This is probably prompted by how humbling an experience mucking around with interactive fiction always is for me- whether it’s clumsily pawing around in a parser and trying to desperately thrash out a solution, scrolling through years old forum posts and opening up random blogs in an attempt to figure out how to do something that seems so obvious it should be common sense, or squinting at the blank page in an attempt to thunk out some thoughts onto the page.
I write, and draw, and I’d like to think that over time I’ve gotten fairly decent at both. I also dabble in TTRPGs with my friends, and have happily been the DM for various campaigns over the years. Sometimes I even make bad chiptune-y little doodles. The biggest reason I’ve picked up IF as a hobby is probably because it lets me mesh several spheres of interest into one, without any major hardware investments- I think the most expensive thing I’ve used while noodling around has been Scrivener, which I already had bought for my writing hobby at a steep discount after NaNoWriMo, so that doesn’t really count.
At least, that’s what I’d say right away, if I got asked it. I think part of it is also branching out into something new that I don’t really have much of a background in at all- and learning something from what feels like scratch is an intensely humbling experience. I think I like that aspect a lot? Both in terms of the immense dopamine hit of solving whatever problem you’d been struggling with, the glowing pride in being able to make something work out close to how you envisioned it, and in actually feeling very silly and curiously poking around at the internet in an attempt to get answers- I don’t really spend a lot of time otherwise in spaces where I get to feel like I’m a newcomer and have no real idea on how to approach an issue.
A lot of my hobbies bleed harmoniously into one another. And that’s nice- but it’s also fun to challenge myself a tiny bit, in a safe space where if I really fuck it up- well, that’s okay, it’s not like there was a lot at stake anyways, it’s just for fun, and I learned a novel way of how to not go about something. Learning how to streamline the process through trial and error is also new and interesting to me. Being able to research and deep dive into new blogs and forum archives is also just fun in a way that appeals to my rabbit hole prone brain.
Allowing myself the grace to fall down and have fun playing around in the dirt is a really nice change of pace, from the perfectionism and no-room-for-failure general approach to the rest of my life I’ve got. It’s nice just playing around without twisting myself up into knots over being ‘good enough’ at it. I already expect I’m gonna fuck up immensely somewhere, or do something in a less efficient fashion than I could otherwise, especially in comparison to people with experience in programming- this is all new territory to me, and accepting that possibility of failure and enjoying the process is really weirdly cathartic.
It sounds kind of weird, but I think that I’ve been writing Interactive Fiction because I really like the idea that it’s okay if I’m terrible at it.
What about you?