Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Making a videogame is... really fun.

I participated in Adventure Time Game Jam! I made a game called When Sneezles Attack. I used the engine Twine, which was really easy to work with. If you'd like to make a game in Twine, Anna Anthropy/Auntie Pixelante made an excellent tutorial (and look my game is totes on her list of sample twine games I am proud/flattered).

Writing the story was really fun. I had some ideas about how I wanted the story to go--I wanted to be able to visit parts of Ooo, I wanted to include some of the regular characters, and I wanted it to have the same kind of bizarre but sometimes logical humor I love in Adventure Time. It's much easier to imitate a style and use someone else's characters than to make my own, and that helped me write it all the faster. At first I wanted you to be Neptr and not realize it right away, and then have to find Finn and then start your quest, but I felt like that would be kind of frustrating. I liked the idea of undermining the expectation that you were playing as Finn though. Adam helped me design the story so you have a goal right away (at first it was just nebulous exploring), and he helped brainstorm a few things with me too.

After I wrote the initial story, I worked on the variables. Basically, if you ever pick up an item or return to a location, I wanted it to make a difference in the story. So the third time you visit Princess Bubblegum, she'll ask how Jake is doing (that one was actually pretty hard... but I found a way for it to work by ordering the text a non-chronological way). Whenever you get an item, the game remembers, so you can use it later on. It was my first time programming a complete game with variables, but this was an excellent place to practice that. It's like magic!

Working on the code was kind of strange... like, after I had read through the game so much I couldn't tell if it was funny or not anymore. It also felt like my brain changed from creative to complete bug-squasher. Coding also reminded me that I'm not a robot (if I were, writing <<endif>> [correct] instead of <<end if>> [incorrect, but a very common error of mine] would have been so much easier).

I feel really excited when people tell me they have played it! Especially if it made them laugh. Like, kind of giddy... is this how all game developers feel about their games? No wonder they keep making them.

I guess making this game, and seeing people enjoy it, reminded me that I can write pretty well, and given the right circumstances I can be funny too! I found it really satisfying. I recommend this experience. :-)