ConfigurationUploader postmortem

I wrote a postmortem for this game on itch. Also copied here:

First of all, thanks everyone for voting in EctoComp :slight_smile: There were many great games, and I’m happy and surprised that this weird hypertext thing won “La Petite Mort”. Thanks!

Background & Inspirations

As EctoComp and Bare-Bones Jam were occurring at the same time, I wanted to make a game that could work for both. Since I’d been thinking a lot about “extremely online games”, I had the idea to make another diegetic interface narrative game, where the game would be a hypertext exploration of a ~haunted~ website or something like that. But this was a bare-bones game, where I could not change the style - this could not be yet another dendry game, or a twine/ink/choicescript game. I had considered using MediaWiki, but that wouldn’t work as it requires a server, so I wanted a wiki system that could generate static HTML pages from markdown or another formatting language. Thus, I discovered MkDocs. I hadn’t actually used MkDocs before, but I recognized the familiar style from nearly every python package documentation site. So, I decided that the game would be a “haunted software documentation.”

The first specific idea I had for the game was the command-line option --pain-threshold. What kind of software would have an option like that? And then I just free-associated my way to everything else in the story. I wrote it in 4 hours, but the ideas had been sitting in my head for much longer. I feel like a lot of the sci-fi ground in this story is very well-trod, but at least it was presented in an interesting way, hopefully?

ConfigurationUploader is basically one big in-joke about python programming. The Astroglia language is basically python, and the various package installation steps represent tools like pip, conda, virtualenv, pyenv, venv, pipenv, and so on (“the python ecosystem is a mess” is perhaps the central message of the game). The whole versioning issue was inspired by real issues with breaking version changes in python (I don’t think python version issues have killed anyone yet). After publishing the game, I noticed that the requirements used a single equals sign rather than the double-equal sign as in actual python, which made me cringe a bit and want to change it, but then I remembered, this is not actually python, this isn’t even real software, maybe this language uses single-equals for comparison even.

The naming style of the characters (XXXX####) was derived from Matteo JWHJ0715 from the Goncharov mythos.

The future

This game will probably not have a sequel. Although, I like New Washington as a setting (generation ships are one of my favorite sci-fi concepts), and won’t completely rule out reusing it.

I like MkDocs a lot as a software, but I probably won’t be making another game in it. This isn’t a gimmick that works twice from the same author, I think.

This is the year I make a bunch of small games, and not any one big game as in 2021 and 2022. For next year, I have a few larger games in development. But it’s too early to say anything definitively…