Pirateship author's notes

(First up, I’m glad to see the term “postmortem” being avoided this year. It’s not an investigation into why something died!)

Thanks to everyone who played and judged Pirateship.

I never meant it to be anything other than a tropey puzzlefest, and I was happy to place in the top 20. If I’d worked on the game longer I believe it would have been a better tropey puzzlefest and placed higher, but I might never have finished it, and to be frank I wanted it out of the way because I had a few other ideas I wanted to work on.

Plot elements that I wanted to use but ran out of time for included:

  • a way of getting into the British camp by catapulting Catbeard in using a hammock tied between two palm trees
  • an alternate way involving dipping a bomb in a fishy rock pool so it smells like a tasty fish so the crocodile will eat it, then get the crocodile to walk into the camp and explode (I actually coded this, but then my old laptop broke and I didn’t make it again)
  • a troupe of female pirate musicians called the Splice Girls
  • a rival pirate ship docked at the east of the island, and a secret ending involving rekindling the friendship (romance?) between their Cap’n and yours
  • an ending involving actually sailing the ship, hence all the pointless mast locations and the hint that Jim Lad is the only person who actually knows how it all works.

I’d say that maybe I’ll come back to it and produce an extended edition one day, but knowing myself, I really probably won’t.

Things I’m proud of:

  • the Spanish treasure fleet puzzle
  • the procgen pirate oaths. Yo ho ho and abandon grog!
  • Dr Deadsey and his incredulous reactions if you report a pain in anything other than your eye, hand or leg
  • the mermaids themselves

Things I could have done better:

  • the islanders. The hallucinogenic mushrooms might have been part of a religious ritual they told you about, but I couldn’t make it non-problematic, so they mainly just keep to themselves. I also think a few players managed to miss how the conch worked (if you’re holding it, it acts as a translation device), and thus missed their conversation tree entirely.
  • the mermaids’ society and the undersea area. Perhaps I’ll revisit the Great Underwater Empire in the future.

Bug I noticed just after the comp closed:

  • there shouldn’t be an exit west from the forest_north location, and it certainly shouldn’t lead to a point north of it. There are a few deliberate non-reciprocal connections around the forest but that one was downright non-Euclidean. People did comment that the island was hard to navigate but I didn’t realise it was hard in a way I didn’t intend, and they probably assumed it was working as intended. Oops.

I’m now producing feelies that will make their way to my Patreon supporters (shameless plug: patreon.com/robinjohnson). These include a pirate gossip mag, a handmade treasuremap of the island, and a miniaturised Spanish treasure fleet (I couldn’t resist).

Congratulations to Steph for a well deserved second win, and thanks to everyone who organised and participated - this was my third IFComp and won’t be my last.