I’ve never actually written a post-mortem before, but here goes …
I was inspired to participate in Ectocomp because, although I’ve been messing around with interactive fiction for years, I had only published one thing (The Hours in 2011). My problem is that I get extremely ambitious – and I’m not just talking about story concepts or coding. I mostly underestimate the time involved and overestimate my long-term enthusiasm. I obsess over something for weeks, maybe months, but the tide rolls back, and the light fades. What was once a fire becomes a moonbeam, and it’s difficult to get the excitement back again. But hey, there’s a shiny new idea over there!
Ectocomp arrived at a time I was feeling pretty down about my lack of productivity. Here was a way I could build momentum! I would enter the timed division and throw myself into an idea without burnout. (Plus, Halloween is the best.)
Although I was excited for Ectocomp, I only knew what I was going to write a few hours before I sat down to code. Nothing I came up with in the days before seemed good enough. However, when I woke my young son up that Saturday, he was discussing his dreams, and I got the idea for my Ectocomp entry. (I don’t remember what he dreamed – just him discussing dreams in general was the trigger for me.)
The best part about working on Corrupter of Dreams was the discoveries I made.
[spoiler]I didn’t originally plan to provide a way for the shadow entity to abandon the dream before rotting everything. But as I wrote, it became obvious that was the hinge of Corrupter. Without that choice, the game wasn’t a story, just a little Inform 7 exercise featuring the touching action and description changes. And strangely, as soon as I added the exit opportunity, the story actually had meaning to me.
As I coded, a part of my brain turned from interactive fiction to self-reflection. Maybe all my bad dreams, even the bad stuff that had happened to me in waking life in the past few years, was to save me from something worse. Maybe, if I could go back in time and remove the corruption in my life, I would lose something valuable. (It sounded less sappy in my head.)
Your interpretation of the game’s meaning – if it had any meaning at all – is just as valid as mine.[/spoiler]
Unfortunately, due to the time constraints, I couldn’t add even more elements. Maybe if I had another hour or two, I would have written
a third character. I would have liked to have had a guardian of the dream getting in the shadow entity’s way. Perhaps there will be one in a post-comp release.
I was grateful I had entered La Petite Mort, though, because it meant I completed something, which is no small feat.
My only regret
was the small bug I found right after I submitted the game. It has to do with what’s in the pond. It will be fixed.
I had never attempted Ectocomp before, and I enjoyed the experience of seeing reviews of my game and others throughout November. Still, as another contestant expressed, I wish more people had voted, but it was fun anyway. I’m grateful for the work the organizers put into it and for the competition’s positive atmosphere.
For my next trick, I will publish something longer – before the corrupter of my attention span ruins everything.