Friday, October 30, 2015

On bad luck and determination, both things you can also find in Undertale

Have I mentioned that Undertale is awesome yet? Yeah...Undertale is awesome.

So, it turns out I am not a lucky developer. Yumi-chan's Wonderful Cake Shop has taken a slight setback...the original artist seems to have dropped contact with me. I will not be naming them here, as witch hunts serve no good purpose. I ask that if you for whatever reason saved any of the original art that I posted as a preview a while back, you not share it publicly, and if you happen to know who my artist was, you NOT go yelling at them, as that would help nothing. Also, the logo will not be affected, as I commissioned it from a different artist.

Honestly, I bear them no ill feelings. My only feeling is disappointment that I have to start the artwork process over again. I do have another artist lined up who is starting on things, but it's a bit sad to have the script for Yumi-chan completely finished (pending a few more beta reader comments) and have nothing for it to do for a while yet. But, them's how it goes. At least I'm learning from this, right?

In other news, I've been focusing a bit more on Twine lately, since I don't need any outside help for those games. I'd like to thank everyone who played my latest, lucky me, as well as everyone who continues to follow me despite my shortcomings. I do in fact have another Twine game in the works, and have been piecing around with two girls at the end of the world a bit as well. I also have multiple visual novel ideas I've been playing with.

In short, I apologize for these delays. They are out of my control, but I can't help feeling guilty. I hope to have more to show you soon.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Circus Reviews - Beware the Faerie Food You Eat

There are a few fun things about IFComp. It got me playing more interactive fiction games, which was rather refreshing, not to mention it helped relieve some stress. It also introduced me to some cool developers I hadn't heard of before, one of whom is Astrid Dalmady, author of Arcane Intern (Unpaid). I took a look through her catalogue and wound up attracted to Beware the Faerie Food You Eat, a somber and depressing story that makes you feel bad. I thought, "Hey! Such a thing fits me perfectly."

You play as someone who knows how to enter the faerie world, though they don't have a defined reason for wanting to do so; you get to choose that in the opening. You have a long, difficult journey ahead of you, and you're in no way guaranteed to get what you want at the end of it...But what are you going to do about it? Turn back? Not go at all? Or just keep pressing on regardless?

If your idea of faeries is something akin to Tinkerbell and friends, go ahead and throw that notion out the window. These faeries are nowhere near as nice, and it's made abundantly clear throughout the story that you shouldn't trust them one bit. They will take any opportunity to fuck you over, and this is how most of the game's ten endings come about. Even completing your quest won't guarantee you a happy ending...but not going at all means you never tried.

The main character is pretty well-defined by your choices despite the game's short length. Your beginning choice of why you want to go to the faerie world affects how things turn out if you make it to the end of the journey. Despite the player character's single-minded determination, though, there's a sense of hopelessness throughout, like you're only persevering because you have no other choice, not because you have hope of reaching your goal. It plays a bit with the entire idea of such a quest, making you realize: surely not every hero succeeds on a quest. What happens to those who don't? What happens to a hero who sets forth despite overwhelming odds?

Perhaps it's just my inner brooding coming out, but I'm left with an overall sense of wondering at all the many stories in the world. Everyone is the lead in their own tale, but it's impossible for every tale to end happily like so many of the fictional ones do.

So if you feel the same brooding, or if you just want to read a fractured fairy tale with no clear "good" path, then give this game a shot. It's well worth it.

Beware the Faerie Food You Eat is available for free download at or to play in browser on the developer's website.

Final verdict: A dark and somber fairy tale that explores the hopelessness of the hero's quest and deconstructs the true nature of the "friendly" faeries from other, happier stories, well-written and with ten different endings to explore.

Beware the Faerie Food You Eat is developed by Astrid Dalmady. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I was not compensated in any way for this review.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Circus Reviews - Arcane Intern (Unpaid)

Next up on the list of IFComp reviews is a game about being an unpaid intern. I've never had the pleasure of being an unpaid intern, but from what I hear, I wouldn't do it for anything. I have bills to pay; they don't just go away because the job is unpaid, right? And throughout this whole game, the omnipresent question of how the protagonist is keeping themselves off the streets doesn't ever go away, but maybe you just have a really awesome roommate.

The game follows YOU, a commoner who has just been hired to work as an intern at a publishing company enmeshed in a world of magic. You are given a special amulet that allows you to interact with the regular world; everyone else instantly forgets about magic once they hear about it, so people like your roommate Taylor won't find out things they shouldn't know. But other than dragons, the Otherworld, magical snakes and mongooses, flying memos, and mystic sigils, this internship is like many others: you're stuck with a bunch of grunt work and desperate to prove yourself worthy of better assignments.

The setting combines a bunch of magical cliches into a stew pot that works surprisingly well despite not being too specific about the world. Harry Potter is the most obvious inspiration (and it's not-really-but-totally named with an in-game series about Rebecca Butler), with some notable sparks from series like the Bartimaeus Trilogy scattered throughout. Character-wise, you have a fair number of choices to define how your protagonist acts, although the only ones that affect the ending seem to be in the final chapter. Characters outside of your protagonist are pretty much just there to further the plot, with the possible exception of Taylor, your completely normal roommate, and even she only really factors into one of the endings.

There are a few weird things about the technical design, chief among them the lack of a back button. If you accidentally progress too far, your only recourse is to go back to the title screen. If you've previously completed the game, you can access a chapter select feature, but it can only start you at the beginning of the chapter. There's also a few quirky coding choices, such as a point in the first chapter where you're taking coffee orders for the office. One of the office workers has a few options of things to ask her, one of them being her coffee order. But you can't just ask her this and then leave; you have to ask her every single question possible for the game to recognize your conversation with her as complete. If you just get her coffee order and then try to go get the coffee, even if you've gotten everyone else's orders, the game will say that you haven't gotten all the orders yet. It's pretty clear it was coded to only let you go if you read all the passages, and it was probably easier to code than the alternative, but it's unfortunately noticeable.

The story isn't particularly deep, but it's enjoyable nonetheless, and all three of the endings feel like realistic outcomes. I would have liked a bit more polish coding wise, but overall a solid title with an interesting vibe to it.

Arcane Intern (Unpaid) is available to play in browser or download for free at

Final verdict: While a few quality-of-life changes to the coding may have made for a slightly easier experience, Arcane Intern (Unpaid) has a nice aesthetic and the story feels very believable, with well-connected paths.

Arcane Intern (Unpaid) is developed by Astrid Dalmady. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I was not compensated in any way for this review.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

lucky me has been released!

My second short little interactive fiction game, lucky me, has been released! You can play or download here:

Download version contains a local HTML file, production notes, and the cover photo.

You can also rate it at the Interactive Fiction Database here:

And finally, website page here:!lucky-me/c1cn2


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Updates both unexpected and not

I've been going back and forth on what to say in this development update. It's tricky to know what exactly to say sometimes. But, here we go.

For a long time, I've struggled with depression and anxiety. At the moment, I am officially diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder and social anxiety disorder. I suspect a few other things might be wrong, but confirmation on this would require going to an actual doctor and I'm having difficulty finding a provider that my insurance will accept.

Persistent depressive disorder is basically a fancy term for chronic depression. The symptoms are milder than that of major depressive disorder (which is probably the one you're more familiar with), but they're also longer-lasting. Social anxiety disorder is pretty self-explanatory; I get extremely anxious being around people and holding conversations, especially with people I don't know well. To make this even better, my day job is in customer service. It's hard sometimes, but I manage.

So the above problems, as well as a mixture of writer's block and good old-fashioned self-esteem issues, have really been getting me down lately. I feel like I haven't been doing enough. As far as Yumi-chan's Wonderful Cake Shop goes, I have essentially done all I can do until the artwork comes in, and it's not in yet and it won't be completed for a while. So I don't have a whole lot to offer right now, so I feel.

I thought I could fix the problem by focusing on writing other things, but ideas have been running slim. My output lately hasn't been at the level I want it at. And this only contributed to how badly I felt.

On the subject of Patreon: I know that I only have one Patron right now. But I take Patreon seriously and I want to treat it seriously, and so ideally I want to be continuously putting special things on there. But with the lack of content and the standstill I'm at in regards to Yumi-chan, I simply didn't have as much to give. And that, again, made me feel even worse. So I posed a question on Twitter, asking if perhaps I could start posting some other writings, like poems, as Patreon content in the meantime.

And here, everyone, is where the tone starts to lighten up, thanks to a couple of good people.

Naomi Norbez, my current Patron, answered the question by suggesting that since my Patreon is visual novel-focused rather than poetry-focused, that I could either change my Patreon characterization or make IF elements in the poems. And this got me thinking that maybe I should be trying to play to my strengths in poetry a bit more. So off I went to Twine to do some writing.

For the past couple days, I've been sitting in front of the computer, pretty much. Writing, thinking, writing. But today was a bit different. Today, the entries for IFComp 2015 were opened up for judging. I went through the list, and I started playing the game that sounded the most interesting to me: Nowhere Near Single by kaleidofish. I played it through, enjoyed it, and wrote a review of it just a few hours ago. And reading such a good story inspired me as well.

So I would like to happily announce that I'm putting the finishing touches on a Twine game called lucky me. I hope to have it completely ready within the next few days. It is not long and it is probably not a masterpiece. But goddamn it, it is a game and I am going to publish it. For all of you.

A million thanks to Naomi Norbez and kaleidofish for helping me. A million other thanks to everyone who's been following me so far. I hope to continue being of interest to everyone.

Circus Reviews - Nowhere Near Single

I admit, reading the entries for IFComp is bittersweet for me. By nature, I'm rather hard on myself, and I have to say, I wish I were there too.'s okay. I'm taking it one step at a time, and meanwhile, I'm also reading these awesome games, a few of which I'll be writing reviews for this month. First on the list is this one by kaleidofish, author of previously reviewed titles Venus Meets Venus and Fairly Dangerous. I do tend to gravitate toward the familiar, but I was also intrigued by the premise being about polyamory, something I'm interested in seeing more games about.

Nowhere Near Single follows up-and-coming pop star Jerri, who meets a girl named Sarai at a bar and accidentally stumbles into a polyamorous relationship with her and two other girls, Nayeli and Taya. Jerri struggles to balance her attempts at breaking into pop music with the professional image she is expected to maintain, all while trying to figure out a new relationship with not just one but three different girls. Matters complicate themselves when Jerri's manager learns about Taya and decides to push the image of them as a couple, which leaves Sarai and Nayeli feeling left out. Secrets and lies pile up on all sides; will Jerri make it through everything in one piece?

The four main girls are each complex and interesting characters with things to hide, and the way they mesh together is interesting to read. They're mismatched on a number of fronts, but they're all trying their best to make things work, and even if you don't have three girlfriends, even if you aren't dating a pop idol, the problems they deal with are relatable.

The writing style isn't quite as harsh as Venus Meets Venus, but fits well with the story and tone overall. The game also feels less linear, as it is possible to have different variants to your ending. Without wishing to spoil, where you're at and who you're with can change vastly depending on your choices, and it's great to have that degree of control over where things go, even if I'm constantly worried I'm going to fuck something up with someone.

As previously mentioned, I'm glad to see polyamory being explored as a topic here, and I think it's handled extremely well. I feel like the subject isn't brought up enough in games, and it's something I eventually want to write about myself.

The only really negative thing I can find to say about the game is that I did run into a coding error at one decision point. It didn't seem to affect my playthrough at all, but in the interest of full disclosure, it did happen. From what I can decipher from the error message I got, it was some kind of issue with variables.

All in all, a very strong entry in IFComp, and another great game from kaleidofish.

Nowhere Near Single is available to play or download for free at

Final verdict: Nowhere Near Single is a strongly written game with excellent characters, and it does a great job of sensitively handling a topic that needs to be brought up more in games.

Nowhere Near Single is written by kaleidofish. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I was not compensated in any way for this review.