This was my first year doing IFComp, and I have been humbled by the response I’ve received. I wanted to write a small post mortem, so, here you go:
Sniff is a character I’ve always wanted to create, and at the center of this game is his character and the outlook he has, as well as how others interact with him. There are so many people/creatures on the fringes of “polite” society in fantasy worlds, and I wanted to write a game from the perspective of one of them. Furthermore, Sniff isn’t your typical gnoll. He has some of the hallmarks of their society and culture, but he has also absorbed a lot of more mainstream fantasy culture and knowledge. That being said, he’s young and still trying to make his mark in the world, and I feel like a lot of young players can relate to that. This wasn’t a game exclusively for young players (I didn’t dumb down vocabulary or construction) but I think because of the cover some people skipped over it, thinking it was for kids. I definitely think it’s young adult friendly, at the very least.
Hargurrath/Domovond, Elazabelle, and Rotha are all characters who sort of represent people in my life. I think most authors write characters that have influences from people they know, even if they don’t realize it. For the most part, there’s no ‘antagonist’ in this story except Elazabelle, who can be quite domineering but isn’t necessarily an enemy. I tried to have each character go against common expectations without taking that idea too far. Hargurrath is a dragon who is also an artisan and has a neurodiverse mind. Elazabelle is a cold sorceress but really cares deeply for others. Rotha, another “creature,” doesn’t appear intelligent, until you find out she can read and is extremely eloquent - in her mother tongue.
The setting had to be a dungeon, as a sort of introduction to the concept. I thought that I had never seen a game that mixed detective elements with dungeon crawling, so I tried my hand at that. I think I could have been more successful, as a lot of people wanted more content at the end. For me, that was a double edged sword - in several reviews it was a criticism, but to me, I had so many people saying they wanted to see more, more of the characters, more of the setting, that I took it as a sign to continue with Dungeon Detective. I’ll probably write another in the series for next year, or perhaps sooner.
Testing Twine is a pain! This was my first time using it. I learned so much throughout the process that I think further attempts will be smoother. I can’t believe how many times I clicked through all those links in the absence of any beta testers other than friends who casually played it before release without necessarily being told to look for bugs. More bug testers would be nice, but it’s a lot to ask. Doing it by yourself gives you a good chance to retread earlier portions and even rewrite if necessary. I also fixed a few bugs after submitting the game, but, who doesn’t do that, right?
Once I put the game up, I held my breath, and proceeded to do so for the next few weeks. When reviews started coming in, I was really surprised by how many people take so much time and effort to both play and review all the games in the competition. Those who reviewed my game are very much appreciated! I didn’t know what to expect as a newcomer, but I received some great positive response. I hope to do more in other competitions in the future.
By the way, my cover artist is a dear friend of mine, and in the future I hope to create more graphical elements myself. I took “interactive story” very literally, and felt at times like I was writing a fantasy novella!
Thanks for playing! Do you have any lingering questions about my game? I’d be happy to answer!