Join me as I look back on my #adventurejam game, Aurion and the Aurochs. You can take a look at the game over on gamejolt and you can view the sourcecode here. You can see all of the entries at adventurejam’s site.
I’m going to look at things that worked, things that didn’t, and the lessons I’ll take with me moving forward.
I sketched out the plot using Microscope to define events, locations, and potential actions and routes the player could take through the game. Microscope’s 3”x5” index card format made it easy to move ideas around when they weren’t working. And it made it easy to see the overall flow of the game.
Once I got the plot Microscope’d to my liking, I transferred it to the project’s readme, using checkmarks and crosses to represent the filled and unfilled circles of Microscope. Please note, that there be spoilers, so go play the game if you haven’t yet.
While I wasn’t using the circles in the typical way that Microscope proposes, it did help me visualize the potential routes for “good” and “bad” alternate endings.
I used some Twine macros for the first time in this game. I can see how they add some impressive functionality to Twine.
I reckon, if I find the right macros, I would save a ton of time implementing functionality that has already been better implemented as drop-in macros.
What Didn’t Work?
I set out to create what I thought at the time would be a relatively simple adventure game. However, I failed to appreciate the combinatorial proliferation of states that blossomed out as I added more and more items and interactions.
Timeframe and Pacing
I found the rigid format of the gamejam to be oppressive and stressful.
Because I was so focused on implementing the game I wanted in the time I had, I feel that the initial creative spark that drove me to design Aurion and the Aurochs wasn’t allowed to grow into the creative prose flamethrower that I wanted to torch raw palceholder text into a fine crème brûlée.
I can’t force that hammock-driven imagination, especially when I feel crunched for time.
What Will I Improve Next Time?
I will definitely continue to use Microscope for brainstorming and outlining plots. It could be fun to collaborate with multiple people on this process, as Microscope is meant to be a multiplayer experience.
It may be worthwhile to write-up the “single-player” approach I used for Microscope brainstorming.
I’d also be interested in trying out Tim Schafer’s freewriting technique that I came across in the Double Fine Adventure documentaries. This probably merits its own post in the future.
Scope and Pacing
I will think hard about whether I should participate in gamejams with such strict time requirements for submissions. I refuse to compromise on work and life commitments to participate in what should be a fun, creative hobby.
I feel emotionally and creatively drained from adventurejam, and I’d prefer to have steady, fulfilling creative output.
I think the laissez-faire format of #procjam was healthier. I should also note that, although I submitted more things to procjam, the scope of each of those projects was much smaller than my project for #adventurejam.
I think I could have compromised on delivering what was a more or less finished game. I could have submitted a more prototype-y version that I could work on later. In fact, I may still refine the prose of Aurion and the Aurochs if I feel so inclined in the future.
That being said, I’m happy with the game I was able to deliver in the constraints of the jam.
Investigate the Twine macro ecosystem
Maybe in a future post, I’ll look into some of the macros out there. It’d be useful to write simple example code too.
Well, that’s it. I have some good perspective going forward. In the coming weeks, I’m going to look at some of my favorite submissions and finalize my votes for the contest.