In January I resolved to release a game every month during 2009. There have been six months, and six games so far. I’m halfway done, and now is a good time to look back on those six games and how they turned out.
My latest column has gone up at GameSetWatch. It’s about a rare and intriguing animal: the Video Game Album. Occasionally, several games will be released as one package. In the article, I discuss Odin Sphere, Kirby Super Star, and The Orange Box.
I learned an important lesson a week or so ago: don’t release games on April Fool’s Day. I thought that April 1st would be a fun day to release The Bryant Collection, with its hard-to-believe premise and odd approach. The result? I think a lot of folks saw the post, said “ha, ha!” and assumed the whole thing was a joke. The biggest reaction I got was a flame from someone who’d evidently had one too many websites change up their CSS stylesheets on him.
It’s a shame, because despite the premise and backstory, The Bryant Collection is a real game, and one that I poured a lot of effort and heart into. But I haven’t gotten a single review, game entry on an IF site, or even a comment from someone who’s played the game. The only e-mail I’ve gotten about it is from my parents.
In retrospect, I shouldn’t be surprised. Mixing truth and fiction is risky enough when it’s not on a day dedicated to lies, and the games from the Spring Thing were released at almost the exact same time. The Spring Thing is probably the second or third biggest IF event of the year, so naturally Bryant would be overshadowed by those games, especially if it’s dismissed as a joke.
This post isn’t a cry for attention or anything. I just wanted to share my reactions when a game doesn’t get very well-received, since I always post when a game gets positive reactions.
Right on the heels of my last release, here’s my April game, The Bryant Collection. This one is a bit of a cop-out; it’s not actually my game. Instead, it’s a translation of someone else’s work into interactive fiction.
An excerpt from my release post on RGIF:
A few months ago, I found an old strongbox at a garage sale. The box was full of papers written by a woman named Laura Bryant. The majority of the stuff in the box was a collection of what she called “story worlds.”
These story worlds are akin to interactive fiction or roleplaying games; they’re designed for one player and one mediator who serves as the parser or the game master. The earliest date on a story world in the box is 1964, which means these works predate Crowther and Woods’s Adventure, Dungeons & Dragons, or Wesely’s Braunstein. The Bryant Collection contains the five stories that I found the most interesting and feasible to convert to IF:
- “The End of the World” is a story about lunch.
- “Morning in the Garden” is a story about dealing with annoying people.
- “Tower of Hanoi” is a rather interesting little puzzle, but not what you think. It came with a sort of feelie in the strongbox, which is included as an IF object.
- “Going Home Again” is a story about growing up.
- “Undelivered Love Letter” is a story about airports.
For more information, including links to interpreters that will run the game, see the game page.