Eft to Newt is actually the very first Twine game I ever started working on. The idea was based on two themes: improv and the axolotl salamander. There is an improv warm-up game, often used to generate ideas and themes that can then be used in a long-form piece. The game begins with an actor saying a word, and the next actor must then say another word that this makes them think of. The goal is to eventually get as far away from the original word as conceptually possible, then work your way back to the original word. Not forcing it, but naturally jumping from association to association until you have linked the wildest, furthest idea back to the original.
The second inspiration is the axolotl salamander, an endangered salamander from Mexico that I have always been very fond of. In particular there are two traits I drew inspiration from. Axolotls can regrow almost any part of their body. They can even regrow parts of their eyes or brain that get damaged or removed. Axolotls are also neotonic, which means they never grow out of their juvenile stage. Axolotls always possess the gills and other attributes that other salamanders eventually leave behind. Both domestic dogs and humans are also described as being neotonic to an extent, as adult dogs possess qualities of juvenile wolves and adult humans physically resemble baby apes. However, the axolotl has the potential to shed its perpetual childhood. When introduced to certain artificial environments, an axolotl can metamorphosis into an “adult” salamander never seen in the wild.
The narrative of this game has the potential to become many things. The choices made in the beginning will radically change and alter the universe. Wild, crazy stories will emerge from the simple beginning, but all connect back to your simple choices. No matter what you choose, the game will accept this and work it into a larger story. Some of the wildest ideas I have ever thought up appear in this game. While it may not take long to discover one of the many endings, each time you play can provide a radically different experience.
When I started the game, the axolotl was endangered. Now, it may be extinct. Recently naturalists started a three month survey to see if they can find any left in the wild. If not, it will be declared extinct in the wild. Even if they do find some, it will likely be less than a hundred. The axolotl population has plummeted rapidly due to pollution and the introduction of invasive fish which eat their eggs and destroy the plants they need to hide in. Fortunately, the axolotl’s regenerative prowess may have saved it, as there is a huge captive population in labs, zoos and private homes. Most amphibians that have recently gone extinct or are teetering on the edge are not fortunate enough to be as charismatic or “useful” as the axolotl. The axolotl may have another chance and can be reintroduced to its environment. But that won’t be enough unless steps are taken to protect it afterwards.
The axolotl thrived alongside humans for centuries. Traditional Aztec farming created the perfect environment for it, and despite only being found in two lakes the axolotl population boomed. It lived alongside humans almost symbiotically. Humans provided the perfect home for them, and axolotls provided additional cheap protein (supposedly they taste like chicken, of course). Axolotls provide another service to humans, as like most amphibians they are a perfect barometer for how healthy an environment is. Cleaning up the lakes and even reintroducing traditional farming not only helps the axolotl, but helps the people living there. It provides clean water, sustainable food, a reduction in disease, and more. The medical benefits form having a healthy, wild axolotl population are also abundant, as research into these creatures is helping us discover new ways to regrow our own bodies after injury. The axolotl shows us that conservation and social justice can work together.
Like I said, I have always been fond of the axolotl, and hearing about its possible extinction right as I was finishing this game was a shock. Because I owed the little amphibian for the creation of this game, I have decided to sell it and donate the money to support the recovery of the axolotl and other amphibians not lucky enough to be as popular.