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1402163 Posts in 68045 Topics- by 61639 Members - Latest Member: pevogames

August 18, 2022, 05:49:00 PM

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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsAfflicted - Interactive Horror Fiction
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jackalhearts
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« on: August 05, 2022, 08:47:54 AM »

Hi y'all! I started developing a game in July and one of my friends just directed me to this forum for resources. I'm currently working on Afflicted, an interactive horror fiction game. I'm using Twine 2 (Harlowe 3.2.3), and I'm making graphics in Procreate.


This game focuses on themes of power, free will, anarchy, and transhumanism. It's an unreasonably ambitious undertaking for one of my first projects, but I'm having too much fun to be concerned about that sort of thing.

Right now (08/05/2022) I'm nearing 50% completion for the initial writing stages.

Roadmap of my next steps:
  • Punch-up
  • (Solo) playtesting (for more debugging, to fill in plot holes, add in new scenes as needed, flesh out parts that don't feel right, story edits)
  • Proofreading (the longest and most dreadful stage...)
  • Creation of line-boil animation illustrations. (one of the most fun stages!)
  • Playtesting (I'm looking into paying a few folks for this since I want VERY detailed feedback)
  • Edits according to playtester feedback, further bug fixes
  • Final solo playthroughs, checks, etc.
  • Marketing, social media stuff.
  • Release!!!!!!!!

My goals for Afflicted:
  • Create a completed game
  • Make a game that I'd want to play
  • Make a game where player choices matter. I know this is an ambitious undertaking, but I want someone to feel in control while playing.
  • Make something that makes at least one person feel a little less alone. The story of this game is personal to me. There are a lot of elements that tie into the idea of feeling like a misfit, feeling used, and feeling lost. I hope that someone walks away from my game feeling a little more seen.

I have a playable demo of Afflicted here: https://jackalhearts.neocities.org/AfflictedDemov2.html

Feel free to check it out. It's the first chapter of the game, and has been through some changes since I posted this demo. If anything, I at least hope my writing is charming. (My game design skills? A work in progress!)

If you like Tumblr, I've got a dev blog there: https://afflictedblog.tumblr.com/

I hope to post some regular updates here that are more detailed than my dev blog posts. I'm learning new skills and getting better at writing at the same time I'm creating Afflicted, so I except I'll learn a few things just by sharing my process here.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2022, 10:36:35 AM by jackalhearts » Logged
jackalhearts
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« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2022, 08:59:35 AM »

I have a lot to share, but I thought I'd first share my list of ideas I had when I knew I wanted to create a game in Twine:

- space marines
- knights (???)
- rebels fighting alien overlords (ironically, this was crossed out despite it kind of being what Afflicted is about...)
- Post-apocalyptic
- starfleet (???)
- terminator (again, what?)
- robot (???)
- space cowboys
- gritty 70s alien type deal
- space war
- castle war/siege
- superhero
- lost/myst/island stuff (I was tempted by this idea...)
- adventurer/indiana jones
- ocean exploration!
- cyberpunk (I didn't expand on this one, but I should have)
- high fantasy chosen one...but like, it sucks (This is also kind of what Afflicted ended up being about, lol)
- a demon?
- lovecraftian/eldritch (this is the "final idea" that was used, kind of)
- deep sea base
- heist
- small town with supernatural stuff happening
- urban fantasy 

I ended up expanding on five of these ideas. I'll share what the final "pitch" to myself looked like:

Eldritch Idea
Genre: Horror
Premise: Ancient gods terrorize the once peaceful Earth you lived on. You were cursed as a young adult, and now have the power of healing. You're sought after, and people want you to expend your powers to fight against the gods. They throw themselves in harm's way for you. Will you help, and in turn, let them help YOU, be learning to take their life force? Or will you use that flip of a switch to control and subjugate them instead, becoming a god of your own by taking advantage of the them for the help you used to be so afraid of asking for?
Inspiration: Lovecraft, Bloodborne
Themes: Dismantling hierarchy, taking advantage, subjugation, self-determination, anti-establishment
- you get powers somehow
- a god of mischief..?
- you can heal people. people are afraid or like you.
- you have a bff that helps
- turning point w/ big fight, people dying  for you. or by your hand perhaps
- multiple endings.

The most interesting part of this pitch in hindsight is that I wrote down Lovecraft as inspiration. I like the authors that came before him, and I like the authors that came after him. But I don't like him. I'm not sure why I even wrote down his name, to be honest. As is stands, my main inspirations for Afflicted are actually Octavia Butler (particularly Lilith's Brood), Chuck Palahniuk, Harlan Ellison, H.G. Wells, and Joseph Heller.

I intend to update this dev log at least once a week with my processes. See y'all next Friday!
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Beastboy
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« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2022, 03:12:36 PM »

Spooky
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jackalhearts
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« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2022, 10:57:55 AM »

Good afternoon! I'm back again with another update. With interactive fiction, I know that story is going to be the most important part of this game. I need to create cohesive rising and falling action, compelling NPCs, and stakes that will make someone keep clicking. So I daydreamed about these things for a while. I did other things, took breaks, and scribbled down notes as ideas came to me.

Eventually, I knew a few important things:
 
- The player needs a core companion to lean on. I don't have the time to write a ton of companions/friends, so I'll focus my time on creating one really good BFF for the player to use as an emotional foil, parallel, or mirror to what the audience may feel.

- I want the player to come into some kind of eldritch power. I want to explore what it means to be a hero, refuse a call to action, or abuse a call to action. When you have the power to hurt others, do you defend your loved ones, or aim to accumulate power for self-serving purposes? When I kept thinking about this, it became a larger core to my story.

- I then realized that I don't actually believe in the idea of one hero making or breaking a cause. Individualism has led to a lot of turmoil in my life. I'm a go-getter, but there's very little I can do all alone. My experience in political organizing taught me this. In Afflicted, you fight eldritch beasts. So, I started clarifying my metaphors: The player might have a cool power/skill, but they can't defeat the beasts without collective action. Solidarity is king. I let this tenet lead the way for a lot of my decisions.

- I want to offer the player more diverse choices than other games are able to. The scope of games like The Wolf Among Us and Mass Effect don't always allow for super divergent choices because of budget, time, and other factors. I'm working in Twine and I'm writing it all, so I should use my ability to vary NPC responses and game events as much as I can within reason. "This NPC will remember that." should come into play as often as it's natural to.

With these things in mind, I was able to construct an outline. It was a 1,000 word stream of consciousness at first. I then broke it down into events I really wanted to hit, and organizing things according to how I wanted to pace the story.



This guide shows the events and Acts I had in mind. On the right, I drew an up/down chart to show how climactic the action in each part is supposed to be. (Tilt your head to the right.) It helped me visualize how I should be treating and arranging each of these sections. A couple of these were modified or cut, but otherwise it was a great starting point.

(Notable things I ditched were the "big attack that you FAIL at" and calling a specific monster a shoggoth. I also turned a lot of the meeting/talking scenes into pub scenes where you could talk to more than one NPC.)

After that, rewrote my entire outline again with more fleshed out details. I endeavored to fill in plot holes, tie things together with logic, and further push the themes of Afflicted. Now that I'm in the weeds of writing, I have a working outline draft #3 that I edit as I go, filling new things in, adding more down the line, and rewriting.

It's tempting to go back to the beginning and start punching up my writing in my game that doesn't quite match the focus and caliber of my writing now, but I know that "editing before you finish" is a massive novel killer for authors. So, I'm not going to do it here. Punch-up and rewrites will happen AFTER I have a finished written game. Then....the dreaded proof-reading.

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oldblood
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« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2022, 09:20:45 AM »

I'm always down for interactive horror fiction. I'll be watching this project for sure.
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nathy after dark
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« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2022, 05:42:15 PM »

Seems pretty cool! Hope you can keep the ambition in balance  Smiley
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jackalhearts
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« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2022, 06:48:45 AM »

I'm always down for interactive horror fiction. I'll be watching this project for sure.

Seems pretty cool! Hope you can keep the ambition in balance  Smiley

Right on! I'm glad to see folks are interested.

At the moment keeping things slow and steady is helping me stay motivated and balanced with this. My time to work on the project is becoming scant, but if anything, that helps me take more frequent breaks.
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