Galaxy Jones Postmortem

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Galaxy Jones was not the game I originally intended to make. That one is still in the pipeline, as the sequel to this one. The story is I was caught by a lyric by Courtney Barnett: “I’m having an existential time crisis”. I thought that would make a great title by itself, and started building a story around it. Pretty soon I realized two things: (1) the game would be technically difficult, and (2) the way I conceived of it wouldn’t work as a standalone game. So I decided to make a first in the series (trilogy I think): fast, easy to write, exciting. The ending of GJ reveals the second part of the series.

Honestly, GJ was not as successful as I hoped it would be.

It was not as polished as I would have liked. Part of that is I started six weeks before the deadline, with an intention of entering ParserComp, but couldn’t resist the allure of SpringThing once I realized I could have something ready in time. The other reason is that the work world and fatigue caught up with me in the last two weeks and I just wasn’t focused enough. What’s most frustrating is that Crash suffered from the same problem and I haven’t managed to get around it yet.

It didn’t get as many plays as I would have liked, if the number of reviews is any guide. I’m not sure why that is. Reviewers who reviewed plenty of parser games left it out, and I’m trying to figure out exactly what turned them off – the genre? the cover art? the lack of an author’s note on the entry? I know there is at least one reviewer who refuses to consume art made by LLMs.

GJ is far from deep or complex, so there isn’t a lot to say about it, other than I too hear something in my head when the logo flashes onto the screen.

I’ll leave you with the cover art for the sequel, Existential Time Crisis:


me :handshake: you speedrunning the SpringThing :stuck_out_tongue:

I’ve asked myself the same question, honestly, and ended up betting on life getting in the way for some/most of them. Or maybe participating in the Comp negating the possibility of leaving reviews.
(I thought it was dope!)

This looks so freaking cool!
Kinda has a Doctor Who vibe to it :eyes:

Was there things you wanted to include but you couldn’t because of time constraints?


Oh, this is always such a frustrating thing. There might be a reason, or it might just be bad luck. And in the absence of information I know my brain at least likes to fill in the worst possible explanation.

The one advantage of having hosted our game externally on Itch this year is we could see views and plays as well as reviews, which are really only the tip of the iceberg. Plays don’t correspond 1:1 to players, of course, but it was nice to see how much attention it was actually getting instead of having to extrapolate from public reviews. It was especially nice since we had a few prolific reviewers playtest our game, thereby taking them out of the pool.

Anyway, based on my experience this year it’s entirely possible that quite a lot of people did play your game! And I, for one, love the cover. (Both covers! I’m hyped for the next game. Series power!)


I played your game. I got stuck so I wasn’t able to get too far and to be honest, I moved onto the next game and didn’t give a review because I didn’t think it was fair to since I didn’t get through it enough. But I loved the vibe, the action, the writing, and the character. It seemed well done and fun.

Given people’s busy lives and a time limit on reviewing the festival’s entries, sometimes it can be difficult. I find the same hardship with the IFComp. Too many entries and too short a window to play through and properly engage with each submission.

Next up will be the parser competition, and with vacation schedules and all, who knows how many people will be able to review them. Sometimes it’s just a lot for a small community to handle. I’m sure over the years, hundreds, if not thousands, have played all the best Interactive Fiction classics, but I question whether all the various competitions now generate enough buzz to do that anymore. If I wanted to play the top 10 or 20 of what the community deems the “best” IF games from 2022, where would one go to do that?


There was the IFBD Awards a few months, and XYZZY should happen at one point this year?


I liked Galaxy Jones, and I feel like others did too.

One thing is that I think you had less hints/walkthrough than other games; at the beginning, I was a bit confused because some things you could just type (like ABOUT, COMMANDS) but other things you had to ask Beck about, like HINT, but doing that seemed like it was saying there weren’t any hints. A lot of the other games had built in hints and/or tutorials that were easier to access, so that could be part of it.

Since you had a puzzly game, maybe people got stuck and didn’t finish? The feedback I’ve seen for you is positive, maybe people just couldn’t finish it.


Yeah, something that seemed really clever at the time (ASK BECK FOR HELP) seems less so now, and it was a big oversight not to include the standard commands as well. People need predictability. Lesson learned. The context-sensitivity of the hints didn’t work as well as I wanted either. On Crash I used Invisiclues-style hints and I think it worked better.


There could have been at least one more puzzle. But mostly there just rough edges I didn’t sufficiently eliminate.


I genuinely liked your game, Phil… I regret that I’m not at a point in life where I can commit to playing and reviewing games for these comps…


Hey, you did some awesome play-testing!


Honestly, I thought this game had massive potential. I’ve learned that, sadly, comps aren’t always the best barometer.


I just want to point out that the majority of the full-length games got 5-6 reviews—so you’re in good company there, and that being the case I’m not sure you can assume that it reflects a lack of interest in Galaxy Jones specifically, as opposed to fewer people being able to make the time commitment to review longer games during the voting period.


good observation.


I loved this game, it reminded me a bit of Planetfall / StationFall crossed with a badass Sci/Fi version of Lara Croft in its vibe. It was one of the few Spring Thing games I actually managed to play through while trying to juggle a hectic work/life schedule atm. I especially loved the Galaxy Jones ‘graphic’ ( where did you come up with that one - Genius :slight_smile: ) . I didn’t find the ‘puzzle’ element too difficult and managed to finish it in a couple of days with only one slight stumble, (The ‘ledge’ puzzle - I had to peek at your reply to a post by @AmandaB to get a hint on that one). As mentioned, the sequel cover art looks awesome. Can’t wait for it - : Should be :sunglasses: : Well done!