Submerge: Post-comp release and abbreviated post-post-mortem

Version 2 of Submerge is available here. A gross typo in the beginning section was fixed (obviously, I introduced that after testing), a voice problem (1st person instead of 2nd) was fixed near the end. Some code was cleaned up. The about text was changed.

First off, I have to apologize to the wonderful testers J. Marie and Hugo Labrande. They were awesome and gave me a lot to think about and both identified a critical problem with the game’s narrative. And what do I do but add this huge typo right before submitting the final version. They had nothing to do with that! Sorry for implying you did through my carelessness.

“The Mary Ellen Carter” was the second song on my list, and as much as I liked the setting and theme, it also got a bit Lake Wobegon-y with it’s rousing call. My immediate idea was to subvert (like I always do) the unofficial song of Canada, and the third song on my list “Jusqu’a la mort” provided just the opportunity. There were a couple of other awesome songs on my list, but this match was too perfect, I had to do it.

Stan Rogers’s song does have its cutting moments. However, it still seems just a touch too uplifting. It’s a rousing call to triumph over adversity and to continue on after being kicked down. I don’t necessarily disagree with the sentiment, but it elides the fact that an all too common result of this is to get kicked down again. This whole thing has been on my mind for a while, and I’m currently in the middle of re-reading Yarostan Vochek and Sophia Nachalo’s Letters of Insurgents (you should too! - physical - electronic - audio), which involves a lot of hopes being ignited and a lot of hopes being extinguished. Diverting just a shade from the song’s message was necessary for me to have the story ring true.

A danger of Twine’s map is that it fools you into thinking that your game is more interactive than it really is. I’m fine with a low level of interactivity/high level of railroading (I was very influenced here by kaleidofish’s Venus Meets Venus and Tia Orisney’s Following Me as IF that works despite that criteria), but I’d fooled myself into thinking that the end result had more branches than it really did, and I think I fell quite a bit short of what I was aiming for.

I got hung up at researching boats for the first couple of weeks. (What kind of boat was Rogers referring to? I finally decided not to care. There are web pages devoted to figuring this out, no lie.) Once I had the narrative structure down (which was super late), I just wrote what sounded good (thanks Deadliest Catch and The Perfect Storm!), and in the meantime continued research on the operation of what I had finally narrowed down to wet-fish trawlers and after the rough draft was finished, I corrected and adjusted things to get the realism right. Like, on the first draft, I had multiple references to “rigging”. These were all erased and substituted to what I actually meant to refer to (usually the line, sometimes the net, one time even the winch which reels the net in). I think I found the right balance to get writing done and to capture the necessary realism. (Although these particular trawlers have sensors to determine how full the net is, I’m not sure they actually weigh their catch.)

That’s about it. Thanks to everyone. This was by far the largest and most serious bit of IF I’ve written, and the response I’ve received was really awesome and I owe y’all a beer or two.

I have to ask: I didn’t really pick up on what you got out of Jusqu’a la Mort. Could you elaborate?

I used the song to establish the PC’s relationship to the boat. Instead of Alex’s view of the boat as a vehicle to launch her project, or Cap’s use of it to assert (what he thinks is) his independence, the PC views the Mira as a savior, and as a love that they haven’t been able to maintain on land.

Spoilers for the next couple of paragraphs:

[spoiler]I referenced the lyrics in a couple of places as well. The part where the PC is thrown into the lifeboat as if cradled by the Mira comes from “Dans tes bras je vais rester”. The closing pages of the diving section reflect “Et le silence va nous embrasser/Et la respiration va s’arrêtée” as well as the closing couplet “Je t’aime jusqu’à la mort/Et je m’en remets à toi”.

Also, while “The Mary Ellen Carter” technically has an ambiguous ending, I’m left with the impression that the raising of the boat was successful and the narrator wins over the smiling bastards. I didn’t care for that, so the I used figurative(?) fatalism of “Jusqu’a la mort” literally. (“Ne t’inquiète pas, j’ai la solution/Sous la terre”.)[/spoiler]

I know there are other ways the song subconsciously seeped into the game, but the above is what I can pinpoint immediately.