At the end of last year I entered the Interactive Fiction Competition for the first time. I’ve known about it for a few years but never really got round to entering anything. Last year I decided to make something.
About four years or so ago, I had a conversation one damp morning with a friend at work, while we were at the bus stop. There were lots of slugs on the wall and I seem to remember he didn’t like them very much and that was why we were talking about them. I wrote a rough short story about it afterwards on my computer. I also discovered that ducks like to eat slugs and I found this amusing video on youTube about someone feeding their pet duck slugs they had found around their garden. Apparently, some people keep ducks as slug control.
I pretty much finished the story, but it really needed editing and polishing which I never got round to. It seemed like a shame because I thought it wasn’t a bad story and I thought it would be good if someone could actually read it, rather than it just sitting around on my hard drive unread. I also couldn’t really think what I could do with it to get people to actually read it.
Earlier this year, I decided I would make it into an interactive fiction. First of all, I put the whole story into Twine, with the intention of just making an illustrated story. The only problem was, it wasn’t exactly very interactive. That was when I realised I might have to think about it a bit more beyond just plopping the story in there and adding some illustrations.
I managed to create two new endings. A big chunk of my game is still very similar to my original story, but I added two new endings and more interactivity, for instance, being able to buy things in the newsagents shop (I don’t want to give too much away about the game so I won’t list any more examples).
I started working on it around March. I hadn’t used Twine before so I also had to learn how to use it as I went along, which added to the time I spent on it. Luckily there is some quite good documentation for the format I was using (Sugarcube) and lots of information in the Twine forums.
I was surprised how long it took me to make the game. I originally wanted to have more illustrations but that became too time consuming. I actually ended up adding a lot more sound effects than I originally intended though. I managed to get most of the sound effects from freesound.org (I chose only sounds with a creative commons 0 licence).
The music I made entirely myself (although I got the quack sounds from freesound.org). I also was going to have a second bit of music for the ending but I found that using the main theme seemed to work well enough and seemed to tie it together. I then spent ages bug fixing and editing, not to mention fixing problems and tweaking it based on the problems my game testers had found (my friend and family members). I really didn’t want to submit it and find there was some huge bug in it.
In the end, I was quite pleased with it, and surprised I actually managed have a finished game to submit to the competition, even though it took a lot longer to make than I expected. There are probably things I would add to it if I had more time to work on it, I’m sure I could think of ways to make it even more interactive and maybe add a few extra illustrations here and there but then I could go on forever and never finish it.
My entry came at 44th place out of 82 in the comepetiton. I was quite pleased with that, I don’t think that’s bad for a first attempt at interactive fiction.
You can view the results and also download and play all the games in the competition here https://ifcomp.org/comp/2019