alive but a little mysterious. 



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The rope vendor tries to sell me a rope. Icarus refuses. Let’s see what happens next. 



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It seems like my girlfriend Kit is trapped in this well. The rope vendor might be a fortune teller! I wish I was Rapunzel. 

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He asks for apples. I’m glad he doesn’t ask for money because I don’t have any. There’s a tree nearby. Let’s see if it’s an apple tree. 


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Bad luck! Some unfriendly squirrels step in my way! Fine, I’ll just keep walking to see if there are other ways. 


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Yeah, there’s a balloon. I can take the ballon and avoid the squirrels. 

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Yes, I do. But Icarus says that he dreams of falling more often. 



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You mean you don’t have eyes now? 

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But I only find a phone in the well. 

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I use the phone to cross a trap. 

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Then I enter a red palace, the BGM sounds like middle Asian style. 

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This place belongs to the royalty. 

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Where can I find the crown? Never mind, I’ll just explore around. 





There might be a secret chamber upstairs but I don’t have the key. Or it’s merely a wall of poor quality. I’ll leave it alone for now. 


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I find a wrench in the room upstairs, and use it to open the box at the bottom of the royal baths. 

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Yes, what the majesty says is absolutely right.

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Then I go right and go downstairs into the cellar and pick up a mud ball. 

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No, I don’t. Who wants a pocket full of mud? I prefer a pocket full of cookies. 

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As I go back and play in the royal bath, the mud is washed off… 

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No one cares about your trousers. This ball looks like a Pokemon ball. 

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Then I go upstairs. Look! A chamber. This ball is the key to the chamber. 

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Eh, the chamber only leads to the roof. 






Off with whose head? 







These squirrels are crazy. I’d better run away. 

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Wow, I find Kit! She’s riding a telephone. 

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She’ll be moved when I tell her I’m going to rescue her. 

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Ok, what do you mean? 

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Sure, if it’s a dream, jumping off from the roof of a tall castle won’t cause my death. 

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The reality is down below. I see. Icarus said that he dreamed of falling more often. Once he falls, he wakes up. 

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No, I don’t want to go sleep again. The squirrels will kill me if they see me back. 



This is the end of this game. The reality is that Kit is the one who saves Icarus. This elit piece explores subconsciousness and reality through a game. The main character wakes up in a building in the dream, but the reality always leads him to the outdoors. I think this means that if you want to go back to reality, you need to look outside of your mind to the outside world. I like the humor and irony in this piece. 

Wait, am I really awake?






my e-lit piece

Though I haven’t 100% figured out how i’m going to complete my final e-lit piece, i do want it to involve one of my favorite creative writing piece. Poetry is one of my favorite form of expressions and I wanted to make it part of this e-lit piece by telling a story through photos. One of my past creative classes we had to write a poem about a picture he presented to us. I had this urge to write a story, a murder to be exact. One of my favorite shows is ‘Snapped’ and I instantly based my poem off that show because I felt as though it fit best with the picture (not exactly sure why). Any who, I’m basing my poem around this house while also basing my e-lit piece around having the audience solve the ‘mystery’ or figure out the story on their own. lonely house

Storyboarding / Blog 7

Please forgive this VERY rough storyboard as the beginning of what I hope will be a fantastic piece of eLit intended for younger audiences.

first draft storyboard

This eLit piece will teach children exactly what bullying looks like. After substitute teaching for a couple years now, I have noticed many situations where students are bullying, but they don’t know that they are doing it. Most of the time they are simply copying behaviors they have seen elsewhere. I would like to use this eLit piece as a tool to educate students and continue to work towards completely eliminating bullying from our schools.

WIP Electronic Literature: Sellers of Various Kinds

It is very interesting to work on an electronic literature of my own after experiencing some examples in the class. Right now, I only have the premise of what I’m planning on. Whether this premise will prove fruitful or not remains to be seen. The basic idea is that the reader is “a customer” who needs to decide how to spend the given money and choose what to purchase. The screen will consist of 9 different characters and each one will be attempting to sell some sort of product. The following sketch is an early concept:


In order to add a little bit of flavor of humor, some of the characters are exaggerated; we have a sorcerer, a robot, and a goblin warrior mixed in with the crowd.

The piece will be very dialogue heavy. At each round, they will attempt to convince the reader to purchase whatever they are selling. Some of them could be honest, others could be tricking the reader. This interaction will be an examination of methods that people use to persuade others and certain methods used in marketing.

As the concept and the idea develops further, I hope it will take an appealing shape. I’m looking forward to finishing this work by due time.


The initial idea about my elit is “marriage”. I want to write about different kinds of marriage, both happy and unhappy ones that I have seen or heard about in my life. The theme might be asking what a happy marriage seems like or what are the “definition” and key components of a happy marriage. 

The reason I would have this idea is omnifarious. First, I am the one who does not have so much confidence about marriage. I grew up seeing and hearing about a lot of unfortunate abortive marriages of my relatives and my mother’s friends, which gradually destroyed my beautiful imagination for marriage. However, I watched a Chinese variety show entitled “Viva La Romance” on YouTube recently. The eudaemonic marriages of the four couples in the show demonstrate another possibility of marriage for me. It makes me curious about whether there exists a secret key to a happy successful marriage. I want to mix the real life experience of one of my aunt and a fictive happy marriage to make up my own elit.

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I want to make a site that like a travel journal, which is written by a divorced woman. The woman is 36 years old and she goes to a travel with her friend, Amy, right after she divorced with her husband. Amy has a really sweet husband and is two years younger than her. During their travel, she learns a lot from Amy and Amy’s marriage. She records the things happened and she learned by writing a travel journal. 

Actually, I want to make something more fun and interesting. However, it is still really hard for me to create something like animations and images, just anything more than texts. I would like to learn about doing these things and make my elit piece more interacted with the readers.

Rough Idea about my E-lit Piece

I have an idea of creating some stories about the old people who live alone. The reader can engaged in the story. For example, the reader is the only one that cares and accompanies the old man. You do things for him. But he does not know. Like an invisible man. Through the process, the readers can gradually know the story of the old man’s life.

I plan to set the background in a small cabin with some basic decoration. The outside weather is rainy. I would like to use sounds from the rainymood website to create the atmosphere. Hence, the home page goes like this: the left is a cabin with one old man, the right is a rainy environment.


Actually, I do not know how to make the animation and strengthen the interaction with readers. It is just a rough idea. I will mainly use hyper-text links to move forward the plot. Through this piece, a sense of isolation must be created. The readers can involved in the story, but what the readers do are unnoticed. The old man is still alone.

However, I think it is too easily-organized. I am thinking to put more content and more interaction methods into the story. (Maybe one rain drop is going to represent one section?)