Some folk were doing this in the author’s forum, but why not let everyone see them! Here is a little post-mortem (… of sorts) of MACHINE OF DEATH, also posted on my blog (hulkhandsome.com).
Machine of Death was my entry into the 19th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition, where it placed 8th. It was originally planned to be a Spring Thing '13 entry, but annoying things like life got in the way. I ended up using the IF Comp as motivation to finish it up.
Anyway! The game takes place in a world where a machine can predict a person’s death with 100% accuracy, but not clarity, often leading to unexpected and ironic deaths. Some even accuse the machine of having a wicked sense of humour.
Basically, it’s a collection of three short stories where the player is bestowed with a death, and must survive a situation later in their life with that knowledge banging around the back of their head.
Sometimes it’s a drama! Sometimes it’s a comedy! Sometimes it’s a food journal!
MoD was an attempt to do many things. Here is a list of those things!
- Create a low-key, slice of life game. Except, you know, with a strong possibility of death.
- Despite the above point, create entertaining and coherent stories.
- Maintain my sense of humour while being more restrained than my previous work.
- Create believable and interesting characters.
- SUBVERT EXPECTATIONS.
- Do a bit of world-building.
- Use mechanics to make it more than just a CYOA game (not that anything is wrong with that, I just find them dull to design).
Basically, it was my attempt to prove that I’m capable of doing more than just stringing together a series of jokes, which is what most of my earlier IF is. But most of all, my primary aim was to show the player a good time. I’m a cool guy like that.
I think I accomplished all of these, and the game was met with a warm reception. A common complaint was that I was perhaps a little TOO restrained, and I think that may be true. I could have gone a bit more out there while still being believable, and that’s the only thing I’d want to change. It is not a mistake I’ll make again!
I’m most proud of the characters I created, such as the nameless turkey sandwich girl. Like every character, she’s built from bits and pieces of people I’ve met in real life. And like every other character in the game, she has a story beyond the game. For example, she’s gay. And she has a name, I just chose not to reveal it. I find it interesting that no one suspected she may have been pulling the player’s leg when she reveals her death.
Perhaps she was, perhaps she wasn’t.
Also, the karaoke scenario was inspired by a true event in my life. I’m glad I had the opportunity to turn that nasty night into something entertaining!
Oh, and despite the title, I wrote the game as a celebration of life, not death. Some accused me of hammering this message a little too hard. Maybe, but at least it’s a good message.
Anyway, yes, for the most part I’m quite proud of this game, even if I could have gone a bit further with it.
Oh, and it’s based on Ryan North’s concept, however all of the fiction inside the game is my own.