The House on Highfield Lane: A Post Mortem

Everyone else is doing a post-mortem, so time to jump on that band-wagon!

I feel pretty happy with 17th out of 71; that puts me in the top 25%; I was aiming for top 33%. The reviews have been, by and large, pretty fair. I think my one disappointment is the number of judges - only 39 for my game, which is a pretty average figure. Part of the reason for entering was to get a wide audience. Oh well.

I do want to thank the organises for what was for me a very slick competition.

The game is open source, and you can find the code for the game here. And for QuestJS here.

There is a walk-through here (it is actually a JavaScript file, but I think it is clear anyway, and has comments too) and a map here.

The following notes are also available in game if you complete it.

Original Idea

The original idea for this came from a long thread on RPG.net that discussed possible adventures set in a weird house. This would have been about eight years ago when I saw it, maybe more.

Early Development

So I started to write this about eight years ago, using Quest 5. The basic layout of the house was more-or-less established, plus Patch, the yellow balloon and the big/little room. Mandy’s uniform and book changing in different zones was in there, and the silvers were in my head, though not yet in the game. The answer to the riddle was, of course, more of that time.

It sat untouched for many years, coincidently until I had a sixteen year old daughter myself - not called Mandy.

Quest 6 aka Quest JS

In 2019 I took over development of Quest, and started to look at Quest 6. Alex had made a couple of abortive steps into JavaScript; I decided I would take the plunge. The appeal of JavaScript is the game runs in the browser, meaning everyone has the infrastructure to run your game already and there is no lag as it communicates with the server.

I started creating a few games to try it out, before coming back to The House on Highfield Lane around the summer of 2020. Later development of QuestJS went hand-in-hand with development of this game.

It’s Alive!

The hourglass and everything connected to that entered the story at this time, but other bits were cut, including a coal mine where Patch would dig out coal for a giant mechanical spider…

Some bits only came together during beta-testing. One tester wanted more descriptions for the paintings to learn more about Winfield’s family - which was the first I knew the painting were his family! But then I realised the dead horse had belonged to his father and the clockwork thespian turned out to be his brother. One tester spent ages trying to look at the glass shard through the telescope, another wanted to put the chamber pot under the leak. Another wanted to kill Winfield! I implemented these things, wondering if anyone would ever see them. Yes, that is hint! Go find them!

The two teachers mentioned, by the way, were both teachers I had at high school, and I grew up in house number 23, while my mother grew up in Highfield Way in a house of a similar age. The place names are just made up.

My sixteen-year-old daughter did very well at her GCSEs. If you found the Easter Egg, Mandy will too!

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Glad to have the walkthrough so I can see what I missed! As much as some of us would like to experience everything about a game like this, sometimes we just have to settle for what we can get, since time is limited etc. So it’s appreciated.

It’s interesting to see the personal history behind the story and development, too. And thanks for providing the map as well.

Looking back at your predecessor Alex Warren, I’m still impressed that he made something like Quest when he was so young, and of course I’m impressed it continues to live on and grow.

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Congratulations to you and your daughter on your achievements!

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