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Of Cliques and Conspiracies

Posted on November 18th, 2013

I always come into these sorts of things at least five minutes late. Apparently, there’s been a thing going on about the "indie bubble" and "developer cliques" and issues related to that. I can’t offer much perspective on the former; I’ve barely gotten into this and, for now, would rather focus on learning how to make games instead of what comes after. But I do know some things about human nature. From that, I can speak on the latter.

I don’t think there’s any Big Name Indie Club or whatever trying to keep newbies down. I don’t think so because that’s silly. I do, however, recognize that having the right connections can offer certain advantages not available to those who don’t.

Think of it this way: in general, people prioritize the wants and needs of people they already know over those of strangers. So, if you’re a developer who has famous(ish) developer friends, the odds that they’ll give you in-depth advice or help promote your work are much better than for anyone who’s not part of that group. Same goes for developers with game journalist friends.

The saying "It’s not what you know. It’s who you know" exists for a reason.

Also, once folks reach a certain point, there are bound to be some people who only want to get friendly with them for the sake of promoting themselves. Consciously or otherwise, this could make the established group wary of letting in strangers. Especially strangers who make their motives painfully obvious or fanboy/fangirl too much.

Then, there’s the simple fact not everyone is outgoing. Even some with well-known names may need time to get used new people and just feel more comfortable sticking with who they know.

Put it all together and, from the outside, it looks like a cliquish conspiracy. On the inside, it’s just friends helping friends, same as most friends do.

I wonder sometimes where this will leave me. I don’t do "fitting in groups" very well, and (thanks to my fear of rejection) any friends I make tend to just show up instead of it happening through my making conscious connections. On the other hand, I recognize that I don’t have a God-given right to anyone’s time, attention or friendship, which makes it easier for me not to rail against… well… reality.

Here’s hoping sheer dumb luck will be on my side.

Concept Art: Jenny

Posted on November 13th, 2013

(If you just want to get to the picture, keep scrolling. If you’re on the homepage, click the post title and then keep scrolling.)

Here’s the main character of what, in all likelihood, will be my first non-Twine game. Her name is Jenny (it just kinda stuck), and it took me a while to pin down her appearance. The coat, boots, black lipstick, meat cleaver and ponytail were always there. So was the idea that she should look kind of badass. And I always saw her as more-or-less racially ambiguous. It’s the other details that got me: her height, her features, that sort of thing.

The first sketch didn’t feel quite right. I liked her attitude, I thought she looked too butch. (Butch women are great, BTW. That’s just not how I saw Jenny.)

The second looked more like Jenny’s face, but she wasn’t having enough fun. She was also much too tall.

The third sketch was almost there. Almost, but not quite. And after I scanned it an loaded it up in Manga Studio, I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why I just couldn’t ink it. Then, it hit me: go back to the source. The thing that helped inspire the game. The problem was I was drawing this more-or-less in my usual style. If I was going to make it work, I’d have to adjust some things. (more…)

Next Project: “Jenny”

Posted on November 7th, 2013

I have a new project underway–and it’s not in Twine. I want to make it an action/platformer type of thing; for now, I’m going to try to make it with IG Maker since I bought a copy a while ago with an unexpected windfall. If I can’t get it to do what I’d like it to do, I’ll try Construct Classic instead.

Anyway, the game’s working title is Jenny the Homicidal Maniac. The inspiration comes from exactly where you’d think it does. I don’t have a real title yet or an exact story, but Jenny just kinda showed up on her own hacking things up with a butcher knife and enjoying what she did. I don’t know precisely why she’s so messed up; once I get that figured out, the details of the gameplay mechanics should fall into place.

Hopefully, I’ll have some concept art of Jenny done by the weekend.

Twine Tutorial: Conditional Questions

Posted on October 23rd, 2013

A friend on Twitter recently asked me how I did the question/answer part of my Twine game Eden. Basically 1)once you’ve asked a question, it’s marked as having been asked once you return to the list 2)asking certain questions makes new ones appear and 3)you only get the option to stop asking questions once at least one has been asked. Here are a few screencaps to show this:

Anyway, the steps involved are a bit lengthy to post on Twitter. So I figured I’d write this article for anyone who might find it useful. Please note that this tutorial assumes familiarity with Twine and some familiarity with Twine conditional statements. If you need a beginner’s tutorial, here’s an excellent primer from Auntie Pixelante.

The Tutorial

For demo purposes, I (more…)

Shadow of a Soul

Posted on October 20th, 2013

Oh my. Where to start with this one? I guess you’d call Shadow of a Soul an erotic horror Twine adventure(?) game with BDSM themes.

Anyway, this is a dark, weird, kinky game. You play the role of some poor damned soul who must either please their new demon master/mistress (which appears is up to you, as are your gender and sexual orientation) by doing… something unpleasant… or face eternity as the plaything of their older and more sadistic brother. Or perhaps an even worse fate. Along the way, you may need to replenish your strength, but don’t worry: that’s part of the fun.

Made with Twine. Features a good soundtrack, a fair amount of original artwork, and a decidedly dark atmosphere. It also has more than one ending.

(I created this one because I wanted to. No other reason, really. And yes, I had fun in the process. Maybe I’ll try making another naughty game someday.)

[Play Shadow of a Soul]

There’s also a downloadable version.


All About Eden

Posted on October 15th, 2013

Eden began with a simple idea: the player sets out to rescue a beautiful alien and the two might fall in love. Then I started wondering, “What gender should Eden be? And what about the player?” At first, I wanted to make Eden male just because it’s so unusual for a game like that, though I wasn’t sure what gender to assign the player. Then, I thought that Eden should be left un-gendered just because the idea seemed neat. As for the player, they could choose.

Then, there’s the mechanic that I actually used: while there IS a way to “choose” Eden’s gender, it’s usually random—and said gender isn’t revealed until, at the earliest, halfway through the game. After that, the player can decide how/if Eden’s gender affects their feelings for this blindingly beautiful person.

I think that makes a nice follow-up coming after the relative hopelessness of What’s in a Name. That game/story was about a time when I felt like my bisexuality was shameful, something I needed to hide or get rid of in order to fit in. In Eden, bisexuality is 1)your potential love interest’s nature (your gender doesn’t matter to Eden as long as your in-game good karma is higher than the bad) and 2)potentially rewarding. Not only can it make the path to romance easier; it can even earn you an achievement.

The funny thing is I don’t remember specifically setting out to make a “Bi Is Beautiful” game. It just sort of happened while I was working out the details, trying to sort out what would make the most interesting story and add the most fun.

That’s how 90% of the game happened, honestly. But that’s a topic for another post.

New Game: Eden

Posted on October 9th, 2013

I’ve got a new game for ya, very different from the first two — and the most traditionally “game-like” game I’ve made so far. It’s called Eden. You can play it here.

It’s sort of part RPG, part action game, and part dating sim, and it was created in Twine. As of 10/14/2013 I *think* I’ve fixed the last bug, but you never know. If the game throws any errors/blank screens for you (or you simply have a question or comment about the game itself), please let me know.

Oh, and not a lot is certain in this game. Who you’ll encounter. What turn events take. Not even your [potential] love interest’s gender. You’ll just need to see for yourself.

Enjoy! 🙂


Posted on October 9th, 2013

[Online Version]

Identical gameplay; Both Free/Donationware!

In some ways, Eden is my follow-up to What’s in a Name? Where What’s in a Name? went into the ways it can suck to be bisexual, in this game, it’s not only acceptable; it’s potentially rewarding.

In Eden, you’re a scientist faced with a choice: risk your life and career for someone else who’s beautiful, but “not even human” or look out for Number One. And that’s just the beginning. Can you really abandon this one to their fate? If not, how will you save them? Although the game is Twine-based, it’s coded with possibilities that are either triggered by earlier choices or occur at random–or both. A guard might spot you… or they might not. You might get caught if you try to take an item early… or you might be quick enough not to. Your love interest might be what you expected… or you may have to ask yourself questions these games tend to leave unasked.

Features include six different endings, four different achievements, a fair amount of original artwork (featured mainly in the endings) and a rather nifty soundtrack.

The offline and online versions play exactly the same. The offline version’s benefit is that once you download it, there are no preload times and you can play it whenever you like without coming back to the site. The good thing about the online version is you can check it out right away. (Well, except for the possible load times.)


Big Ball of Twine

Posted on October 2nd, 2013

Some Twine source code for Eden. SOME.

See that screenshot up there? It’s a partial view of the coding I’ve done for Eden, a new Twine game I’m working on. It only shows about one-third of what’s in there so far and I’ve still got a fair ways to go. It started off as a simple idea… and then I kept getting more ideas. And MORE ideas. And the game kept getting bigger and bigger. It’s gone from what could’ve been a simple choose-your-own text adventure to, well, a full-blown GAME. Random events. Multiple endings. Lots of different variables that change with the choices you make and can end up altering… well, a lot of things. It seems like everything in this game interacts with everything else. And that is pretty much the reason it exploded.

With a little scripting and a LOT of effort, it’s really something what you can do with this simple hypertext tool for interactive stories. Next time, I think I’m going to try survival horror.

(It’s possible you’re wondering now what Eden is about. But I’d rather not spoil the surprise—and this game has lots of them.)

Game-In-Progress: Eden

Posted on September 14th, 2013

I’m working on a new Twine game now. It’s the first that’ll be really game-like instead of a “life experience in a game type format” sort of thing. As such, creating it is a different–and interesting–process. (more…)

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