After faffing about for far too long, I finally managed to carve out some time this week to get back to working on my game. Mostly I was focused on translating the work that I’d done in Episode 3 in Mindly into Twine and adding the module connections that I wasn’t able to with Mindly.
I’d mentioned earlier that I’ve decided to focus on getting the structure of the whole game down before I get down to actually writing the narrative part of ‘interactive narrative.’ Obviously, once the story starts coming together I’ll probably have to go back and restructure some stuff, but I feel like having the structure down will make the actual writing part a little less daunting. Or at least it allows me a bit more time to procrastinate having to write prose for the first time in 15+ years.
However, while translating things into Twine I noticed that some prose was starting to leak out. Actually, because one of the bits I was scripting was the “worst” ending, I ended up seriously bumming myself out. I also noticed that I couldn’t write some parts because there were a couple of things I needed to work out first. To start with, I still haven’t made a list of all the possible ways the player (spirit) can interact with the home owner, Amanda. I know I could just include things as the story dictates, but because not all interactions will lead to positive outcomes, I think I’m going to have to list them all out to get a better idea of which ones are best suited to what occasions.
Second, being that the entire game is set inside a house, I realized that I needed to get an idea of how the house was laid out in order for actions and interactions to make sense. I decided that the easiest way to do this was to draw up a floor plan, but being that the house is meant to be a historical house, I was going to need to find some references.
The first thing I did was to search for real estate listings in New England, which is where the game is set, in order to get an idea of what the houses in that area that Amanda could afford look like. However, none of these listings included floor plans, so I decided to keep looking, which is when I stumbled upon housemouse.net, a site that archives and sells historical housing plans. From there I was able to find this:
It’s the floor plan for a house listed as a ‘Cottage for a Mill Hand at Chelsea, Massachusetts, 1878’. Then, I took the floor plan and recreated it in RoomSketcher. I made adjustments here and there, imagining the renovations performed over the years, including adding some indoor bathrooms. Also, I screwed up and made the front patio a room in the house. Oh well.
One of the nice things about RoomSketcher is that it lets you add furniture and decorations to your rooms. Ignoring of course the fact that the staircases are all jacked up, I’m actually pretty glad I took the time to do this. I even tried my best to choose furniture that I could imagine Amanda picking out and buying, which helped me to get a better idea of who she is as a character.
While this might seem like yet more procrastinating on my part, Twine is simple enough a tool that I’m really less scared about the ‘programming’ side of things than with the ‘writing the story’ part of things, so the more background work I can do on that side of things is just going to make my life that much easier in the long run. I was able to write a first draft of the ‘worst ending,’ which will help to establish the tone of the rest of the game, but I think I’m going to need to do a bit more planning before I write any more of the story. I guess we’ll see where it goes from here.