Lessons From Making E-Lit

My Creative Project, UMW Odyssey, was nothing what I expected, but I am satisfied nonetheless that I created a game with a beginning and an end. Computer programming is not my skill in this life, so I’m impressed that I was able to do some of the things I did with the help of online guides for Inform 7. It definitely was not easy, though.

One huge challenge for me was scaling everything down to a more manageable size. I’m a pretty creative person, so I tend to come up with big, ridiculous ideas. Originally, I wanted to have the player go on a journey across campus to return their library book as well as fight horrible monsters from Greek mythology along the way. Unfortunately, once I realized that creating a battle system with Inform 7 was going to take an extremely long time just to figure out, I realized I had to scale this one down.

I decided keep the idea of returning a book on time, but instead focus more on the reality of our campus rather than hydras and furies. I still wanted to keep things interesting, though. I realized I really admired games where you have to solve problems as well and make moral choices, so I decided to focus on that area. In the game, you have the choice to use the RA’s keys to unlock other dorm rooms, which results in loss of points and eventual failure. However, I leave it up to the player themselves whether they want to pick up the keys or not. If I was going to improve on the game, I make it possible for the player to earn points by returning the keys.

As for problem solving, I decided to go for humor and utilize the many squirrels that inhabit our campus. A mutant squirrel beast that has escaped from Jepson blocks your way to the library until you find him something to eat. Once the player takes care of him, they can move on to the library and win.

I don’t feel like my game is as exciting as I wanted it to be, but I’m glad it works. Creating this piece of e-lit was definitely a huge challenge, but a fun one as well. The Internet seems like an even more resourceful place than it was before, and I hope it stays that way. I also feel that I now know a lot more about e-lit and what goes into it. I respect the authors of the pieces we read all the more, and I hope one day I can make something more on their level.

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