Ace Game Jam 2019 Postmortem

This jam was infuriating, to say the least. Yes, infurating. I had everything planned out, all the code and ideas put into one concise file and… Everything fell apart. I don’t even blame Ren’py for this; I overscoped and messed up. I simply wish I hadn’t. It really messed things up. I suppose, I should get down to brass tacks and really get into the meat of what happened. I just hope, for my sake, that I never have to do something like this again.

This jam was an existential nightmare for me. From the very beginning, it was like the bad idea fairy came to visit and bashed down the door, claiming to be the police. I had thought that writing a serious, dramatic piece would actually be fun. I did enjoy writing it, the problem was that: writing it. I I had this ludicrously bad idea to write a story and not a piece of interactive fiction. I ended up writing too much, which doesn’t sound like a bad thing at first but I couldn’t fit it into the confines of the code. I was using NVL to do this and it really did not like my wordy paragraphs for the narrator. It constantly kept cutting off text, skipping lines even when I asked it not to and just generally being a big POS.

The art and the actual crux of the code wasn’t even done because I had to struggle with that. I know I blamed myself in the intro paragraph and I really do. I shouldn’t have listen to others and listened to what I felt was right. Had I not let myself get distracted and think of this as a huge novel, I would’ve been fine. Sound wasn’t even finished; I didn’t even bother with sound once I realized how deep the rabbit hole really was. I had to act fast and I decided to use Twine to save my life. So far, the engine I ostracized for years as being a “barely beginner tool” saved my life. I would normally say something like “I guess I should be thankful for that” but…

I actually was.

Had I not used Twine, I don’t think the entry was done. I simply could put big chunks into chapters of sorts, and then separate them with links. Then it was as easy as uploading it online, using images from to get an image for the cover and then publish. Heh, I wish that was that easy. No. I had to go back an edit it. For no fault of my own. I really messed up by not putting trigger warnings. By this point, I was irritated, tired and about ready to give up. But the person who poitned it out was right; it needed trigger warnings. I’d rather be inclusive and give people a heads up then not and really ruin my chances.

This was just a nightmare. Thankfully, it taught me a valuable lesson in scoping, and that Twine is not that bad of a piece of software. I think this is why I made a bitsy game afterwards; I was sick of writing a dark and depressing story and went for a lighthearted romp through an apocalyptic setting. Now that I think about that, it’s really not an original idea. But what is an original idea? I don’t know but hopefully, this won’t discourage me from making original ideas. I hope that the next jam, I can use my knowledge and failures from both of these jams. Since I know this isn’t the last I’ll see of Ren’py, next time I’ll be ready. Next time, I’ll be better.

The Koala Lampoon,

Team Koala Lampoon


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Jan 21, 2019

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