I’m gonna slap down a quick FAQ and give my own postmortem thoughts in the next post. Be advised: this whole thread may contain spoilers, and this FAQ in particular will definitely include some saltiness. Now ladies and gents, your questions…
1. What was 10pm made in?
2. Is Bird actually a bird?
Forgive my salt, but you’d think the first line of the game would tip you off to the answer here: “You are a twelve-year-old boy.” And yet more than one review referred to him as a literal animal…
2b. But then why is he named that?
He’s a product of his environment. The game is set in a slightly futuristic alt-Earth in which a lot of minor things (and a few major things) are different from our Earth. The relevant difference here is the propensity of lower-class kids to self-select their own names, usually single-syllable concrete things like ‘Bird’ or ‘Gin’. And this leads us to question #3…
3. Why is the game so short? / Why is the story so vague?
This answer might be longer than the game itself Short answer: because I’m happy with that.
Long answer: When I first started playing around with Twine and IF, I plotted out a half-dozen massive games and, shockingly, completed none of them. After a long period of frustration, I took myself by the shoulders and said, ‘You gotta stop. Just sit down and finish something, gdi.’ That’s when I started churning out these things I’ve taken to calling “moments.” Pretentious, I know, but they’re a little longer than a scene and much shorter than a full story.
Incidentally, I realized that the moments tend to obey Aristotle’s classical unities of tragedy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_unities) – the story follows a single plot/theme in a single location within the timespan of a single day. The location of a moment is always within one of my pre-developed settings/worlds that I’ve worked on for other things. Likewise, the characters have existed long before showing up in an IF game. For me, this moves the onus from idea generation & world/character development to actual practice with IF. I think that shows in how divergent and experimental the mechanics of my stuff are – and how I don’t really attend to things like ‘introducing the characters’ or ‘explaining why some little kid is named after an animal.’ Poor literary habit? Yes! I won’t deny it. But hopefully these moments start adding up, and even more hopefully, as I get comfortable with Twine, I can start to fashion one of the longer games I had planned.
In terms of “adding up,” I’ll note that another game already exists in the same world as 10pm. So if you’re jonesing for more Ty action, you can join him on a solo adventure right here: (game is NSFW!! be advised) https://litrouke.itch.io/crew (please dont open in front of children). The game also has a little tab for a background info dump, because I felt it needed that more than 10pm.
4. Is it true that you’re an illiterate who makes games “for small children or retards?” – question courtesy of namekuseijin’s shrewd IFDB review
On a more serious note, the gap between the IFComp audience and my usual audience has been a fascinating part of the competition process. Definite age disparity – most of my playtesters and readers for previous games are in their mid-20s or younger. I’ve often felt that I’m pressing them to the limit of their patience in how long they’ll sit and indulge me with playing these silly little things… in comparison to IFComp players, who by and large gave feedback that the game was too short and/or too incomplete. I won’t say too much more until I see the anonymous feedback from reviewers; I don’t want to assume the silent majority’s criticisms based on a few public reviews, as much as I’ve appreciated them.
5. Did you enjoy entering the IFComp?
Yes. I should say more about this some time, but in short, yes. 10pm was the wrong fit for this competition in a hundred different ways, but I don’t mind, and many of you were gracious enough not to mind either. Got great feedback on the drag-n-drop mechanic with excellent suggestions for future directions. Got told, ‘hey, maybe you should make this longer and talk more about your dumb kids??’ which is about as flattering a remark as anyone could hope for. Got to meet and talk with other IFers. I’m happy.
Now for a real postmortem…