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Broke Down Postmortem

Posted by
Tuesday, April 30th, 2013 5:57 pm

brokedown_title

As it says on the tin: Broke Down is a Twinestory about tearing shit up and getting off on it.

Twine is easy to use, but it takes a little persistence to coax out the possibilities. Fortunately, there are resources everywhere (Porpentine has collected many). I relied heavily on the collective knowledge shared by the Twine community.

1 Design
I wanted to design the layout first, because I knew that there would be a temptation to use the default CSS styling if there was a time crunch. The hardest part was figuring out which elements affected what, especially for the sidebar (the hyperlink in the byline bedeviled me). When I got stuck, I was able to look at Leon and Porpentine’s stylesheets to figure out which elements to reference in my own CSS. Dan Cox’s Twine tutorial provided information about using Google Web Fonts.

brokedown_mechanic

2 Mechanic
Implementing the story layers was easily done using Twine’s built-in if macro and jumping to “more” and “less” passages that changed the level variable. The hard part was resetting the variable each time the reader advanced, and I felt this was critical. I couldn’t find a way to combine the set macro with internal links. I thought I found a workaround using Leon’s timedreplace macro, but an hour before the deadline I realized it didn’t work. As a last-minute MacGuyver move I created duplicate passages that reset the variable and automatically jumped to the prose passage using Leon’s goto macro. It doubles the number of passages but it works.

I used a number of Leon’s excellent macros and fixes:

brokedown_stats brokedown_nodes3

3 Writing
I got a late start Saturday morning. I wasn’t sure about the story, I just knew I wanted 3 levels of prose. I spent most of the day freewriting stuff and reading erotic fanfiction (sorry, it’s true), and I thought about people in rollover crashes and what it might be like to roll downhill in a metal cage and maybe hit a tree or water. I don’t know what that says exactly, it’s just where my head was at. Sometime Sunday morning the story clicked and I wrote the bulk of the prose from then until deadline. I was writing up until the last ten minutes and ended up condensing routes to make it in on time. What you’re seeing is relatively raw.

4 Post-competition
I will release a post-competition version before voting ends. I mainly want to expand the routes and add more diversity, but I had an idea for color scheme changes that I want to try implementing. Li’l, my jam partner for LD25, has expressed interest in creating music.

As far as what worked/didn’t work, I got lucky and had access to awesome macros that let me set up the story experience I wanted. It was a much more organic process than my previous entries, but it worked out.

Belated “I’m In”

Posted by
Saturday, April 27th, 2013 4:08 am

This is my third LD. Considering the theme, I’m glad I’ll be using Twine. Not sure what I’ll do yet, but the idea of super minimalist erotica just struck me as very funny.

Postmortem: The Cards Never Lie

Posted by
Thursday, December 20th, 2012 6:59 pm

screenshot0046

The Cards Never Lie was Li’l’s first game project ever and my first Jam, second LD.

What went right:
We were able to incorporate most of our basic ideas (using the phone, having visitors). Li’l composed all the music in about 48 hours, somehow. (There are 7 original tracks plus a few variant tracks.)

Three days is A LOT longer than two days, and in our case the difference between a mess and an entry. By the 48-hour compo deadline the game was technically submittable, but the extra hours on Monday made a huge difference.

screenshot0048

What went wrong:
Mysteries are hard. :( I wanted to compromise between game play features and storyline so the game wouldn’t be too kinetic. I tried to find a good middle-ground, but it still feels light on both ends.

We had a lot of ideas during the brainstorm phase we weren’t able to implement. We talked about timed events and day/night scenarios, and I wanted to have a mini-game where you could guess if a person was lying based on their facial expressions/tics. L’il came up with all this elaborate tarot card stuff that I didn’t even get close to squeezing in. AND I FORGOT TO INCLUDE A GOAT. I have no idea where I would have put one, probably in the park eating delicious trash.

What we’d do different:
Should have bribed/charmed/stolen an artist, for sure.

The future:
I’d like to continue working on this. There are a lot of features I still want to try and I feel like the basic story has legs and could be expanded into 3 to 5 interlinked mysteries.

We’re In

Posted by
Friday, December 14th, 2012 3:29 pm

This is my second LD. This time I’ll be participating in the Jam with a Secret Musician (oooh) who is using a bunch of synthesizer stuff I don’t know the name of and therefore cannot disclose!

I’ll be sticking to my usual toolbox: Ren’Py, Gimp, and Audacity. Just have to do the fabled pre-LD grocery store run and we’ll be ready to jam.

Young Earth Road Trip Postmortem

Posted by
Thursday, August 30th, 2012 4:35 am

Play/Rate

Young Earth Road Trip was my first LD game. I had a great time (for the most part: see Period of Despondency), was able to include all of the major features I wanted, and learned a lot.

What Went Right

  • My game plan worked very well. Friday brainstorm, Saturday build, Sunday polish.
  • I only had one strong concept idea, but I was able to develop the rest of the story and the game play very quickly once I decided that my core idea was, “YEC pilgrimages to the Creationist Museum.”
  • I narrowed my scope early on. The original neighborhood had eight neighbors, plus Miguel’s house at 316 and a few other locations, but I decided to go with the four strongest characters and only have 4 locations.
  • Gained confidence in my graphic abilities. I mentioned this when I finished the game, but I thought the real crutch would be graphic assets. But once I got started, the graphics part went very quickly and the assets are “good enough” to convey the story and some of the humor.

What Went Wrong

  • Most notably, music. I “scouted out” music tools beforehand and decided, “Oh, I’ll just use inudge.” Somehow, I didn’t notice that inudge had no convenient way to export the song, so when I started working on music about three hours before deadline I realized I was stuck. My computer doesn’t have speakers, so I couldn’t even record a crappy version that way. I didn’t trust myself to learn how to use new software before the deadline, so I ended up pecking out something on piano for the ending (the rest of the game has sound, but no music).
  • My Period of Despondency: Early afternoon Sunday I started to wear down. I was tired and I wanted away from the computer. The game was technically complete, but there were a lot of graphics, music, and sounds to add. I didn’t think I would be able to finish the ending sequence, which required a lot of new images. Fortunately, I got a second wind (had to give myself a little pep talk there).
  • When I leave an asset, I really leave it. Forever. On a number graphic assets I told myself I’d come back and add detail work, but never did. In the future I’d go ahead and spend the extra minutes polishing up each one before I move on.

The Future
I ran out of time for a few things, like a parallax bus-driving scene and blinking eyes, but overall I was able to include everything major that I planned for. With the exception of adding music and a splash screen, I probably won’t make any changes (and I might not even make those, since this game is a nice time capsule of my current skill level). But I’d like to take some of the things I learned (like how to make the random God hints) and apply them to new games.

DONE

Posted by
Sunday, August 26th, 2012 5:36 pm

IT IS FINIIIISHED.  Praise Jesus!

I wasn’t sure how things would go on this one, but I was surprised how much I managed to get done.  And I have new confidence in my art (it’s not perfect, but yeah, I can make those assets if I have to).  I even recorded some music for the ending.  I feel good.

In!

Posted by
Thursday, August 23rd, 2012 5:24 am

LD n00b, excited to participate.  I’ll be using Ren’Py, Gimp, sfxr, and probably a lot of gin.

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