A Great Problem to Have

Phew *pant-pant, pant-pant* I… *pant-pant* working… *pant*  a lot… *pant-pant, pant-pant* videogames… *pant-pant* LATELY!!

So yeah, things have been busy around here! Like I mentioned in my last post, though, being busy because you have a bunch of cool projects you’re working on is a great problem to have.

I’ve already talked about some of the more exciting things that have been happening lately, buuuuut-

my-nigerian-prince-2

I released a new game! Remember last year, when I was looking for new writers to collaborate with on weird new projects? My friend Michael Gray (of GameCola and Nancy Drew speed-running fame) answered the call, and together we created My Nigerian Prince: a romance game about spam e-mails and the people who send them.

It’s a “visual novelette” (which as far as I can tell is a term I made up, meaning “visual novel that’s way short”), and it took us roughly two months to build, from “hey, we should make this game” to the game being finished and released on itch.io. I love this. I love that we can crank these out so fast, with Michael handling the story and art (and the trailer), and me putting the game together in Ren’py.

We’ve got another visual novelette in the pipeline now, too (one that we’ve both hinted at on Twitter so I guess it’s okay to mention it here). It’s called Francy Droo and the Mystery of the Missing Mother-in-Law, because there was no way I was going to work with arglefumph and not make a game about a sassy teenage detective.

francy
(BTW: Michael’s getting married later this year, but I’m sure it’s a total coincidence that he would make a game about crazy mothers causing havoc at weddings.)

Unlike My Nigerian Prince, this one’s going to have actual puzzles, andhooooh BOY, you know what’s not easy? Trying to build puzzles in an engine that’s not really made for it. I’ve finally got the first one working, but it took a lot of stomping angrily around my office and shouting at nothing before the code magically happened. I have the framework now, though, so fingers-crossed, the next one should go a lot smoother.

We’ll be publishing this game under my new Oh, a Rock! Studios label, like we did with My Nigerian Prince and like I’m planning to do with The Beard in the Mirror.

And speaking of which, that was another exciting thing: Mirror has been Greenlit on Steam! For you non-gamers out there, that means that, once we finish the game, we’ll be able to release it on the biggest and most popular digital distribution platform out there. Which is huge. (Although if I’m honest, I’d say that our being Greenlit has less to do with a sudden outpouring of votes from the gaming community, and more because Steam is planning to phase out its Greenlight service entirely, so they’re going through and plucking out everything that looks like a game; but, whatever. I’ll take it!)

A few other things I’ve been up to as of late:

the-lost-heir

Art for The Lost Heir.

• I just wrapped up (as in, like, yesterday) a big new proofreading project: the full version of Anna’s Quest! You might recall a few years ago I helped out with “Volume 1” of the game, back when it was a lil’ baby AGS game without a big-time publisher. Now they have that big-time publisher, and I was able to worm my way into helping out with the full-length game!

The big takeaway for me from this was oh my god, because seriouslyI had no idea how much I could get into a game’s story just by proofreading its dialogue in an Excel document. Super, super, SUPER looking forward to playing the finished game.

• I also did some proofreading/copy-editing for another Choice of Games gamebook/interactive fiction title (think Choose Your Own Adventure, but more involved, and also a videogame) called The Lost Heir, and again, like…I know I’m biased, whatever; but I’ve lucked into helping with some really good games as of late. This one’s out on iOS, Android, and web if you want to check it out (there’s a free demo on the web version).

• Similarly, I’ve been helping out with “continuity testing” for a bunch of Choice of Game’s gamebooks, including titles like Psy High, The Hero of Kendrickstone, and Choice of Robots. This means that the developer generated random pathways/playthroughs of the game, and I read through all the text to make sure everything made sense and was consistent (for example, making sure that characters who died stayed dead throughout the whole game).

• And, finally! Life in the Dorms is actually pretty close to getting Greenlit on Steam, itself! As of this writing we’re #92 in the top 100 games on Greenlight. (Mirror got accepted in when it was #42, somewhere around there.)

I’ve also been popping my head into the GameCola offices from time to time, joining in a “Let’s All Play” of the NES game Crystalis, reading bad Sonic the Hedgehog fanfiction with them, and, most recently, hosting a new edition of The GameCola RPGcast based on Nintendo Adventure Books. That should be getting published any day now. [edit: It just went up!] And, since the snow’s finally melting outside, that means it should be time to start up Yardsaling to Adventure! again for the season! Lots of fun things ahead of us!

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