TWoaS Dev Diary #2

This is the second entry of my weekly dev diary for The Weight of a Soul.

Progress Made

First of all, an update on the progress. I’ve charted out a few of the steps for Marid upon leaving the Clinic on Day Three, including a new conversation with Horatio. I have a pretty good idea of where to go from here: next is a simple puzzle that leads you into a previously unreachable area, and after that it’s all “dungeon crawling” through a tight linear space until you reach the end of the chapter.

I managed to finish about 4 and a half scenes this week, which is the average of the “4 to 5 scenes a week” I set myself to last week. Looking at the amount of work left, though, it seems clear that I will overshoot my mid-October deadline for finishing Day Three. To try to speed things up, I’m going to try to fit in 2 extra scenes per week, during days when I have more free time.

(This probably won’t cause me to burn out — probably. I can always dial it back again if I think it’s too much.)

Feedback

My project mentor for school hasn’t been able to finish the game yet, but some early feedback I’ve been receiving from him and my schoolmates is that the text adventure interface takes a while to get used to. They’ve been having some difficulty advancing through the story and it’s been immersion-breaking for them because of that.

This seems to be a bigger problem than I expected, so adding a user-friendly Vorple interface will be an even bigger priority for me in the second semester. My hope is that large, prominent buttons for LOOK, EXAMINE, HELP, MAP, and so on will help new players ease into the game faster. If not, I might have to resort to writing a full-on tutorial (something I dread, since it’s going to mess with the pacing of the opening scene).

Emotional Sensitivity

As I get started back up writing for The Weight of a Soul, something else I’m concerned about is whether I can do justice to the emotional moments in the story — the dialogues with Reden’s friends and family, the later arguments between Marid and Dr. Cavala, and so on. At least in my experience, it’s easy to write a generic foreboding gothic description for a location; it’s much harder to write something that has emotional impact for the reader, or feels like it was said by a real person experiencing real emotions. This goes doubly because the story is tackling serious issues like death and trauma that I don’t want to misrepresent.

My hope is that I can refine these moments through careful writing and editing, and I think I haven’t made any major missteps yet (I’ve already rewritten one of Marid’s dialogues because I felt it didn’t match her character). There’s always the danger, though, that my emotional moments fall flat — or worse — come across as cheesy. If I could get more feedback on this stuff it would be much appreciated.

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