TWS Hiatus Questions – On Games!

Those Without Shadows, Hiatus Questions episode 2!

Why do you use games along with art and writing as your storytelling medium?

Whenever you meet someone who writes, it’s always interesting to ask why they write. Not as in some spiritual dreamy answer, but what inspired them to start writing. You’ll find that the medium in which they like to work is often (but not always) the medium that originally inspired them.

I am a person who learned to love storytelling with video games. Like your average millenial I didn’t think this through to consider programming as an employable goal. I didn’t want to make games, I wanted to write stories. This is one of the reasons TWS has the format it does.

After reading Homestuck, I was able to see what I could do without having to make TWS into a full video game. Homestuck was able to redefine what was possible, and not all webstories had to express themselves in a comic format.

A story with playable parts still allows the reader ways to experience immersion and nostalgia of a game even in their browser, or at least that’s the effect I hope to achieve. TWS is very much a story that is married to the trappings of oldschool JRPGs, and I wanted that feeling to be explicit by leaving the reader freedom to unpack those things in the playable sections. Even the game in The Star was intended to play a bit like a cutscene to break up the narrative. I only pray that this works out the way I intend. Only you can decide and tell me!

Although I would love to one day remake TWS as a game, I don’t think that this story would have been as strong now in any other format.

How do you make the games?

The games are made like a Frankenstein’s monster where I manufacture assets and a script and hand it to @gotanysnacks according to my vision. It’s all made with enchant.js/HTML5.

I’ve been trying to help out by learning some of the code so at some point I might just bother him with troubleshooting and web placement, but so far Snacks does most of the work. I’ve been working through the tutorials on GameMaker Studio to get me there, so I don’t have to make him work so hard.

A lot of the assets are hand made, but the sprites and tilesets in the Prologue After walkabout game were done with RPGmaker. The main characters were drawn over, using the RPGmaker sprites as a guideline. The upcoming walkabout features characters mostly built in RPGmaker, with altered colours. The maps thusly also come from RPGmaker.

map1

The sprites, programming, music, sound effects and animation for the Bear Fight game in Chapter 1 were actually all made by the team! @plazmataz knows how to make sounds as well as music. I laboured over the sprites and animation. I told @gotanysnacks what I wanted for mechanics, and we made magic happen.

That’s about as much as I understand about programming. “I told Snacks this thing and he made it happen, because he is a computer wizard.”

Will I ever be able to understand these things on my own? Probably not. But I have already coded all of the dialogue for the new one! I’m a copy-paste code learner.

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