Cactus Blue Motel Postmortem Q&A

Hey everyone. Now that IF Comp is over, it’s postmortem time! Though this will be a little different. I’m curious to know what you guys would like to know about the game, so this will be a sort of Postmortem Q&A. Ask anything about:

  • The Idea for the Game
  • The Writing Process
  • The CSS
  • The Characters
  • Endings
  • Anything you can thing of!

So let’s try this out!

How did the game evolve from its original concept, if at all? And did you make any major changes as a result of tester feedback?

The game actually evolved a lot from it’s original concept. The game started as a game titled “Roadside Vacancy” about a woman talking a road trip to meet her family at Thanksgiving. It was going to be more about the road trip, about stopping at weird place, and about being alone for a long drive it the car. It was also set in Middle America, instead of the Southwest, because nothing is scarier than corn.

As I was thinking about that, however, I ended up with the idea of the magical, otherworld motel, and that kept ballooning up to take up more and more of the game. Eventually, I realized it needed to be about the motel proper. Soon after, I settled on Maria Elena as a protag, and made it be more about the different ways people experience the motel, rather than one woman’s lonely journey.

The biggest change was really the removal of the save feature. It worked fine for me, but it broke for so many other people in so many ways, that I didn’t figure out how to fix it in time. I’m hoping to have one in the post-comp release though.

Hi, I liked the game. I thought the presentation was very well done.

and so,

had you thought of a sequel or expansion for some of the ideas introduced; a revisit, development of some of the hotel characters. There seemed to be something going on with the proprietor that wasn’t revealed. time travel. the rest of the mine. the job offer. new guests in the other rooms. dean’s car. etc.

I thought there was a lot of potential material to play out.

my 2c

Yay! Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

As of now, there isn’t really anything in the works by way of expansion/sequel. There was a lot that got left out (especially about Dean), but I told the story I wanted to tell for this particular game. Maybe at a later date, I’ll come back to the motel, but it’s not something I’m planning right now.

I realize you may not want to tell us “what does it all mean?” but is there any theory people have had that you’ve liked–whether it was actually intended or not–and has there been a theory that’s just been waaay off?

Hehehehe, there have been several theories that have been WAY off from what I thought while writing, but I won’t name them because they’re also the ones I’ve liked a lot. The work isn’t just mine anymore and if people think certain things about the Jackalope, weeelll who am I to stop them? :slight_smile:

I’m having trouble phrasing this question, but: Did you intend all the endings to have more or less equal weight, or do you consider some endings to be “better” than others?

I actually did intend this. I wanted to have all the endings feel right according to the choices you made. Especially the final choice of the PC.

This being said, I do have a favorite ending (though I don’t consider it more canon than the others). It’s the one whereYou and Lex stay and Mari looks back at Lex and Dean and sees them as "everything she ever wanted. "

Is it in the same universe with your other games?

I like to think so. In my head, I refer to most of my games as happening in my Weird USA universe. None have had direct in universe links though…yet.

Ok, as with others, I have some feedback, more criticism for the game, so I will post it here instead to go for a proper review… because I liked the game, although I could not finish it because… you know, I was playing on mobile and the has no savegame. That is a huge problem.

Ok, the main criticism I have is that I find that the PC has some lack on motivation for remaining in the Motel. You know the other girls has some hooks to stay in the the motel, but the main character… Maybe the hook for her is Dean?, or the place as is?, or the changing cactus sign? I don’t know, but she/us want to stay there from the beginning and I felt there’s no real purpose for that.

And I felt some lack of motivation too for some questions or actions of the PC. This is complicated, but… look at this

[code]So what brings you out into this middle of nowhere, Miss Maria?" he asked.

Me and my friends are taking a road trip out to California.
…Just …travelling, you know?
Just trying to get away from Houston.[/code]

This has motivation. Those question are related to the “quest” and the recent history of the PC. I could feel related to them. But then, look at those:

[code]“I guess you still have questions?”

What’s up with the flower?
How did you end up here?
How long have you been here?
What do you think of the motel?
What do you think of the other guests?
No more questions.[/code]

You see? it feels as homework, as, “let’s put all the probable topics any plausible player in the world would ask at any moment in the game.” Maybe some pacing in those, more internal intelligent to throw those to the player instead of all at the same time… I don’t know. Probably I’m nit-picking because… IT IS CACTUS BLUE FUCKING MOTEL BRO!!!

That is, I like the game a lot as anybody, but have to give those feedback.


Hi Ruber! Thanks for the feedback!

I’m actually working on a save game feature for the post-comp release of the game. It was mostly done before the comp, but for some people it would just break EVERYTHING in really awful game-breaking ways. I realized I preferred no save to a broken game, so it got cut at the very last minute. Still, I am still trying to patch that so hopefully soon!!

And as for Maria, I wrote her with a specific reason to stay, which I will put under spoiler tags below, just in case people want to keep their reason why Maria Elena wanted to stay (or like you said no reason at all). : )

[spoiler]I wrote Maria as wanting to stay due to her fear of the future, and her feelings at being left behind by her friends. She feels like she should be moving forward faster than she is, and is constantly comparing herself to her friends (how they are cooler, going to better colleges, smarter, prettier, etc). I try to bring this up a lot in her thoughts, but it’s not something she fully admits, which is why I don’t go as overt as to be “She wants to stay because…”.

Still, this is the relief the motel offers her: a place where she doesn’t have to move forward, and therefore, is never left behind.

So uh, yeah. It’s not as concrete as Lex’s money troubles or Becky’s boyfriend issues, but it’s there.[/spoiler]

That sounds fair. Yeah, I think I detected something about that in the intro, but I think it there’s not enough of it later, when the magic motel emerges. So I think, yes, a little more overt on it would be fine.

Whatever, good work!